The core symptoms of ADHD hyperactivity, inattentiveness and impulsivity can show up in every area of your life including driving, studying, your relationships and of course managing your inbox.
Managing an inbox is more than learning standard organizing and time management strategies.
It’s about understanding how your ADHD symptoms show up in relation to email, AND then using ADHD-friendly strategies that are do-able for you, so you can be productive and have peace of mind.
*Have thousands of emails in your inbox?
*Find it takes a long time to write replies to email, because of perfectionist tendencies?
*Miss important emails and then have a frantic ‘catch up’ phase as you put things right?
*Find composing an email takes a long time because it’s hard for you to get your thoughts out of your head and into writing?
*Have an uneasy feeling, whenever you check your email, that you forgot something important and are in trouble?
*Run out of time and mental energy to read all your email subscriptions, but feel you would be missing out if you unsubscribe?
*Have an ‘intuitive’ or guesswork style to processing your inbox? You respond to the emails that look the most urgent, but sometimes miss important ones?
*Find email takes so much time that you don’t get time to work on important projects or items on your to-do list?
*Procrastinate on writing emails because you think you will be telling the person things they don’t want to hear?
*Feel unsure how to organize or declutter your inbox because it feels such a big job?
I have been helping individual clients with their email management for over a decade. My clients range from super users, who get hundreds of emails a day, to more casual emailers who use email as a way to keep in touch with friends.
That is why The Email Club! was created. I decided to put all that knowledge into a comprehensive step by step system that will help you to feel in control of your inbox and your life!
Even if you have never been able to keep on top of emails before, or have tried techniques in the past that didn’t work or weren’t sustainable, it is possible to tame your inbox!
A question I get asked a lot is, ‘What are the best careers for people with ADHD?’
I wish there was an easy answer! Or a maybe even a list of jobs that people with ADHD enjoy and excel in.
But it’s not that simple.
Just as there isn’t one ADHD medication that works for everyone living with ADHD, or one type of exercise that all ADHDers love, it’s the same with careers and jobs.
A dream job for you could be another ADHDer’s worst job ever.
Why is it important to find a job you love?
We spend a lot of our waking life at work. What we ‘do’ becomes part of our identity. It’s how we support ourselves financially. It gives our life meaning and a sense of direction.
Because it’s hard to compartmentalize life, our happiness level at work affects other areas of life too including relationships, health and sleep, etc.
ADHD and Jobs
When you have ADHD, there is an even bigger reason to find a job you love. If you don’t enjoy your job, your ADHD symptoms get worse and it becomes very hard for you perform at your best.
If you have a job that isn’t a good fit, you might find that you…
Don’t feel motivated, so it becomes hard to make yourself do things like work on a project or make phone calls;
Often arrive late to work and meetings;
Find it hard to focus and concentrate;
Become increasingly distractible by internal and external distractions;
Make what appear to be ‘careless’ mistakes even though you were trying really hard…
Find that tasks take you longer than usual or compared to others;
Drag yourself through the day with zero energy or enthusiasm.
It doesn’t matter how much logic you apply – ‘The company has good benefits’ or ‘I am using my qualifications’ or ‘It’s only a 10 minute commute.’ If your work doesn’t interest you, your ADHD symptoms get worse.
This has a knock-on effect. For example, if it’s hard for you to perform your best, it is reflected in your annual reviews and your confidence can take a hit.
The Secret to Finding the Best Job For You
The secret to finding the best job for you isn’t to find what jobs are ‘good for ADHDers,’ it is to find out what the best job is for YOU.
ADHD is a part of the equation, but it isn’t everything.
It’s also important to remember that general career advice for ADHD won’t always apply to you.
For example, common wisdom says a person with ADHD shouldn’t have jobs that involve attention-to-details tasks, or strict schedules, and should have jobs that are stimulating. But there are always exceptions.
Let’s take the example of an accountant. Being an accountant is often cited as a bad choice when you have ADHD as it involves sitting down and doing attention-to-detail work.
