View Full Version : Attention to Detail


cynthiab
02-25-17, 01:22 AM
I wasn't diagnosed until in my mid-thirties (less than a year ago) and starting medication was a game changer in terms of my career. In my job, it's important to both see the big picture, spot conceptual issues, but also pay attention to detail. It's the attention to details I'm not good at ... still. The meds have helped immensely at staying organized, getting done what needs to be done and not procrastinating, thinking all the way through the issues, communicating effectively ... but I still make "careless" mistakes, and have to put in extreme effort to keep it to a somewhat acceptable level. I write sentences that don't have all the necessary parts of speech, I send emails without attachments, I get dates confused and write 2015 instead of 2016, and so on and so on.

The advice I've seen is to pay attention in bursts, minimize distractions, set a timer, etc. but nothing that seems really helpful. Anyone have success to develop this skill?

I think part of it is just that I have had my brain jumping around so much for a lot of my life, that I didn't really develop the skill.

acdc01
02-25-17, 02:11 AM
Do you have access to an office assistant?

You type things up and then have her proofread everything. Our office assistance can send things out over email as if they were us so for emails, it can look like you sent it. I in general get others to double check my work.

cynthiab
02-25-17, 07:49 AM
I do have an assistant, other team members and junior associates that work for me, but that's not a viable for any one of them to review every email or document or really to check for all those details, although those things that any one of them can check or that I can delegate, I definitely do as much as possible.
I'm really interested though in improving my own ability to pay attention to these things better myself. It seems that I'm not processing / reading / writing / thinking in order or at the right speed or either being impulsive or overthinking getting stuck thinking through what to write.

stef
02-25-17, 08:15 AM
I have exactly these same problems at work, Im a PA in a law firm
well my annual bonus ( which i usually receive in spite of things), is now contingent on my performance

im,way more organized then i used to be but i keep making mistakes like with dates, and its not even careless bc I'm sure Ive read it correctly
its like i forget i tend to misunderstand things
so Im trying to fix this

and I cant delegate to anyone!

cynthiab
02-26-17, 01:48 AM
I have exactly these same problems at work, Im a PA in a law firm
well my annual bonus ( which i usually receive in spite of things), is now contingent on my performance

im,way more organized then i used to be but i keep making mistakes like with dates, and its not even careless bc I'm sure Ive read it correctly
its like i forget i tend to misunderstand things
so Im trying to fix this

and I cant delegate to anyone!

Yes, I completely get this. I'm an attorney actually, so that's the exact same thing. I do really well at the big picture and thinking through things now that I have medication but it's the straightforward tasks that I have trouble doing with the required accuracy.

I go to an adult ADHD clinic in my area, and they have a coach. I'm going to see him for the first time early next week and see if any good ideas beyond the coping strategies I've already developed over the years to compensate for my various deficiencies.

acdc01
02-27-17, 08:13 PM
I have the same problems with emails as you. I would actually delegate that for others to check even but it's not as critical for me to be perfect so I do the following instead.

First, I always try to stay calm and relaxed and in a good mood. Don't stress and feel rushed cause we always make more stupid mistakes when feeling worse. Do whatever relaxation techniques that will help you. Breathing in deeply and taking it slow before doing something you are prone to errors on. I also don't overwork by working parttime only though on busy weeks I work longer hours. This way, when we are at our busiest, don't work more than 40 hours a week and so aren't rushed to the point of error. Guessing you don't have this option though.

Get in the habit of double checking your emails and anything before you send them out. Have a checklist of things you need to make sure you did right in front of you at all times. If you can't remember to look at that checklist, I wonder if there is a way to get your email to prompt you when you push to make sure you check your list before it actually goes out. Your checklist could have stuff Like correct dates, right email attachments, etc. Checklists in general can help organize your double checking as well as when you actually develop your work. I actually was able to get myself in the habit of double checking my emails so I'm better but still not perfect. My eyes have a nasty habit of reading over words so I can't see that my sentence is missing an adjective or something. There's Grammer check too I think.

Why is it you can't hand emails over to your assistants to double check? I'm an engineer and if I wanted to I could do it easily. It doesn't actually cost much especially when their rate is lower than yours.

cynthiab
03-15-17, 08:22 AM
I thought I'd report back, thanks for all the responses!
I had booked some coaching at the adult ADHD coaching clinic I go to. Having committed myself to doing this also made me pay closer attention to what was going on that causes me to make these "careless" kinds of mistakes. I realize that I have this general sense that I take too long to do things and "always make mistakes" and so I feel stressed and rushed as I'm doing things. For instance, I'm drafting some customized language that is part of a long clause and I change the wording five times and then realize I've spent too long and rush on to the next, not taking the time to reread the whole thing and fix it so it fits within the sentence. So, I gained some self-awareness of my habits.
Then, working with the coach, the biggest takeaways were to

1. TURN OFF EMAIL ALERTS POPPING UP, just go back and check periodically what happened. Yes, I'm no longer the person who immediately says "okay, got it!" and people have to wait an hour to hear back from me or longer, but it takes away a lot of stress. I didn't realize how stressful the box appearing in the corner, without any sound, was to me.

