You’ve heard the expression, “Less is more”? Too bad your bookmarks & tabs haven’t.
Sometimes I wonder if there’s a support group out there for adults with ADHD who have a tabs & bookmarks problem.
Hello, my name is Douglas Cootey, and I’m a hard core tabs junkie.
Maybe this seems like a first world problem. Maybe you’re asking yourself, “What’s the big deal with several hundred open tabs and a million or two bookmarks?” If that’s how you think, you might need to join me at that meeting.
In theory there’s nothing wrong with lots of tabs and bookmarks. I did things that way for years. The problem I ran into, however, was although ToDo tabs were great, I had so many tabs open in my browser I couldn’t find what I needed. Just as ToDo lists can get long and unmanageable, ToDo tabs multiply until they become noise—no longer useful as resources or reminders. Bookmarks are the same way. Yes, you’ve saved that funny self-surgery with tweezers link, but where is it? Unless you organize your bookmarks regularly, they are probably a jumbled mess. They cease being useful. If you’re searching the internet for something you’ve already saved, maybe your system isn’t working for you.
Productivity takes a hit when our ADHD tendencies aren’t reined in for a simple reason: chaos means extra work. I once had so many tabs up, I kept researching the same material over and over again. I had forgotten the research was already available in two other tabs. Other times, when I do manage to remember my saved tabs, I have to dig through dozens upon dozens of them to find where the web pages I want are hiding. That’s assuming I don’t get distracted by an old tab during my search. I also find that open tabs can weigh on the mind. Many of them represent unfinished projects. When I’m not feeling tempted to finish them, they are probably distracting me from what I should be working on.
What turned me around was when my learning disabled daughter hopped onto my open Mac and somehow reset all my tabs. I had three windows open with 20–30 tabs in each window. Many of the tabs were open as a kind of wishlist on how I wanted to spend my time or money, but the majority were important research for my book. I literally sounded like Luke Skywalker when he met a certain long lost relative. All my research! Gone! Fortunately, my hourly backup allowed me to restore what was removed, but since that time I’ve changed how I utilize tabs and bookmarks. Why did I have so many open tabs anyway? It was terribly inefficient, risky, and a drain on productivity. If you’re as prone to distraction or wasting time on the internet as I am, you might find these tips helpful.
Wipe the slate clean – Sometimes bookmarks and tabs get away from you. They accumulate like Tribbles. Open tabs often represent potential distractions in the form of things you want to buy but don’t need, projects you think you’d like to do someday, or research info on fields outside of your purview. If your tabs are anything like that, just jettison them into space. Each open tab is a potential thief of your precious time. The easiest solution is to start over from scratch with a clean slate.
Don’t be afraid to delete – Maybe you don’t have the heart to delete them all. Did you realize that most of your links are probably dead or point to a wrong page now? The web changes constantly, but the fear of losing something will keep you holding onto everything. Before I pruned my bookmarks extensively a few years back, I discovered bookmarks for dead Geocities pages dating back to 1995! Don’t be afraid to delete the detritus to streamline your bookmarks and tabs. If this panics you, there are ways to export your bookmarks into a file before you purge them from your browser. Yes, you could painstakingly prune each bookmark individually, but let’s be honest. Who has time for that?
Use a read later app – Instead of loading up dozens of news stories into tabs, I like to send articles I want to read later to Pocket, a read later service. Then the articles appear on my Kobo ereader for later perusal, but they can appear just as easily in Pocket on the iPad. [Kindle]( https://amzn.to/2JPDFo2) users can use Instapaper for that purpose, too. Read all your news later, leaving no open tabs in your browser to distract you or clutter up your work environment. This has the added benefit of leaving no outdated bookmarks to prune through later.
Segregate your browsing – I like to do my blog research on my iPhone. Writing research is left for my iPad. On my Mac’s browser, I keep only tabs that relate to my current project. Since I use iCloud, all bookmarks and pages are shared, so the segregation isn’t as hard core as it sounds. However, keeping a theme for each device helps me be more organized. Another way to accomplish the same thing is to use different browsers for your different projects. This can help you manage the clutter and keep important pages from being buried deep in your tabs. When I was researching my Pokémon book, I did all my work in a separate browser from the one I usually used. This made finding my research painless and productive. Segregating by browser or device is extra work at first, but once you get used to it, you will find the productivity benefits worth the effort.