Yet some people with ADHD love their jobs as an accountant. They find dealing with numbers a relief from regular life, because there is a definitive right or wrong answer. In a world where there are so many options and emotions to navigate, working with numbers feels comforting and easy.
Proof reading is similar. I am severely dyslexic, and all my articles are reviewed by a professional proofreader before they are posted on the Untapped Brilliance blog. My best proof readers (purely by chance) have ADHD.
These proofreaders say they find it relaxing, or that it’s fun, like solving a puzzle. Spelling errors stand out to them like a beacon and they can’t help noticing them even when they are reading for leisure.
Strict schedules and deadlines are something else that ADHDers are warned against. However, some can thrive and do their best work in those conditions. Dr. Gabor Maté, author of Scattered Minds, says the only way he got through medical school was because of the structure and deadlines of regular assignments and exams.
Having a stimulating job is considered important when you have ADHD. However, what is even more important is finding the right amount of stimulation for you. Some environments are recognized as very stimulating – ER doctor or working on the floor at a stock exchange.
But for many ADHDers, those environments would be too intense, and the ADHDer would become scattered, frantic, stressed and unproductive.
The opposite of a stimulating and interesting job is one that is boring and dull. This type of job needs to be avoided because when you feel bored, your physical energy dips, you feel blah, low energy, unmotivated and unproductive. There will also be some tasks that are boring for you, so you can find ADHD-friendly ways to manage that. Ideally, those tasks would be a very small portion of your day or week.
There is a sweet spot where your job has the right amount of interest and action but not too much.
Finding a good job for you involves getting to know yourself in terms of what interests you, what environments you enjoy being in, as well as your skill set, qualifications and ADHD symptoms.
The questions below are a good way to start the exploration. As you are answering them in a notebook or journal, try to be as comprehensive as possible (don’t give yes and no answers!). The more detailed you are, the easier it will be to see themes.
Think back to your last 5 jobs.
What did you like about them?
What did you dislike about them?
What are you naturally good at, that doesn’t feel like ‘work’?
What topics capture your interest?
What tasks keep you so interested you lose track of time?
What motivates you?
What are you good at that people think ADHDers aren’t ‘supposed’ to be good at?
What makes you feel happy?
Have you ever worked in an environment that was ‘too boring’?
Have you ever worked in an environment that was ‘too stimulating?’
Do you have a job you love?
The answers to these questions will begin to give you clues about characteristics of the best job for you.
Next weeks article will give more tips on the “best jobs for ADHDers”
Weekends can be a challenge when you have ADHD. This might sound counterintuitive; after all, 2 leisurely days sounds easier and more fun than a busy work week.
However, during the week, there is a natural routine and rhythm. You go to work, head to the gym or do after work activities, have supper, watch your favorite show and then it’s bed time.
When the weekend arrives, that structure and external accountability disappears. You might have been looking forward to the weekend all week. Yet now that it’s here, instead of feeling happy and relaxed, you find yourself feeling lethargic, depressed and unmotivated. You mope around for 2 days and then ping, Monday morning arrives and you feel alive and in go mode again.
Why does this happen?
Well, the ADHD brains needs a certain level of stimulation. Without it you slip into that low energy, flat mood and bored state. Once you are there, it is hard to get out of as nothing seems interesting to you.
The opposite of this blah mood is to feel energized and mentally alert. When you have stimulating and interesting things happening, your executive functions in the brain snap into place, and your brain works super well.
Our bodies and minds need some time to relax and recharge in order to be physically healthy, which means you don’t want to have an action-packed weekend and feel exhausted on Monday
How do you have a relaxing but stimulating weekend?
The answer is a semi-structured weekend!
Having some structure allows you to appreciate your downtime without slipping into the lethargy.
It is a combination of activities with other people, time to take care of necessary activities like housework and some downtime to relax.
For example, you might have a weekly brunch date with friends on Saturday morning and a Sunday morning run with your running club. Those activities are preplanned and give you a framework to hang other activities. After brunch you might find yourself running errands since you are out of the house already. After your run, you might be feeling energized so you can do a load of laundry, including the running clothes.
