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  #1  
Old 05-28-09, 10:24 PM
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Cool Tips for the newly diagnosed, increasing work performance?

I'm new to my diagnosis, and while I'm very happy with the "relief", or help, the medications provide me, it seems that old habits still die hard.

Before my diagnosis, I had trouble with concentrating at work on any project so I would end up migrating towards things that COULD hold my attention. Surfing the internet was a big one.

Now that I feel I've found the right medication for me, I have been accomplishing more at work. But not enough, in my opinion. I still find myself migrating to the internet during any break I end up having at work, and once I'm entertained it seems that time flies for me. An hour or two will go by before I've realized I didn't complete project A, or I was supposed to have project B finished 5 minutes ago.

Any tips to break my old habit? Anything anyone else has found to help keep them on task at work? I've been completing a LOT more at work daily, and I'm satisfied with my progress, but I feel like I've hit a plateau in a sense. I can't seem to come up with any ideas to help me keep on track, to keep me organized and performing at a level I believe I'm capable of. Its almost like I get there, will stay there for a little while, then lose my focus somehow and just jump to playing online because that's what I've always done in the past.

I really wish my work would just block certain websites, but I know my bosses play online from time to time and don't want to block access from themselves lol. At least, that's what I've been told. I also can't completely disconnect from the internet at work, its necessary for many of the programs I have to use throughout the day.

Any ideas will help, no matter how small or silly! I'm willing to try anything to move past this little bump in the road.

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Old 05-29-09, 12:04 AM
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Re: Tips for the newly diagnosed, increasing work performance?

4 things have helped me:

1. Early bedtime
2. Structured environment
3. Crispy tasks
4. Mind games

Early bedtime: When I'm tired, the ADD stuff turns onto the "Max" setting and I get distracted like there's no tomorrow. Going to bed super early has been a real challenge, but has been the #1 greatest change I've been able to make to control it. If you're serious about it, go to bed really early for 3 days straight (to overcome any pre-existing sleep deficit) and then start paying attention to how it affects your day. Has helped me loads. I'm talking like 9:00pm lights out.

Question - what time do you go to bed now? (be honest, not what you hope or wish you did, but what you actually do right now, like for the past week )

Structured environment: I'm easy distracted, and out of sight, out of mind really comes in to play for me. Clear off your desk, close all the windows on your computer but what you're working on. One idea - delete the browser icon on your desktop and shortcut toolbar, make it so you at least have to dig for it. It's a super minor thing but anything helps when you're as prone to distraction as I am

Crispy tasks: Clear, crisply-defined tasks are something I struggle with making. Making them is actually easy, but the problem is I avoid the thinking necessary to clearly define them. Make a list of next-actions that are "crispy" - clear and well-defined - then you can attack them as time and energy allows. The worst thing for me is allowing myself to wallow in the misery of having lists of undefined work. Then it becomes a vague, fuzzy thing that I can shove into my mental shelf and ignore.

Mind games: Tell yourself you'll just get this one next task done. There's a hump you have to talk yourself into getting over - once I get started, I can usually get sucked into the rest of the project pretty easily (especially if I've already taken my lists of "stuff" and translated it into a list of crispy next-actions) if I can take the first step and just start working on the first task. 5 minutes into it, I can be totally onboard, but talking myself into doing that can be pretty difficult. Again having "crispy" tasks really helps here.

Crispy tasks also helps on my off days, when I'm tired and I'm lacking motivation or feeling depressed. On those days, not only do I not care about getting my stuff done, but my brain pushes back on those things and makes it so I don't WANT to do them. Surfing the net is easy brain candy that will distract me from the horrible boringness that I perceive my responsibilities to be. Having crispy tasks available means that I've already done the thinking to define what *exactly* it is I need to do, and that makes a HUGE HUGE HUGE difference for me, especially when I'm having a rough ADD day.

So to recap some things you can try to help your situation:

1. Try going to bed early (at or before 9:00pm) for a few days. If you're like me, this is really difficult and super boring and you will hate it to pieces laying in bed bored to death for hours on end, but your body will adapt, you just have to push through it for a few days. Once you do that, keep doing it and see if it has any effect on you. It did wonders for me, better than perscription drugs even!

2. Clean off your desk, your computer, and close all non-project-related windows. Try deleting your browser icon from everywhere in sight. Structure your environment to help you work, not play. Distractions in sight are in your mind and therefore you are more prone to use them!

3. Write down a list of "stuff to do". Next, write down the next physical action you have to take to move that action along or complete it. This is hard at first, but it gets fun when you're processing a list of "stuff" into a list of "stuff I can physically DO". This requires some work to do, but don't avoid it, it's very important I've found with the whole ADD thing.

4. Play mind games with yourself - tell yourself you'll just do one crispy task from your crispy task list (NOT your undefined list of "stuff"), then you can check your email, your favorite website, or eat a snack. It's stupid but it works - I get sucked into my work-related projects way more easily this way because it triggers my self-motivation mechanism.

When I have a clearly-defined task and I force myself to do it, suddenly I realize hey, this isn't so hard, and then I get interested in it because I KNOW I can do it and then my hyperfocus kicks in and I can usually ride out my assignment. If I tell myself I have to do a whole stinkin project, my brain zones out and I go into "find a distraction" mode. This trick of translating your list of stuff into next physical, doable actions and then forcing yourself to do at least one has been a big, huge help for me.

Anyway hope those ideas help! Again the sleep thing has been the biggest deal for me, I can push through even not-clearly-defined tasks when I go to bed early (this is not the same as getting enough sleep - going to bed early is different than getting enough sleep, think about going to bed from 10pm - 6am vs. going to bed at 2am - 10am - you definitely don't feel as rested as you do if you go to bed earlier!) because I've got the mental power in place to do it. I would have to say that sleep has been my biggest enemy with ADD, absolutely the most difficult part of managing it. So give that a try for a week!
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  #3  
Old 05-29-09, 01:00 AM
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Re: Tips for the newly diagnosed, increasing work performance?