Browse in Privacy ModeI – One way to reduce open tabs is to develop the habit to browse in privacy mode, then delete the tabs when you are done. I realize that privacy mode is usually used for hinky sites you don’t want anybody but your ISP to know about, but you can use this feature for other purposes. I prefer to use the [Brave browser](https://brave.com) for this purpose. It never saves privacy tabs. This is perfect for cruising around the web on a whim, but leaves nothing to clean up later. I used to try opening a different browser window for general web surfing to keep my work browser window clean, but I ended up with multiple windows with dozens of tabs in each. Using a browser that deletes its privacy tabs is much more efficient. ￼
Prune your bookmarks in steps – The above tips help out with tabs, but what about all those bookmarks you created? We save bookmarks because we think we’ll need the link later, but how often do we visit them again? As the years pass, the website content may change, or the sites may go down. If you didn’t ever make time to prune them before, then you have hundreds, if not thousands, of bookmarks to manually go through now. It can be intimidating. Unfortunately, without organization, you have chaos. Three steps simplify the process:
A. Make a backup of your bookmarks. B. Delete all but the most important. C. Prune the rest.
When I come across a group of bookmarks that I can't bring myself to delete, I remove everything but them, then set aside small, daily blocks of time to prune what’s left. It’s dull, but necessary work. Little by little, you’ll turn your bookmarks graveyard into a bookmark resource library.
Keep tab & bookmark names short - To cut down on visual noise, and to make bookmarks easier to scan, use short, succinct names. For example, “Kolleen’s Killer Kettle Korn” can be simplified to “🍿”. If your browser features bookmark favorites in a bar along the top, keep 10-15 favorites with one word names to make your favorites easier to visually scan. Although “Organizing ADH…” might be easy to figure out, longer website names such as “Sometimes the Si…” become cryptic. Shorter is better.
Prioritize your folders – When deciding which bookmarks to keep and which to delete, it helps to have a organizing framework. What subjects interest you the most? These should be your highest priority. Does it make sense to clutter your bookmarks with every ADHD whim over the past few years? Jot down a list of the subjects you research and refer to the most, make folders for them in your bookmarks, then delete everything that doesn’t fit into those folders.
My ToDo tabs and bookmarks are much more useful when I take time to prune and organize them. Since open tabs represent ToDo list items to me, each tab needs to be important and deserving of my time. About once to twice a year I prune my ToDo tabs to make them easy to access, visually accessible, and useful again.
This article was based on an older article originally published on May 20, 2017. ↩
Facebook isn’t always the best curator of excellent content. If you’re looking for people who write about depression, you are going to love Healthline’s new list.
I am honored to be included in Healthline’s Best Depression Blogs of 2019. This is my fourth year to be listed. What a wonderful resource they have put together for you.
Many mental health sites have made curated lists of depression bloggers over the years (you can find some of them here), but Healthline’s is the most consistent year over year. You should bookmark the link. They update it every Spring with their new selections. Read on for my personal recommendations.
This year, Healthline is recommending a few competing websites for their readers to visit, which is very cool. One of those sites is Healthyplace.com, where I used to blog about ADHD years ago. They also recommended some bloggers I met last Fall in Boston. Dan Lukasik (Lawyers With Depression) and Bill White (Chipur) are both fantastic people. I’ve known Dan for some years because of lists like this. His writing has a cosmopolitan feel that my posts lack, but he’s down home, too.. You’ll like him. Bill impressed me with his extensive knowledge on depression medications. He keeps himself abreast of upcoming developments in the pharmaceutical industry, but his blog posts answer basic questions with a fresh approach.
Although I’m only now discovering the other bloggers listed on this years list, I can’t leave you until I mention Deborah’s Wing of Madness. Deborah and I hit it off at the same conference I met Dan & Bill at. She is also fantastic—sharp witted, too. She and I clicked like a comedy duo as we workshopped. We probably saw eye to eye on many issues because she, like myself, deals with depression and ADHD. Her insights and blog posts are extremely informative. I highly recommend giving her a read.
If You’re Depressed, Why Bother Getting Up & Ready for the Day?
I was recently asked if I had a blog post about why I cared so much about my dress, hair, and appearance despite my depression. What drives me to bother cleaning up when laying in bed while reading news in my PJs is easier to do? Why bother shaving? Why bother showering? Why bother getting up at all?
I couldn’t find a specific blog where I addressed this issue, but the pat answer is that my vanity is a super power. Vanity overpowers the darkest, deepest depressions to make sure at least my hair is presentable. Doesn’t that sound superficial? The truth is much deeper than that. How did I get to the point where I care so much about my appearance, it can override the urge to not care about anything at all?
