Strategies for Successfully Working From Home with ADHD

Strategies for Successfully Working From Home with ADHD

Being prepared and developing routines are key to staying organized and being productive if you have ADHD and are working from home. Our go-to productivity expert and ADHD coach, Kristin Seymour, offers a ton of simple life hacks you can utilize to help you stay on track in your job and increase your overall happiness.

Kristin’s website is ADHDFogLifted.com. Get her book and her resource binder!

Pre-order Ned’s new book, ADHD 2.0 on Amazon.

Check out Dr. H on TikTok! @drhallowell

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Dr. H takes OmegaBrite supplements every day and that’s why he invited them to sponsor his podcast. SAVE 20% on your first order at OmegaBriteWellness.com with the promo code: Podcast2020.

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Dr. H has an honorary degree from Landmark!

What’s your opinion? Send an email with your thoughts to [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve taken their Omega-3 supplements for many years, and so has my wife, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. I’m proud to have them. You can find all of their products online at omegabritewellness.com… and brite is intentionally misspelled B-R-I-T-E… omegabritewellness.com

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is also sponsored by Landmark College, another institution that I have warm personal relationship with, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Learn more at lcdistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to Distraction. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell, your host. So glad you’re with us once again. Today, we have one of my favorite… and I can say our favorite… guests. I can’t remember how many times she’s been on the podcast, but more than twice. She’s a remarkable woman. She’s one of those people who just gets it when it comes to ADHD. There are experts and then there are people who get it and she is, yes, an expert, but she also gets it. That just means when you’re with her, if you have ADHD, you feel understood. For a lot of people, particularly adults, they almost never have that feeling of being understood without being marked down, without being judged negatively. They feel understood, appreciated, and it’s just being with her, for many adults, is in and of itself pretty much all the therapy they need.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In terms of credentials, she’s got them all. She’s a board certified clinical nurse specialist. She works with cardiology patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. She also is an author. She wrote a wonderful book called The Fog Lifted: A Clinician’s Victorious Journey with ADHD. I highly recommend it. The Fog Lifted. She works with ADHD kids and their families, as well as adults. She consults to businesses, hospitals. You just can’t slow her down. Of course, she has ADHD herself, as she’s the first to tell you, and she’s just a tremendous gift to this world with her energy, her knowledge, her expertise, her empathy, and her undying devotion to all the people she serves, which is quite a few people. I can tell you, I’ve called her on a Sunday and she’ll say to me, “I can’t talk long. I’ve got another client coming in.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I don’t think she ever stops working. In addition, she’s married to a wonderful man and has two of the best daughters you could ever find.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Welcome, Kristin Seymour, MSN, RN, AHCNS-B.

Kristin Seymour:
Thank you, Ned. Thank you for your kind introduction and kind words. I most appreciate it and your support over the years. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, it’s a treat for me and our audience to have you. Now, we are going to get into a topic that you proposed because you’ve been seeing it a lot, and one that we have not really covered on the podcast. Why don’t you tell us about it.

Kristin Seymour:
Okay. What I have been working with, with countless of my adult patients in the past several months, is the reality of the overnight shift for the ADHD employee to go from an office setting or work setting outside the home, instantly to a home setting, which provides much distraction and is a big, huge challenge for many of my adult patients.

Kristin Seymour:
The reason I believe that this massive change and this debilitation for many of them is because there’s no mental or physical mind shift. You know how when you go to the gym from your house, you’re in the moment to work out. Or you go from your dorm or your apartment or your home to the office, you are in a work mode. Without that mind shift, many people are finding it very hard to be productive and stay on task. We’ve had to adapt their lives and implement strategies that they have found to be pretty effective and helpful in making this new environment successful and productive.

Kristin Seymour:
In order to help that mind shift, I even have some of my patients, once they get up, make their bed, brush their teeth, and get dressed as if they are going to an office, some of them even go drive around the block just to move their mind from the thought of, “Okay, I’m going from my home as a sanctuary and a place of rest to, now, I’m coming back to the house or apartment or whatever as an employee, as a producer.” That’s been really helpful. But keeping that routine and structure in place, same wake and sleep time, maintaining their prescription medication as directed and prescribed, is all key to being successful with this work at home environment. Creating a schedule, writing it down, keeping it visual, things like that are really essential for these visual learning ADHDers.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, absolutely it is. One suggestion is to do the mind shift.

Kristin Seymour:
Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And what’s the second one?

Kristin Seymour:
Oh, I have many.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay.

Kristin Seymour:
Waking up at the same time every day, even if your first meeting, Zoom call, conference call, whatever platform you’re working from isn’t until maybe an hour after you typically wake, still get up at 6:30 or 7:00. Go for a walk, exercise, keep your body on that same routine.

Kristin Seymour:
The biggest thing a lot of my patients are missing is they don’t have a good understanding of writing down each platform of a meeting. For instance, you have Google Meet, Adobe Connect, Zoom, Google Classroom. You have all these different ways people are communicating and a lot of people have different passwords, different usernames, so I tell them, “Log on 10 to 15 minutes and be sure you have the right meeting platform, the right time zone, and have everything charged and ready to go,” because a lot of patients are missing simple things like that. It has nothing to do with their production or their productivity or their content, it’s just being organized, on time, and on the right platform, with a charged device. Those are all things we can control.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. All right. What’s next?

Kristin Seymour:
Another thing that will be really helpful for them is to space their appointments, if possible. If my patients are able to schedule all appointments… whether they’re a phone call, a virtual video call… everything 30 minutes apart so that you have that 30 minutes to recapture yourself, jot notes, stay on top of it, stay on time, stay organized, so that at the end of the day you’re not playing catch up.

Kristin Seymour:
On that same note, you want to make sure that you answer your emails as they’re coming through, but don’t get all tied up and hyperfocused on them if it’s going to take more attention than a couple of minutes. Print that, put it to the side, and know you have to get to it later. Those are all things that have been real time suckers and get my patients down a rabbit hole of they get tied up in one email or they run late on a meeting. Use alarms. Use technology. Space your appointments.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to my friend, the founder and creator of OmegaBrite Wellness, Dr. Carol Locke, about the benefits of taking OmegaBrite’s Omega-3s CBD and other supplements. Here’s a clip from one of those conversations.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, there are many different products, brands of fish oil. Why is OmegaBrite the best?