Awesome post, Schroeder! I love those ideas, especially the crispy tasks. I've never heard that one before. I also really struggle to enforce a bedtime on myself (duh, it's 1:00 in the morning and I have to be up for work in 6 hours). I know I'm screwing myself over and I always tell myself I need to go to sleep at a reasonable time. Now I just have to do it.
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Old 05-29-09, 01:12 AM
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Re: Tips for the newly diagnosed, increasing work performance?

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Originally Posted by Ruby85 View Post
Awesome post, Schroeder! I love those ideas, especially the crispy tasks. I've never heard that one before. I also really struggle to enforce a bedtime on myself (duh, it's 1:00 in the morning and I have to be up for work in 6 hours). I know I'm screwing myself over and I always tell myself I need to go to sleep at a reasonable time. Now I just have to do it.
Yah, I'm just getting back from vacation so my schedule is totally screwed up, but sleep is definitely #1. I think sleep is the most underestimated yet most vital key to managing ADD. I didn't believe it until I started doing it, now I'm a believer. 8:45pm, lights out, asleep by 9:00pm. Took me hours initially, but once I got used to it I learned how to fall asleep quicker. Improved food habits and exercise are really needed to help you fall asleep faster as well, but that's a whole different post I could write a book on how much an early bedtime has changed my life and my ability to deal with ADD!

If you're interested, there is an organizational system that seems like it was made for people with ADD called "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. He teaches you how to be organized with your papers and emails and how to get things done. It is NOT an easy system to learn or adopt because even though there are only 5 workflow steps, if you have ADD you will most likely struggle with grasping everything initially, but it's totally worth it. I got the "crispy tasks" thing from my dad, who is an aerospace engineer who suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so he knows all about the whole brain fog bit but has also developed some great little tricks to forcing himself to accomplish his tasks at hand. The David Allen system for Getting Things Done really took that concept of clearly defining your work and created an entire awesome system around it. It may seem like OCD, but if you struggle with organization and simply getting your stuff done, there's no better resource on the planet. I'd seriously give that guy a hug if I ever met him, haha.

He has clearly-defined methods for each step of the process from collecting your stuff to do, to defining your stuff to do, to how to approach what to do when. As a person with focus and distraction problems, having solid, concrete methods for implementing a more productive workflow has been nothing short of amazing. All I needed was some more definition, some clear rules to follow to help me stay on top of things. So Getting Things Done + an early bedtime = most awesome system ever for dealing with my ADD-SCT. Here's a link to the book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Things...dp/0142000280/

I got the audio version on iTunes as well, it helped to have it to listen to in the car where I could rewind it and listen to it through multiple times.
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Old 05-29-09, 10:12 AM
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Re: Tips for the newly diagnosed, increasing work performance?

Schroeder, this is awesome! This stuff definitely works. School and a huge work project ended this month, and I've been feeling literally at loose ends. Just this week I've been trying to wrap my mind around what I'd been doing for the last year or so that had enabled me to get things done successfully. I was diagnosed in January and started meds then which was a huge help, but I knew it was more than just the meds. It's like I'd forgotten how I'd been managing things, and all that came to mind was "structure" but for some reason I couldn't see the equation that I'd been using to create it. You pretty much nailed it.

I know that structure is crucial for me to be effective, and breaking tasks down into bite-sized pieces is important. But when I read "crispy tasks" it all fell into place - I'll never forget that perfectly descriptive phrase. And the mind games are awesome. I do that, saying "oh, just one more" and I think it kicks in my hyperfocus, especially when they're little obtainable goals. I do checklists with little boxes next to them, I love checking them off. I've had a couple of weeks of down time, and I should be feeling rested but I'm exhausted! I've had absolutely no structure or anything to tell me where I am, no lists to check off, I've been spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. Thank goodness I start another project today and I'm glad I saw this, it's perfect timing.

I've been having an issue with the bedtime - I'll tell people how very important that is, along with a clean diet and excercise, but I've not been making sure I'm in bed at an early hour. Also, the past few weeks I've been struggling with getting out to excercise - I'll bet my not getting enough sleep is the culprit.

There's one thing I did this semester that was different that I've done before that was really helpful. I had to do like ten chapters of a subject that bored me terribly, and kept putting it off and the deadline was fast approaching. So I started messaging a friend on her profile page here, I asked if I could just report to her as I finished each chapter. I think part of the motivation was that it was a semi-public place I was reporting to, and I didn't even need her to respond to me I just needed to report it. It worked like a charm. Part of it was looking at the time I was reporting each chapter, and seeing that it was taking me much less time than I'd thought it would take, which further motivated me. It was like having an accountablity partner.
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Old 05-29-09, 12:29 PM
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Re: Tips for the newly diagnosed, increasing work performance?

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Originally Posted by Schroeder View Post
4 things have helped me:
Question - what time do you go to bed now? (be honest, not what you hope or wish you did, but what you actually do right now, like for the past week )
It depends on the day. Between 10:00 and midnight. Average is probably 11:00. I have a second job at nights, when I work nights I don't get home until 10:30-11:00. When I don't work nights, I'm in bed by 9:00, usually asleep by 10:00. I do usually get a full 8 hours of sleep, I don't have to be up until 7:30.
I really have been trying to go to bed as early as possible, especially since my diagnosis. I had heard lack of sleep definetely contributes to your brain's inability to function, after that I started to figure out any way to force myself to sleep earlier. I am doing better, before the earliest I'd be asleep was midnight, the latest 3am. I have noticed the extra sleep does help, I feel healthier all around, not just mentally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schroeder View Post
Structured environment: I'm easy distracted, and out of sight, out of mind really comes in to play for me. Clear off your desk, close all the windows on your computer but what you're working on. One idea - delete the browser icon on your desktop and shortcut toolbar, make it so you at least have to dig for it. It's a super minor thing but anything helps when you're as prone to distraction as I am
That's a good idea, I'm going to try that. Right now, actually ...*deletes icons*. I did remove the icon from my desktop a long time ago, but I kept it in the quick launch tool bar, next to the start menu. Probably not the best idea, lol. Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schroeder View Post
Mind games: Tell yourself you'll just get this one next task done. There's a hump you have to talk yourself into getting over - once I get started, I can usually get sucked into the rest of the project pretty easily (especially if I've already taken my lists of "stuff" and translated it into a list of crispy next-actions) if I can take the first step and just start working on the first task. 5 minutes into it, I can be totally onboard, but talking myself into doing that can be pretty difficult. Again having "crispy" tasks really helps here.