It’s not easy caring for myself; it’s a coping strategy.
I don’t actually wake up with a song in my heart and a spring in my step. I don’t climb out of bed with visions of how radiant I will be once I am clean and glistening from the shower. I generally awaken with all the energy of a wet sock sopped with cold molasses and maple syrup, yet I still make my way through a morning routine to get myself presentable. This is because of years of training, though some days are harder than others.
When I wake up in the morning with depression already in full swing, I lie there exhausted and depleted instead of refreshed. On bad days, my heart feels as if it is on the verge of breaking. Imagine how you feel after the worst betrayal by a loved one and you can come close to understanding how depression can feel for those with Major Depressive Disorder. Almost everyday. My thoughts tend to be dark and fixated on failures and tasks that overwhelm me. The failures loop in my mind, pressing me into my bed as if the thoughts had literal weight. I can assure you that I am not thinking about how good it would feel to shave and get dressed at that moment.
Fortunately, this is not how I spend most mornings—crushed by waves of sadness. Instead, I get up and get moving. How? I have trained myself to recognize that the depression is not me. I think of it as an unwanted houseguest. Once I realize I am depressed (an enormous step!), I ask myself three simple questions:
Is what I’m feeling appropriate for the situation?
What am I going to do about it?
After so many years, I rifle through those questions quickly now. I just skip to number three each time because the answer to the first two questions is always “No”. Hello, depression, right⸮ I force myself to lurch out of bed, stumble into the bathroom, and begin getting ready for the day.
I shower, shave, and dress up to help myself feel better.
Of course, I don’t truly believe that vanity is what saves me. Just as I’ve discovered that making my bed prepares my ADHD mind in the morning, I have discovered that taking care of myself prepares my depressive mind for the day. This is because taking care of yourself is a positive action. It moves you away from depression. When depression binds you down, getting out of bed is an act of valor. I have found that the more action I take, the more empowered I feel, and the less depression has a hold on me. I start small and build up from there. Getting out of bed is a good first step. Changing your clothes is another. For me, a shaved face and a swoopy ’do is a blow against the black beast. I am in a battle for my life, after all. Getting ready for the day is like putting on armor.
Teaching self-care to depressed loved ones requires setting an example.
As you have probably discovered, logically explaining to somebody why they should be able to overcome their depression doesn’t work very well. Pep talks fall on deaf ears. Telling them to put one foot in front of the other, or to take baby steps fails to inspire them most of the time. After all, they are depressed. You might as well tell them to sprout wings and fly. They can’t envision what you are saying.
I had a difficult time teaching self-care coping strategies to my daughters. They were unwilling to do hard things in order to succeed. Any attempt to teach them was viewed as a lecture. Any analysis was seen as criticism. I couldn’t tell them to take care of their mental health. I had to show them how. I would get ready for the day and let them know how it helped me feel better about myself. Then I’d offer suggestions and encourage them to do the same. As teenagers, they mostly ignored me, but now that they’re in their twenties, the lessons I shared from my experiences have proven to be helpful.
A coat of paint and some new lipstick isn’t going to magic away your depression. but if you accept that choosing not to take care of yourself makes it worse, maybe you can admit that a li’l bit of self-care can go a long way in making your depression better.
Learning to take care of yourself is a vital tool in fighting off depression. Since I have been suicidal in the past, I take the fight very seriously. If you’d like to read more about my success in saying “No” to suicide, please read my book.
Sometimes the simplest solutions can be forgotten
On those days when it feels as if you woke up late for the launch, you need to strap on a jetpack to get through the day. You don’t have time to deal with elaborate ToDo list systems. Franklin Covey? Getting Things Done? Omnifocus? Or any handful of powerful task management systems installed on your phone? These systems each have their strengths, but they require upkeep, and when you’re pressed for time—if you are anything like me—you are focused only on what’s in front of you. The other things, albeit important, get lost in the ADHD panic of the moment. That’s why it is so important to keep on top of those systems, but if you’re forgetful or easily bored, you may find yourself behind.
Most Task Systems Require Maintenance
The Franklin Covey system with its A, B, & Cs helps prioritize your projects, but requires daily review and reprioritizing. The Getting Things Done system hopes to simplify your life by moving unimportant projects out of your headspace, but still requires a weekly review. Other task management systems offer their own takes on organizing to be more productive, but ofttimes the ADHD mind is put off by meticulous systems—or maybe it’s more likely that meticulous systems are put down by ADHD minds. Those minds have a fondness for distractions. All one needs is a few days of disuse, or worse, a week or two, and these management lists become anchored in the past.
