Hey ADHD, we see you.

And probably ASD, and mental health and chronic health challenges, too. You make getting things done really REALLY hard some times. You (ADHD, ASD, mental/chronic health challenges) welcome in procrastination, and then worry about procrastination, and that combo is super fabulous, right?

These conditions can challenge our ability to focus and concentrate, to the point that anything- ANYTHING!!!- sounds better than getting started on those Spanish vocab note cards or the five-page term paper due next week. And is it really distraction, or is it anxiety, or the desire to avoid something that might be a little uncomfortable for awhile? Chicken or the egg, right?

And so, you have us choose something temporarily more enjoyable...like hang out with our phone for 5 minutes instead...but that becomes 45 minutes just. like. that. And now we've still got the big paper to start and it seems even bigger than before...and why not wait until tomorrow because things will definitely just be better then?? Then tomorrow is here and the paper is due so soon and it locks us in panic and our brain maybe tells us "you can't do this", and shoot, we even start believing what that brain is saying, so we don't try as hard as we could. UGH. The thing is, we're completely capable and plan to go to college. So we learn to stop this snowball before it starts rolling down the hill of procrastination, anxiety, and distraction.

We get it. This post? I delayed writing it this morning, because my cat is just so darn cute. So cute in fact, that I spent the first half hour of my designated writing time taking pictures of her and texting them to my sister. Who LIVES with me and sees the cat every day. So, how we behave sometimes just doesn't make sense. But when I check in with myself, I observe that I didn't know what I wanted to write about, and none of the ideas I came up with earlier sounded good and I didn't have a feeling of where to start. So, today's flavor of procrastination for me was annoyance, topped with a little bit of anxiety, which led to cat photos and working later than I had hoped.  So no judgement, just ideas. Rather, rules.

Shani's orange cat, looking not very amused.


"Rules" is not a dirty word

It's not. Try the word out on your tongue a few times, say it aloud fast, slow, whatever. Make friends with it. And let's not dress up the word to make it sound more fun, or nice, or sweet. They're rules. They are powerful. They make baseball games happen in the right way, and keep drivers in their car lanes. They fend off the enemies of procrastination and anxiety.

RULE 1: Check in. Answer these these questions before getting started: How do I feel about this assignment? What is my brain telling me about my capability (and do I need to choose a different message for myself?)? And, do I have any questions about the assignment that are holding me up? Answering these questions is actually part of your work- it helps you be more efficient in the end, even though they take up time at the beginning.

RULE 2: Break it DOWN, yo. Break assignments into parts, and make a plan of how long each step will take. It can be fun to do it backwards, too. Let's consider the term paper. Working backwards: Turn in paper, re-read final draft, write the final draft, have someone else edit your second draft, write your second draft, edit your first draft, write your first draft, craft an outline, brainstorm ideas... See how many parts there are? Two days before the paper is due just doesn't cut it. Craft your plan after breaking it down.

RULE 3: The set up. Craft your study area as a place for success, built strong with rules. This is the no arguments area. Statistically, doing the following increases your grades (or vice versa, doing the opposite tends to result in lower grades). NO PHONE (must not be visible or heard), NO INTERNET (if the assignment doesn't require it), NO MUSIC/NOISE WITH WORDS in your study area. Now, you're ready. Just do it.

I truly hope this helps. And now I'm late for yoga. Darn cat.