Crispy tasks also helps on my off days, when I'm tired and I'm lacking motivation or feeling depressed. On those days, not only do I not care about getting my stuff done, but my brain pushes back on those things and makes it so I don't WANT to do them. Surfing the net is easy brain candy that will distract me from the horrible boringness that I perceive my responsibilities to be. Having crispy tasks available means that I've already done the thinking to define what *exactly* it is I need to do, and that makes a HUGE HUGE HUGE difference for me, especially when I'm having a rough ADD day.
I would say this is the most difficult area for me, mainly because I use this technique already, but it's the other way around... usually it's "oh, just let me check my e-mail for 5 minutes, then I'll get started on such and such project", or "I'll finish reading this article on MSN, and when I'm done, I'll close it and work on the project" thinking by giving myself a "dose" of internet to satisfy that part of my brain, that I'll be able to focus on the project at hand without wandering too much... but by the time I'm done with the e-mail or article, I've moved on to the next webpage, because I've already forgotten what I had mentally told myself.


I do love my to-do lists. I make them all the time. Then something happens (say, a phone call), and they end up under a file, or under some paperwork, etc., where I end up finding it at the end of the day and think "ah, crap".


Oh, and I love your use of the word crispy. I've never heard that one before. Tbh it made me think of a stack of crispy papers. I don't know, I'm weird, any metaphoric type phrases I turn into literal and visual images lol. Ah, the wandering mind.
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Old 05-29-09, 12:47 PM
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Re: Tips for the newly diagnosed, increasing work performance?

Thanks Schroeder,

Getting Things Done is a great system and in heavy use in the IT world (where undiagnosed ADHD is a virtual pandemic).

I have taken a lot of time management courses and they were just too granular for me. Rank this, sort that, schedule this, etc.

GTD is a mental process that is not that hard to learn. It is about capturing things you have to do to "get them out of your head" and captured into a system of some kind.

I used to have that sticky note disease where you have notes everywhere - until I realized that just made it worse because I was always worried I would lose an important note - I had got stuff "out of my head" but had not put it in a trusted system so I was still worrying about it.

I need to go back to it, but - procrastination and the fact that to do it right, you are supposed to capture literally EVERYTHING in your life (when he consults, some people need an extended weekend just to capture everything). That is overwhelming even though the point is to get a handle on everything and stop being overwhelmed.

Highly recommended.
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Old 05-29-09, 02:47 PM
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Re: Tips for the newly diagnosed, increasing work performance?

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I need to go back to it, but - procrastination and the fact that to do it right...
Just the section, "Why Bright People Procrastinate The Most" is worth double the price of the book!

"Bright people have the capabiltity of freaking out faster and more dramatically than anyone else." page 240

"Intelligent Dumbing Down," page 242, is an excellent idea! It's something like the idea I was given called, "healthy denial."

(Just finished the book yesterday!)
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Old 05-29-09, 03:26 PM
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Re: Tips for the newly diagnosed, increasing work performance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by novagal View Post
I know that structure is crucial for me to be effective, and breaking tasks down into bite-sized pieces is important. But when I read "crispy tasks" it all fell into place - I'll never forget that perfectly descriptive phrase. And the mind games are awesome. I do that, saying "oh, just one more" and I think it kicks in my hyperfocus, especially when they're little obtainable goals. I do checklists with little boxes next to them, I love checking them off. I've had a couple of weeks of down time, and I should be feeling rested but I'm exhausted! I've had absolutely no structure or anything to tell me where I am, no lists to check off, I've been spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. Thank goodness I start another project today and I'm glad I saw this, it's perfect timing.
I think the hyperfocus is like a bloodhound - you give it a sniff of the clothes to track down, and off it goes! The difficult part for us is getting that "sniff" to engage our hyperfocus, and that's where I've found crispy tasks comes in - my single biggest problem is simply defining the work to bed - I mean, I know there's a vague and fuzzy thing somewhere that I need to get done, but that just gives me permission to ignore it because I don't know exactly, precisely what I'm supposed to do next. What I struggle with isn't doing the stuff, it's (1) getting started, which is really (2) defining what exactly it is that I *need* to do. So a clearer definition is a key requirement for me, definitely.

Quote:
I've been having an issue with the bedtime - I'll tell people how very important that is, along with a clean diet and excercise, but I've not been making sure I'm in bed at an early hour. Also, the past few weeks I've been struggling with getting out to excercise - I'll bet my not getting enough sleep is the culprit.
I've worked with some friends who have depression, we all have the same story - bedtime is an enormous struggle, and we ALL do WAY better with an early bedtime. My family has nicknamed it GBS - "Geriatric Bedtime Syndrome" If I stay up past 9:00pm, I'm essentially useless the next day. Focus and motivation are literally 1000 times harder when I'm tired, that's how much of an effect is has on me. I have no idea why I have to go to bed early to combat this, in fact I've never ever heard of any sleeping disorder where all of your sleep-related problems are solved by a super early bedtime, but that's the reality I live in. Honestly I lived in denial of it for a long time and brushed off that going to bed early even mattered

There was a science article, I don't have a link to it, that said that every hour before midnight is worth 2 hours of sleep to your body. Again, think of going to bed from 10pm-6am vs. 2am-10am - it just doesn't work the same, that 8 hours feels totally different to you in terms of feeling rested. So I've nicknamed those 3 hours my Power Hours - 9pm, 10pm, and 11pm. If I nail those 3 hours for sleep, I do FABULOUSLY the next day. But, it's more complicated than that for 2 reasons:

1. Previous programming
2. Contributing factors

First, you're currently stuck with your previous programming, i.e. your current bedtime habits. You have YEARS of staying up late to combat. So you really have to want to go to bed early to beat it. I researched habits in-depth at one point and discovered that it takes 3 weeks to adopt a habit - it's not as simple as flipping a switch and saying "this is what I do now". It takes weeks of focus, keeping charts (logs help me, or journals or dairies or whatever you like to call them), and reporting to people (that accountability thing really helps) to really do it.

