Unlocking ADHD writer Terrie Wong shares 10 tips and tricks that work for her in coping with her ADHD symptoms.
Although I am into my 6th year of retirement, I still use an A4-sized diary. Entries are colour-coded, with on-site appointments in red (highlighted in green), Zoom appointments (yellow highlight); Grand-children’s activities in bright blue ink, Tentative or reminders in pencil, etc. There’s enough space for me to unload notes onto which makes for easier recall later.
In fact, I have gotten so good at keeping my diary, my grand-kids even called me from Indonesia when I was back in Singapore: ‘Ah Ma, do I have music class today?’ or ‘Ah Ma, when’s my braces appointment?’ Even my son sometimes checks his kids’ activities with me.
Keeping a diary allows me to plan and pace myself better. It’s a great way to reduce energy dispersion!
At my first job, I used to drive my boss mad by being 15 minutes late every morning. No amount of talking too could get me out of this bad habit. Now, I overcompensate by being early for appointments. I like to look around to get a feel of the place before meeting somebody, especially somebody new.
- Thought Completion
Most of us today are constantly agitated because we have many unfinished thoughts swirling around our heads every day. I take some time before bedtime to do some mental housekeeping by completing those thoughts before sorting or discarding them. In the morning however, the little time I allow my mind to free play often results in a burst of creative ideas or solutions to problems and useful reminders.
This habit of regular housekeeping of thoughts keeps my mind clear, calm and in a good flow throughout the day. If I am upset during the day, I would take the earliest opportunity to think through the situation and clear it from my mind and heart. I do big picture art in the ether!
Through experience, I found that imagining myself going through a presentation is excellent for the preparation, so much so I now invariably imagine myself doing tedious tasks, eg. spring cleaning. It gives me an emotional boost which spurs me to get started. One small task leads to another and the job is finished faster than I thought it would take.
- Clear the little things first
Do whatever you feel like doing. Start anywhere… The emotional boost helps me get out of inertia or procrastination. When I have started doing something, the compulsion to finish propels me through the rest of the task.
- Don’t leave things to the last minute!
I create soft deadlines to prepare myself emotionally for completing tedious tasks. I tell myself: ‘All right, enough sitting upon it, I must get down to doing it now!’ It also helps to gather stuff, etc in preparation to do the job. As a corporate salesperson before, I learned never to leave things to the last minute as something would invariably come up to derail my plans.
- Having a place for everything
Physical orderliness and mental orderliness go together. I still forget where I put things especially since I tend to put away things mechanically without thinking. Imagine if I was a less tidy person…
- Restrain and observe
I restrain myself from speaking first and interrupting people when they are talking.I learn to observe and let others speak first to gauge the field. Through experience, I found it good practice to hold back on my writing till the next day and read it again for a final check.
Getting enough sleep and taking regular meals is my mantra. When I am tired, I can nap anywhere. Even a 5-minute shut-eye in the car does wonders. When I do not have time to eat a proper meal, I will just eat anything (keep snacks handy) to keep hunger away. This way, I don’t get stressed unnecessarily and can maintain a better handle over myself.
I allow myself only a cup of coffee in the morning. If I am fatigued, I allow myself half a bottle of chicken essence in the morning. Any more and I may get too agitated and be unable to sleep at night.
I used to do more active sports when I was younger but now, I find that simple yoga stretching upon waking up helps to clear tension from the body and allows me to sit at the desk without aching the whole day. A regular osteopathy session or shiatsu massage is a luxury worth paying for.
- Immersing myself into my hobbies
Reading, writing, meditating, keeping my mini air-plant garden, whatever is the latest passion I could immerse myself in is good for the inner self.
I hope my lived experience above can help you cope with your condition as they have done for me.