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How to Concentrate and Foc. . .Oh, Look, DAISIES!

November 29, 2017

It was not turning out to be a very productive day. We were in a week long implementation rollout for our big project. It was only the second day, but we were way ahead of schedule. In fact, we had finished the first two days worth of work by noon on Monday, the first day. Our support teams wouldn’t be ready for our Wednesday tasks until, well, Wednesday. So, Tuesday was a down day. We followed up on a few outstanding issues from Monday, but mostly it was a time to be productive on other things.

Except I wasn’t. I hadn’t planned anything for Tuesday because I was planning to be busy with our rollout. So, I kind of bounced from meeting to meeting that really didn’t need my presence.

Rodney, did you need something?

No, I just wanted to stop by and see how it’s going . . .with whatever you guys are working on.

Not my best day.

I have Adult ADHD. That’s like childhood ADHD except that people expect you to be able to work through it and be productive. I recently watched a Ted Talk where someone described ADHD as watching 30 different TV channels at the same time. . .and someone else is holding the remote. It’s not Attention deficit. It’s heightened attention. And if I don’t have something to focus on, I start watching those different stations all at once.

My role, both on this particular project, and in my day-to-day tasks is to communicate. In a meeting yesterday someone asked a question. The person answered it, but they answered the wrong question.

Yes, but once that is in place, who long before it appears in the database?

Oh, okay, yeah. I think it’s nearly instantaneous, but I’ll check.

I was not being obnoxious. Both people agreed that I’d made the communication work better. It happens multiple times per day. I’ve gotten to where I don’t even think about it. I simply translate what the person meant to say for the other project team member. I’ve learned to “stay in my lane.” In other words, I do that translation thing for my project, but I don’t presume to interject into other people’s conversations or projects.

My boss is in town. We were talking about my role in meetings and I was explaining about the 30 ADHD channels.

I have an entire separate meeting going on in my head.

‘I wonder why he said that? I’ll bet he forgot about that other point. The view out these windows is really gorgeous. I wonder when their plane leaves on Friday. I need to follow up on my travel request for next week. Why would the new headsets be randomly failing? Where did the name plantronics come from anyway? Who would play each of us in the movie? I need to buy ice cream for the team.’

And about a thousand more random thoughts.

And I realized that ADHD is probably the reason I can do that translation thing, and write this blog. Readers have told me that they enjoy my ability to pick two different topics and weave them together. Like earlier this week when I talked about Johnny Cash, junk cars, Billy Joel and fleas in a WWII concentration camp. I also tend to jump from topic to topic without transitions. That’s ADHD. It’s watching those 30 channels and seeing patterns between them.

When you put engineers and marketing people into the same meeting, they speak different languages. But, if you are watching the Big Band Theory and the Super Bowl commercial, you can pull examples from both sources. There’s a downside, of course. ADHD people get bored easily. The meeting is humming along at a speed of about 35 MPH, meanwhile the jet fighter in my head has already circled the building twice and has buzzed out to the mountains and back.

And that was my problem with down time. I was like a pinball bouncing back and forth. Occasionally someone would ask me a question, and it was like someone threw a ball. ZOOOOM off like a shot to grab some info and bring it back, before wandering to the next meeting I wasn’t invited to.

Oh wait, this post was supposed to be about how to focus in those situations. Oh look, daisies!

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

One Comment
  1. Patricia Nelson permalink

    I know where you inherited that ADHD thing. I laughed and laughed in reading your blog. Love you lots.

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