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Adult ADD: What Everybody Should Know... About How To Focus Attention

Focus is a very interesting thing. It’s kind of confusing for a lot of people. Sometimes people have focus when they don’t know that they’re focused. Some people just can’t seem to focus. Some people find that they’re focusing on the wrong things, and not the things they want to focus on. It’s difficult to measure.

Focus is a concept. It’s very difficult to say, “I’m focused" right? Versus, “I’m not focused,” because it’s very, very subjective. Where’s the focus scale? How...

focus, ADD, ADHD

Focus is a very interesting thing. It’s kind of confusing for a lot of people. Sometimes people have focus when they don’t know that they’re focused. Some people just can’t seem to focus. Some people find that they’re focusing on the wrong things, and not the things they want to focus on. It’s difficult to measure.

Focus is a concept. It’s very difficult to say, “I’m focused" right? Versus, “I’m not focused,” because it’s very, very subjective. Where’s the focus scale? How much does it weigh if you’re very focused? The concept is very personal. One person’s focus is another person’s distraction, and you really need to take these ideas into consideration when you’re talking about putting these principles and techniques into practice.

It’s good to develop a skill to turn focus on and off on demand, but you really want to be developing your natural areas that you’re able to focus in on like crazy. I'm talking about hyper-focus, when you really get into that zone where you literally can work on a project, be thinking about something, be reading a book, be watching a TV show, or be engrossed in a conversation about a topic, where you’ll forget to eat or where you’ll completely miss an appointment because you’re so focused on what you were into or working on.

When you’re working with this principle, technique, or concept, you have to remember that it’s a conscious choice in the beginning.

Let’s talk about doing dishes. I hate doing dishes and just can't focus on the task. I have hated doing dishes from the time I was a very small child. My parents will tell you plenty of stories about me getting distracted away from doing dishes. To this day, I still don’t enjoy doing dishes, and I do my absolute best to outsource it to whoever is eating dinner with me at the time. But sometimes you just have to do the dishes. So, how do you get the dishes done?

I’m going to give you some tricks, and please remember, what we’re talking about here isn’t dishes specifically. It's focus. What we’re talking about is your own dirty dishes. Whatever it is that’s like dirty dishes for you—maybe it’s your homework, if you’re in school; paying the bills is a very common one; getting your taxes organized in advance. There are some basic things that you can do to focus, that you can modify and plug in to whatever it is that you have to do on a regular basis, that you just don’t want to do.

Before I do the dishes, I make myself a nice pot of coffee. The second thing I do when I want to get a household chore done at high speed (because I’m a distance runner and love running), I actually get into my running clothes, shoes, shorts, and shirt, and do the dishes at high speed while dressed up like a runner. It’s kind of a funny sight, but it works. It works really well. Or, whatever religion you are, you can somehow incorporate that into what you’re doing. There are lots of very powerful ways to simply connect things that interest you, and include them in what you’re doing to focus and make what you hate to do less like work.

It’s very interesting the way this works. If you’re diagnosed or not diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, it doesn’t matter. We’re talking about your mental habits. If you need more help focusing, put some of these practices and concepts into action. A linear person focuses on one thing. Their emotions get balanced. They’re able to think ahead, plan ahead, and do things in sequence. That’s pretty good for focusing on one task at a time, such as doing the dishes. It’s a very monotonous, step-by-step kind of thing.

The ADD-type person focuses on one thing, and generally what happens, unless you’re able to hyper-focus, as we discussed earlier, your brain literally shuts down. The part of your brain that is in control of doing things in sequence, planning ahead, and doing things in order literally shuts down. The activity in your brain just goes “plop,” and what happens is your brain starts looking for other things to stimulate it so it can stay active, except it’s going on randomizer now, meaning it will just soak up whatever’s coming into your senses.

The point here is if you feed your senses with things that are related to what you’re trying to accomplish, you’ll stay focused on accomplishing that thing.
There are all sorts of different ways that you can play with this in your life.

 

How To Keep It Together When You Have ADD

When you have ADD, one thing you're probably not great at is keeping your living space together. You might have piles of stuff everywhere, including laundry, which is all over the floor of the bedroom. We know what we need to do, but just can bring ourselves to do stuff that's boring. Looking around at the mess can get a little depressing.

Just remember that you're not the only one with these issues. All ADD people have the same stuff to deal with. We just hate being bored...

ADD, ADHD, adult ADD, adult ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

When you have ADD, one thing you're probably not great at is keeping your living space together. You might have piles of stuff everywhere, including laundry, which is all over the floor of the bedroom. We know what we need to do, but just can bring ourselves to do stuff that's boring. Looking around at the mess can get a little depressing.