You'll mess up, you won't be perfect, but don't let that stop you. At first I was like well, it's already 9:30pm, so I might as well just stay up late. Nope, big perfectionistic lie - forgive yourself and get in bed ASAP! So don't expect it to be a cakewalk - I laid in bed for HOURS for the first few weeks of trying to go to bed early. It felt IMPOSSIBLE, but I did it because I really wanted to do it. Eventually you'll be falling asleep in under 15 minutes!

Second, there are several contributing factors to falling asleep early. For me those are:

1. Diet (what I eat)
2. Exercise
3. Stress
4. Light stimulation

Number one, diet is very important and instrumental to how I feel during the day. Constant healthy food every few hours + early bedtime + crispy tasks = "Super Me". Again this is not as simple as saying "oh I'll eat better". I really had to work on this - I had no idea how to cook, I could barely make a sandwich before, but I did it (hint: I cheat and use appliances, haha). I can post more about my diet later if you're interested.

Basically I eat a high-protein, moderate carb, low-fat diet, broken into 6 small meals spaced out every 2-3 hours. I stopped eating a few hours before bed so that I don't have food in my stomach when I lay down. This both helps me sleep better and has completely solved my acid reflux problem.

Number two, exercise is a requirement. All you need is 15 minutes of brisk cardio a day. That means don't be a slouch if you're sitting on your exercise bike. I either go biking with a friend, go on a walk with my wife, or sit on my exercise bike in front of the TV (I like to watch movies and TV shows in 15 minute segments, otherwise I get super bored). So having a buddy to workout with or some form of interesting entertainment really helps (if you're a big-time loner, get Netflix and park your treadmill or elliptical in front of the tube - I sometimes exercise for an extra 30 minutes without realizing that I've gotten sucked into the movie!).

Doctors say you need 10 minutes outside to get your Vitamin B or whatever from the sun, so going for a walk, bike ride, rollerblade, whatever outside is good. I have a hard time going outside by myself because I dunno, I just overthink it and talk myself out of it and give myself inside-paralysis lol. So those are some tricks that help me exercise.

Number three, stress is a sleep impediment for me. And I don't mean regular stress, because with the ADD stuff it's really easy not to care about screwing up your responsibilities. I mean stress like thinking about stuff, having stuff rolling around in your mind, thinking about things you need to do. This is where David Allen's "Getting Things Done" system helps MASSIVELY. He teaches you how to capture 100% of the crap rolling around your head so that it's off your mind, as well as how to make crispy tasks. This way when you get to bed, you're absolutely confident there's no linger things to worry about. Big big big deal for me.

Number four, light stimulation needs to be managed. A therapist told me that light stimulation is a big problem that interferes with sleep, specifically television and computers (dangit!). The solution is simple: turn off the TV and computer one full hour before bedtime. I have an alarm on my phone at 8:00pm, when that goes off I shut off the TV if I'm watching it or the computer if I'm surfing the net (BOY is it hard to disconnect at first! Get someone to bug you at that time when you first start doing it, because you'll ignore it lol!).

I hated this idea and ignored it for a couple years, but when I seriously started focusing on going to bed early and had problems, I finally tried this I had MUCH better results. I didn't know what I was going to do for a full hour before bed, but over time I've come up with some really great things to do:

1. Find a towel for my morning shower and put it next to my bed (little things like not finding a clean towel can really impede me getting my day started lol)
2. Put my clothes, socks, and shoes next to my bed so I don't have to struggle with finding clean ones in the morning
3. Pack my backpack or work bag and put it in front of the front door so I can grab it and go the next day
4. Prep my food to make the next day - lay out the bowls, spoons, lunchbox, cereal and dry stuff on the counter so I can just walk up to it and make my meals in the morning, instead of having to find stuff
5. Make a list (a CRISPY task list! next physical action list ONLY!) of what I want to get done the next day. My list is broken down into the #1 thing I want to do no matter what (I this first), then other stuff I want to do plus appointments, then housekeeping items (as long as I nail my #1 task for the day I'm happy!)

It's almost like having maid service...you do all this at night, and you wake up and everything is ready to go for you! I'm my own butler! It's really become a very productive and essential time for me. My daily routine is basically broken down into morning prep, workday, and evening prep. So - TV/computer off at 8:00pm, lights out and in bed physically at 8:45pm, then I'm asleep by 9:00pm. Also I sometimes read at night when I have extra time after I'm done getting my "super prep" done for the evening, but DON'T read in bed - bed is only for two things, sleep and lovemaking, so don't do anything else in bed - it's bad for your sleep, psychologically.

Caveat: Don't attack this all at once, I PROMISE you will fail. I can already hear your ADD brain saying no no no I can do it all. Punch that stupid lie in the face! lol. Pick one, focus on it for 3 weeks until you master it (may be longer, but no less than 3 weeks), then pick another one. The next few months will pass without any change anyway, so instead of doing the usual routine of trying too many things and failing, just use your hyperfocus to master and adopt one thing as a time. This is how we work, and the sooner you adopt it, the sooner you'll be on your way to doing more awesome things with your life instead of being trapped where you are (I really really really still struggle with this a LOT lol).

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There's one thing I did this semester that was different that I've done before that was really helpful. I had to do like ten chapters of a subject that bored me terribly, and kept putting it off and the deadline was fast approaching. So I started messaging a friend on her profile page here, I asked if I could just report to her as I finished each chapter. I think part of the motivation was that it was a semi-public place I was reporting to, and I didn't even need her to respond to me I just needed to report it. It worked like a charm. Part of it was looking at the time I was reporting each chapter, and seeing that it was taking me much less time than I'd thought it would take, which further motivated me. It was like having an accountablity partner.
THIS IS A HUGE KEY! I totally forgot to mention this. It's the "buddy system" or the "accountability system". When I got into fixing my health, I did two things: I found a friend who enjoyed biking, so I would go on rides with him, and then I joined a health forum online and posted my daily results - what I ate for my small meals, what time I went to bed, what I did for exercise, and any notes. And people would respond to my forum thread. This made a HUGE difference for me!