Carol Locke:
What I can speak to with OmegaBrite is it’s a very different formula than typically what you can get in the store or online and OmegaBrite is clinically proven. We have over 10 studies in major academic centers showing OmegaBrite improving mood, helping with bipolar, with depression, with ADHD, with anxiety, with inflammation. So, it’s a very proven product for you to gain these benefits and these benefits, we know, come from OmegaBrite. You can’t get that with a typical Omega-3, which has, say, 180 milligrams of EPA in it. That just isn’t going to provide that benefit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction listeners, you can save 20% on your first order at omegabritewellness.com by using the promo code PODCAST2020.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right, let’s get back to today’s topic.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What should they do about the lack of human contact?

Kristin Seymour:
That’s a good one. One of the most important things they should do is, if they’re living alone, to check in with another adult. Whether it’s a significant other, a neighbor, a family member, to everyday check in with someone either on a walk social distancing, have a Zoom call just socializing with friends, but mask, get together. I think the social isolation is really difficult. I think not having the camaraderie of a team in a work environment around you is difficult. As long as you check in with yourself, check in with one other person, and then always socializing with your spouse and stuff. Make sure you tell your spouse and your significant other, roommate, family what you need right now. Because what I need is different than what you need. Maybe that friend needs to give them reassurance. Maybe it’s their boss telling them they’re doing okay. The social isolation is really devastating to these people and they have to think outside the box in how to see one another, but there’s lots of things that we can do that aren’t in an office.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Maybe they miss their boss and they want someone to yell at them, so you could ask someone to yell at you.

Kristin Seymour:
Right. Exactly.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’m just kidding, Kristen.

Kristin Seymour:
I have a man I’m working with-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’m just kidding.

Kristin Seymour:
… I have a man I’m working who, he’s in his mid-20s, and is a very successful architect type of position and he was really struggling with all of them, with the lack of structure and time and to-do lists and things being visual. So, we got his significant other on board. She was such a partner in it. We utilized a white noise machine to drown out distractions of delivery trucks and barking animals and just typical things.

Kristin Seymour:
Then, we actually also contacted his supervisor and just said, “He’s adjusting to this. These are the things we’re implementing.” The boss was so empathetic and understanding. He didn’t have to go into this whole history of his diagnosis, but he just said, “Look, this is a whole new world, particular for my distracted mind.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I was kidding when I say get someone to yell at you, but I think a lot of people miss having the cheerleading, and that could be yelling, “Come on, team. Let’s go. Let’s go. We’re going to nail it today. We’re going to go through the roof.” And it’s just not there. It’s crickets. I think the encouragement, cheerleading that people often dismiss as superficial is, in fact, profoundly important.

Kristin Seymour:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think you’re right on. I think your first point of with crickets, when you said that, an idol mind can be a devil’s workshop. These people that can be so prone to that default mode or hyperfocus or going down a dark place, this is a real serious time for them. So, like you said, the camaraderie, the team work, the cheering them on, is really essential. It can be, I think, knowing as you say, Ned, no one should ever worry alone, whether it’s worrying about their work, worrying about their family. They need to tap into someone they trust. If they don’t have someone, there are a lot of resources. There’s a lot of hotlines. There’s a lot of support groups and people you can talk to.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yep.

Kristin Seymour:
The other thing is utilizing those grocery delivery apps or food delivery apps to help maximize your time during the day. Auto pay all your bills. Make sure you remind yourself on your calendar to have your medication refilled. A lot of those controlled substances, people forget about them. When you’re at home, you just kind of assume things are going to be done. You got to remember to call and get your medication refilled.

Kristin Seymour:
There’s a lot of things we can do to help them be organized and be focused.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You mentioned the food delivery services. On the other hand, I look forward to going out to the food store as sort of my outing. Oh good, I get to go to the food store and push my cart, get a little exercise, see some human faces behind masks, smile at them, talk to the deli counter guy. It’s my little trip to the park and I get my shopping done. So, I don’t want a delivery service, but I can certainly understand people who do. You’re absolutely right, it is a way to save time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I can’t not add that no one needs to be alone. Get a dog. I know this is a broken record because I squeeze it into every podcast, but it’s no accident that God spelled backwards is dog. Particularly if you’re alone, if you have a dog, believe me, you won’t feel alone.

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah, I loved when you said in a lecture at one of the conferences a couple years ago, you said you had written more prescriptions for dogs or a pet than you did for anything else.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. Yes, I don’t know how many people filled those prescriptions, but I really-

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah, I think the dog, having someone to love unconditionally there, is great, or take care of. I just can’t stress enough how much this lack of a mind shift and getting them into that mind space of production for these patients has really been a challenge. I don’t think many people are really talking about it. People are just really struggling with their jobs and there’s been a lot of layoffs and furloughs. It’s just a really tough time right now. I love your quote, “Just never worry alone. Be there for each other.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… The only reason I go to my office… I live in Arlington, have an office in Sudbury… and the only reason I get up and drive the half hour drive to the office in Sudbury is just for that mind shift. There’s nobody there. A couple of administrative assistants, but I don’t see any patients live. It’s all done by Zoom, which I could just as easily do from home, but I want the feeling of getting in my car, driving out there, coming in, unpacking my briefcase, setting up my laptop, getting a cup of coffee, sitting down, opening it up, starting the Zoom. You’re so right. It’s a kind of a ritual that my brain is accustomed too.

Kristin Seymour:
Exactly.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If it doesn’t get it, it’s sort of saying, “Okay, what the heck’s going on here?”

Kristin Seymour:
Exactly. That lack of a true shift happens when one physically moves from one environment to the other, like you said, and when that’s out of our control we have to create a natural shift. That’s why I said I have a couple of my patients driving around the block-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a great idea.

Kristin Seymour:
… and then going back into their home as an employee because it’s just so going to the hospital to do my job, or coming to my office to see patients and Zooming them from here. Just like you, it makes me feel like I’m in a different head space.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Don’t you think it should be more than around the block? Maybe drive a few miles?

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah, that would be great, depending on how big their block is. But it’s just, I would say, in the exercise piece and movement, the ADHD brain loves movement. So, I will do one part of my role from Zoom in my office where I see ADHD patients and then I do another part of my role from my home because we can’t go to the hospital right now, due to limiting COVID exposure unnecessarily. It’s interesting. You have your different head spaces for your different places and I think people really need to play into that and really think about that because it’s a big deal.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What I’m going to do now is engage in a conversation with a delightful young woman by the name of Katie [Labumbard 00:17:43]-

Katie L.:
That’s me!