So it’s a bad day at the office and an evening lost on Netflix then? Let’s not give up hope just yet.
I like the more powerful time management systems to keep track of the big picture. They help me have a rudder while I navigate my life through the turbulent waters of changing priorities and new emergencies. However, I don’t have time to get lists into compliance every day. Sometimes, I need another, quicker system to fall back on when chaos rules, and let’s face it, with ADHD chaos is a constant companion. I need something that gets out of my way when I need to jot down tasks before I forget them—something stripped of complications, but which still lets me organize in a jiffy. What I’ve come up with isn’t revolutionary. I call them throwaway todo lists. They’re downright old-fashioned in principal, but in this digital age of apps and cloud services, sometimes we forget the tried and true methods. In fact, I share them with you precisely because I know far too many adults with ADHD who don’t utilize the simplest of coping strategies in their life. They rely on their memory, or the magical power of procrastination, to keep them anchored. I’ve got a better idea.
Throwaway ToDo Lists
Pen & Paper There is this thing called paper. You may have heard of it. You can actually scratch notes and stuff on it with hard sticks of graphite or ink suspended in tiny tubes. I find them terribly convenient. Although they don't sync in the cloud, or backup to my Mac, they do fit nicely in my pant’s pocket. I highly recommend this system for a goto solution when you’re in a hurry.
White Board Maybe you don't have a fancy one on your wall like I do, but did you know that you can pick up a white board for as cheap as a buck? Your local dollar store should have some, as well as Target in their dollar section. The white board might have Disney Fairies or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles all over it, but hey! It's only a buck. Jot down your list quickly, then hang it on your wall or toss it on your table—any place you'll see it. Unlike paper, it's durable and reusable. Just a spritz of Windex and a wipe of a napkin, and you’re all set to begin anew. As another bonus, unlike paper, whiteboards don't dissolve in the wash.
Note Taking App Maybe scraps of paper and whiteboards are too analog for you. You’re paying for an expensive phone, and you need to make use of it, danggit! Fortunately, there are an endless amount of note taking apps to choose from. Apple has the mystically named “Notes”, and Samsung offers “Samsung Notes”, which some argue is proof of who is copying who. There are also note apps by Google, Microsoft, and a myriad other developers. Choose one beforehand that is simple, clean, and easy to use. Then, when you find yourself pressed for time and in need of some organization, open a new note and type away. Your list doesn't have to have a label anymore complicated than "Untitled". It doesn’t even need to be formatted neatly. Remember. This is a throwaway ToDo list. Just type your MUST DOs quickly and get busy working on them. Upsides? They sync to the cloud and can be accessed on both your phone and your computer.
Basic ToDo List App Not every ToDo list app out there provides multi-colored labels, stars, prioritized! tasks!!!, and can interface with the Borg. Some are pretty simple. Apple’s "Reminders” is fairly barebones. RealMac makes a ToDo list app called “Clear” that is even easier to use. There is no need to label, categorize, or prioritize. You can cross things off with a swipe of your finger. I like it a lot. Your complicated ToDo list app might also do in a pinch, however. Just create a new list and jot down your tasks. Don’t worry about organizing them with dates, alarms, or priorities. Record them before you forget them, then get busy.
Video or Audio ToDo List If you’re running around trying to get out the door and don’t want to stop to write down anything, carry your phone with you and record a video or audio message as you run around. I don’t often use video, but I have voice memos on my home screen. I fire up the app and shout out my list, then play it back later when I have more time. I can record my MUST DOs with one hand and eat toast and style my hair with the other. There is no need to remember a thing. It’s all recorded for easy retrieval.
The important thing to keep in mind about these suggestions is that they are throwaway solutions. They aren’t meant to replace more complicated task management systems. You just need the throwaway list to help you get through the moment without forgetting anything. You can always take the throwaway list and transfer the tasks later to your fancier, more powerful system. However, if you are relying on your ADHD-riddled memory and forgetting important tasks in the process, maybe it’s time to fall back on these tried and true techniques. I know they seem basic, and some of you strongly believe that you should be able to remember everything by will alone, but trust me when I say it’s smarter to free your mind for the deeper stuff, and let the temporary day-to-day things get safely written down.
