Being Effective

Do What is most Effective


Question:
I have ADD and find it difficult to pay attention to the skills. It seems like I have to tell myself to pay attention a thousand times a day. Itís not really a DBT skill, but Iíve started using a kitchen timer over and over to help me remember what to do next.


Answer:
I think your process is healthy, especially so because it works. I think we always need to do whatever works for us, no matter what it is, even if it doesn't fit into a category. I made a CD with a bell that rings at the beginning and end and every 5 minutes in-between, but silent the rest of the time. I've used it to increase my meditation time and that's worked for me because it seems like the more I practice a dedicated "centering and quieting the mind" period, the more likely I am to stay in the moment later on. It doesn't mean that I'm actually "clear minded" that whole time. It just means that I practiced it and the act of the practice is the measure of success (at least according to Jon Kabat-Zinn).

I use the same technique you describe sometimes because I also have ADD and I'm quite capable of going to a room and forgetting why I'm there and taking on whatever is in that room which may lead me somewhere else in the house where I forget why I'm there as well.


But I also know about myself that when I'm not spacing out, when I do become attentive to something, I will move into "hyperfocus," a state in which I get so caught up in what I'm doing that I can lose touch with the world around me and have trouble letting go. Knowing these things, I have assigned certain times when I need to do what's important and when I get to that important thing, I set the alarm. Like I have 20 minutes for meditating and an hour for writing. The difficult thing is remembering to get to the important things, because the daily details threaten to dominate the day. So I use the "one moment at a time" idea and just try to keep saying, "Is that really important to do right now?" After I have the important things done (important to me and my mental health), then I let move to "What's next."


-Lisa

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