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… a student at… there you are… a student at Landmark College, our podcast sponsor and the college of choice for students who learn differently. Welcome to the podcast, Katie.

Katie L.:
Thank you so much. Love to be here.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, the reason we want to talk to you and follow you along is track your progress at Landmark College. You’re a senior, is that correct?

Katie L.:
Yes, correct.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And you’re graduating in the spring?

Katie L.:
Yes, so that’s one more semester after this one.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Tell me what it’s been like to be at Landmark.

Katie L.:
Well, as we all know, this semester in particular has been very different, but beforehand it’s a life changing experience. High school is absolutely terrible and I can’t speak for everyone, but most of the people I have met here, we share a universal experience of having a terrible high school experience, whether it was from segregation into the special ed classrooms or just not getting exactly what we need in terms of education or that social experience that helps us grow.

Katie L.:
So, I came to Landmark, I think, very developmentally delayed, very awkward, very not ready for anything in the real world. To come here and be able to not start over but have different supports that I wasn’t used to, have people that understood what I was going through and see me of the same light and go through what others have gone through, that was so helpful, incredibly.

Katie L.:
Now, I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. Now, with this whole pandemic going on and classes being different, everything being different, it’s hard to learn, but as I said before, people here, we’re used to adapting. We’re used to needing to step it up and learn maybe more than other people would have to. So, I think we do have a leg up there, but that being said, it’s still difficult.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What are your hopes and dreams? What do you hope to be doing after you graduate from Landmark?

Katie L.:
Oh man, that’s definitely a scary thought. My broad dream is to open a business. I’m an entrepreneur. I think that career style fits good with how I work and learn, especially with being my own boss, but that’s really as much thought as I put toward my future, especially with the career. Within my recent years at Landmark, I’ve gotten really into activism, especially with the newer diverse movements and with women’s movement and women’s rights. I’ve also really gotten into that. We’ll see where that takes me.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good. Good for you. Most entrepreneurs have ADHD, so you’re in really good company. Thank you. Thank you so much, Katie.

Katie L.:
Yeah, you too. So nice to meet you. Thank you so much for doing this.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Listeners, if you’d like to learn more about Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently, go to lcdistraction.org. Okay, let’s get back to today’s show.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How under the weather, so to speak, psychologically, do you think most people are because of this? I think I say none of us is getting enough of the other vitamin C, vitamin connect. We’re all suffering from a little bit of a vitamin connect deficiency, but are you seeing it really bothering a lot of your folks?

Kristin Seymour:
Yes. I don’t think I’ve ever honestly been as busy right now as I am and a lot of it is because my patients are struggling, young and older, particularly this 19 to 30 year-old cohort of patients. Whether they’re single, married, whatever their state is, they are struggling. It’s hard enough to think differently and have our super powers as ADHDers in a typical environment with just regular pressure, social media, and everything else, other pressures. But then to have this social isolation and restrictions is just making people feel even further apart from each other and it’s really affecting my folks in a big way. It’s affecting the students with their assignments. It’s affecting their action in class. It’s actually setback, significantly, a few of my patients who I’ve made a lot of progress with, because it’s so unfamiliar and isolating. They feel terrible. We’re really working hard to be outside and create new habits and find new sports and things like that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, being outdoors, whether permitting, is another key strategy?

Kristin Seymour:
Yes. I actually told a patient the other day, I said, “Well, get a rain coat and go walk in the rain.” Come on, it doesn’t have to be sunshine and lollipops and rainbows every day. Just put on a rain coat, get an umbrella, and as long as it’s not thundering and lightning, go take a walk. I’ve been biking. I’ve got a little girl I’m working with who’s 10 who’s taken up golf because she gets to be outside and she can be a part.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow, that’s wonderful. That’s really wonderful. And a walk in the rain, well you know my children’s story, the only children’s book I’ve ever written, the title of it is A Walk in the Rain with the Brain.

Kristin Seymour:
Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Walking in the rain [crosstalk 00:23:41]-

Kristin Seymour:
So, getting outside, changing the environment, changing your work environment home, connecting with your friends and family, making sure you stay compliant and on a schedule and routine. People just expect it to happen and people who are on a routine and get ample sleep every night and eat, and have hard-boiled eggs, something protein packed, things ready in the fridge to grab if you’re in a hurry in the middle of the day to eat between meetings, just start to prepare yourself. Those life hacks we always talk about. Have things ready so you’re not flailing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… And you’re so good at those, you really. So, half a dozen hard-boiled eggs and some carrot sticks ready and a pickle or two.

Kristin Seymour:
Exactly. I always tell people, I’m like, “Grab some sunflower seeds. Have about six hard-boiled eggs ready in your fridge. Have some bottles of water. Fill your big… You have a cooler in the back of your car so if you do go, Ned, like you to your office and work from a Zoom and you want to do errands on the way back, throw your produce in a cooler. Leave a cooler in the back of your car. Have your car always at a quarter tank full.” Our people always run out of gas.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s another great suggestion.

Kristin Seymour:
Or else they’re coming to me on fumes. Those are just some simple life hacks. Have your prescriptions post-dated and put on the hold file in the pharmacy if your state allows that. It’s just all those kinds of things. Make your bed every day. Then, you’ve done one thing right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, it’s so true. Filling your tank. Another suggestion I make is to have a joke book nearby at all times. I think we can-

Kristin Seymour:
Oh, I love that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… I think these days we can suffer from excessive solemnity. It’s got to be jokes that you think are funny, but not just any joke book.

Kristin Seymour:
Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But a joke book that will reliably make you laugh because it is true that laughter does dilute a lot of negative feelings.

Kristin Seymour:
It does. And just smile. When you start your Zoom meetings, smile at each other. I read the other day that a smile is the starch of peace. It really is. If we all just took a minute. Everyone’s in such a hurry and so angry all the time right now. It’s really a crazy time, but the one thing we can do is be gentle with ourselves, plan ahead, be cognizant of a mind shift, and just try to be gentle with yourself. Everyone’s so hard on themselves right now too. But I’m your boss-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And be kind. There was a big survey, hundreds of thousands of people, voting on what are the three most attractive qualities in a person. Not physical attributes, but what are the three most attractive qualities. What do you think the top three were?