I think the key you've identified here is vital and I've coined a term (any good?) for it: ADHD-I/SCT people require a Positive Personality Cloud (PPC). I do TERRIBLE on my own most of the time, but when I'm around other people who are highly motivated, who are uplifting, who are positive, who are excited, I totally draw from their power and it gives ME power and energy. I forget all about the focus and depression problems I'm struggling with and just go with the flow. I'm like a reflection of who I'm around, or a mirror of what's going on - and if I'm on my own, I run out of gas! I think this is related to the "forcing yourself to get started on ONE crispy task" thing - if you can get your hyperfocus pointed in the right direction, then it's like throwing a grappel onto a rocket ship with a rope tied around your waist - once it takes off, you get pulled along with it in no time!
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Old 05-29-09, 03:37 PM
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Re: Tips for the newly diagnosed, increasing work performance?

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Originally Posted by carissa_lee View Post
It depends on the day. Between 10:00 and midnight. Average is probably 11:00. I have a second job at nights, when I work nights I don't get home until 10:30-11:00. When I don't work nights, I'm in bed by 9:00, usually asleep by 10:00. I do usually get a full 8 hours of sleep, I don't have to be up until 7:30.
I really have been trying to go to bed as early as possible, especially since my diagnosis. I had heard lack of sleep definetely contributes to your brain's inability to function, after that I started to figure out any way to force myself to sleep earlier. I am doing better, before the earliest I'd be asleep was midnight, the latest 3am. I have noticed the extra sleep does help, I feel healthier all around, not just mentally.
If you can quit your second job, do it. I picked up a second job for weekends to help cover my schooling costs, so in the summer I do a main job during the week and then a smaller one on Saturdays. I take Sunday off for religious purposes. If you're serious about beating this, I would really really really recommend finding a way to get into bed by 8:45pm, lights out. This won't be easy by any means, but try it out for a a week or two and see how it affects you.

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That's a good idea, I'm going to try that. Right now, actually ...*deletes icons*. I did remove the icon from my desktop a long time ago, but I kept it in the quick launch tool bar, next to the start menu. Probably not the best idea, lol. Thanks.
Stupid quick launch toolbar, I did the same thing haha. Now I have a Mac and ALL my icons are visible ALL the time /autohides the Dock haha


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I would say this is the most difficult area for me, mainly because I use this technique already, but it's the other way around... usually it's "oh, just let me check my e-mail for 5 minutes, then I'll get started on such and such project", or "I'll finish reading this article on MSN, and when I'm done, I'll close it and work on the project" thinking by giving myself a "dose" of internet to satisfy that part of my brain, that I'll be able to focus on the project at hand without wandering too much... but by the time I'm done with the e-mail or article, I've moved on to the next webpage, because I've already forgotten what I had mentally told myself.
Yup it's a two-way street - you can see that the principle obviously works very well, if you point your hyperfocus on the "starter task" of checking your email or checking a webpage, then you get sucked in. If you can point it to a crispy work task, then the same thing will happen. It's a bit harder, but if you supplement it with an early bedtime and some good food throughout the day, then it gets really easy once you've adopted that habit.

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I do love my to-do lists. I make them all the time. Then something happens (say, a phone call), and they end up under a file, or under some paperwork, etc., where I end up finding it at the end of the day and think "ah, crap".
Yah I was a notorious listmaker before, people I worked closely with would always make fun of me because I'd make endless lists and never get anything done, and always forget things I was supposed to do This is where the "Getting Things Done" system really helped - lists of crispy tasks, it's the best way to combat action paralysis for people with ADD that I've ever come across!

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Oh, and I love your use of the word crispy. I've never heard that one before. Tbh it made me think of a stack of crispy papers. I don't know, I'm weird, any metaphoric type phrases I turn into literal and visual images lol. Ah, the wandering mind.
Yah I'm a VERY visually-oriented person and I like uniqueness. I like to customize the things I own like my computer and pick it out so that it's configured "just right", I like unique word tags like "crispy tasks" because it gives me something concrete to visualize and something exciting to go after. In my mind, I can grab onto a "crispy" task very easily - I can say, man I'm not getting my stuff done, oh! I haven't made any crispy tasks yet! It really helps. Thank my dad for the name haha, he's a genius
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Old 05-29-09, 03:51 PM
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Re: Tips for the newly diagnosed, increasing work performance?

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Thanks Schroeder,

Getting Things Done is a great system and in heavy use in the IT world (where undiagnosed ADHD is a virtual pandemic).
Yah, just be really careful about reading about Getting Things Done online. It was a bit hit in the blogosphere (I hate that word lol), but it also garnered a lot of complaints about how "difficult" it was, modifications, and so on. The stock system is perfect, it's absolutely fine, it's just that it requires habit changes, which are never ever easy. David Allen created such an airtight system for getting things done and staying organized, I almost suspect that HE has some type of ADD lol.

They key is doing exactly what he says - like, get a labelmaker powered by an A/C adapter and have plenty of spare print cartridges available for it. This rings a big bell with my ADD stuff, because I *know* that it's all taken care of and will always work right for me, I never get in a position where I can go, well, the batteries died or I'm out of printer tape, so I can't make a label, and since I want to keep it on this GTD system, I'll do it later, and then I do nothing and fall into my same stupid trap again. So just follow the system exactly and the results are great!

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I have taken a lot of time management courses and they were just too granular for me. Rank this, sort that, schedule this, etc.
Hated those. I cannot rank tasks. I cannot assign them to A, B, C, D or 1, 2, 3 in terms of priority. I simply cannot do that. I have no sense of where things go and I hate it. David Allen's approach really works great for me because he (1) gets all the crap off your mind and into trusted places where you know they won't disappear, so you stop worrying about them, (2) you define the next action to tasks to make them "crispy", (3) your calendar ONLY holds time-date specific things (i.e. appointments and so on), so you are FREE to plan out the day based on what YOU want to do and how YOU feel, and based on the energy you have available.

