View Full Version : Questions about Productivity at Night

10-21-16, 01:01 PM
I am a very recently diagnosed inattentive type, which explains why I am self-employed and utilized all-nighters throughout my two degrees.

I've been struggling with getting the boring book keeping stuff done in my business, and I'm in the process of delegating it all away. So that's good.

I have been fighting with it all this month, and last night I was using a pomodoro timer and got an amazing amount of stuff done between 10pm and 4 in the morning.

Generally, I have pretty good sleep habits. And this morning, I was still able to get up at 6:30, get the kids out to school, and do all those things, and then took a one-hour nap when the opportunity arose.

Now, I'm aware that ADHD and unusual sleep patterns are correlated. And I'm aware that the more of a crisis a situation seems to be, the easier it is for a person with ADHD to focus on it and get something done.

I'm also aware that Adderall has effects on sleep, which is why the doctor has recommended my taking it as early in the day as possible. I have certainly noticed that issue.

What I don't quite understand, and I would like to understand better, is why does it seem like it takes the combination of crisis AND staying up at night before I can focus on things like these? I feel like if I understood that better, there might be some hack that I could use to duplicate the experience without the sleep deprivation, which would be great.

For me, there is an anxiety aspect to some of this stuff, that seems important. It's not just that it is dull. There are other dull things I will choose to do first, if I give myself all the options in the world, like cleaning. Doing these tasks actually involves anxiety for me.

I feel like the longer I am awake, the less active my "fight or flight" brain is, and the less anxiety I have to overcome in order to get into doing the stuff. Is there a correlation between avoidance behaviour and circadian rhythm?

Is it possible that my anxiety response is going down because my Addreall is wearing off, and that when I need to do things that are merely dull, I should be on the meds, but when I need to do things that are also anxiety-ridden, I should be off?

Would appreciate any insights.

Also, this is my first time posting. Go easy on me for breaches of protocol. :)

10-21-16, 05:09 PM
Wow, this is a tough one ... No problems with your protocol by the way.

First thing is you can talk with your prescribing doctor about this, about all of it, sleep and sleep patterns, your intuition that anxiety might be at play, the deadlines, the dull work vs. the anxiety-inducing work. Share all of that! So that's one step that it's easy to overlook. I've been in therapy on and off since college (30 years) and it's funny that only in the past 8 years (around the time of my ADHD diagnosis) that I realized that I could and should share EVERYTHING with my therapists and psychiatrists.

Sometimes the biggest insights and help comes form sharing the littlest piece of information ... often information that seems so quirky or dumb or embarrassing that I think (wrongly) there couldn't possibly be any value to sharing it. Typically that's EXACTLY the information that is helpful to share, and the provider most often has some insight. The more information we give them, the more data they have to assess what's going on and to recommend changes.

I too used to find it much easier to do some creative work (I'm a teacher and a writer) at night ... especially when I was more depressed and before I began ADHD treatment. I used to relax more, I think, as the day wore on ... But at some point, I hit a wall and now I don't do much work late a night.

Another technique ... maybe a hack ... is to practice consciously remembering when you feel good about the work. Consciously recall the feeling, the good feeling, of having the work done. (Which means you want to start taking some time to feel good after you get the work done.) Also, it helps me to consciously challenge the thought that starting on the work will produce untold misery.

I'm a teacher and I can procrastinate grading papers ... and just these past few weeks, I graded two rounds of papers really fast ... and I think it's because I keep the assignments simple and I focused on how great it feels to not be behind on the work, how great it feels to get the work done on time.

It's actually easier for me to start on work without thinking ... than to start on it after a period of thinking. So for example, if I say, I'm going to do the work starting at 5 p.m., I'm likely to procrastinate come 5 p.m. So what I do is sometimes I just start. I know this sounds crazy, but I start because I'm not ready to start and not planning to start. I have the feeling of sneaking in the work. I'm not sure I have the precise words for this, but what I'm doing, I think, is end-running the anxiety. Like if I'm goofing off on the internet or maybe have some tv show playing in a window, I might just randomly start working on whatever it is I need to do ... Don't wait for 8 p.m. or 8:30 ... it may be 6:48, and if I get a slight inkling, I'll just launch into starting. My anxiety is caught unaware and I can keep going with the work ... again, because the hardest part for me is to start the work.

Yes, a lot of ADHD people are night owls with sleep issues. Indeed sleep or lack of sleep has a huge effect in undermining executive function ... sometimes people report meds aren't working and lack of rest could easily be the reason. No med can consistently overcome poor rest. Fatigue impairs clear thinking.

One of the issues that people with ADHD have is we don't seem very good at chunking tasks. And one hack you can probably begin to practice is to rewrite tasks into sub-tasks. If I really want to get something done, it helps to not say "I have to finish X." It helps me much more to say "I have to open X email" ... or "I have to start filing out X form." If I tell myself I only have to "start," I'm much more likely to begin the task. And once I begin, it's much easier to keep going!

Setting a 5-minute timer is an old procrastination strategy that can work for me. Just tell yourself you are going to work on a task for 5 minutes. Do that one ... or twice and often there is a shift in the brain ... from "this work will be so painful" to "this ain't so bad." Once we've made that shift, it's easy to keep at the work.

I think you are asking great questions. Keep asking them! I'm not sure I have good answers.


10-21-16, 07:23 PM
Definetly good answers, I think this will help me and others,,
the ONLY 5 MIN really works,
I also try to convince myself that i want to do it and not that i have to.