There is still time to do chillaxing activities, however, don’t leave those to chance. During the week keep track of things that capture your attention. If a movie looks interesting, write it down. If there is topic you want to research on the internet, write it down too. When you have some free downtime and wondering what to do you can look at your list. Don’t wait till you get into that low grade depressed state. Start your activities before that happens.
Be careful! On this activities list do not include things that feel like work, such
as decorating, taxes or, decluttering. Those items do need to be taken care of; however, they don’t count as fun things. If you include those items, you could find yourself going into procrastination mode and end up feeling bad about yourself.
Introverts might be tempted to skip socializing time. However, social contact is an important component of escaping the weekend blahs. If you are an introvert, it is still recommended to have some social time, just make it a short visit with a positive person that you genuinely love spending time with.
Wishing you a very happy semi-structured weekend! How are you going to spend yours?
What are your ADHD strengths? Knowing what they are is really powerful because it helps you to celebrate the good things about you.
That doesn’t mean you are glossing over the challenges; you’re just creating a balanced view of yourself.
Classic and well-known ADHD strengths include
Lots of energy
Thinking outside the box
However, ADHD strengths are much more diverse than that, and they often go against the stereotypical view of ADHD.
For example, it is generally thought that tasks requiring attention to detail are hard for ADHDers, but some of the best proof readers I know have ADHD and spotting spelling and grammar errors is fun for them.
I asked Untapped Brilliance blog readers what their ADHD strengths are, and I received some fabulous responses. You can see them below.
In addition to people with ADHD, there are 2 quotes from readers who are married to an ADHDer and are mom’s to grown-up ADHD children.
After reading them, leave a note in the comments to let us know what your ADHD strengths are!
Good at thinking up solutions to problems and a brainstorming whiz.
People with adhd are always scanning the environment. I’ll share an anecdote:
I walked into a dorm room once. There were 5 people all looking around the floor, One of them said “watch where you step, someone’s contact just fell out”.
They’d been looking for a minute or two. Without missing a beat – having satisfyingly scanned the entire floor as a whole while they looked bit by bit – I immediately pointed it out to them and then turned and walked out thinking “stupid non-ADDers”.
That’s my anecdote, recounted with appropriate ADD flourish.
Being able to run a scenario through in my head from start to finish just alike a movie and like Dr Strange give you all the possible outcomes:…This works well in meetings
Like Sherlock Holmes: seeing everything
Being able to forget.. lol makes it easier to forgive and move on
My sense of humour…
To be fully engaged in the moment once excited.
To be easily excited about something… I could make an Eskimo get excited over ice
Being able to connect all the dots before others and then further to connect another dot they didn’t even know existed
To provide excellent analogies.
To see things from someone else’s point of view… because I can drop effortlessly into their world.
To love you like it’s the first time falling in love with you every time.
Being wild and fun
Understanding friends that are not good with the “call me every day” thing and being ok with it because… well I’m that friend
Billions and billions of ideas!!! non-stop!
Being able to escape to another world (distraction and daydream) when ‘normal people’ can’t
Being able to truly enjoy movies… because I’m in them lol
Being able to relate to my daughter better than any non-ADHD adult ever could… because hey, I can be 5 and 34 in the same day!
Me! I’m my biggest ADHD strength!!! and many many times I fail to see that…
I think that some of my ADHD Strengths include being really good at puzzles of all kinds. I can spot patterns, shapes, and differences in colours where others seem to miss them. I think this is related to the fact that my worst/best distractions are visually related. This visual acuity also seems to help me spot birds, unique flowers, and animals while on my hikes.
Another strength that I feel is related to my ADHD is that I am obsessed with understanding the why/how behind historical events and even in fictional stories. I love timelines and understanding how characters (both real and fictional) get to where they are. That sort of “need to know” permeates other areas as well and I often won’t rest until I feel I understand the background of something. I feel this gives me unique insights into events and people that other people miss out on. It piggy backs on the puzzle thing as well as I need to have all the pieces fit and make sense or I am unsettled.