2. slow down and do it right once, plan before I write, consciously think about what I'm reading, think about what I'm writing, being aware of what's going on and that this is the time I need to go back and re-read how it goes in the context. Much easier to get it right on the first try than to catch in going back to review later.

3. let go of judgment as I'm doing this. Just be open to trying to improve and not focus on that I'm bad at it, or I'm stressed about making mistakes, or that it *should* be easy, etc.

In addition to that, I've also found some productivity tools that are super helpful. For legal drafting, there are "drafting assistant" type plug-ins for word that will check, for instance, that definitions are actually in alphabetical order, that all defined terms that are used are actually defined, that all defined terms that are included are actually used, make it fast and easy to check cross-references, whether there are unpaired quotation marks or parentheses, and so on. Also, I've started building up my word keyboard shortcuts, so I can stay with what I'm doing rather than navigating through ribbons all the time. Finally, there's "textexpander" type programs, and I'm building up shortcuts in one, to help gain back some efficiency, which allows you to spell a short snippet of word that expands into a whole chunk of text, again, helps me eliminate instances where I have to leave what I'm doing to search for that one phrase I need for a given task (and by the time I come back, I'm frazzled about how long it took me to find or feeling rushed or lost my train of thought).

I realized also that the way I was thinking about taking breaks was not quite right. I would hear people say to work for 25 minutes and then take a break. Well, I'm looking at a lot of billable hours I need to meet, plus taking care of two little kids, so working for 25 minutes and then taking long breaks is not feasible. However, I can sometimes take breaks, such as take a walk to the further away bathroom / put together my lunch etc. and also, alternatively to taking a complete break from work, I can stretch for a minute or two, and alternate between working on something requiring high focus to something that's easier, talking to someone on the phone about something that's easy for me to answer, filing or reviewing some easy documents, coordinating the timing of something, essentially, just vary the type of work and mix in some easy tasks.

Finally, I've been trying to be a lot more disciplined about keeping a regular schedule of sleeping and waking at a similar time (a little later on the weekend), and not staying up super late at night to work (go to bed around 10), and eating regular meals earlier in the day. Those things are definitely also helpful to keep stress down and allow me to pay better attention.

It's good for me to know that even at my age, late thirties, I can still develop some of these skills. I'm okay with the fact that medication doesn't solve everything, and it's comforting to know that it's not just that "the meds are not working for me", instead it's that the meds help a lot to make it so it's possible for me to focus attention and develop these skills if I direct my awareness to it.

ToneTone
03-16-17, 09:21 PM
I have developed the habit of double-checking emails I send out ... and I still make detail mistakes.

I'm a teacher and there's a usual Monday assignment for one of my classes and on this past Monday, March 13 ... Well, I wrote out in the course website "Due for class Wednesday March 13th." Except the 13th was Monday!

Well, 80 percent of the students figured I had just written the wrong day (since my date was correct) ... But a few of them were stumped and confused ... and didn't do the work. A few years back, I would have been really embarrassed and unhappy with this mistake. But these days, I am much more gentle on myself.

I can go error-free in short bursts. But if I'm doing a lot of work (when I made this mistake of the day of week I was doing about three times as much as I usually do), then a mistake will creep in.

Ideally, I want to figure out how long my brain can pay deep attention ... without making a careless mistake.

Sounds like you are taking good steps here!

Part of non-medical treatment/compensation for ADHD is to accept that we will make these types of errors more than other folks--that there is no full compensation. And I think the real trick is to not let these errors undermine your confidence in what do well in the job.

Tone

userguide
03-17-17, 06:16 AM
I do have an assistant, other team members and junior associates that work for me, but that's not a viable for any one of them to review every email or document or really to check for all those details, although those things that any one of them can check or that I can delegate, I definitely do as much as possible.
I'm really interested though in improving my own ability to pay attention to these things better myself. It seems that I'm not processing / reading / writing / thinking in order or at the right speed or either being impulsive or overthinking getting stuck thinking through what to write.


Teachers kept telling us that we need to read in order to spell well.

The same advice is given to SL learners.

For example, when I read 10 resumes straight I find it easy to remember how a resume should look like. If I read a random bunch of business plans, resumes and essays, then learning is impeded.

So, as I understand, you're highly specialised (since you have LAs at your disposal), which means you can customize at least some of your emails - even at a highly abstract level.

For example, part of your writings can be described as "litigation FAQ", others as "current dates and procedures" and so on.

Having this kind of structure should be helpful at automating your thought process when you work, it sould be actually built into the legal sft you use. Isn't it ?

dvdnvwls
03-17-17, 01:30 PM
This may seem silly, but have you tried talking?