Kristin Seymour:
… That aren’t physical?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Not physical.

Kristin Seymour:
A positive attitude?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, kindness. Number one was kindness.

Kristin Seymour:
Kindness.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
They called it kindness. Yep.

Kristin Seymour:
What were the other two?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Number two was health, to be in good health. And number three was intelligence.

Kristin Seymour:
Wow. That’s fascinating. That’s probably so true. Being kind is important, but I don’t think enough people are right now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No, no. Really, we’ve really got to do something about it, no matter who the president is. We really need to.

Kristin Seymour:
Oh, I know. I was in line the other day and this little elderly woman was behind me and had one item and I let her go ahead of me and the person two behind, even though we were all six feet apart, got mad at me. I was like, “What is wrong with this scenario here?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Really. That’s amazing. Got mad at you for letting a little old lady with one item get in front of you?

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s just-

Kristin Seymour:
I was just like, “Wow.” So, it really made me think, “Okay, we all need to be a little gentler with ourselves, a little kinder, a little more forgiving and just get through each day right now,” because this is not as easy time for anyone.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… No, it’s not at all. No, we’re all a little frazzled, I think. These are great suggestions, Kristin, as always. [crosstalk 00:27:59]-

Kristin Seymour:
Oh, yeah. You’re welcome. I just think that the idea of the mind thing is really… it’s kind of, when you really think about it… it really can help people then framework how they can be most productive, how they can take this nuance, this new way we’re living and try to make it work because you’re home and your home should be your sanctuary. Yeah. But you can make it. I don’t care if you live in a studio apartment, you can find another little corner-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… Yes, absolutely.

Kristin Seymour:
… that’s different and put a little plant there. Figure it out. A little change up. People can help you. I’m always here.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You are. Now, if someone wants to reach you or go to your website, what’s the best way to do it?

Kristin Seymour:
Well, just going to my website’s probably the best and that’s my ADHDfoglifted.com website. I have this whole-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wait a minute. Let me say that for the listeners that don’t know it. ADHDfoglifted.com?

Kristin Seymour:
… Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
ADHD, fog, F-O-G, lifted, L-I-F-T-E-D, .com and that’s Kristin’s website and you can reach her through that. Then, of course, her book, The Fog Lifted: A Clinician’s Victorious Journey with ADHD. It’s a wonderful book. It’s autobiographical, but it’s full of [inaudible 00:29:14] and it’s full of wonderfully useful and amusing and deep and moving anecdotes and ideas.

Kristin Seymour:
Thank you. Thank you, Ned. There’s also my binder that’s on there that gives virtual learning tips for the elementary school student, the college student, the adult that I think has been real helpful for parents because it’s a whole new… parents turned into teachers overnight. I think that this provides some real good tools that are from different articles and different resources all at your fingertips in a few pages. That’s on my site too, if anyone needs help with that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wonderful. I can tell you if that binder is like taking a special ed consultant home with you. It really is amazingly detailed. Not in a boring way, in an encyclopedic useful way. It’s a wonderful resource.

Kristin Seymour:
That’s right. You saw that. I just added a tab for virtual, so you know exactly. Yeah. It’s even more robust now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good word, robust. Well, Kristin also wrote a robust blurb for my new book, which won’t be out until January but I am tickled to have her name on the back of my book.

Kristin Seymour:
Oh, the new book? ADHD 2.0 is fabulous.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you.

Kristin Seymour:
Honestly, as an ADHDer who finds reading to be something I have to do and usually don’t want to do, I wanted to finish that. I wanted to read it. It was awesome.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you so much. Well, I think you can order it in advance on Amazon now, but it was wonderful to-

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah, it is excellent. It’s informative. It’s a great navigator and guide. I loved it. I think you and Dr. Ratey did a great job. I mean, it’s wonderful.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… Thank you.

Kristin Seymour:
I hope everybody…

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you.

Kristin Seymour:
I thought it was great and I think all the books are great, but I think that one and Distraction are fabulous. This is even better.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you so much. And yours, we’ve got this mutual admiration society going here, but it’s true. You really are like the ADHD whisperer. You just get it in a way that very few people do. Anyone who-

Kristin Seymour:
Thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… is lucky enough to have a consultation with you, comes away the better for it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, will you promise to come on my podcast again someday?

Kristin Seymour:
Of course. You know I love it. It’s so fun. I always love chatting with you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good.

Kristin Seymour:
We always share some great information.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Well, it’s been great having you.

Kristin Seymour:
Thank you so much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you for this wonderful contribution today and we’ll talk to you soon. Take care, Kristin.

Kristin Seymour:
You too, Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right. Well, that’s our show for today. To learn more about Kristin Seymour, go to ADHDfoglifted.com. You can watch the short videos she creates every week for parents of school-age kids with ADHD and you can also get her 100 page resource binder filled with strategies and tools for success with ADHD at home and at school.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Kristin is also on Instagram with the username ADHD Fog Lifted. You can also find Distraction on Instagram too, as well as Facebook and Twitter. You can find my 60 second videos clips on ADHD on TikTok. We now have over three million views on TikTok, so it’s worth going to check it out. It’s @DrHallowell on TikTok. I’ve unloaded a bunch of videos there and I’d love to hear what you think.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Our email is [email protected] That’s [email protected] Okay, as I said, that’s it for today. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the wonderful Sarah Guertin and our audio engineer and editor is the brilliant Scott Persson. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell and thank you so much for joining me and us.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was made possible by my good friends at OmegaBrite Wellness. I take their supplements every day and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. Shop online at omegabrite… and that’s B-R-I-T-E… wellness.com.

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Exercise and ADHD Are a Winning Pair

Exercise and ADHD Are a Winning Pair

Dr. John Ratey, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, bestselling author, and Ned’s writing partner of many years, joins our host to talk about all the positive effects exercise has on your brain, including helping you focus.

Learn more in Dr. Ratey’s book, SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, or on his website, JohnRatey.com.

