Have you been told you have ADHD?
Do you worry this will hinder your success in business?
In this article, I’m going to be talking about my ADHD symptoms and how I’ve used this over the years to my advantage.
I'm not a doctor or a psychologist, but I’ll be sharing my thoughts and experiences.
What You’ll Learn…
[6:54] What Is ADHD (And What Causes It)?
[12:41] The Different Types of ADHD
[14:37] What Are The Common Misconceptions About ADHD?
[17:29] What ADHD Symptoms Do I Have?
[23:52] Can You Use ADHD To Your Advantage?
[28:18] ADHD Productivity Hacks…
[37:58] How Can ADHD Can Work With Live Video?
[46:05] What’s Next For Me?
What Is ADHD?
Listen at [13:24]
It’s thought that people with ADHD have a different type of brain that functions in a different type of way.
I’ve not been diagnosed with ADHD, so I won’t be talking about diagnosis, but I do exhibit many of the associated symptoms.
A lot of entrepreneurs have been diagnosed with ADHD or have ADHD-like symptoms. And I had this epiphany moment last Saturday when I realised that all these things that I have been struggling with over the past few years could be down to me having ADHD or ADD.A lot of entrepreneurs have been diagnosed with ADHD or have ADHD-like symptoms. And I had this epiphany moment last Saturday when I realised that all these things that I have been struggling with over the past few years could be down to me having ADHD or ADD.Click To Tweet
They are commonly thought of as a condition that only children have, but it really does affect adults too.
Recently I found these two terms that describe the ways in which our brains function:
If you are neurotypical, then I suppose you could say that you have a “normal” brain, which is what most people have.
Neurodiverse is just a way of saying that your brain operates in a slightly different way, and this is the category that ADHD falls into. There's a lot of debate around what ADHD is, but most doctors would describe it from the biological perspective.
MRI scans have shown that the brain functions differently in someone with ADHD. So, for example, children with ADHD show a delay of about three years in brain development in the part of the brain that involves thinking, attention and planning. This is interesting because all my school reports said that I got distracted easily.
What causes ADHD is still a little more unknown, but it’s thought that there is a combination of genetics, diet and potentially exposure to smoking or drugs during pregnancy.
The Different Types of ADHD...
Listen at [24:58]
Understanding the three main themes of ADHD has really helped me come to terms with the impact that ADHD has had on my life. The three themes are:
The first one is inattention, which means that you get easily distracted, have poor concentration and organisational skills.
The next one is impulsivity, which could be interrupting and taking risks.
And the final one is hyperactivity, which makes it hard for you to slow down, and you find it hard to stay on task.
And that brings me to the three different types of ADHD, which are:
- Combined ADHD
- Impulsive or Hyperactive ADHD
- Inattentive ADHD
Combined ADHD is what around 60% of adults with ADHD have. This is characterised by impulsive and hyperactive behaviours, as well as inattention and distractibility.
The next one is Impulsive or Hyperactive ADHD, which around 7% of adults with ADHD have, and it is characterised by being hyperactive.
And finally, Inattentive ADHD, which is characterised by Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), which around 33% of adults with ADHD have. And this is the one that I think that I have.
I used to think that you had to be hyperactive in order to get classified as having ADHD, but have since found out that is not the case.
Common Misconceptions About ADHD
Listen at [28:50]
So, let’s look at the common misconceptions around ADHD, as this can help you understand it a little better, and can potentially allow you to seek a diagnosis.
People usually think that ADHD is all about being hyperactive, but as I explained before, that’s not all it is. There are three different types, and these may present in a different way among different individuals.
Firstly, many people think that ADHD only affects children, with around 11% of American children diagnosed with ADHD. However, around 2.8 - 4.4% of adults show signs of ADHD. So, while it is less common in adults, it does exist.
Another misconception is that ADHD is related to intelligence, which again is not true. It can affect anyone with varying levels of intelligence.
One problem is that people think that only boys are affected by ADHD. This is not true, and actually results in many women not getting a diagnosis. This is why many women don’t believe that they have ADHD until a lot older in life.
Those with ADHD can get branded with the lazy brush, as some may struggle to focus and complete jobs. But others with ADHD will actually be hyper-focused and are able to focus on one thing for a long length of time. That’s definitely been the case for me, I get totally focused but find it difficult to regain that focus if I get distracted.
