Yes, this is a thing. Most people imagine those with ADHD as always ‘busy’ and can’t imagine how boredom can set in – but it does – due to the lack of dopamine hits. While coaching a professional client around attaining structure, consistency, and balance in his life, something happened he didn’t expect. In less than three months’ time, he had real structure in his life and mastered his calendar, increased his deliverables/billables by nearly 400%, was planning effectively, and everything was organized in his life. The stress and anxiety that had permeated his days was at an all-time-low. Then he stated – “I’m bored.” Something he never thought he would experience. I simply smiled. What a wonderful place to get to! And I responded back, “We can fix that.”
I have had countless clients express their concern as to what will happen if they are finally organized and they are on top of their tasks and commitments for the first time. More than one client expressed their fear of finally being organized. One even stated, “What will I do all day long if everything is put away and my place is tidy and completely organized?” My response at the time was, “Live your life!”
But seriously, for those with ADHD – this can be a bit scary due to the proclivity to wandering minds and wasting time. When you think about it, moving from “Fire, Ready, Aim” mode to “Efficient and Proactive” mode is a huge shift for most non-neurotypical brains, or anyone for that matter! When your way of life is ‘putting out fires’ and feeling constantly behind, the change to NOT feeling that way can be somewhat of a shock. I have heard people express their fear of “now what?” once ‘order’ is a regular part their life. It’s uncomfortable but that is because it is unfamiliar. And like any new experience, we can adjust to the newness and embrace the difference like we do whenever we come up against something we haven’t experienced before. This is a wonderful adjustment to be in the position to make.
If you have ADHD – you are probably well acquainted with that creative and inventive part of your brain that always has something new to do or try. Right? Boredom doesn’t have a chance to fester for too long – if you can harness that ability and use it to your advantage. Finding strategies to reduce boredom help by decreasing the detrimental effect of that all-too-familiar ‘spontaneous mind wandering’ on cognitive flexibility; i.e. out-of-the box thinking, the ability to consider multiple perspectives, or shifting ones mindset. (Deng, et al., 2022).
In order to adjust – and dare I say “get excited” – about this new state of being, try these ideas:
- Firstly – realize and own the fact that you deserve to have this level of order and calm in your life. Yes, calm. Because being organized brings calm – not to be confused with boredom.
- Think ahead – when you are in the process of getting organized, managing your schedule, following through consistently, start projecting as to when you will be AT that state of completeness. How will that feel? What opportunities does that open up for you?
- Create a list. (Isn’t it interesting that most of the solutions involve making a list???). You probably have a ‘laundry list’ of things you have been putting off (because nobody procrastinates) until that elusive time in life when you ‘have the time’ to do those wonderful things you have dreamt of. That magic moment has presented itself.
You now simply (I know – sorry about using that word) put time on your calendar for those new projects or tasks you want to engage in. You are no longer spending time ‘picking up the pieces’ and playing ‘catch-up’ with your life – so the time is now. You can do something new (your brain will be elated by this) and feel wonderful about working on something you have been considering doing. Be cautious; elicit help enumerating the steps so you don’t get stuck or overwhelmed about where to start. Then Go For It! Test drive a new activity, idea, project. Just be aware that you will still need to continue your newfound structure and productive state of being.
If you, or someone you know, would like to get to this state of bliss – email me and we can talk: [email protected]
Deng, Y. Q., Shi, G., Zhang, B., Zheng, X., Liu, Y., Zhou, C., & Wang, X. (2022). The effect of mind wandering on cognitive flexibility is mediated by boredom. Acta Psychologica, 231, 103789.