Just remember that you're not the only one with these issues. All ADD people have the same stuff to deal with. We just hate being bored, and cleaning and straightening bore us to death. That's just how it is. There are so many more interesting and fun things to do in life that we just don't worry about that kind of thing, but we really do want more ordered life. How can we get it?

ADD-friendly systems can help you. Try doing one load of laundry a day, for example. It's much easier to put one dryer load of clothes away than 7 at one time.

You can clean the same way. Do one chore each day, like sweep one day, dust the next. And leave the huge jobs, like window cleaning for somebody else. Pay them. It's pretty inexpensive, and it's better than never having it done at all.

But if this system doesn't fit with your ADD, try thinking of big jobs in chunks. Like, clean off the kitchen counter. Then, go to the refrigerator and throw old food that you don't recognize away. Then, empty the trash. Then, worry about the kitchen table. Do things one area at a time.

Maybe the best way for you will be doing the boring stuff 10 minutes at a time. Do some straightening or cleaning for 10 minutes and then, do something you like to do for 50 minutes. Then, start over again. You'll be amazed at what you can get accomplished with this routine.

Everyone with ADD has real approach-avoidance issues over doing boring things. We want a neat, organized place to live, but just can't bring ourselves to do what we need to do to have things that way. Try one of these systems, one you think will fit in with your personal brand of ADD. If it doesn't work well, try another. Nothing says that you can't have things the way you want them to be. You just have to find a system that suits you.

 

Focus groups - how to run them

Focus groups are fundamental as an input into any web design decisions - find out how to plan and successfully run them.

A focus group involves encouraging an invited group of participants to share their thoughts, feelings, attitudes and ideas on certain subject. Organising focus groups within an organisation can also be very useful in getting buy-in to a project from within that company.

When and why to use focus groups

Focus groups are most often used as an input to design.

Advantages of focus groups include:

- Quick, cheap and relatively easy to assemble
- Good for getting rich data in participants' own words and developing deeper insights
- People are able to build on one another's responses and come up with ideas they might not have thought of in a 1-on-1 interview
- Good for obtaining data from children and/or people with low levels of literacy
- Provides an opportunity to involve people in data analysis (e.g. "Out of the issues we have talked about, which ones are most important to you?")
- Participants can act as checks and balances on one another - identifying factual errors or extreme views

Limitations of focus groups include:

- The responses of each participant are not independent
- A few dominant focus group members can skew the session
- Focus groups require a skilled and experienced moderator
- The data which results from a focus group requires skill and experience to analyse

How to plan and prepare for focus groups

Invite around 6 to 8 people to participate for a session to last for about an hour. Then, prepare an agenda including a list of the top-level issues to be tackled (if appropriate).

Prepare an introduction script explaining the purpose of the day and how the day will be run. This can include issues of consent and fire regulations (if relevant). Be sure to always use a quiet room with few distractions and arrange people in a circle (possibly around a table).

Running focus groups

If appropriate, ask the participants to introduce themselves and/or wear name tags. Most importantly, all questions you ask should be open and neutral. It's also important for the moderator to be aware of participants' energy and concentration levels and provide short breaks if necessary. The moderator should encourage free-flowing discussion around the relevant issue(s).

Other tips for running focus groups include:

- Start on an issue people have strong feelings about and are familiar with
- Phrase issues in terms people will be familiar with
- Let participants know their contributions are valuable (both through what you say and also your body language)

It's also important that the moderator realises that:

- It may be necessary for them to step in and keep the session on-track
- Disagreements and debates are useful when they lead to new and interesting ideas, but have to be managed carefully
- Issues of power and privacy need to be managed sensitively

Focus groups should end with the moderator winding-up the session by stressing all that has achieved and casting it in a positive light.

Managing risks

A number of potential problems could arise during focus groups, which will all need addressing:

- If one participant tries to dominate the session, the moderator should invite each person to speak in turn
- Avoid interviewing friends in the same group as they can form cliques - if cliques do form, suggest taking a break and changing seating positions upon returning from the break
- Avoid personal confrontation - allow the group to police itself (e.g. "do others in the group agree?")
- Respect someone's right to be quiet, but do give them a chance to share their ideas 1-to-1 (e.g. during a break)
- Use differences of opinion as a topic of discussion - the moderator should avoid taking sides

Useful tips to encourage discussion

To facilitate useful, free-flowing discussion during the focus group, follow some of these tips:

- Ask participants to think about an issue for a few minutes and write down their responses
- Ask each participant to read, and elaborate on, one of their responses
- Note the responses on a flipchart/whiteboard
- Once everyone has given a response, participants will be asked for a second or third response, until all of their answers have been noted
- These responses can then be discussed

How to report

The minutes, or a summary document, should be produced for each session. A report should be written up, containing relevant profile information about the people who attended the session.

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