Please reach out to us with your questions and episode ideas. Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Thank you to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners, you can SAVE 20% on your first order with the promo code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And by Landmark college offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. John Ratey:
Everything that you can think of in terms of exercise has been looked to show a positive effect on attention measures. Okay? Yoga, dance is very good. Certainly racket sports and soccer, basketball, anything you can think of improves the attention.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to Distraction. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a very special episode. Not that they’re not all special, but this one is especially special. And it’s because I have my dear friend and former teacher, writing partner, squash partner, mentor, and just all-around delight in my life, Dr. John Ratey, coming to us all the way from Los Angeles.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
A little background on John. John is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and he’s the author of a number of books. He really has paved the way first in the treatment of aggression and then in the development of exercise as a really powerful treatment modality in psychiatry. In 2016, he was honored as the outstanding psychiatrist of the year for advancing the field by the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society. He’s an all-around wonderful man and truly an imaginative out-of-the-box thinker who also has very stellar academic credentials. So it’s an honor, a delight and a true pleasure to welcome my dear, dear friend, Dr. John Ratey.

Dr. John Ratey:
It’s great to be with you all and great to be with you Ned. About calling in from sunny Los Angeles and missing you and missing both family and our getting together in your backyard and all that, but I’m delighted to be talking about attention deficit disorder and all the stuff that we’ve known over the years and have written about and talked about.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, let’s just jump right into an area of where you are a world authority, namely exercise. John wrote a book called Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, and really brought to the general public the fact that physical exercise is not just good for your heart and your bones and your blood, but it’s actually really good for your brain. Do you want to enlarge on that, John? Because I don’t think most people are aware of just how it helps your brain.

Dr. John Ratey:
Sure. Right, most people don’t realize it, but when you exercise, you are using more of your brain. When we move physically, we are using more of our brain than in any other human activity. And the way we think about the brain today is that the brain is like a muscle. The more we use it, the better it gets. And exercise challenges, moves, makes the brain really work. And this is especially relevant for people with attention deficit disorder.

Dr. John Ratey:
One of the things that was in all of our findings, from Driven to Distraction onward, is we always talked about the benefits of exercise. We could see it, patients could see it, parents could see it. I just had, I did a course… [Mary Jane Beach 00:04:32], who you may remember, Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh yes.

Dr. John Ratey:
She was in the course.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh wow, wonderful.

Dr. John Ratey:
Recalling, really, our first talks down at the Cape with her parents’ group, where we picked up a lot of information, including how beneficial exercise was.

Dr. John Ratey:
But now we know, we can unpack it. What happens? Well, when we fire our nerve cells so much, we release a lot of neurotransmitters and especially we release dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin a lot. And it sort of acts like exercise, acts like a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin so that when we move, we release these neuro-transmitters, which then has an effect on our attention system throughout the brain. So it stands to reason that exercise is a very good treatment or co-treatment for attention deficit disorder.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
As well as depression and anxiety, right?

Dr. John Ratey:
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Spark was written all about the psychiatric benefits of exercise, including very much so depression and anxiety, addictions, certainly attention. And a big boat of benefit is its effect on aging. It’s really the number one anti-aging tactic that one can have along with, by the way, connecting. Those two together are at the top of any wellness pyramid or list that you can find. That’s because exercise really does so much in our brain.

Dr. John Ratey:
One of the things that it causes, when we use our brain, we release a substance called BDNF, Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor. Well, we know a lot about this, basically a neuro-hormone, a growth factor, in the brain because it acts in the brain like fertilizer. Meaning it keeps our brain cells young and perky as well as it makes them do what they’re supposed to do, and that is to grow and grow in our information. So when we’re-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So exercise makes you grow new nerve cells, new brain cells.

Dr. John Ratey:
But that’s the second part of the neuroplasticity. The big big effect of neuro-plasticity is making our hundred billion nerve cells more growth worthy, more growth oriented.

Dr. John Ratey:
Another part that we learned in 1999 is that we humans are making new brain cells every day. And the number one effect on promoting new growth of new brain cells is exercise. And this is study after study we’ve had. And in Spark, I talked about a thousand different articles on exercise and its effect on the brain and made it palatable for people, hopefully, and how it works because it works magnificently.

Dr. John Ratey:
The best way to make a person ready to learn, that is ready to take in information, sort it and log it in is a bout of exercise because it makes our brain cells really ready to log in the information to grow.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The cover of Harvard Magazine, which I receive every month as a Harvard grad, arrived today. And it had an elderly gentlemen on the lawn in a pushup position with a little toddler sitting on his shoulders. And the caption was, “Why exercise keeps you young.” It was very fitting for today’s conversation.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then the next question is: what kind and how much? So people listening, I’m sure nobody would disagree with anything you’ve said, how could they? But then they say, “Okay, how do I get in the habit of exercising? Is it enough just to walk around everyday?” How much and what kind and how do I keep doing it consistently?

Dr. John Ratey:
Those are all very important questions. How much is, if you look at what Health and Human Services tell us, and that’s a combination of looking at all kinds of evidence, they say 150 minutes a week of exercise. What does that mean? That’s about 30 minutes every day or so. And what they say is that we should get our heart rates up to about 60 or 70% of our maximum, which means if it’s walking, it’s fast walking, it’s walking, pushing yourself a little bit, though. There’s no denying that walking itself is great. Walking will get you more focused and more ready to pay attention. Lots of studies showing that, that just walking on a treadmill and not really sweating but pushing yourself a little bit, getting a little bit breathless that your test scores go up about 20, 30%. A big part of that is the attention system is locked in and we have all kinds of evidence from all over the world, really, about exercise making people attend better and stay with it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I just wanted to confirm, you said 150 minutes a week?

Dr. John Ratey:
Yes. That’s the recommendation. Now, for boosting your attention system, you can do even very little. You could do five minutes of something like jumping rope or squats or pushups. Any of those will get your heart rate up and you’ll do a little bit, more than just moderate, if you do it for five minutes straight, and that will give you a burst of attention. The deal is the longer you do it, the better your attention will be. But you have to program yourself to do it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In this anxious back-to-school time, everyone is looking for ways to reduce the edge of anxiety. And one good way to try is by taking OmegaBrite supplement, Omega CBD. OmegaBrite CBD as well as the OmegaBrite fish oil product. Both are good for emotional reactivity and can take the edge off of that. They’re fully natural, very healthy, really developed by a top-notch company. OmegaBriteWellness.com. And you can get 20% off your first order by using the code Podcast 2020. Enter that, get 20% off OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay, now let’s get back to the show.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I recommend to people there’s an app called the Seven Minute Workout.