The simplest ToDo list is one item long and stays in your face.
There is one kind of reminder that I always fall back on when sticky notes, calendar apps, todo lists, and alarms fail. It is the visual reminder, and it is as powerful as it is simple.
Perhaps you haven’t noticed, what with all the forgotten bills, lost paperwork, and unfinished projects no longer on your mind, but one of the most notorious downsides of having adult ADHD is being forgetful. I can remind myself to do something every hour of every day and still forget to do it. All I need is a distraction at the wrong moment. That’s why task lists are so helpful for forgetful people. You don’t need to rely on your memory. That is unless you forget to look at the task list. Then you’re in all sorts of trouble again.
I have the same problem. Short of stapling something to my forehead, sometimes I can’t rely on myself to remember to pick up some laundry detergent, buy more milk, et cetera. That is why if I want to remember to bring something with me or make sure I buy something when I’m out and about, there is nothing more helpful than sticking the item that needs my attention in front of the door.
Is it time to return the library books? Stick them in a bag and lean the bag against the front door. I’ll have to practically step on them in order to get out of my apartment. Do I need to deliver some important papers? Get a magnet and fix the papers at eye level right above the door handle. They’ll smack me in the face when I open the door. When I forget to take steps like this, I end up leaving important papers at home or forgetting to drop by the store over and over again.
When I first started using this visual reminder method as a coping strategy, it was mostly to help myself not leave things behind as I’ve detailed above. However, there was one time when I was frustrated with myself because I had missed the goal to draw seven days in a row. I had the time. I wasn’t doing anything more important the previous night. I just forgot to do it even though I had remembered to draw every night before. My solution was to stick my art pencil into my eyeglasses when I went to bed. I remember muttering to myself, “Let’s see you forget to draw now.” Sure enough, when I woke the next morning, there was the art pencil in the way of my glasses. I moved them aside, put my eyeglasses on, and got busy drawing. The trick worked like a charm. That’s when I began to realize this visual reminder technique could be expanded upon.
This may all sound simplistic, but the trick to the trick is to keep things visual, but also tactile. For example, what about just grabbing the empty shampoo bottle and throwing it in your bag? Unfortunately, you’ll probably remember about it long after you passed the store. That was my experience. If I grabbed the shampoo bottle, I needed to make sure it was on the front seat with me. Then I could see it move around. I could hear it next to me. I could feel it as I moved it back from the edge of the seat. The visual reminder needs to be something that makes its presence felt so that it stays in the front of your mind.
In fact, as useful as this technique can be, there are some limitations and downsides. We’ve already discussed how useless a visual reminder is that has been hidden away. Visual reminders are also not very useful for projects. I can stick a project at the foot of my bed or in a doorway, and I’ll adapt and learn to walk around it. Projects require a different approach because they aren’t quickly dealt with. This reminder tip is best for simple, one step tasks:
Bring out the trash.
Get the prescription refilled.
Drop off the paperwork.
Mail the letter.
It is also important to remember that if you live with somebody, this visual reminder technique may drive them bonkers. An empty bottle or a thin stack of papers isn’t going to annoy people much, but if you start piling multiple projects by the door, all you’ll achieve is creating a new place for clutter.
I used to leave the trash on the outside doorstep so that I’d see it when I left the apartment, but my ex-wife left the apartment first and grew tired of tripping over the trash on her way to work. She was also worried about what the neighbors thought. I had to change that reminder ploy out of consideration for her. Frankly, your roommates may not appreciate your receipts pile having a new home in the middle of the living room. Clear this technique with the people with whom you reside, and try to use it for items that are quick to resolve. If you don’t take care of the item immediately, the visual reminder becomes visual noise, which you can stop seeing even after a short while.
You’ll find that if used sparingly—and attended to quickly—the lone item out of place will catch your eye every time you make your mad dash out the door. Used in tandem with other reminder techniques, such as GPS aware reminders on your your phone, the visual reminder will give you the nudge you’d need to remember the things you typically forget.
An earlier version of this article was originally published on 23 April 2014. ↩
When you’re in a hurry, photons are faster than pens
When I made the transition from paper to digital back in the 90s—you know…when Palm Pilots still roamed the earth and Man was preparing for the impending Y2K Bug apocalypse—I said good-bye to that trusty old standby for ToDo lists: the pen & paper. It was all digital for me! I was prepared to spend as much time as needed to get my very complicated repeating ToDos to beep on cue and sync with the desktop for backup security. It may have, occasionally, required hours to bang out the syncing bugs, but I was living in the future, baby!
