Ever have the experience of needing to write a lengthy document, only to have your mind freeze as you’re overcome with the feeling of dread and shame as you think to yourself, I can’t do it.
That’s a more common experience than you may realize. It happened to me last week. I have an opportunity to present my strategies to the staff of the school in another state. Their liaison requested a proposal of what I would present to staff.
The first thing I did was over complicate it by declaring to myself, “I don’t know how to write a proposal.” So my brain immediately stopped problem-solving. For a week, it sat in my inbox unattended to, as I saw it as too daunting a task for me to tackle. Similar to the student who has a book report due but finds every reason not to do it.
I hoped my wife Cathy would be able to help me complete this project. However, Cathy came down with the flu and was sick in bed for several days so I was in a bind. I’d have to find a way to do this on my own.
The first thing I needed to do was change my belief. So instead of thinking, I can’t write a proposal. I asked myself, How do I write this proposal? I read the email again, this time paying more attention to specifically what details we’re being asked for. Then I waited. For what you ask? For my brain to do the work.
One thing many people with ADHD don’t learn about their brains, is they are very good at solving problems on a subconscious level. When you wait long enough it will simply thrust the answer into the conscious mind. I know you’ve had moments when you randomly experience an epiphany in the middle of your day. This is why that happens.
One of the greatest misunderstandings in academia is that a written document must be written in order. Of course, this approach made much more sense in the era of the typewriter. In the digital age, we are in now, we have the freedom to write out of order. Which for those of us with ADHD is a blessing.
Ultimately, I created the proposal by reading the email and its list of requirements. I would then move on to other things while my subconscious worked on it. I leverage technology so that any document I’m working on is synchronized to all of my devices. No matter where I am when the epiphany hits me, I’m able to write it down in the document where it belongs.
After writing down each epiphany, I reread the email so my subconscious can work on any questions it hasn’t answered yet. I continue this practice until all of the questions have been answered. Only then do I worry about what order the information is in.
In this case, I used the order of the questions in the email as a guideline for how to order the information in the proposal. When I felt it was finished I emailed it to the liaison who read it and responded with great joy and enthusiasm.
This is one of the joys of modern technology. It allows me to use my brain the way it’s designed to. So I can give my best in my own special way.
What special tricks of you learned to get the very best out of your scatterbrain?