Dr. John Ratey:
Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Most people can afford seven minutes, but it’s a pretty vigorous workout for seven minutes.

Dr. John Ratey:
Oh, it is. It is. It’s 30 seconds on a bunch of different exercises with a short rest period in between. So it gets you moving and takes you through jumping jacks to squats, to push-ups, to lunges, to crunches, to planks, all the usual suspects for aerobic kinds of exercise.

Dr. John Ratey:
Most of the studies had been on measuring aerobic exercise, that is running, walking, swimming, biking, climbing, whatever, to get your heart rate up to see the change in the attention measures that they do with tests. However, more recently in the past 15 years, we’ve done a lot of work on looking at weight training, strength training with exercise. Strength training more than weight training. Just by moving your muscles and challenging them, you have this great effect on your brain. Almost as much as you do with aerobic training.

Dr. John Ratey:
That leads to what kind of exercise to do. Well, something that you’ll come back to, something that you’ll do again and again and again. The all-time best prescription for exercise is something that you like to do, that you do outside and you do with somebody or some group because that connection has so many other positives to it, but it also keeps you honest. It also keeps you coming back and doing it.

Dr. John Ratey:
Now this can be anything. It can be Zumba, it can be biking, it can be walking. Because this all challenges your brain, it makes your brain work best.

Dr. John Ratey:
Now, how to be motivated and how to stay motivated once you start? In January every year, people join gyms and the [inaudible 00:15:06] and go for a month and then stop. What happens? Well, what you need to do is remember how you feel the day that you exercise. So right after you exercise, that day you note to yourself, like, “Note to self. I feel better today. I’m more productive today. I’m happier today. I’m more altruistic, I’m less angry, I’m less hopeless today.” Because that is the only way to sort of get you to continue.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I don’t think it’s the only way at all. I’ve been exercising for 40 years by playing squash with the same guy on Tuesday afternoon. And, and for me, reminding myself how great I feel, that doesn’t do it. I’m too much of a hard sell. But showing up for a friend, I can’t let him down. I have to be there. So to me, the key in making it sustainable is combining it with a human connection, with a friendship. And you and I, we used to play squash on Sunday mornings for a number of years until that place closed down. I think this thing of solitary exercise, I know I don’t like it. I know a lot of people do it, but to me, to make it sustainable, I think the best way is to combine it; a group who likes to play tennis or a group who likes to run together, or a group who likes to swim together or in my case, play squash.

Dr. John Ratey:
Right. No, there’s no question that that human connection makes it so worthy and bringing you back to it. And that’s why the reason why something like CrossFit has been so popular, because it’s a group. You get into a group or the running group, the walking group or playing squash, yes. I remember that very well. And then I ruined my arm after 25 years. But nonetheless, I loved it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That brings up another question that as we get older, and you and I are both in our seventies, as we get older various injuries crop up. But that still should be no reason to give up exercise. There are still ways for just about anybody to get exercise if they’re resourceful.

Dr. John Ratey:
Exactly. When you talk about ADD, and people all over the world have been watching after this and trying to understand what kind of exercise, how long. So everything that you can think of in terms of exercise has been looked to show a positive effect on attention measures. Yoga, dance is very good. Certainly racket sports and soccer, basketball, anything you can think of improves the attention.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Just another idea to throw out there in terms of connection is working with a trainer. And as you know, John, I worked with this wonderfully grumpy, brilliant Russian trainer named Simon for some 15 years. You did it for a little while with him, yourself. And that’s another way of getting you to do it. If you’re you’re paying someone, you have to show up. So again, it’s a human connection. You hire someone but it’s another way of getting you to do the exercise. I think part of your message is it doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise you do, as long as you do it.

Dr. John Ratey:
Yes. And if you’re constantly… Or not constantly, but if you’re pushing yourself to do more or do better, like for instance even playing squash, it’s competitive so we wanted to do better each time. We’d push ourselves a little bit to beat one another, or you mainly beat me.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But you’d start every game by saying, “I’m going to beat you today.”

Dr. John Ratey:
We had fun, though. It was over and we were laughing and we were talking. We didn’t hold it against one another.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No, not at all. It was wonderful. It was wonderful. It was wonderful.

Dr. John Ratey:
I do exercises all the time now. You can do it with COVID, you can do it in your house. There’s plenty of different YouTube to follow or just do it with your mates. But it doesn’t do the same as a squash. Are you playing squash now, Ned, with COVID?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No, the courts aren’t open, but my wife Sue, her gym closed, much to her distress, but she has this group and this trainer named Derek and they do it on Zoom. She’s in the living room this morning, doing these burpees and squats and pushups and weights. She’s a half an hour in her gym clothes on Zoom, and Derek is marching them through their paces and you hear the voices of all the other members. In spite of COVID and the gym closing, she’s still got her group and she does it four times a week and loves it. She wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Dr. John Ratey:
Because it does so much for the way we feel and the way we can attend and reducing stress and anxiety, which we know happens. It also boosts our mood because it changes our brain chemistry.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, yes.

Dr. John Ratey:
The chemicals that I mentioned, but also on the endorphins in the endocannabinoids.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Don’t forget oxygen. I mean, that’s another brain enhancer and you get a lot of oxygen when you exercise.

Dr. John Ratey:
You sure do. You also produce more oxytocin.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes.