That kind of freedom is infinitely more appealing to me than time management and ranking type of stuff. I was an endless list-maker before this and never got any payoff from them, but they always made me feel like at least I was doing something, and that made me feel good. This method works much better for me - I have lists of crispy tasks I can jump on depending on how I feel, where I'm at, and how much time I have available. This kind of structured-unstructured approach has really turned my life around in terms of actually doing more than one or two dumb things a day and to actually getting real things done lol.

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I need to go back to it, but - procrastination and the fact that to do it right, you are supposed to capture literally EVERYTHING in your life (when he consults, some people need an extended weekend just to capture everything). That is overwhelming even though the point is to get a handle on everything and stop being overwhelmed.
Yes, it took me about 2 years after I bought the audiobook to actually do this, no kidding. I had this system in my life for 2 years before I actually put it to use. Horribly stupid, I know, but this is the nature of the world we ADD sufferers live in. It's just VERY hard. Read the book so you know what to do and make a list of the crispy tasks you're going to do, then ramp yourself up with an early bedtime and good food every few hours, and then attack it. Get someone there to support you if needed, a spouse, significant other, family member, or friend.

Once I burned through all the crap I owned, it was just AMAZING how much more productive I instantly became. It was like going from walking through a rainforest to floating in space - I was FREE! As a person with ADD, you can't just say this is it, I'm done, I'm set for life - you have to constantly stay on top of managing your ADD and running the system. I've fallen off the wagon countless times, but I'm getting better at getting back on now that I actually know what to do!

Clearing out my physical life made an immediate change in my mental life as well - for some reason those two are tied very closely together, so having a cleaned out life and a system to stay organized and on top of things, making crispy tasks every day, going to bed early, and eating healthy food every few hours is just tremendously beneficial to me.

Hard part of course is doing it
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Old 05-29-09, 03:56 PM
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Re: Tips for the newly diagnosed, increasing work performance?

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Just the section, "Why Bright People Procrastinate The Most" is worth double the price of the book!

"Bright people have the capabiltity of freaking out faster and more dramatically than anyone else." page 240

"Intelligent Dumbing Down," page 242, is an excellent idea! It's something like the idea I was given called, "healthy denial."

(Just finished the book yesterday!)
David Allen is a genius and deserves a medal. He can come over to my house for a BBQ ANY time!

That part about flipping out quicker is no joke - I feel like a gernade sometimes! I can think through the options so fast sometimes that I just kind of go "poof" and suddenly I'm in action-option paralysis

After reading and talking here on the ADD forums, I'm seriously considering putting together a program for helping people with ADD-I/SCT improve their lives one step at a time, ADD-I/SCT-style instead of regular-person style. Anyone interested? I've outlined a basic program and would love to go through it with a few people over the course of a few months...
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Old 06-01-09, 04:19 PM
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Re: Tips for the newly diagnosed, increasing work performance?

I wanted to thank everyone for their input!! It's definetely been helpful.

I erased the internet icon from my start menu and the quick launch icon on my computer. It's seemed to help quite a bit. In the time it takes me to find the icon again (not too difficult, but takes a little longer), I have a second or two to think, "is this really the time for me to screw around online? Do something more productive". I can't say it's always worked but it has helped.

Structure has been helping too. I finally spent a good solid 2 hours organizing my desk last Friday afternoon. I stayed late at work to use the time that my office is closed to do this, because that way I have no interruptions (walk-ins, appointments, phone calls, co-workers, etc.) to let my mind drift to another subject and have me lose focus on the task at hand. That seemed to help too, although I know that's probably not the answer, but I'm going to keep that in mind if I ever fall behind on keeping things structured and tidy around here. If I'm able to come in early or stay later one day, when no ones here, it'll definetely help. When my office isn't open I don't have to have the computer on, so it eliminates the temptation of the internet.

novagal - I like your idea of reporting to someone each time a section of your reading was completed. I have noticed I've started that too at work, without really noticing it. I'm part of a corporate office, but my office is just me and a few other people. I am supposed to report regularly to the corporate headquarters, and I would always forget to do so. I think I've begun to over-report via e-mail, now. It may annoy them but it helps me remember whether or not I've done something, when I can quickly check my outbox to see if it was completed. I've noticed it's one of the things that helps my performance here.

Schroeder - I have actually noticed a dramatic improvement with my sleep schedule, since I started medication. I was honestly expecting to have worse insomnia than I did before, because I was taking stimulants. On average I would get 3-5 hours of sleep a night. My brain would never stop, I'd worry about things I hadn't finished that day, I'd try to make mental checklists for tomorrow that I'd never finish, etc. It's like my body was always tired but my brain wasn't, even though when it came time to get things done, I couldn't accomplish them. Now that I'm on ADD meds, I get more done during the day, and I seem to worry less at night, so I get to sleep a lot faster. I'm quite happy to say that I can typically fall asleep within 30-45 minutes of laying down, where as before it could take up to 4 hours to finally sleep. My quality of sleep has also improved. I would toss and turn all night before, typically waking up every 45 minutes or so because I wasn't comfortable. Sometimes waking up and continuing thinking or stressing about whatever it was I was thinking before I took my nap. Now I typically sleep pretty solid through the night. I can definetely tell a drastic difference if I get a crappy sleep now.

I would like to hear more about your diet, though. Not necessarily specifics but general foods you consume that seem to help you. I have also noticed the same, but I haven't had the time to test out which foods help better. I've also realized I have completely cut out my taste for fast foods. I don't even want them anymore. I would rather not eat than go get fast food, where as before every day, sometimes twice a day I would eat fast food. Anything fried/greasy/etc. just does not appeal to me at all anymore. I've also noticed if I've gone home on lunch (I live close to my office) and I eat a lot of fresh fruits in place of a typical lunch (frozen mac & cheese, for example, mainly due to budget), that I feel a ton better during the day. So much so that it's strayed me away from eating a lot of other foods. I rarely consume junk food anymore too. My only staple now is dark chocolate. But if you could tell me what kinds of foods seem to help you out best, it would help me a lot to make up some kind of meal plan for myself, and what to shop for when I go to the store next.