Long ago, I sold off my half dozen Palm Pilots and Sony Cliés on eBay for $20. I’m older and wiser now and realize digital isn’t always better. Sometimes, it’s downright unreliable, which is why I keep a pen & paper handy just in case. However, I still love living in the future. I’m just smarter about it.
One trick I’ve come up with is to create wicked fast ToDo lists by using my iPhone’s camera when I don’t have time to write items down. Most cellphones come with built-in cameras. They’re great for making a record of your life, but did you know that built-in camera is perfect for on-the-fly list making?
Imagine you are late for a meeting, but you need to pop by the store on your way back to pick up some items. You don’t have time to write it all down or else you’ll be late, so you rely on your memory, then whoosh! Thoughts of work, road construction, billboards, and sundry distractions drive the impromptu ToDo list out your ears into the wind. Instead of that happening (with my ADHD brain, that feels like every stinking time), I recommend snapping a photo of the items before heading out the door. Now you won’t forget them. When you arrive at the store, open your photo album and delete each photo as you add the items to your cart.
You don’t need to be fancy. You don’t have to launch your simulated tintype camera app with 40 vintage film styles. Just snap, snap, snap! Don’t worry about people seeing pictures of your toilet paper roll. You’ll be deleting it within the hour.
There are two different methods to go about creating photo reminders. The first method is to group the items into one photo. This has the benefit of being easy to delete afterwards, but requires more setup to take the photo. I prefer to shoot the reminders as I run around the house, snapping each item individually in its habitat so I don’t have to tidy up afterwards. This only has the downside of having more photos to delete, but I delete them as I shop as if crossing them off a list.
If you use cloud services and don’t want to clutter up your family stream with these ToDo photos, I recommend using a camera app that keeps its photos separate from the system camera roll. Camera+ on the iPhone is excellent for this. Just don’t let yourself be distracted by its dizzying array of filters and imaging tweaks.
I used to use a photo booth app to make my photo reminders, but that was indulging my geeky vanity, as if these photos needed to be works of art! Besides, I was constantly getting distracted tweaking the settings, which defeated the whole “photons are faster than pens” premise. Over time, I streamlined the process to its most basic level: just temporary, simple photos.
What I like about this method is that it helps me get out the door quickly while still helping me remember what I need to get or do. From time to time, there are apps released that allow photos to be added to ToDo lists. They can be powerful and filled with features. They also require more work. I recommend sticking with your built-in camera for quick and dirty ToDo list making. With practice, you’ll create these photo ToDo lists quicker than picking up pen and paper.
I recommend adding fish to your diet if you have ADHD. It’s good for your brain. In addition, I need high levels of protein to manage my chronic motor tics. I find cans of tuna to be a very affordable way to meet those needs. I generally prefer solid white albacore.
I recently received an award for depression blogging. I even had to send off a headshot. I’ll write more about it when their post goes live, but in the meantime, I realized that I haven’t been blogging about depression much this year. I wanted to let you know why.
Nah. Wouldn’t that be great? No such luck for me, however. I still struggle with mild depression daily and occasional heavy bouts when most inconvenient. What really has me distracted is my latest book project. I’ve dug through the past fourteen years of articles and collected the best articles I’ve written on ADHD and ToDo lists. That’s the theme of my next eBook. I hope to have a first draft finished by the end of next week.
Some of the articles stand as is, but many need to be updated or rewritten (For example, how about this one? Three Simple Ways to Prevent Your PDA from Becoming a Paperweight). As I update or write the chapters, I’ll post the first drafts here as articles. Then I’ll clean them up and hit the presses. Or press submit. It’s the same thing these days. By incorporating the book writing as blogging, I hope to prevent one from overtaking the other, as has been the case for the past few years. And then I’ll make time for my middle grade novel.
For those of you who have come here seeking depression help, please click on the “Main Topics” tab above, then select “Depression”, or take advantage of the search field in the sidebar. I am certain you will find something that will be of use to you. If you have any questions, hit me up on Twitter. I’m @SplinteredMind.
With Adult ADHD, when we are in a hurry, we blunder in glorious ways. If only there was a way to prevent that.
I have a quickie tip for you today as I’m blazing around my life like some earthbound comet.
Last month, I was quickly packaging up an item I had sold on eBay. The item was secure. The box was sealed. All it needed was a shipping label.