Dr. John Ratey:
Which is the love and bonding hormone. We produce more of it when we exercise. So when you’re finished exercising, you will feel more likely to be more altruistic, to be kinder, to be more interested in bonding from a biologic perspective. There’s a lot that happens in the brain, all for the good.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, my wonderful, brilliant friend, John Ratey. Thank you so much for gracing us with your really expert top-of-the-line knowledge on exercise. The take-home points, find something that you want to do over and over again. And however you find it, with a squash mate or a trainer or self-motivation remembering how good you feel when you do it, but just find a way to get yourself to do it because it’s one of those things that everyone praises but not enough people do. You could say the same for meditation, by the way.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In any case, thank you. Thank you, thank you for joining us today. For more information on John, go to his website, JohnRatey.com. That’s J-O-H-N-R-A-T-E-Y.com. Johnratey.com. You can read about his books on the brain, on exercise, on attention deficit disorder, on diet and nutrition. He has a wonderful book called Go Wild about the paleo approach. He’s creating all the time and he has ADD and that’s what ADD people do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And please reach out to us with your questions, comments and show ideas. We really depend upon them. We need your input and we’re looking for it all the time. Send us an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to us at [email protected] That’s the word “connect,” [email protected] We really love to hear from you and your questions. We often put a show together based entirely on your questions, which I try to answer. sometimes they stump me, but I usually can find some answer or find someone who does know the answer.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You can also follow the Distraction Podcast on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Give us a like and a follow to stay connected with the show. We truly appreciate it as we’re trying to in the social media world.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the brilliant and always on time Scott Persson and our producer is the inevitably perfect, depressingly so, perfect. The sweet and lovely, brilliant, talented Sarah Guertin. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for this time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested and it works. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

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How to Stop Losing Your Stuff with How to ADHD and Landmark College

How to Stop Losing Your Stuff with How to ADHD and Landmark College

If you can’t ever remember where you put your keys, phone, wallet or whatever, help is on the way! Jessica McCabe of How to ADHD shares a bunch of useful tips and strategies to help you stop losing things in this special episode sponsored by Landmark College in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently!

Check out all of Jessica’s amazing ADHD content on her website at HowtoADHD.

Share your thoughts with us by writing an email, or recording a message using the voice memo app on your phone, and sending it to [email protected]

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Do you know a student with ADHD or other learning difference looking for a higher education experience? Tell them about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. Find out more HERE.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hello, this is Dr Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. I’m here with a special episode brought to you by our wonderful sponsor Landmark College in beautiful, beautiful Putney, Vermont. The college of choice for students who learn differently.

And to help with this special episode, I am joined by one of our all time favorites, Jessica McCabe, the host of How to ADHD, which now she told me has 360,000 followers. So you should join and be 360,001.

Not that many people follow something unless it’s really worthwhile. And Jessica, she’s just full of positive energy and wisdom and smarts and knowledge and for her tender young age, she sure does know an awful lot. Welcome to Distraction, Jessica.

Jessica McCabe:

Thank you. Gosh, you are just so good for my self esteem. Probably everybody should be on the show just to hear how you talk about them. Thank you. That was really kind of you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

It is all true. What was it you wanted to talk to us about in this special episode?

Jessica McCabe:

I do work really hard to create a good show. I also lose things a lot. And I finally tackled that on the channel and I wanted to talk about here too because while I was doing the research and writing that episode, I realized how much of a difference it made in my life that I lost everything. It was my first ADHD symptom that I remember. I would come home without my jacket almost every day. I spent way too much time looking through the lost and found box, and I used to feel really bad about it. It affected my life in a lot of ways because then I wouldn’t have my favorite whatever.

Or, I remember in fourth grade somebody gave me these really precious earrings and they were the first time that somebody gave me real gemstone earrings. It was a family friend and they were real Topaz, which is my birthstone. And it was like two days before I lost them and I felt so bad. And since then I’ve always told people, “Don’t give me anything nice because I will lose it.”

And I’ve also just carried around this sense of like incompetence and paid the ADHD tax of having to replace things so many times. And I used to just think this was this character defect. It was just something wrong with me that I keep, this is why I can’t have nice things. And then I realized doing this research, it really is our ADHD that makes it so difficult to hold onto things. We’re often distracted when we put stuff down or we impulsively set it down for just a second and then end up doing five other things. And then when we go looking for things to make things more challenging, our brains don’t filter out extraneous stimuli very well.

When we go looking for the thing, we see all these other things that need our attention. So we end up responding to these. And this, by the way, is also often why we’re late. And so it has this incredible ripple effect throughout our entire lives that we lose things so often. And I finally decided to tackle it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes. And how did you do that?

Jessica McCabe:

Well, I took my mom’s advice. She always told us growing up, “Have a place for everything and everything in its place.” Have a dedicated place for everything so that you know when you are distracted you can still automatically put things where they go and you know where to look for it later so it’s easy to find it.

And for her, that’s the end of the story and that’s great. But the thing is, for those of us with ADHD brains, the very same parts of our brain that benefit from having a place for everything are also the ones that make it, those are the parts of our brain that make it really hard to have a place for everything.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

It is. Right.

Jessica McCabe:

Because, I don’t know about you, I walk into a room and I just explode. Whatever got with me is suddenly just all over the room. It’s really hard for me actually. I know there are some people with ADHD that can be extremely organized and that’s a coping mechanism for them.

I try. Every fall, going back to school, I would try and I’d have these elaborate systems that I would set up and I would just, they would fall apart within a week or two. So I think, from the research that I’ve done, I think the key to cutting back on losing things, and I don’t think it’s ever going to be perfect, but the key to reducing the amount of things that we lose is to make it more ADHD friendly to have a place for everything.

One of those strategies that I found is to do what’s called putting things at the point of performance. Where we use the thing, is where the thing should go. And for me, and for probably a lot of people with ADHD, that means having multiple copies of things. I used to think it was a waste of money to do that. But then I think about all the jobs I’ve lost from being late or the extra things that I’ve had to buy because I lost them. And it’s actually more cost effective probably to just have a charger at every station that you tend to charge your devices at so you don’t port it everywhere and lose it and then don’t have it. And then your phone dies and then you can’t call work to tell them you’re going to be late, or whatever it is.

Yeah. Have a charger at every place that you tend to charge your phone. I tend to train my dog in the kitchen, so that’s where I put her treats. I tend to need her to leave me alone when I’m in the office, so that’s where I put her bones. I started really being conscious about put things where I will use them.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Just such a good principle. Let me just quickly interrupt and say, Jessica is brought to us through the courtesy and good will of Landmark College, the school for students who learn differently. It is located in beautiful Putney, Vermont.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So please go on Jessica, sorry to interrupt.

Jessica McCabe:

No, you can tell I’m really passionate about this. I’m like, I must share this with everybody. Because I wish, this is what I wish I’d known when I was in college. It would have made things a lot easier.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah. I’m sure it would of.

Jessica McCabe:

That, yeah, put things where you’re going to use them and then also make it as easy as possible to put it back. Because it doesn’t matter if there’s a place for everything, if it doesn’t actually end up in that place. But I tend to be really impulsive, really impatient. And so things like I have a coat closet but it’s so much effort to open the door, get a hanger out, take my jacket off, put the jacket on the hanger, zip it up, stick it back in and close the door. So I just got a coat rack and I just throw my coat on that and now I’ll actually do it instead of it ending up on the couch or on the floor.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You have to make the place user-friendly, too.