I think a lot of people know what to say in response to the messages they get, but get stuck not knowing what to type. The words can flow more naturally when you speak. You could probably then remember well enough what you just said, and type something similar. A quick way of sort of "taking dictation from yourself".

VoxPopuli
04-03-17, 04:12 AM
Structure works wonders, but only during periods of "normal" workloads...and the last time I remember what normal looked like...I think it was 1989...

Yes, I have maintained the same structured routine for years. I worked around having to use drugs, even thought I might have outgrown my ADD (it happens, right?). I decided years ago that keeping to a few (simplified) processes/routines, works best. The simplest is that throughout the day (I work remotely) I put ALL my notes/thoughts regarding phone calls, meeting notes, radio/podcast notes, etc., in ONE spiral ringed notebook, add dates at the top of pages, take the last hour of the day to review notes - then make a prioritized "to do" list for the next day. I then make a game of crossing items off of that list. I also use an electronic calendar (and a rating key for ranking priorities) for appointments/with reminders - this works for me, and for the type of business I do -

It is important to remember, I began these processes, by process of elimination, and when properly medicated.

Once their was focus it gave me clarity and energy to work within the structure I developed, these became habits.

Here's how easy a simple INattention to detail fuax pas can screw up your career - even WITH a process when you have ADD: Stop taking medication, increase in workload caused me to enter a weight loss program that included Phendimetrizine (stimulant that offers appetite suppression) and a rigorous exercise routine. Result: desired weight loss achieved & improved work performance leading to discussions for more opportunity!!

End Phendimetrizine (stimulant), fall into black-hole, death-spiral. Inadvertently forward a message from the president, and intended for two colleagues, as a "reply to ALL"...all, being 700 employee's AAANNNDDD the president of the company (who completely misunderstood the reference I intended for my colleagues)!

...only afterwards did I realize that Phendimetrizine (a controlled amphetamine), not the exercise & weight loss, contributed to my newfound focus, clarity and energy. When I stopped taking them (even though I titrated down under the care of a weight loss doctor) my synapsis never recovered. It was like shocking me back into discovering HOW the drugs can be a powerful tool to improve focus and energy. After meeting with the executives - I no longer have to worry about that new potential opportunity - as I would be far too busy fighting to keep the job I already had!

So yes, if you find something that assists with attention to detail - by all means PLEASE don't hold out!!

VoxPopuli
04-03-17, 01:59 PM
I have developed the habit of double-checking emails I send out ... and I still make detail mistakes.

I'm a teacher and there's a usual Monday assignment for one of my classes and on this past Monday, March 13 ... Well, I wrote out in the course website "Due for class Wednesday March 13th." Except the 13th was Monday!

Well, 80 percent of the students figured I had just written the wrong day (since my date was correct) ... But a few of them were stumped and confused ... and didn't do the work. A few years back, I would have been really embarrassed and unhappy with this mistake. But these days, I am much more gentle on myself.

I can go error-free in short bursts. But if I'm doing a lot of work (when I made this mistake of the day of week I was doing about three times as much as I usually do), then a mistake will creep in.

Ideally, I want to figure out how long my brain can pay deep attention ... without making a careless mistake.

Sounds like you are taking good steps here!

Part of non-medical treatment/compensation for ADHD is to accept that we will make these types of errors more than other folks--that there is no full compensation. And I think the real trick is to not let these errors undermine your confidence in what do well in the job.

Tone

Great post & thanks! This is the conclusion I have to keep trying to get my head around. I am reminded that the hyper focus has helped me devour oriented material that normal people won't have a hope, and that "little something" we each have (I call it empathy, but it could just be grace), helps us in ways "normals" can't imagine.

You're right, it's a long life, be good to yourself (because not many others will). I personally believe there is a purpose to these instances where we bear the consequences of unintended actions, sometimes it may just be to build rapport with someone who you may not even realize is watching.

Johnny Slick
04-03-17, 03:57 PM
Yeah, as someone who has to face up to their ADHDosity on a daily basis at their job (I'm a web developer, which by the way is a *fantastic* gig for ADHD people in that there is this whole cadre of folks you work with called "testers" whose *job* it is to go over your work and figure out what ADHD-related mistake you made that day), I think the best way to go is to find ways to highlight the things that you do well, minimize the damage that the lack of attention to detail sometimes does, and all in all take stuff in stride. I know that sometimes that's easier said than done when you are forced to do something that works against your abilities, and I don't know, maybe this is something you can only do in retrospect, but even there, if it's possible, try to separate the "oh god I am so bad at my job" feelings from the "oh god my ADHD just kicked in and helped me mess this up" ones.

Otherwise, yeah, be good to yourself otherwise. Life's too short to spend time hating on yourself. This is a lesson I'm in the process of learning and only really began to understand a couple of months ago. Find the things that you enjoy doing and do them as much as possible.

sarahsweets
04-04-17, 04:18 AM
Whenever I have to write anything important I print it out and hand edit it. Somehow seeing it on paper makes it easier.