I don’t sell a lot on eBay, but I’ve got a system I’ve developed over the years. After I pay for the postage online, I both print the label AND save it as a PDF. Redundancy is good for these sorts of things. When I went to fetch the printed label, I discovered that the UPC code was all smeared. Back to the Mac I went, but since I had closed the tab, I opened up the PDF and printed from there, this time at a higher DPI and clarity.
The second printout looked great, so I clipped the shipping label out and prepared to tape it to my package. That’s when I stopped myself.
”Which PDF did I print?”
You see, I had shipped another package out the day before. There were two shipping label PDFs on my Mac. I double-checked and just as I suspected, I had printed out the previous customer’s address!
Trust yourself, but don’t trust your ADHD
Although I have never mailed a package out to the wrong person, it is precisely because I am prone to careless mistakes like this that I double-check myself.
We all can get careless when in a hurry whether we have ADHD or not. However, I’ve noticed that when I am hurried, I tend to make careless mistakes of such magnitude that outside viewers boggle at their wonder. It would be just like me to mislabel a package, just as it’s just like me to hurry off to the post office without my wallet—or worse—without my package.
Always Double Check
By building double-checking into my shipping habits, I catch most of my mistakes before they head out the door. In fact, I’m surprised I don’t double-check everything in my life.
But then again, if I was always careful, what would I write about here?
It’s hard to imagine, but your iPhone can be used for more than tweeting, texting, and playing games. Crazy, right⸮
How many times have you driven out to do errands and forgotten to do something? It might be getting strawberries at the grocer while they are in season, or maybe you forgot to drop off those library books knocking around the back of your car, or you’re tired of remembering to fill your car tires long after you’ve passed that station with the free air pump. My neglected errand was that I kept forgetting to update the insurance cards in my car.
First I lost the insurance cards, then I kept leaving them at home. When I finally got them into the car, weeks went by without me actually pulling the cards out of the envelop and sticking them someplace safer. The problem was that I was always running in and out of the car on my way to someplace else. It wasn’t until I made a specific reminder that I finally took care of this errand.
Unlocking Your iPhone’s Power
Don’t you think it would be helpful if something could interrupt your reverie right about the time you were in the vicinity of the errand? That’s where Apple’s location aware Reminder app comes in. It packs some features that make it indispensable, but where the app truly shines is with location awareness, taking full advantage of your iPhone’s GPS.
Once I create a task by typing into the space next to the “+” symbol at the bottom of the screen, I can select the ⓘ symbol to the bottom right. From there, I turn on “Remind me at a location”, and tap on “Location” beneath. There are four default locations to choose from: Current Location, Your Home, Getting in the car, and Getting out of the car. The last two options require your iPhone to be paired with your car’s Bluetooth. You also have access to every address you have ever pinned in Maps, plus any address that you can type into the search field. From there you can choose to be reminded when you arrive or when you leave. You can even expand or shrink the awareness zone that Reminders will activate within.
What does this all mean?
I’m not going to lie. That’s a lot of technical gobbledegook for those not fluent in geek. Let’s see if this helps. Want a reminder to bring along those library books before you leave the neighborhood? Tell Reminders to give you a holler when you turn on your car. Want to remember to stop by the front office before getting busy with dinner? Tell Reminders to give you a holler when you arrive at your apartment. Do you keep leaving your messenger bag in the back seat? Have Reminders holler at you when you shut the car off. If you want to remember to pick up strawberries at the store, tap in the search field and add your grocer. Stretch the awareness zone out past the street you zip by. Now your phone will go off as you near the store. Can’t find the store you’re looking for? Add the approximate address and Reminders will try to find the real address for you.
In practice, I have found Reminders does a great job using the iPhone’s built in GPS system. When leaving my home, Reminders will go off, giving me a chance to turn around and get paperwork I need to drop off at my daughter’s school. When driving near the vicinity of the library, Reminders will go off and help me remember to drop off the library books before they bang around into dust. I especially love how reminders can activate just by turning my car on or off. I used that feature to help me finally take care of the insurance cards. The Bluetooth pairing features are very precise, but if your car doesn’t support this feature, you can use leaving or arriving at your home to accomplish the same thing.
