Computer Cacophony - Finding Focus in Isolation
One of the ways I've learned to manage my ADHD is to utilize the beeping & booping power of gadgets. Between my iPhone and my severely packed iCal appointment calendar, I have more alarms going off than a fire station during fireworks season. I even change the alarm sounds periodically to keep them fresh to my ears. Otherwise, I’d tune them out. ToDo lists and sticky notes are also used in abundance to help me remember to do the important things. I have them all over my Dashboard and Desktop, as well as on the dashboards and desktops of the real world.
When you combine those tools with my tendency to run several dozen apps at the same time, and my apparent need to have a few thousand tabs open in my browser, you have a cacophony—usually, a sweet, blissful cacophony of busy-ness that is perfect for my fragmented attention span.
Unless I want to get something done.
There are times when two Twitter clients and a backlog of juicy, unread browser tabs is all wrong for productivity. Who would have thought? That’s where I found myself the other day. I had been given an assignment for a national magazine, but the article just wasn’t there yet for the editor. He gave me some suggestions for revision and there it sat. Oh, I knew I would get paid if I finished the silly thing. I knew an editor was waiting for me. I knew that I love the feeling of accomplishment when an article of mine ends up in a magazine. None of that mattered. I just couldn’t bring myself to work on it. There was so much else to explore on my computer.
I finally came up with an idea that I thought might be the best solution: I would create a no frills user on my computer. No alarms, no pop-up Twitter clients, no browsers, and no fun. Immediately, I set out to create a user who could only run writing apps. Everything else was locked down with an administrator password. It was going to be perfect!
The end result was a computer user with a desktop so barren that my mind recoiled from the sheer boredom of it. I opened up the article, though, and began to write. Eventually, I set the desktop background to change colors periodically just to keep myself sane, but the overall quiet and lack of distraction worked its magic on me:
I finished the article.
Apps like CopyWrite, Scrivener, and WriteRoom for the Mac, and DarkRoom (.Net) and JDarkRoom for the PC offer full screen writing modes to minimize distraction when writing anything from your great Internet novel to homework. They provide an easy alternative to creating an isolated user account as I did. The important lesson to learn from this is that sometimes we have to go to extremes to offset the “attention deficit” in ADHD, even if it means living for a while in isolation.
Ever find yourself distracted by your computer but you need to get work done on the computer? Here's a few ways I've found that help get the work done.
Cootey, D. (2010, January 21). Computer Cacophony - Finding Focus in Isolation, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/adultadhd/2010/01/computer-cacophony-finding-focus-in-isolation
Author: Douglas Cootey
I also use alarms on my Blackberry in order to make sure I remember the things I need to do! These are great tools. MDH, the ADHD one, has twelve or more alarms daily to get himself and the kids to work/school on time.
Great article. Perhaps I'll be able to tame the facebook addiction soon!
Thanks for the idea of creating a non-fun user on the computer. Will be worth trying while studying for my CPA exams. :o)