Basically, yes. It's a bit complicated though. Seeing as everything related to Executive Function is tough for us, structure is crucial. It's just that finding the right balance can be really hard!
Since this is something I experienced first-hand today, I wanted to dig into it. So, if you do to, please join me for the next few minutes.
In addition to sharing what I learn, I will also share some Adhd strategies for dealing with it, so hopefully they will help you too.
Let's get started!
Have you ever met a two-year-old that refused to do something that they didn't want to do? Well... sometimes I feel like I have one of them controlling the engine of my brain!
And as I started digging into the science of our brain, I realized that isn't entirely wrong.
ADHD Brain Science
To put that into perspective, looking at the function of the prefrontal cortex helped me understand that a bit more.
In a basic sense, the prefrontal cortex controls attention, behavior, and emotion. And because ours is weakened we struggle with all of those things.
A quote from Healing ADD explains why trying too hard (which can include being too structured) is a bad thing for us. (Tbh, I was both stunned and relieved when I first read it.)
"...Dr. Lubar demonstrated that ADD children had excessive slow brain wave activity in the front part of their brain, which worsened when they tried to concentrate." ~ from Healing ADD, by Dr Amen (pg 64)
In other words, the harder we try to do something the harder it is for us to do it.
So... if something feels like a chore or a necessity, we often lose motivation. (Especially when it's hard or boring.)
Take a moment to recall your time in school, at home, or at your last job.
When things became predictable or too-much-the-same did you find that motivation and focus became hard to maintain?
So, like always, part of us knows what to do and WANTS to do it. BUT our prefrontal cortex doesnt always cooperate.
An example from my day
Today, I couldn't get started on anything I was "supposed" to do. Instead, I sat on the couch in my office and scrolled through Instagram and Tik Tok.
Eventually, I felt compelled to take action. Just not on the things included on today's to do list!
I'm sure you've been in this situation too. Especially when your to do's don't feel urgent or novel. It's so frustrating, isnt it!?
But I've been thinking about this and wonder? Does it really matter that I didn't do what I planned?
Does it really matter when we veer off course?
Sometimes it can, for sure. But not always.
Let me explain what I mean by that.
It's been three months since I last wrote a blog post. Today however, I wrote three!
So O.K... I didn't get to my to do list items. But that doesn't mean I didn't do anything.
Remember what Dr.Amen and Dr. Lubar found?
At the beginning of this post I shared a quote from "Healing ADD" which showed that when we feel pressured do something (especially when it isn't urgent or novel) we find it difficult (even impossible) to do.
...Even if part of wants to do it!
Considering writing blog posts started to feel like a "should do" getting inspired and excited to do it became really hard. Which, unsurprisingly is why I couldn't get to my to-do list.
Then... the moment I let myself ENJOY the content on Instagram and TikToc, my mind became energized.
In that moment everything to do with my executive function worked much better. And even if these feelings didn't help me get to my to-do list, I did get to SOMETHING.
Do you get how this explains how being TOO structured and organized can make us unproductive?
Basically... we need to stop forcing ourselves!
Forcing ourselves into being overly structured is bad for us!
There was a time when I wouldn't let myself write the 3 blog posts I wrote today.
My thoughts (as unconscious as they were) dictated that if I couldn't do what I was "supposed" to do, I wouldn't do anything at all.
But then I thought... if I accomplish things that need to be done anyways, does it matter if we didn't complete everything on our list today?
No... not really - so let's stop beating ourselves up about this!
But still... this can create a cycle of stress. Especially if we're always dealing with doing things at the last minute.
To avoid that, I try to implement what I call the ADHD offence maneuver to avoid it as much as possible.
My belief regarding our brains is that we need to focus our attention on how to PREVENT our prefrontal cortex from putting the breaks on in the first place.
Defense is stressful. Yuck!!!
Offense is a fun, creative, problem-solving puzzle. LOVE!
And yes... as my day today proves, it doesn't always work. But it often does, so I feel confident saying that giving it a try is still worthwhile.
If that resonates with you, here's how you can play offense starting NOW!
- Stop working when you still feel positive.
- Take every opportunity to support your executive function deficits.
- Don't let your days go by without a fun and inspiring dopamine boost.
- Add some structure into your days. Yet keep them flexible!!!!
- Embrace the idea of fluid to-dos. Even if you planned to do X today and Y tomorrow, the order you do them in is rarely important.
I'm sure you'd like to know more about this. I'm also interested in learning and sharing more about it!!!
I've already passed #1 though, and if I don't stop, I know it will affect the rest of my week so I'm going to share more another time.
... I also want to make sure I don't push YOU past #1!!!
You may be tempted to jump into research mode right now. But before you do, take a moment to consider whether or not you should (#1 from the adhd offense manuever). When in doubt, pay attention to your body's physical sensations. Ask yourself these questions.
- Do you feel a bit of anxiety building up?
- Do you feel dread or nausea in your chest or belly?
- Do you feel like your head is buzzing or humming?
- Do you feel a sense of panic when thinking about this topic?
- Do you feel tired?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, it's probably time to stop.
If not, you may want to:
- Buy a book or do a little research on something you found interesting in this post
- Put the above five ADHD-Offense Maneuvers up on a wall so that you can remember them. (I designed one for myself and just added it to the things free members get when signing up).
And either way ... if you aren't already a member, join today! (you can do that here)
- You'll be notified whenever I elaborate on this topic.
- I will notify you when I release a new membership that will help you manage some of the challenges I shared in this post.
- You'll get my Dopamine Boost Menu AND The ADHD Offense Maneuver poster.