Like others coping with adult ADHD (see also Leigh’s post and this article) I find it exceptionally hard to manage time. I’ve tried so many systems, and I have piles of lists and bullet journals that I’ve abandoned. But one thing I keep coming back to is “the pomodoro method“.

Super simply, it goes like this: Set a time for 25 minutes. During which, do the thing. When the timer dings, stop.

There’s a super-system where you take 5-minute breaks between repeated sessions and a longer break after four or something, but who has that kind of time?

Screenshot of google calendar for this week; almost entirely meetings.

I think there are a few reasons that this works for me. One – at any given time, I’m usually stressed about 3-7 large-scale items that need deep, creative attention, which could each eat up as much time as I can give them, all must get done but not super urgently, and are most likely to get pushed to the side in favour of answering random emails. I get stuck, because no matter what I choose, I can argue that I’m making the wrong choice. But 20 minutes won’t hurt anyone, so I can take that time and focus on something that I want to give my full attention to, stress-free.

Second – It’s long enough that I can actually focus and do the thing. And it seems to be about the right time where after the 25 minutes, a break actually helps because it lets me step back right before I get stuck down a rabbit hole, see the big picture, and often reframe my goals.

Third – and this is the most important, it does not require constant compliance. So many systems promise to organize your life – but you have to stick with them religiously. Some day I’ll write about my relationship with my bullet journal (and how it became abusive). I could go into how productivity methods echo Foucauldian disciplinary penal structures, with regimes that require you to always be producing! Highly structured! Schedules! But the pomodoro doesn’t care. You can come back to the pomodoro whenever you want, without punishment. It’s a good friend like that. It’s also indifferent to whether you actually “finished the thing” or how many things got finished. Who does the cult of productivity really serve? (Our capitalist masters is who.) And regardless, it gives a reasonably attainable feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Speaking of capitalism (and hah I am in no way sponsored by this but)… I want to voice my appreciation for OXO Good Grips and their accessible design. I have a few of their kitchen gadgets, and they’re easy on the hands. I’m not sure if their “Triple Timer” was intended for physical ease of use, or for the time-blind like me, but having three pre-set countdowns, plus a desk clock is a huge help. Sometimes it’s worth having a dedicated device, because I can never find the beeping tab among my 48 open, and I can’t start a timer on my phone without answering 3 different messages and checking social apps.


Bleep Bloop (Am I ADHD or just a piece of shit?)

Contains: mental health topics, including seeking emergency help.

I’m back to work tomorrow, and I’m terrified. I was hoping that a full 4 weeks of vacation would bring me back that vigor, that ambition, that I-can-do-all-the-things-and-be-calm-about-it feeling that I felt two years ago, after hiking the West Coast Trail.

I felt alive. I wanted to wake up in the morning and take on the day. I used my bullet journal extensively, even starting each morning by writing in it on the porch with my coffee. I wanted – expected – to have that feeling back by now. Not that productivity is the goal of vacation, but… it would have felt nice.

Then I read this comic by ADHD Alien (original post)

and hoo-boy that sounds familiar. I’ve been in the “quitting” stage for a good half-year now, in one way or another. Burnout is what brought me to the hospital, about a month before my vacation.

But of course, an inner voice tells me that relating to self-reported ADHD symptoms does not a diagnosis make. Since it’s gotten worse in the last few years (and I don’t remember it being this bad in childhood), it probably isn’t “legitimate” according to the DSM-5 and I am deficient – intellectually, morally – if I don’t pull my own shit together. And even if I do deserve to claim a disability, if i don’t internalize that comic right now and fix my ways, then I’m just being willfully useless.

Out loud, now, Rosie: “That is bullshit.” Another thing I struggle with is calling out the inner narrative when it criticizes me. I’d rather appease “them” by going along with the bullshit, to my own self-detriment, until I can’t anymore and I can point to myself and say “look at what you did to me” than push back. So even writing that down was a small act of injury, which I took in order to practice calling bullshit (and  believing myself when I do). I’m not sure if that was the right thing to do. Some inner voices don’t deserve to see the light of day.

So I really, really hope that that PEI takes action on the 1000-patient psychiatric waiting list that I’m on. But if the 5 years I’ve been on the 4-year-long family doctor waiting list is any indication, it’ll be a little while.

I’ll get back into the swing, but I might have to take it slow. Assistance, as described in the comic above, would be appreciated.