Exercise I have yet to try, but it is on my list. I guess it could be called procrastinating it's not something I've started yet, but with all of the recent changes in my life with my diagnosis and trying to get everything under control I didn't want to overwhelm myself by throwing in too much too quickly. It is next on my list, though, everything else that was there before I have completed and I feel like I've worked it in my life well enough that adding exercise in wont be a juggle anymore.

As far as the light stimulation thing, I completely understand where you're coming from with that idea. However I'm not sure that would work for me. I sleep with the TV on. It's very low on volume, and it's typically one of the disks from the 10 seasons of Friends (I heart that show), but it's because I have Tinnitus. If there isn't some amount of noise in the background, no matter how light, I can't sleep because the ringing irritates the crap out of me. So I use the show as my background noise because it's something I've seen repeatedly so I usually don't have much interest in watching it when I'm tired. It helps quite a bit. I work in a hearing aid clinic, it was actually something one of our audiologists recommended. Something light on in the background (radio, fan, TV), anything that makes a little bit of noise seems to help quiet the ringing of Tinnitus. I have, however, completely cut myself off from the internet when I'm home at night. If I'm at all tired, I work on sleeping instead of getting on my laptop and going online. Hours will whiz by if I don't.



I believe I'm going to order that book, Getting Things Done. From the reviews throughout this thread, it seems worth it.
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Old 06-01-09, 04:34 PM
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Re: Tips for the newly diagnosed, increasing work performance?

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If you can quit your second job, do it. I picked up a second job for weekends to help cover my schooling costs, so in the summer I do a main job during the week and then a smaller one on Saturdays. I take Sunday off for religious purposes. If you're serious about beating this, I would really really really recommend finding a way to get into bed by 8:45pm, lights out. This won't be easy by any means, but try it out for a a week or two and see how it affects you.
I want to, but because of my impulsive spending issues (something I have been able to cut down on quite a bit recently), I am in debt. I also have quite a bit of medical bills to cover that my full-time paycheck doesn't cover. Now that I feel I have a realistic hold on my bills (before I would just make up time frames and give up on them within a few weeks), I think it'll be about 6 months before I am ok to quit the second job. Believe me, I want to. I hate my second job, but it provides me with the extra money I need. Outside of my appointments for ADHD, I also have Endometriosis and Chronic ITP (blood disorder). I will soon be having a laparoscopy for the Endometriosis, which is quite a big chunk of change. Due to the Chronic ITP, I will have to have my Hematologist available while they are doing the laparoscopy, to keep a note on how I am clotting, and in case I need a platelet transfusion. While I am pushing for the laparoscopy to get done ASAP, it also prolongs the need for the second job, my out of pocket expenses will be at least $2,000. This is not something I can pay for with just the first job.

Believe me, though, the moment I can quit, I will. I'm tired of working two jobs, I'm tired of putting everything else on hold because I'm at work from 8am-10pm M-F and 5am-2pm Sundays. My personal life is suffering, to say the least. When I don't work all I have time for is chores and errands. I'm excited for the day that I can actually say "yes" to hanging out with friends and family for longer than an hour or two once or twice a month.

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Originally Posted by Schroeder View Post
Yup it's a two-way street - you can see that the principle obviously works very well, if you point your hyperfocus on the "starter task" of checking your email or checking a webpage, then you get sucked in. If you can point it to a crispy work task, then the same thing will happen. It's a bit harder, but if you supplement it with an early bedtime and some good food throughout the day, then it gets really easy once you've adopted that habit.
I'm definetely going to work on it. The early bedtime may not happen yet, but everything else I will work on, and see what results I get with it.


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Originally Posted by Schroeder View Post
Yah I was a notorious listmaker before, people I worked closely with would always make fun of me because I'd make endless lists and never get anything done, and always forget things I was supposed to do This is where the "Getting Things Done" system really helped - lists of crispy tasks, it's the best way to combat action paralysis for people with ADD that I've ever come across!
I'm definetely going to look into that book. I can't do the audio version like I think you recommended above (the hardest time I have focusing is listening, so I don't think I'd get much out of a tape), but I'll definetely read it.



For some reason, even though some of the things you've mentioned seem to be like no-brainers once I've read them, it's still something I never would have come up with myself. It's like I'll get stuck on an idea, and one way to do something, and my brain refuses to be the slightest bit creative and think of a similar process for the same idea that would work better for me and my situation.

Thanks for all your input. And thank you to everyone else too. It's nice to be able to discuss these issues with other people who not only understand why they're even issues, but have experienced similar issues themselves. Sometimes getting the voice(s) of experience can be even more helpful than talking to a doctor. I respect doctor's and their recommendations with what they know can help me due to years of studying ADHD, it doesn't mean they know what it's like to actually have it. There are certain little tips and tricks that only people who have experienced it know, things that studying typically can't teach you.

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Old 06-01-09, 08:31 PM
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Re: Tips for the newly diagnosed, increasing work performance?

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Originally Posted by carissa_lee View Post
I wanted to thank everyone for their input!! It's definetely been helpful.