One of my ADHD assets is spelling and being a wordsmith
I’m good at figuring things out. I’m good at looking at situations differently.
My husband of 48 years and daughter are ADD so I have observed a lot of ADD weaknesses and strengths
They are very peripherally aware——they notice everything going on around them.
This could be both helpful and dangerous cities or in forests— Also, it can be fun in that they notice beautiful things that I, in my focus, could miss. My daughter can spot every person she knows in an auditorium in 5 minutes—-
They are very loyal to those they love–more so than non ADDers
They have an innocence that continues into adulthood that is refreshing and endearing
There’s more but this is it for now!
I do not have ADHD, but my husband and son do, and a strength of theirs is their caring for others.
The untapped brilliance blog has been named one of The Best ADHD Blogs… for the 5th year in a row!! It’s such an honor. While I don’t write blog articles to win awards, it is really fun to receive one.
The morning I started the blog is burned into my memory. I was living downtown, drinking my coffee, and I had an inspired thought, ‘I should start a blog.’ So I ran to my laptop and googled ‘how to start a blog’ while Kitty casually watched on.
At first there were just a few readers but I kept writing articles.
Now, 10 years later, UntappedBrilliance.com gets over 30,000 visits a month.
I know there are blogs and websites that get lots more visits than that. However, 30,000 feels like a huge number to me! That is a lot of people (from countries all around the world) getting their ADHD questions answered.
Another cool thing, I have gotten to know many readers so they feel like pen pals and friends. I havemet some in real life too. Just last summer, one reader visited Montreal from Hawaii and another from British Columbia.
Technology is often said to isolate people. My experience has been the opposite! UntappedBrilliance.com has allowed me to connect with tens of thousands of readers and it has also allowed readers to connect with each other, both in the comments section of the blog and in the courses I run.
For example in Essentially Brilliant (my flagship course), members connect and share experiences in the monthly live calls and form friendships outside the course too. If you haven’t met anyone with ADHD before, being in a virtual room of people just like you is very liberating and healing. One member said her shame and embarrassment about having ADHD has vanished as a result.
Thank you for being here! thank you for reading! it wouldn’t be the same without you. And thank you Healthline.com…it’s a huge honour!
A timer seems to be such a simple tool, that it is easy to overlook it in the hunt for a more complex solution. However, a simple kitchen timer can be your biggest friend and productivity partner.
Here are 7 ways your timer can help you1. Stops Procrastination
If you are feeling resistance to starting a task, set your timer for 5 minutes and say to yourself, “I will just do it for 5 minutes”, you can do anything for 5 minutes. Even the most boring, difficult or scary task.
When the timer goes off, you will probably feel a little annoyed because you were just getting into a groove. Next, set your timer for 10 minutes. Then, 15. Continue to increase the time by 5 minutes until you get to 30 minutes. If at any point you start feeling any reluctance or anxiety, then go back to 5 minutes again.
2. Stops You from Feeling Overwhelmed
Working in short–timed segments feels ‘do–able’. The stress and overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to start melts away. In the same way that a journey of a 1000 miles starts with one step. The way out of your overwhelm starts with 5 minutes.
3. Keeps You Focused
If you are prone to jumping up every time to think of something, then your timer helps you to stay focused and on task. Any tasks that come to mind before the timer rings, write them down on a pad of paper besides you and promise you will take care of them later. The more you use your timer, the less you will think of other things while you are working on a task.
4. Gives You a Sense of Accomplishment
Every time your timer goes off, you feel a sense of accomplishment; which is great because then, you get a shot of dopamine and feel motivated to do more. If you are working on a large project, where the finish line is far away in the distance, the timer provides pit stops along the way, where you get to feel proud of what you have done.
5. Stops You from Feeling Scattered
If you look at your do–to list and it is full of little unrelated tasks, your day can pass by and even though you are crossing things off, you feel scattered and unproductive. A timer gives your day structure. Look at your list and decide which tasks you are going to do in the next 30 minutes. Set your timer and work on those things. When the timer rings, have a mini break and set your goal for the next 30 minutes.
