The New Year, for Sorcerers.
How ADHD folks can start their year off right.
Greetings, ADHD folk! It's 2024 and I have two messages for you. Firstly HAPPY NEW YEAR! You're going to CRUSH IT this year, I can feel it in my waters.
Secondly, don't buy that new planner/productivity tool/todo app. Seriously. We both know it won't help; They're not for you. They're for the NTs with their boring, functional executives.
You're a Sorcerer Bard; you can't equip Paladin gear. You need different tools and different spells for your adventure. Herein I shall do my best to identify some. With (some) citations! Lovely.
Take your pills; Eat; Exercise; Sleep.
Digital todo schedules, not lists
Get a small success in first thing
Break tasks into tiny, well defined tasks, as needed
Be pessimistic in time estimates
Make it your own
Potions and Training
Sourcery requires mental focus. Bards need stamina. You need to drink your Potion of Focus (be it Ritalin, Dex, or something else) and make sure you eat, sleep, and exercise, before you're ready to set off on your quest.
It's Dangerous to Go Alone
Arrange a body double; Ideally someone who will do the work of organising said doubling!
What is Body Doubling?
Is it efficacious? Despite being widely practised, significant research is yet to be conducted. Dobrowolski believes that body doubling introduces external pressure which, conversely, helps keep the ADHD learner engaged (Dobrowolski, 2022). Eagle et al found that
many people were unfamiliar with the term but had intuitively been using the strategy (Eagle et al, 2023)
Which suggests we're participating because we've found it helpful. Clever us!
I started a linguistics degree in 2021 (because that's a sane thing for a Software Engineer employed full time to do) and part of the course on how to be successful at language learning made us try the Pomodoro technique. I hated it. It also worked really well.
What is Pomodoro?
Is it efficatious? One of the best ways to get us going is strong incentives (Dovis et al, 2021). Pomodoro provides two such incentives. Firstly, they function as a deadline, providing urgency (found to be helpful in a work environment by Lasky et al, 2016). Secondly, you get a reward every 5 minutes, when you can do whateverthefuck you want! The method includes built in termination times, so you don't hyperfocus into oblivion.
Use Specters, not Scribes
You will forget the planner. I assure you. But, you must still keep track of every tedious task and need in some fashion, and that fashion should be digitally, with the spirits of the cloud.
You cannot lose the cloud.
Furthermore, you should avoid having todo lists and try having a todo schedule. If something is important enough to do, it is important enough to schedule time for. If it isn't, you probably won't remember it anyway.
Please don't take that pointed tone with me. I don't say it to be cruel.
We suffer greatly when forced to estimate exactly how long it will take to ride from Candlekeep to Waterdeep, or how the amount of time we need to mend that damnable gauntlet that keeps snagging. Be pessimistic. Double estimates. Record how many Pomodoros it takes to do something, so you'll have a good idea for next time.
Stab the Goblin. Squishy, Squishy Goblins.
Start each day with a simple, easy to accomplish task, so you gather XP at the first step. If it's something you enjoy, it's like getting some loot, as well.
Perhaps you don't have a simple, easy to accomplish task? I very much doubt that, but in that case, what is the smallest possible thing you could do to progress a larger task? You might not be ready to slay the Wyvern, but you can ask at the tavern if anyone's lost any sheep, lately. Turn the bigger task into a pile of Goblins as you need too, rather than all at once.
Write your own spells
You may, of course, need more systematic structure. Conjure it yourself! Any system with rules from outside will make you feel stifled and stuck.
Try to construct the most minimal system you can, and feel free to change it up. We get bored easily, and productivity systems can be dreadfully dreary. Your system should be friviolous, and rewarding.
A grand experiment
This year, I am trying something new myself, that being themes. I have no evidence this will work, but I shall attempt to tackle shame by committing to anything that isn't for the furthering of my themes. I am still free to dabble and drift, but shall only be focusing, when concerned, on two areas:
Career - I shall launch the app I have been working on, on and off, for two years now.
Health - Heavy things, the repetitive lifting and lowering of said.
Good luck on your quest!
Dobrowolski, S. (2022). Attention Is Not the Solution: Experiences of University Students With ADHD With Remote Learning (Bachelor's thesis, University of Twente).
Dovis, S., Van der Oord, S., Wiers, R.W. et al. Can Motivation Normalize Working Memory and Task Persistence in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder? The Effects of Money and Computer-Gaming. J Abnorm Child Psychol 40, 669–681 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-011-9601-8
Eagle, T., Baltaxe-Admony, L. B., & Ringland, K. E. (2023, October). Proposing Body Doubling as a Continuum of Space/Time and Mutuality: An Investigation with Neurodivergent Participants. In Proceedings of the 25th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (pp. 1-4).
Lasky, A. K., Weisner, T. S., Jensen, P. S., Hinshaw, S. P., Hechtman, L., Arnold, L. E., ... & Swanson, J. M. (2016). ADHD in context: Young adults’ reports of the impact of occupational environment on the manifestation of ADHD. Social Science & Medicine, 161, 160-168.