What ADHD Symptoms Do I Have?
Listen at [34:34]
I'm 45, almost 46, so in many ways, I’m quite old to be thinking about whether I’ve got ADHD.
Interestingly, I've spoken to quite a few people since who have only found out about their ADHD in their late forties.
Throughout my life, I’ve suffered from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and self-loathing, and this was partly down to the guilt I felt due to the fact that I procrastinate and struggle to get things done.
One of the main symptoms of ADHD for me is that I face massive resistance when I’m trying to do certain tasks unless I have a deadline.
I get bouts of brain overload, especially when there are multiple things going on, and this is why I often take a long time or forget to reply to messages. This really feeds into my guilt as I feel bad about not getting back to people.
And while I think that everyone has varying levels of resistance and tendencies to procrastinate, I think people with ADHD tend to display more of these behaviours.
It was only a couple of Saturdays ago that things started to click into place and that I started to realise that some of the traits that I have could be attributed to ADHD. And it was the realisation that you don't have to be hyperactive that really confirmed it for me.
And these things that I’ve struggled with, can be seen as weaknesses caused by ADHD. However, they can also be seen as strengths.
s Use ADHD To Your Advantage
Listen at [47:20]
I've got lots of strengths that I've developed over the years, and I’ve taken the time to work out what they are.
And while many of those traits can be seen as negative, they can also be used to my advantage.
For example, I overthink, but this causes me to think deeply. And my very road to live video started because I got distracted and went down this path.
And so, I am a massive believer that ADHD can be used to your advantage, it’s not always a negative thing.I’m a massive believer that ADHD can be used to your advantage, it’s not always a negative thing.Click To Tweet
There's a great book that I've recommended before called Strengths Finder. When you buy the book, you get access to a questionnaire that when completed, outlines your strengths. This will help you determine the difference between your strengths and weaknesses.
Knowing where my strengths lie, I’ve been able to account for the weaknesses that my ADHD symptoms cause. For example, I now turn up stupidly early for events due to the fact that I used to always be late. This means I don’t feel the guilt that can so often consume me.
Sometimes it’s good to feel guilt, as this shows that we are empathetic human beings with feelings. And this guilt allows you to repent, and do something to fix the situation.
However, your ADHD symptoms are not your fault so there is no point in beating yourself up about it. Being consumed by a cycle of grief and guilt is not productive or healthy.
It’s important to know the difference between good and bad guilt and make sure the bad guilt doesn’t consume you.
Productivity Hacks for ADHD...
Listen at [56:12]
There are a number of things that you can do to help yourself if you have ADHD symptoms. These will help you become more efficient and productive.
- Create a Personal Manifesto
- Create a Nice Words File
- Create a Team
- Use Productivity Apps
- Other hacks…
Let’s look at these in a little more detail...
#1 Create A Personal Manifesto
Listen at [56:12]
This idea is something I got from Jeff Sieh, and he suggested that I make a personal manifesto.
It’s a list of things that you want and that are really important to you. These could be things in both your personal and professional life.
This could be as simple as that you want to be free between 3pm and 4pm because your child gets home from school then.
Creating a personal manifesto will allow you to focus on what’s really important, and keep you on track to achieving those things.
#2 Create A Nice Words File…
Another thing is a nice words file, which is exactly what it sounds like.
I have a habit of comparing myself negatively to people. So when someone says something nice about me I write it down.
That way I can refer back to it in moments of doubt, and help myself move out of the cycle of self-loathing and guilt.
#3 Create A Team...
Listen at [59:28]
Building a team has been one of the most important things for me, as it has allowed me to delegate tasks. Even if you only hire someone for eight hours a month, it’s a great start.
If you have ADHD there will likely be lots of things that you are struggling with and you may procrastinate instead of getting them done. You might not be very good at blogging, organising your email or your calendar but an assistant or virtual assistant can help you with this.
My assistant Tonia has been amazing, not only does she help me organise my system, but she can give me a kick up the bum when necessary.
While assistants are great, you also need to learn how to delegate and be patient with yourself. This has taken me two or three years, but I’m now at the point that I’m a lot better at delegating.
