How do I get my child to work on their school work? How do I become more focused and productive at home? Practical strategies that help you and your family focus.
Does this sound like you? Consumed by worries of how your day is going to play out with new routines. The blender is going off in the kitchen while your wife makes a smoothie as her New Year’s resolution is to eat more healthy. Maybe you are worried that the internet will keep crashing and you know that as you walk through the hall to fix it, you will be greeted at the door with everyone’s scattered shoes!
Your child is not focusing on their online zoom class. You have become distracted by the chaos and find it difficult to go back to work. Perhaps, your child continues to be distracted and is having a hard time getting to that pesky overdue assignment that you both keep arguing over to get done.
First off, you’re normal. This is normal. Being distracted at our new home offices is normal. We have barely had a chance to settle into our “new” normal and things are changing again. Becoming unmotivated is normal and your child's distraction at home is to be expected. They’re used to home being home. They are not accustomed to home being consumed by learning and school work; let alone their teacher and friends intruding in their home life. Can it be frustrating? Absolutely.
Let’s try to build an ADHD tool box. Our tools are called strategies that we use to help us to work or learn better. Let’s address some strategies that may work for you or may work for your child.
The Importance of YOUR morning
Start off your first hour of your morning routine without checking your voicemail, texts, emails, phone or computer. Let that first hour of your morning routine to be yours. If an hour is too long, start with 15 minutes and build yourself up to an hour. You might need to wake up earlier but you have to ask yourself what your sanity is worth? YOURS means allowing yourself to have time to yourself and as mom or a dad, and you might not be used to that. Once we pick up our phones, we often see a text or a group chat with a link, then we see a DM on instagram but first we see something or someone that intrigues us on the feed. Oh… right…. Back to the DM… then a missed call. What if something is wrong? Should I call back? Need more convincing? Watch the Social Dilemma on Netflix!
^ All of this before you even get to put your feet on the ground and look yourself in the mirror to tell yourself how awesome you are, or take that first sip of coffee. Let yourself take your morning in. Try having a shower and be in the moment. Don’t fall into the trap of problem solving your day before it happens, you’re creating more stress. You’ll figure out whatever you need to in that moment. Right now grant yourself the time to sit still and start your day with ease. When you spend time nurturing yourself, you are better able to support your family.
Preparing Your Space/Environment
Find a space in your home that is clean and organized. Often times, people with ADHD will become distracted with something as small as dust on their computer, then they will “tumbleweed” into cleaning off the desk, sanitizing each key, ordering a new mouse pad, etc. Most of the day is now gone and as a result the person trying to work is exhausted. It also helps to have a desk clear of clutter and that has the necessary tools at their disposal. For example: a school child having their ruler on their desk or in their drawer for when their math course comes up. This way they are able to get what they need within arms reach to prevent distraction while en route to find their ruler!
Time blockers are used for time management. Time blockers allow us to see a visual of what hours are allocated where. Most people with ADHD come to me telling me they feel exhausted after going through so many tasks in two days then they experience burnout for the rest of the week. They also share that their “to do” list is making them anxious and are unsure how to get started. This usually ends with extreme levels of frustration for having unfinished tasks.
Time blocking allows for the tasks to be broken down into the hours of your day.
7am-8am breakfast + get kids ready
8am - 8:30 walk kids to school and walk the dog
8:30 - 9am - commute to work and stop at post office
9-am-10am emails *reminder to cc debbie on the email
10am-12pm present ideas to new clients
1pm-12pm project a to be completed
… so on and so forth. This can be done in a day timer physically or digitally.
This system creates feelings of accomplishment as they get items checked off. The dreadful “to do” list appears a little less daunting and easier to manage.
Timing can be an effective way to remain focused on the task at hand when you do get on your phone, start a project at work, or have to study for an upcoming exam. Physical timers (kitchen timers) often work best with younger people.
Set a timer for the assignment you are working on. During that time you are not to be distracted and only work on what is in front of you. The timer technique, with practice, will help give you focus and help you understand how much time it takes to do each activity. Make sure you relieve yourself with a timed break such as a walk, a mental break or perhaps a healthy snack.
Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light Learning Strategy
This strategy refers to traffic lights. Here’s an example, let’s assume Bobby is studying for a test. Bobby feels drained after studying for an hour. Bobby reviewed the concepts he knew but left the more challenging ones to the end. Bobby is now out of battery juice to continue on studying.
We are going to reverse the traffic lights. First we are going to start with the red light. Red light topics represent things that we don’t know. This way our mind and eyes are fresh to receive information. Then yellow light would represent understanding the parts of the information we do know and we don’t know. Yellow light expands in the information we already have. Green light represents topics or concepts that we are experts on. By using this strategy you use your energy wisely in the beginning when you are fresh to learn new information.
Taking breaks is essential to be able to feel re-energized and refueled. Breaks will help you or your child from burnout through school and work. This break can be a walk, a rest to sit down without blue light, sports, a quick meditation or workout. Decompression breaks at the end of the day or project can be watching a funny movie, alone time, reading a book, etc. Decompression is needed so you don’t put yourself into overdrive!
*Disclaimer: This is not meant to replace medical advice, however these strategies have been effectively used by people with ADHD*
By: Laura Kyrkos