Simplify your life - Getting shit done when you cannot concentrate [Habits of well-being]
Hey, I am Esrida, and I am unable to concentrate. If I was a superhuman, that would be my kryptonite, my weakness. Being just human, it really is my super-weakness. I don’t try to multitask, it just seems that way. Whenever I start with something it automatically flips a switch in my mind which then reminds me of everything else I had to do. So I start the next thing and the next thing. I do finish things, just not always as quickly as I could have. My other issue is I am really impatient and cannot sit still. When I am working on the computer and a website is loading, or something is busy uploading, I will get up to switch on the kettle. While the kettle is boiling I will start to fill the tub with water to soak our white laundry in. Then check if the loading has been completed. See an email came in. Answer the email. Hear the kettle is finished. Decide coffee can wait, first need to write the post that the email I just answered reminded me off. Start writing the post. Hear a funny swishing noise. Ignore it a bit - maybe it is the dog. After a while be very annoyed with the sound, so get up to investigate only to find the bathroom and hall has been flooded. I never turned the tap off. And I still don’t have coffee.
If that sounds familiar, then high five! I am one of those people who will end up in a car crash NOT because they were on the phone but simply because I was thinking of something (or a hundred other) else. Getting on any train of thought means my mind leaves the station, and chaos normally ensues.
When I was very small, a specialist diagnosed me with ADHD. Luckily the paediatrician who treated me did not believe in medication, refusing to put me on Ritalin or any of the other nervous system stimulants. He prescribed a strict routine, adequate nutrition with NO preservatives or colourants, and very wide boundaries. The strict routine helped, and being allowed to explore further than the other kids kept me busy and stimulated. Off course that didn’t stop me from making cartwheels everywhere we went, but it kept me from being labelled as a “naughty” child. With this “treatment” I excelled in school and was never labelled. Thank you to doctors who were both ahead of their time as well as conservative enough to first consider more natural alternatives.
Unfortunately, this treatment set me up for the rest of my life. I say, unfortunately, because some days popping a pill would have been easier. To this day, I am only able to concentrate and focus if I am set in my routine. Take me out of that routine and CHAOS. Although not as strict as when I was small, I still have a set progression for every day. Every morning I plan my day out with time blocks for each thing I need to accomplish. When something unexpected and out of my control happens and changes my day I get frazzled. That can make me less productive, or completely unproductive. I work with lists, in actual fact, I sometimes have lists to understand my lists. Everything is written down. This makes it easy to remember and prioritise, but can also overwhelm. Some days I stare at my To Do list and feel the only dread. Especially on the days that I am tired or anxious. Don’t allow me to drive on those days…
Over the years I have learned a few tricks to help me cope. The most powerful one I have is my inner voice. That little voice in your head that helps you decide between right and wrong? Well, mine keeps track of my list. It functions as a kind-of assistant who rearranges my “diary” when something unexpected pops up. It also whispers in my ear when I need to calm down. I feed that voice with good food (less junk - you can see from my mood what I have been eating), lots of water, and use the right essential oils. When I am completely unfocused I also try to avoid caffeine and other stimulants and go for lots of runs. The physical exercise helps to calm the mind.
Other tips and tricks - get enough sleep. And now what you need to recharge. Some days I cannot be with a lot of people because I have no way of focusing on any conversation. The noise and busy-ness around me distract me. What I need in those times are peace and quiet, to reboot if you may. When you have something to do, remove all distractions. When I have important work or any work for that matter, that must be done I have now started to close my emails and put my phone in another room. Social media is not allowed on my laptop. This strategy has saved my sanity 100 times over. Now I actually work when I am in front of the computer, instead of scrolling through Facebook or waiting for an email to come in.
Whenever something seemingly bad happens I ask myself what possible good can come from it. If you approach life with that attitude you find the strength to deal with almost anything since it acknowledges that any and all situations will end eventually. For me, the fact that I struggle to concentrate makes me a faster and harder worker. Mainly because I have to get the job done before my mind realises that I want coffee, and the bathroom and hall needs mopping…
Any tips or tricks that you use to ensure you get things done? How do you improve your concentration and focus?