Waiting for the dentist….
I did my most productive and focused work all week during 45 minutes on my laptop in the dentist’s waiting room.
In fact, in that short time I got much more done than I would have in my home office.
The experience reminded me how important the environment is to those of us with ADD / ADHD traits… and also how differently our focus mechanism works than other people’s.
Most people WITHOUT ADD would find it pretty hard to focus in a busy waiting room. But for us, the “body double” effect kicks in.
Other people in a room allows our brains to settle down and concentrate. That’s why we can often do our best work in a Starbucks, on a commuter train, or even on a park bench
It can be risky to place your home office in the basement. Even if you’re going to be alone in the house, you may get more done when you feel more “connected” to the rest of the house.
NOTE: As with all stereotypes, this doesn’t apply to everyone. The body double effect on focus probably works for about 80% of those with ADD. If, instead, you find that any outside stimulation distracts you, then you may need to find a quieter place to work. If your work environment is an open space or a cubicle, perhaps you’d need to find an empty conference room to do certain intense thought tasks or planning.
Your best environment for focus can be very task-specific. A café may be a great place for you to do boring work like expense reports, but too stimulating for you to do report writing or analysis. You need to experiment.
Difficulty focusing is only one of many different reasons you may have trouble getting started on tasks.
Identify the real reasons you have trouble getting started on different tasks
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