The Power of the Project

Most people might think that giving a project to someone with ADD is a great way to make sure that it won’t get done. That we would work on it for a few moments until we get distracted by something and that would be that. Nothing can be further from the truth…if you give us the right project and help us break it down into manageable tasks that is! Non-ADDers often see us distracted and struggling, but they don’t realize that we’re actually searching for focus and direction. Even though we have scattered brains, people with ADHD thrive on structured, laid-out projects. Every completed step is a boost, especially if it’s something that we’re interested in. And the sweetest part is the journey from A to B to C to D and finding joy in that accomplishment.

It’s important for people with ADHD to consistently have a project in motion. Frustration arises when there isn’t anything to keep the mind engaged. We need those moments of hyper-focus; activities that release neurotransmitters to create the focus that we desire.

To make the task more enjoyable, ask questions. This breaks the work down into bite-sized pieces. And if you have a project leader or boss, be sure to let them know about your focusing struggles. That way, you can get more direction after each step; not as micro-managing, but getting accountability set up for yourself.

But the project lifestyle isn’t all sunshine (unless you’re a heliologist). The ADDer needs to be aware that there will be a feeling of letdown upon completion of a project. I’ve noticed that I tend to go into a mild state of depression when I am between projects and lacking the focus and direction of being actively engaged in reaching a project goal.

Interestingly, for me this “letdown” happens when I return home from being on the road. For a long time my wife and I couldn’t figure it out. I love being home with my family. I would look forward to coming home and then I would get home and spend the next day or two feeling lost, disoriented and down.  Eventually, we came to understand that being on the road, was, in a way, a short-term project for me. The trip consisted of clear and sequential goals that I was comfortable achieving – travel to event location, set-up, speak, meet people, pack-up, spend night at hotel, travel home – and that coming home signaled the completion of the project. I was down not because I was home, but because a project had come to an end and I was left with an activity vacuum which my ADHD brain was not too fond of.

Now I know that after doing a series of shows, I need something to be already implemented when I get home, even if it’s just a planned day of rest. Though it can be a challenge to figure out how to focus on resting. I’m not so good at that. 🙂

Still, despite the risk of a letdown, the joy and reward of working on a project is well worth it. Start planning your project lifestyle, and you’ll probably find yourself hooked on getting good work done.