6. Turn Tasks into a Game
When you are faced with boring tasks, using a timer can turn things into a game. Estimate how long you think something will take you, then set your timer and see if you can complete the task (without compromising your standards) in the time allotted or less. You can do this for anything: from paying a bill, to putting away your groceries.
7. Helps You Get Your Housework Done
Your timer will help you with your housework too. Almost everyone I know with ADHD hates housework, but with your timer’s help, you can turn it into a fun game.
Vitamin D is a superhero among vitamins! Yet it is only recently that we realize it had super powers.
20 years ago, we thought Vitamins D’s job was to make strong bones, because of its role in regulating calcium. Now we know Vitamin D plays a much bigger role than just our bones. It has a vital part in our physical, mental and psychological well being.
Vitamin D is the only Vitamin that is a hormone and each tissue in the body has Vitamin D receptors. Vitamin D is needed by every part of our body, including our brain, heart and immune system, so that we can operate at our best. Having optimum levels of Vitamin D protects against many illnesses and diseases including depression, flu, cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and much more.
Despite being so important, vitamin D levels in the general population are at an all time low. One of the leading reasons for this is because in the 1980’s, we started to use more sunscreen. Optimum levels for a healthy person is 50 nanograms /ml. However, most people living in the modern world don’t meet these requirements.
Why is Vitamin D important when you have ADHD?
There is a connection between ADHD and low Vitamin D levels. A recent study found that Vitamin D deficiency was seen more in children with ADHD than in the control group. In children with ADHD, the average vitamin D level was 16.6 ng/ml; in contrast, in children without ADHD, it was at 23.5 ng/ml.
4 reasons why keeping your Vitamin D levels within the recommended range is extra important when you have ADHD
Increases dopamine and norepinephrine levels, which reduces the negative symptoms of ADHD)
Increases production of Acetylcholine, which helps you to maintain focus, and concentration
Encourages the growth of nerve cells for memory storage and executive function; both of which can be problematic when you have ADHD
Is involved in the release of serotonin, which helps with depression and SAD: 2 conditions that people with ADHD can struggle with
Your Vitamin D Action Plan!
1) Find out What your Vitamin D Levels Are.
Do you know what your Vitamin D level is? Most people don’t know what theirs is because testing isn’t routinely done by your doctor. However, you can ask to be tested! There are 2 test options. The best one for checking your overall Vitamin levels is the 25 (OH)D test; also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
2) Create a Plan to Increase Your Levels.
It will probably involve spending more time in the sunlight (though be careful not to burn) and taking a supplement.
Taking a Vitamin D3 has been found to be more helpful in raising and keeping vitamin levels at a healthy level than D2.
How much should you take?
The recommended amount seems to vary depending who you ask!
From 600IU to 2,000 IU, and much higher. It would be best to consult with your doctor and get a personalized recommendation based on your current Vitamin D levels, your weight, skin type as well as your general health and the meds you are on.
3) Recheck Your Levels
After you have implemented your plan for a period of time (e.g 6 months), get your levels rechecked to see if there has been an improvement. In addition to the test results, after a short period of time, you will (hopefully) notice improvement to your mood, memory, attention, etc.
Healthy food is good for our general health and well-being, plus it helps ADHD symptoms.
While convenience food is tempting for ADHDers because it’s quick and requires little or no forward planning, the downside is, you have no control over the quality of the ingredients used.
Even in fancier restaurants where they pride themselves on fresh ingredients, there are drawbacks. For example, one of the reasons restaurant food tastes so delicious is the extra fat, salt or sugar they use.
When you cook at home, you know exactly what is in your food so it is healthier.
A website that takes the pain out of cooking is Elanas Pantry
Elana doesn’t have ADHD but she does have a few health issues such as MS and celiac disease. These health challenges prompted her to create healthy, simple and easy recipes that don’t compromise on taste, flavour or style.
What makes Elana’s recipes ADHD-friendly?
