If my brain is working really hard, can I be expected also to make the best decisions?

Cake or fruit?
That is the question.

Willpower and cognitive processing draw from the same pool of resources.

I should be making the handouts for my talk on SEO at the upcoming ACO conference. But it’s complicated:  the writing, the editing, the figuring out what is enough and what is probably too much.

I think I need a snack. Mmmmmmm … Sugared nuts my sister-in-law made for Christmas.  Probably not the best choice at 9 AM.  But that’s what my brain said I wanted.

Why did I not choose an apple, or an orange or one of those pretty-close-to-too-ripe bananas? And what does this have to do with people who live and work with ADHD?  As it turns out, a lot.

Kathy Sierra wrote in her blog, Serious Pony:

…165 grad students were asked half to memorize a seven-digit number and the other half to memorize a two-digit number.

After completing the memorization task, participants were told the experiment was over, and then offered a snack choice of either chocolate cake or a fruit bowl.

The participants who memorized the seven-digit number were nearly 50% more likely than the other group to choose cake over fruit.

Researchers were astonished by a pile of experiments that led to one bizarre conclusion:

Willpower and cognitive processing draw from the same pool of resources.

Said a different way,  if you (or someone you love or work with) is working on a problem—homework, moderating behavior at work, designing an algorithm or a grocery list—you’re using the same brain power as you’d use to choose to eat healthy, or exercise, or perhaps, remember to call your mother regularly.

If a person is pulled from a hyperfocus haze, the probability of that person choosing appropriate behavior—say civility to spouse or boss—is pretty low.

Here’s my question:

If ADHD coaches try to help clients get better at making decisions, what if the mere act of repeated deciding decreases the probability of making “good” decisions at all?

If too much information makes it hard for a client to “track” what you’re saying, then not only are you confusing them, you’re making it harder for them to choose “right.”

When I was editor of Circle, above all, I wanted what we published to be useful.  As a professional organization, I believe that what we publish should help others in the field find success using the lessons of those who are wiser. I’m glad if you were on TV. But how did you get there? That might be useful.

Now the better question seems to be:

..instead of “Is this useful?” perhaps we should raise the bar and ask “Will they use it?”

Maybe I’m rambling here. But I think there is something useful here. If you have an idea about that, I’d sure like to know about it. Write something in the comments!

Kerch McConlogue, We Fix Broken WebsitesKerch McConlogue, CPCC, used to be a coach and somehow can’t stop thinking about deciding and how coaches and coaching works for people with ADHD.  Now she helps coaches and other businesses people decide about their websites  at WeFixBrokenWebsites.com

How do you know your ADHD meds are working?

Medicine can affect you physically, mentally and emotionally.

It helps to have a clear appreciation about what that is–exactly– for you.

Download and print out the McConlogue Med Monitor.

Fill in the blanks for a days or so. Stimulant meds go in and out of your system pretty fast. So if you don’t make it thru one whole day, try again tomorrow.

It will help you see clearly how your meds are affecting you.

Take it with you when you next see your doctor.  They seem to like papers!

It might help you be more specific with your information.

Another way to get up in the morning

“So,” they said, “If you run this app on your phone,
use the app’s alarm,
then sleep with the phone under your pillow,
it will wake you up at the perfect time within about a half hour window.”
AND it would also show a chart how deep your sleep was and how many times you woke up in the night.

I was skeptical about the alarm part. Seems a little like waiting for the tooth fairy!

But that last part about how many times I awake in the night was something I was really curious about.  It seems like I wake up hundred times each night. Turns out not nearly so many. AND it also shows how LONG I’m awake or nearly awake in that night.

And here’s the thing.

I didn’t read the directions quite right. So I didn’t realize I had actually SET the alarm. I had the phone on silent so it only quietly buzzed at me in the morning.  And man, it was spot on! I was actually ready to get moving.

If I were a crazy heavy sleeper like my son, I could have made the alarm as loud as my phone goes… and set off right under his head?  I bet THAT would do the trick!

Check it out.  At press time it cost $.99 for iPhones only, I think.

Support Group for Adults with ADHD

These often informal groups offer low cost or free avenues for information about living with ADHD.

I run one specifically for adults with ADHD in the Baltimore area, sponsored by the Baltimore Regional Chapter of CHADD. You can find information about those meetings, as well as other chapter meetings in Maryland on the calendar listing page of the chapter’s website.

If you’re not in Maryland, check the website of the national CHADD for chapters near you. (the map to find a chapter is WAY at the bottom of the page!)  Also check on the ADDA website for support groups for adults with ADD.

Keeping track of time

I do a lot of different jobs for lots of different people. Some is paid, some is volunteer. The paid work I have to be able to bill for. Some of the paid work has parts that are not paid. And the volunteer work, well, I’d just like to know how much of my day I’m giving away.

mechanical clockI just learned about a great program called Grindstone from Epiforge.

When you start working on a job, you click the name in the list you’ve made up yourself. And start the timer. When you’re done. You stop the timer. At the end of the day, or the week, or any span of time, you can get a report that tracks your time by project, by task or by profile (which I currently can’t quite figure out how to use). You can get a pie chart or a regular report. It’s great! You can print out a time sheet!

And the best thing is if you walk away from your machine, it tracks how long you’ve been idle. And then asks what you were doing for that last period of time. You can set that interval for whatever best suits you. If you were doing something you need to track time for, you can manually add that time. Or you can just click the button that says Grindstone shouldn’t worry about what you were doing.

I’d been doing pretty well using a Google side bar simple timer. Clicking to start and stop and then writing down the numbers in a journal. At the end of the month I look back thru it and tally up the numbers. But Grindstone is way more accurate.

Because the timer only keeps track up to one hour, and because sometimes I get so involved I forget about the time, then I might not know if that was 1 hour and 20 minutes or 2 hours and 20 minutes. Grindstone knows the right answer. And it’s way more accurate!

Oh, and by the way, did I mention it’s FREE!