Zebra Stripes for ADHD

A monthly newsletter of stories tips and news for those concerned with ADHD, Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, No. 14

Sarah Jane Keyser : ADHD Coach

Seeing Time: a Vision for Managing Time

Imagine.  You are sitting in the middle of the railroad tracks making 
mud pies. A long loud Hoo-oo-oo echoes in the air. You look up to 
see a huge engine towering over you. 

Cut !
« What ? Why on earth would I be doing such a silly thing ? »

Well, change the scene a bit.  You aren’t on railroad tracks but on a
project track. You have until Friday to complete a project at work.
Thursday night you suddenly see this project looming over you, 
and you haven’t started yet. You’re late again. Children with ADHD 
often do this, but adults do it too.

Have you ever arrived at an intersection which you pass regularly
several times a day to find a police car with lights flashing, an
ambulance, lots of people and cars standing around, a dramatic
accident, someone’s life has just taken a drastic turn. You slow, 
gape, ask what’s happened. Sometime later you pass the same 
spot again, now all is back to normal; there remains no trace of 
that recent slice of time.

Time is a curious substance. We call it the fourth dimension. The 
three dimensions of space, length, width, height are visible, but 
we can’t see time or hear, taste or smell it. 

For many people time advances in front of them and falls away 
behind them in orderly fashion like the crossties on the railroad 
tracks. They are able to estimate how much time has elapsed or 
organize future tasks neatly to fit the time available. 

Others, especially people with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD, 
ADHD) experience time as a pile of crossties spread 
higgledy-piggledy in all directions. They have no sense of the 
train arriving until it appears on top of them; they are often late 
for meetings or forget completely. They say « yes » to too many 
things without considering how each commitment will fit on the 
time track.

How can we see time coming ? How can we use this vision of time 
to manage it?

Let's take another perspective. Instead of sitting playing mud pies
waiting for events to happen to us, let's imagine riding in the train.
The train is our time-machine which transports us through today.  
The train track is time extending into the future. Each station is an
activity to be carried out. 

You board the train at 'Getting-Out-of-Bed'. The train starts off at
8:00, rolling smoothly through the countryside, clickety-clack marking
the rhythm while you get dressed and ready for the day. The 
conductor announces "the next station will be 'Breakfast' at 8:15". As 

the train slides gently to a stop you slide into your seat to eat 
breakfast. The train starts off again, clickety-clack. While you are 
eating the conductor announces "the next stop at 8:45 will be 

Other stops for today's trip might be "Paying-the-Bills",
"Doctor's-Appointment", "Project-Meeting", and so on. The last stop 
of course will be "In-Bed-Lights-Out".

Good night and sweet dreams.

Time Management Tips

A train provides a fanciful vision for managing time. For people with Attention Deficit Disorder, a fanciful vision can provide the stimulation necessary to stay on track. If you have a different vision by all means go for it.

Here are some practical pointers that will help you be successful at time management, no matter what sort of vision speaks to you.

  1. Define each activity precisely. Specify the materials you need and enumerate the steps to complete the activity. Be as detailed as necessary to get the job done.
    For example: "Pay-the-Bills" will depend on how you pay bills. If you send checks, you will need the bills to pay, checkbook, envelopes, stamps, and a pen.
  2. Determine the how much time you need to do the activity including preparation and finishing time.
    For example the time for "Doctor's Appointment" should include the time to get yourself ready and the time to get there including parking time; be sure to allow extra time for traffic holdups. You should also add in the expected waiting time in the doctor's office because this will affect the time you can be somewhere else.
    If you don't know how much time you need, measure it or ask someone who is better at judging time than you are.
  3. Plan the next day. Each night before you go to bed verify that the activities for tomorrow will all fit on the track, that you have enough time to complete each activity and get to the next one. if you have a PDA, you could program it to make your train conductors announcements.

  4. Of course you need an agenda as well. Your agenda is the schedule of stations your train will be stopping at in the days, weeks and months to come like "Project-of-my-life-time" or "Mother-in-law-arrives". When planning each day you need to refer to the list of future stations to see which ones you will arrive at tomorrow.

  5. You need to chop large projects into chunks and schedule a station for each chunk.
Have a great trip!

For more about Time Management see : http://www.coachingkeytoadd.com/coaching/tips/timetips.html


Zebra Tips : Flash Report : to live longer Smile and Laugh

Most centenarians enjoy a good laugh according to Tom Perls of the New England Centenarian Study. He believes that a sunny disposition, positive thinking and a good laugh help to control stress. Stress produces the hormone cortisol which is bad. DHEA is another hormone which offsets the effects of cortisol, but DHEA decreases with age leaving older people more susceptible to disease and the effects of aging.

People with ADHD also tend to have high levels of cortisol due to stress and lots of negative thinking.

But you don't have to die young. Learn to smile and practice positive thinking to reduce your cortisol level. Here are some suggestions and don't be surprised , we've heard them before as ways to deal with ADHD.

Tai chi, exercise, having faith, meditation and yoga. Make use of the "relaxation response" devised by Herbert Benson. Don't have time for all that sort of stuff? Well then just smile and laugh that will also reduce cortisol, the more the merrier.

This report comes from Kate Douglas in "New Scientist",

3 June 2006.

For more about me, Sarah Jane Keyser, About Sarah Jane

Do you need a safe place to talk?   email me today for a free coaching session.

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