#4 Use Productivity Apps
Listen at [04:04]
It’s important to utilise apps that will help you improve your productivity, and decrease procrastination. There are a few apps that I use and recommend.
Focusmate is something that I’ve not used yet, however, it’s been recommended to me by a number of people. It’s essentially an online accountability partner app.
It’s a buddy system that allows you to schedule a meeting time with someone else anywhere in the world. You then share your webcam and microphone with your buddy and commit to getting stuff done over the next 45-50 minutes.
It holds you accountable to another person and eliminates the likelihood of procrastination.
Google Calendar or Fantastical (if you are a Mac user), are also very useful apps that help prevent procrastination. They allow you to share your calendar with other people, as well as setting reminders. Again this is great for organising your workflow, and also for keeping you accountable.
Many people have recommended using the Pomodoro technique, using a physical timer clock. The Pomodoro technique allows you to balance focus with deliberate breaks. You usually focus on working for ten minutes, and then take a five-minute break, and then repeat.
The only problem is that when I get in the zone, I find that I become super focused, and the Pomodoro technique then interrupts this. However, if you have hyperactive ADHD attributes then this might work well for you. It is also a good way to deal with things that you don’t enjoy doing i.e. replying to emails.
Utilising apps can help you stay focused and on track, especially for tasks that you struggle to get through.
5. Other Productivity Hacks...
Listen at [17:28]
Being productive with ADHD can be hard, however, there are some hacks and processes that I put in place in daily working life in order to increase my working efficiency.
My inner dialogue can be very loud, and that makes it a struggle to think things through. Noise-cancelling headphones or BrainFM radio station really help me to remove distractions and focus on the work at hand, while drowning out the external noise.
As a solopreneur, I find it helpful to leave the house without technology and use a pen and paper to write things down. It’s been a struggle during lockdown, but I’m looking forward to going out for half a day and spending time thinking things through and planning out my goals and dreams for the weeks, months and years ahead.
This also goes hand in hand with diet and exercise, which I find will help improve my productivity. A personal trainer might be a great idea if you struggle to get motivated exercising, and it will help you avoid procrastination as you have to turn up and make the effort.
I struggle to talk things through in my head, so both accountability groups and therapy allow me to get out of my head and talk things through.
Consider a mastermind or an accountability group or partner that you meet up with as it will allow you to have some human interaction, as well as someone to bounce ideas off of and keep you accountable for achieving your goals. It makes it a lot harder to procrastinate if you’ve shared your plans with someone else.
Another thing that has helped me become more productive is therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Therapy helped me articulate what was going on in my brain, and talking things out really helped me understand what I was thinking. I think therapy is going to become even more important as people come out of lockdown.
I’d also recommend the Facebook group called Inattentive which has loads of really useful posts from other people living with ADHD.
Finally, you could hire an ADHD coach who can help you hack your symptoms and find a way to make them constructive. I think I’ve come up with some pretty amazing hacks, but if you are struggling to find your own then a mentor might help.
How ADHD Can Work With Live Video?
Listen at [15:32]
ADHD can certainly be a hindrance, but there are also many benefits and one of these is the ability to create live video successfully.
I’ve spoken before about how live video helped me get over my perfectionism. Once you’ve scheduled it, you have to go live, you’ve not really got a choice.
Live video is all about being present in the moment and being authentically you. This is what allows your audience to connect with you, and helps to build a community.
Plus, live video can be repurposed into so many different formats, including social posts, email, blogs and podcasts.
This serves those with ADHD well as it allows them to create many forms of content from one format. And this format allows them to thrive by being authentically them.ADHD can certainly be a hindrance, but there are also many benefits and one of these is the ability to create live video successfully.Click To Tweet
What’s next for me….
Listen at [31:46]
Figuring out that my symptoms could be attributed to ADHD has helped me overcome so much guilt and self-loathing. Instead of feeling guilty about what seem like shortcomings, I can now do something about them.
I think it’s easy to use ADHD as an excuse if you get diagnosed. It becomes a label, and I don’t want that to be the case for me.
I may need to do things differently, and things might take me a lot longer than someone else. But I know that I can either get help with it or use a hack that will help me achieve it.
It’s been great to see people with ADHD embrace video, and for me, it’s certainly changed my life.
Watch Episode 111
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