Today was a lousy focus day.

It happens. Even ADHD coaches have lousy focus days sometimes.

I’ve been taking short-acting Adderall on an as-needed basis for the last few months. Grad school is incredibly demanding – there’s a ton of reading and writing involved. I’m a full-time student and a full-time ADHD coach. Spending time with my family is important to me, as are self-care activities like exercise and a good night’s sleep. Reading is particularly challenging for me. So I simply don’t have time to read the same paragraph four times and still not know what it said.

What I’ve noticed about Adderall is that although it can help you focus, you will focus on whatever you set your sites on and nothing else. It’s like using a sniper rifle instead of a shotgun. But you have to aim the gun at the right thing. So if I get the idea in my head that my web site needs to be revamped, for example, I will be able to immerse myself in my HTML code for four hours straight. Sadly, that was not today’s target. I lost a good chunk of time to a project that isn’t even on my to-do list.

But! I’m a coach. Coaches don’t beat anyone up for less-than-stellar performance. We ask, “What did you learn from this? And what will you do differently tomorrow?” What will I do? Tomorrow, I am going to be more intentional with my time. I am going to identify my most important task, select my first action item, fire up my “let’s get focused” music, maybe take an Adderall, and get to work on the task I selected. Perhaps most importantly, I will NOT say “Let me just”. Once I get in the groove, I know I will be able to stay there.

I see staying focused as two-part process. First, you have to prime your brain for optimal focus. This involves sleep, diet, exercise, maybe medication. A distraction-free environment is important too. Second, you have to get off the fence and decide what you’re going to do. Figure out what’s most important, and commit to doing it and nothing else. That is my recipe for focus success. I’m not saying it’s easy – it’s certainly NOT easy when you have ADHD. But it is possible if you do these two things.

Tomorrow is a new day!