ADD in Focus

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Jump Start Your Day with Music That Moves You

David Giwerc, MCC, ADD Coach Academy, Founder and President.

People with ADHD have a tough time concentrating on many of the everyday tasks we need to do. Sometimes the mere thought of doing uninteresting chores can demotivate and even immobilize us.

Based on my experience with my own ADHD, I’ve found that, if I can just get going by stimulating my brain with something I enjoy, it creates momentum and positive energy that enable me to pay attention to the task at hand. Sometimes this “jump start” even helps me sustain focus long enough to actually complete the task.

When you’re stuck but need to get going on something like writing a proposal, a letter, or some other communications project, try using music to jump start your brain. You can use any kind of music that helps you sustain focus on a task you have to do but don’t want to do. The melodies and rhythms can create a “second wind” of energy within you that can empower you to do all kinds of things you’ve procrastinated about.

And who says you have to write the whole thing at once? Just type one sentence to get yourself started. Even if you feel unable to complete the entire communication, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do part of it simply by drafting the opening line. In this type of situation, after I’ve been energized by my music and have written the first few words, my “brain engine” often gets so revved up that I keep going and proceed to write the entire communication, even though I may have been putting it off for weeks.

Over the years many clients have told me that different types of music are better suited to different types of tasks. Some individuals play classical music while writing articles or reading specific subjects. Many clients tell me that they can’t listen to music with familiar lyrics while they’re writing or reading because the lyrics are too distracting. Other people use jazz during creative brainstorming sessions to help them develop new concepts. I know many people who love to exercise or do the dishes to Motown or rock.

Why not experiment with different types of music? Listen to the music you like and try matching specific types of music to specific tasks. Experiment with this idea and have fun discovering what works for your brain with different types of activities. Music will make your routine, mundane tasks much more enjoyable.

For myself, I’ve developed the following list of the music I enjoy listening to while engaged in specific types of activities.
• Writing: Mozart, Tchaikovsky
• Reading: Baroque
• Exercise: Motown, Earth Wind & Fire. Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Patti Labelle, Donna Summer, Guster, Santana
• Domestic activities like doing the dishes or cleaning: Tchaikovsky, Boston, Rolling Stones
• Playing my congas: Guster, Santana, Brazilian groups
• Making lists: Any of the above except with no distracting lyrics
• Getting to sleep: Meditative music that’s actually designed to be relaxing

Quite often when I feel tired, I can make myself even more tired by thinking about all the preparation I need to do before I can begin working on a particular project by focusing on what’s involved in getting ready, I end up talking myself out of doing anything. I prevent myself from taking even the smallest action step that would help create momentum.

The hardest part about doing any required task is just getting started: just taking action when our whole being so strongly resists doing the task. By using our favorite music to give us a natural jolt of positive energy, we’re able to start the task and gain desperately needed forward momentum.

Just as you may feel unable to start a writing task because you’re overwhelmed by your “all or nothing” belief, focusing on everything you need to do to get ready to start a project only makes things worse. And again, who says that all the steps have to be completed at once? Just take action with a single step. This will create positive momentum that may propel you forward.

Remind yourself too that, by focusing on the preparation rather than allowing yourself to take at least some action, you’re over thinking and undergoing. When I catch myself over thinking, I simply put on one of my favorite Aretha Franklin songs – “Respect” – and get all charged up by her great voice and the rhythm of the music. It reverberates through my body and gets me moving to each beat.

So the next time you’ve got an uninteresting or overwhelming task you need to do, just put on one of your favorite CDs and see what happens! You may be pleasantly surprised to discover how much more enjoyable dull, mandatory tasks can be if you do them while bopping to your favorite tunes.