All the recipes are simple and easy to make! Even if you are new to cooking, you will be able to make them. Elana doesn’t make a big deal out of how simple they are. She just tells you what to do, using straightforward matter of fact language.
Elana has a knack for creating delicious recipes while making them feel do-able.
Use Few Ingredients
Elana uses as few ingredients as possible. That means food shopping is quick. Plus, you don’t need to buy lots of items that you will only use once. It also makes cooking quicker. I don’t know about you, but when I look at a recipe that has an extensive list of ingredients, I feel overwhelmed and my desire to cook vanishes.
This doesn’t happen at Elana’s pantry. If anything, you are wondering how something so seemingly basic on paper tastes so good.
All the recipes on the site are gluten free. That’s great if you follow a gluten free diet, because you don’t need to figure out how to make substitutes. If you don’t follow a gluten free diet, it is still helpful to reduce your gluten intake when you are living with ADHD.
All the main dishes on the site are sugar-free. YAY! Plus, if you have a sweet tooth and feel like baking, Elana uses alternatives to refined sugar in her dessert recipes.
Some ADHDers find that going dairy-free helps their ADHD symptoms. The recipes are mainly dairy free.
Here are some of my favourite recipes from Elana’s pantry.
I make both of these several times a month and always feel like a very clever cook.
For maximum productivity, you need to create a physical environment that promotes your ability to focus and concentrate. Here are the 6 things that every ADHD adult needs in their workspace in order to work as effectively as possible.
1. A Clear Desk
Clear your desk of everything except the bare essentials. Get rid of the piles of paper, empty coffee mugs, etc. As someone with ADHD, you are a visual person. That means you will find clutter more distracting than your non-ADHD peers. Are you thinking “but my clutter doesn’t bother me?” You might not think it distracts you, but on a subconscious level, it does. It’s very hard to focus and work productively when you are surrounded by visual reminders of your other unfinished projects.
2. Are You Sitting Comfortably?
Is your work space physically comfortable? A lot of people will ‘make do’ with an uncomfortable working environment for months; even years. These ‘little’ niggles can seriously affect how you are able to focus and concentrate, which in turn, affects your productivity. Take stock now of your desk area and decided what your niggles are.
Here are some suggestions:
Turn the heat up or down so you are comfortable.
Is the lighting too dim, or too bright?
Chair and desk
Are they the right height for you?
Are you twisting at a strange angle to reach your computer?
Maybe cigarette smoke or musty garbage need emptying?
ADHDers are much more sensitive to all these things, so don’t feel as if you are making a fuss.
Do you work best in a quiet environment? Or do you do your best work in a busy noise area? There is no right or wrong answer. Different people have different preferences. We know which we prefer and find it very hard to imagine how other people can concentrate when their preferences are so different to ours.
Now, what can you do to make sure you can do your best work? Get ear phones and listen to music? Go to a conference room to get some quiet time? Or head to a coffee shop if you work from home and like to be around people?
Distractions are poisonous to your productivity!
Turn your phone off
Shut the door
Turn your email off
Block all the sites on the web that cause you to get distracted
One client did these things and his productivity went through the roof! He conservatively estimates he is saving 3 hours a day. Now, he has a new problem! He feels guilty for having all this extra time when he feels he should be working. However, it’s a good problem to have!
5. Use a Timer
Now you have created a conductive work environment, use a kitchen timer to keep yourself on task. Set your timer for 30 minutes and focus on one task. When the timer goes off, get up; stretch your legs and then work for another 30 minutes. Breaking your work into 30 minute chunks is helpful because it trains your brain to focus on one thing for enough time, so that progress on your projects can be made.
6. Use a Note Book
When you first start using your timer, you will find that thoughts of other tasks pop into your mind. In the past, you might have taken action on those thoughts straight away, in case you would forget about them. However, that isn’t productive. When you have those thoughts, write them in your notebook. Then, you can take action later. The more you use your timer, the less you think of other things while you are working on a task.
What do you have in your work space that helps with productivity ? Leave a note in the comments below!