I erased the internet icon from my start menu and the quick launch icon on my computer. It's seemed to help quite a bit. In the time it takes me to find the icon again (not too difficult, but takes a little longer), I have a second or two to think, "is this really the time for me to screw around online? Do something more productive". I can't say it's always worked but it has helped.
Yeah, it doesn't solve our ADD, but little tricks like this sometimes help

Quote:
Structure has been helping too. I finally spent a good solid 2 hours organizing my desk last Friday afternoon. I stayed late at work to use the time that my office is closed to do this, because that way I have no interruptions (walk-ins, appointments, phone calls, co-workers, etc.) to let my mind drift to another subject and have me lose focus on the task at hand. That seemed to help too, although I know that's probably not the answer, but I'm going to keep that in mind if I ever fall behind on keeping things structured and tidy around here. If I'm able to come in early or stay later one day, when no ones here, it'll definetely help. When my office isn't open I don't have to have the computer on, so it eliminates the temptation of the internet.
Since we're really prone to distraction, having a clear desk and a clear computer desktop really seems to help a lot. It's kind of the convenience factor - if cookies are there and you're tired, you'll usually eat them instead of ignoring them. If your desk is messy and your computer has instant-distraction icons in plain sight, then that's your cookie! Get rid of the tempatation and it becomes a bit easier to ignore it because it's out of sight, out of mind.

Quote:
novagal - I like your idea of reporting to someone each time a section of your reading was completed. I have noticed I've started that too at work, without really noticing it. I'm part of a corporate office, but my office is just me and a few other people. I am supposed to report regularly to the corporate headquarters, and I would always forget to do so. I think I've begun to over-report via e-mail, now. It may annoy them but it helps me remember whether or not I've done something, when I can quickly check my outbox to see if it was completed. I've noticed it's one of the things that helps my performance here.
For some reason this really helps me too. Posting online about my progress with sleep, diet, and exercise on a daily basis really encourages me to keep it up. I think it's a combination of the buddy system (knowing that people are reviewing what I'm doing) and keeping records (which gives me something small but fun to do).

Quote:
Schroeder - I have actually noticed a dramatic improvement with my sleep schedule, since I started medication. I was honestly expecting to have worse insomnia than I did before, because I was taking stimulants. On average I would get 3-5 hours of sleep a night. My brain would never stop, I'd worry about things I hadn't finished that day, I'd try to make mental checklists for tomorrow that I'd never finish, etc. It's like my body was always tired but my brain wasn't, even though when it came time to get things done, I couldn't accomplish them. Now that I'm on ADD meds, I get more done during the day, and I seem to worry less at night, so I get to sleep a lot faster. I'm quite happy to say that I can typically fall asleep within 30-45 minutes of laying down, where as before it could take up to 4 hours to finally sleep. My quality of sleep has also improved. I would toss and turn all night before, typically waking up every 45 minutes or so because I wasn't comfortable. Sometimes waking up and continuing thinking or stressing about whatever it was I was thinking before I took my nap. Now I typically sleep pretty solid through the night. I can definetely tell a drastic difference if I get a crappy sleep now.
That's really great! Definitely find what works for you! I know exactly what you're talking about - my brain is an Energizer bunny, but my body is exhausted. We all seem to suffer from sleeping problems, which has a LOT of side effects from problems concentrating to short-term memory.

Quote:
I would like to hear more about your diet, though. Not necessarily specifics but general foods you consume that seem to help you. I have also noticed the same, but I haven't had the time to test out which foods help better. I've also realized I have completely cut out my taste for fast foods. I don't even want them anymore. I would rather not eat than go get fast food, where as before every day, sometimes twice a day I would eat fast food. Anything fried/greasy/etc. just does not appeal to me at all anymore. I've also noticed if I've gone home on lunch (I live close to my office) and I eat a lot of fresh fruits in place of a typical lunch (frozen mac & cheese, for example, mainly due to budget), that I feel a ton better during the day. So much so that it's strayed me away from eating a lot of other foods. I rarely consume junk food anymore too. My only staple now is dark chocolate. But if you could tell me what kinds of foods seem to help you out best, it would help me a lot to make up some kind of meal plan for myself, and what to shop for when I go to the store next.
I have a few rules -

-Your blood sugar level drops every 3 hours after eating, so eat every 2-3 hours. Like, just cut your sandwhich in half, and eat half of it at 10:30am and the other half at noon. This style of eating really helps keep my energy up.
-Drop all stimulants and processed food - junk food, caffiene candy, soda, fast food, that sort of thing. To do this, you need a menu so you have food alternatives during the day. This is the same as structuring your workspace - you'll cave if you don't have an alternative.
-Don't eat for 2-3 hours before bed (helps you sleep better because food isn't sitting in your stomach from inactivity)

I ate out a LOT before because it was convenient and tasted good. I wasted a TON of money. My food bill is less than $200 a month now and I'm eating like a king at home - salmon, steak, all kinds of good stuff. Yay Sam's Club

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Exercise I have yet to try, but it is on my list. I guess it could be called procrastinating it's not something I've started yet, but with all of the recent changes in my life with my diagnosis and trying to get everything under control I didn't want to overwhelm myself by throwing in too much too quickly. It is next on my list, though, everything else that was there before I have completed and I feel like I've worked it in my life well enough that adding exercise in wont be a juggle anymore.
All you need is 15 minutes of brisk cardio a day. Try to do it outside because you need at least 10 minutes in the sun a day (vitamins from the sun and whatnot). The only reason you need more than that is if you're an athelete or a bodybuilder. If you're overweight, simply eat healthy and do 15 minutes of cardio a day, that's it - be careful of doing a TON of cardio if you're overweight because you'll end up with loose skin (google images it, it's scary).

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As far as the light stimulation thing, I completely understand where you're coming from with that idea. However I'm not sure that would work for me. I sleep with the TV on. It's very low on volume, and it's typically one of the disks from the 10 seasons of Friends (I heart that show), but it's because I have Tinnitus. If there isn't some amount of noise in the background, no matter how light, I can't sleep because the ringing irritates the crap out of me. So I use the show as my background noise because it's something I've seen repeatedly so I usually don't have much interest in watching it when I'm tired. It helps quite a bit. I work in a hearing aid clinic, it was actually something one of our audiologists recommended. Something light on in the background (radio, fan, TV), anything that makes a little bit of noise seems to help quiet the ringing of Tinnitus. I have, however, completely cut myself off from the internet when I'm home at night. If I'm at all tired, I work on sleeping instead of getting on my laptop and going online. Hours will whiz by if I don't.
Yah, definitely use what works for you! Everyone's situation is different. A fan has helped drown out the other sounds for me.
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