How to Get Your Brain’s Attention: Give it Marching Orders

So there you are, another morning with brain fog. There’s that important project you know you should be working on, but you can’t get through to your brain about actually working on it.

Yes, you know what you should do. And you know how to do it. But you just can’t get your brain to go along with you.

Here is one of my favorite ways to work with your ADHD (instead of fighting against it) to get your brain to pay attention:

Step 1. When you notice that you’re drifting or have that “mired in mud” feeling and just cannot do the thing you know you should be doing, or, you watch yourself getting involved in something else you can “get out of the way quickly,” which of course is just procrastination -- the very moment you notice it, STAND UP. If you’re already standing up, take a step back, shake your arms, and stand at attention.

Step 2. From there, give yourself marching orders. Whatever it is you should be doing, say it out loud, as if placing an order with your brain. “I will now work on that report for 20 minutes.”

Step 3. Set your timer for a reasonable length of time, like 20 to 30 minutes. Make it short and do-able.

Step 4. Then do the thing. Don’t think about it, don’t argue with yourself, just do what you told yourself to do.

Try this even if you don’t think it will work — you may surprise yourself. There’s something about standing at attention and making the announcement that inputs what you say next into your brain as an absolute, like a directive from the boss. Don’t argue with it, just do it. The more often you do this exercise, the better it will work for you.

How this works

I don’t know why it works, but I’m guessing it has something to do with the executive functions, and the fact that we lack that split second “pause” that non-ADDers have that gives them the opportunity to decide if they should react to a stimulus or not. ADDers don’t have that pause, so we just react. Maybe that’s why this works, if you give it a chance. We just react by doing what the voice tells our brain to do, after we got its attention by standing up or shaking it off. It’s a theory!

Many times I think, “This is not going to work this time,” and then I stand up and give the orders, and darned if it doesn’t clear the cobwebs, and I can get started on my work. Again, the more you do this, the better it works — even if you do feel silly doing it.

Don’t shrug this off without trying it. This is truly working with your ADHD brain instead of against it — you’re trusting it to do what you need it to in a creative way, instead of dooming it to failure by badmouthing it and expecting it to let you down.

Let us know how it works for you!

 

Trackbacks

  1. […] Check out Marcia’s suggestions in her article, “How to Get Your Brain’s Attention: Give it Marching Orders.” She has a great strategy to get your brain working for you […]

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