There are a few times when this reminder method is limited. I once wanted to remind myself to drop by a store to pick up some groceries, but for some reason, Reminders couldn’t find the store. It found franchises twenty-five miles in either direction, but not the one down my street. Maps can be glitchy like that sometimes. I just entered an approximate address for the store and was in business. If the shop you want to remember to drop by is too far away from road, sometimes the reminder will not activate. Similar problems occur with reminders for routes that you travel faster than 40mph along. The alarms can go off after you’ve passed the exit or turnoff. The best solution in these cases is to expand the location awareness circle out a mile or two to give yourself ample time to respond to the reminder while driving.
A Vital Tool in My Toolbox
Overall, I find Reminders very useful in combatting my ADDled mind. The location awareness feature is very handy, even with the GPS quirks. I limit my location aware reminders to an as-needed basis to avoid burn out, but it is a tool that is a vital part of my ADHD coping strategies. If you have an iPhone and also ADHD, you will be doing yourself a massive favor by taking a few minutes to become familiar with this powerful reminder tool.
This article and others will be featured in my upcoming ebook on ADHD and ToDo Lists.
It’s a good thing my friend isn’t easily offended. Today my ADHD took our conversation on a colorful roadtrip.
I will spare you the details, but I made a gaffe today that involved flagpoles, fidget spinners, and ED. If I was headlining in Vegas, I would certainly have outdone myself for sheer, bold, cheeky humor—celebrated by the audience’s raucous laughter—but since I’m some average rando calling a friend on the phone, I got the following:
“Am I the only person you have conversations like this with?” “Yes,” I said while laughing. “You are the only person I can openly talk to this way.” “Let’s remove one person from that equation, and I think we can solve your problem.”
I don’t know if I got the quote right. We were both laughing. It is common for us to zing each other. However, part of my refined, adult mind started working on what he had said. I suddenly realized that I had stepped over a line.
“Well, I may have been excessively colorful.” “Oh, you think?” he said while laughing.
My friends respect me—hold on, maybe “respect” is too strong a word here. Let’s say they find me entertaining like a dancing monkey on top of a car wreck. This dynamic usually works out alright, but there are times I go too far. The problem is that sometimes I don’t think before I speak. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have tread down that saucy path today. I can’t remember how we, or should I say “I”, got on the subject of ED ads, or why I didn’t stop myself. I suppose it was all those happily satisfied women in their 60s, snuggling into smugly confident men. I laugh at the ads every time. But I’m not laughing now. I almost wish I had ED instead of ADHD.
Well, I expect better of myself. For example, I haven’t used profanity in seven years this very month. It’s an accomplishment that I am quite proud of. It required a lot of work to get to this point, with several years of effort before the final grawlix. I don’t even think swears now. So why do I occasionally have conversations that head off in off-color directions? Aren’t they inconsistent with somebody who forswears swearing?
It seems to me that ADHD, more than humanity, is at play here. Inconsistencies in behavior are hallmarks of adults with ADHD. They are born from fiery impulses that burn their way out and leave scorched earth behind. Angry words, insults, jokes—even love confessions!—come from the same source. We get carried away, an errant thought crosses the stage, and we suddenly open the curtains for it. Afterwards, we get embarrassed, not because the audience booed, though that has been known to happen, but because our behavior is either not in sync with the person we wish to be, or it is completely out of sync with the people around us.
”Why did I say that?” is something I ask myself in those situations. Women who I’m not interested in suddenly think that I am. Co-workers think I’m making fun of them when I crack a joke. Friendships die in blazing glory with yet another foot-in-mouth moment. Without a positive sense of self, the entire process can be humiliating and discouraging.
Passion is the culprit. Be it anger, fear, or joy, when emotions run high, the impulse control center in the untreated ADHD mind is poorly equipped to rein in the flood of words that come pouring out. Fueled by adrenaline, what might be an occasional spurt of intemperance from somebody without ADHD becomes a firehouse of shame for somebody with the disorder. Practicing coping strategies or taking medication are often the only respite.
Fortunately, I have good friends who can let me know in a good natured way when I’ve left propriety behind like a last rest stop sign on a desert highway. Truthfully, these moments aren’t frequent, but when they do happen, I am grateful for good friends who don’t hold them against me. They let me turn around. They let me backtrack. Then they mock me mercilessly afterwards.
⁂ Coping Strategy: Learning to temper one’s tongue takes practice and determination. Fortunately, you have ADHD, so you’ll get lots of opportunity to practice. I recommend first closing the gap between when you make a gaffe and when you realize that you have. Once you can close this gap to the point where you are aware as you are making the gaffe, you have a fighting chance to take measures to choose differently in the moment.