Jessica McCabe:

Yeah, exactly. And the cool thing is by making it user friendly for somebody with ADHD, it really makes it user friendly for everybody. There’s really no reason not to do this. Minimize the number of steps involved, make it mentally easy by making it clear where the thing goes. Label makers are really good for this. If you don’t have a label maker, a post it note or whatever. It seems so silly to have to do this, but it really does help our brains out so much if we don’t have to process, okay, I’m holding this thing, where does this thing go?

Jessica McCabe:

If there’s just a label that says “This is where it goes.” It’s like, okay, I don’t even have to think about it. It’s going to be so much more likely that I put it there. Clear containers, I never really understood why this was recommended for people with ADHD all the time and then I got some and I’m like, right. Because now my dog’s bones are in a clear container, so I don’t have to remember which container it’s in or even read a label. I can just see them, and it’s so much easier.

Jessica McCabe:

And then the other couple of tips, make it satisfying or enjoyable. If you get a mini reward for putting it there, there’s a key hook you really like, it makes you smile every time you look at it, you’re more likely to put your keys there. If you have a pretty comforter or a bedspread, if you like the way your bed looks when it’s made, maybe you’ll be a little more likely to make it. And again, these are things where it’s like, that shouldn’t matter. We get stuck in shoulds and shouldn’ts and I should just do the thing. I shouldn’t need this extra stuff.

Jessica McCabe:

But still, this is the way our brain works.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Absolutely.

Jessica McCabe:

And I think we should use whatever tools we have at our disposal.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Absolutely. No, and the fact that you feel good once you do it as a natural reinforcer.

Jessica McCabe:

Yeah, exactly. And we do, we need those little reinforcements. Because the whole well you know, it’ll be good for me to get into this habit. That’s just not motivating enough, to be honest. When you’ve got a million other things going on, you’ve got other things you’re thinking about. It’s just like, you’re not thinking when you throw your coat on the ground, you’re not thinking, God, then I’m going to have to go dry clean it and this and that.

It’s just in that moment it’s the easiest thing. If you make the easiest thing to throw it on a coat hook, well, now you don’t have to worry about it later. And then, and this I think is worth mentioning, a lot of times people see, walk into somebody’s house with ADHD and this has happened to me. Or somebody’s bedroom with ADHD, and they’re like, “God, this is a mess. Let me help you clean it up.” I’m actually really opposed to this because if somebody comes in and helps us clean up and we don’t know where things go, well now we really have no idea where anything is.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah. That’s awful.

Jessica McCabe:

Right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah.

Jessica McCabe:

And so sometimes we have organizational strategies that maybe don’t make sense to other people, but I’m a really big believer in we should be the ones to clean up. We can get support, having a body double there, having somebody in the room with us, encouraging us or whatever. But we should be the ones to do it so that we know where things go.

This was part of the problem. My mom used to clean up for me all the time and at the time it was like, that’s great. And then the next morning I’d go to look for my stuff and I’ve no idea where it is. And then I never learned how to clean up myself. And so now I’m an adult and I’ve no, my apartments are always a disaster because I’m like, wait, this apartment didn’t come with a mom.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Not many apartments do.

Jessica McCabe:

No, it’s really unfortunate. I keep looking for the apartment that comes with that as an amenity and I’ve yet to find it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, if you get really wealthy then you can just hire someone to do everything for you. But even then you want the feeling of I’m doing some of this by myself.

Jessica McCabe:

Yeah. And you want to be able to know where stuff goes. I’ve had a maid come and clean before and just I’m completely lost for like a week. I don’t know where they put anything.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah. Right. Exactly.

Jessica McCabe:

So at the very least, we should be involved in the decision making process of where things should go, and then label them. And then a couple more things is, this I learned from waiting tables, which is scan for strays.

Before you leave a room or at the end of the day, you scan for things that aren’t where they belong and put them back as you go. Because that’s generally a lot more ADHD friendly than, especially if you’re a student, if you’re in college going “Saturdays I clean my room.” Probably not. It’s probably not going to happen. But if you get in the habit of scanning as you go and at least the things you know you’re going to need, like, “There’s a textbook on my bed. I should probably put that back on the bookshelf or back in my backpack or wherever I need it to be.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

What’s the line from waiting tables. What did you say?

Jessica McCabe:

Scan for strays. Look for anything that’s not, as a server you’re looking for-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

What does that have to do with waiting tables?

Jessica McCabe:

As a server, you’re constantly looking for dirty dishes or constantly looking for the coffee pot isn’t where it’s supposed to go. The trays aren’t where they’re supposed to go. You’re constantly-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Scan for, I waited tables for a whole summer and I never learned about scan for strays, so. That’s a great principle, scan for strays.

Jessica McCabe:

Yeah. And that way you clean as you go, which is a lot, it’s just a lot more tolerable. It doesn’t feel as big a thing, but you’re constantly cleaning up just a little bit and then it doesn’t get as overwhelming I think.

And then the last thing is keeping consistent. It can be hard, when you’re moving, when you’re going to college, but if you try to have whatever spot you set up, have that stay consistent as possible, then it’s a lot easier because if a spot for something keeps changing, it disrupts our ability to put it there automatically and know where to look. So I would deal with this when I used to think that having lots of purses was a good idea, because I’d have, things could be in my backpack or in this purse or in this purse or in this purse.

Jessica McCabe:

Finally I’m like, I get one purse. And one backpack. That’s it. Because the fewer that something could be, the less time we’re going to spend on looking for it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah. That’s such a great principle.

Jessica McCabe:

Thanks.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

The fewer places to look, the more likely you’ll find it.

Jessica McCabe:

Yeah. And then the last thing is, get a tile. Seriously, do you use those Dr. Hall?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes.

Jessica McCabe:

Do you use Tiles?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I have it on my key chain, all the time.

Jessica McCabe:

Yeah. Anything that travels that’s important, like a remote or your key chain or I stick it in my bullet journal. Anything you do have to take from place to place, it’s such a good idea to have a tracking device on it.

Jessica McCabe:

Yeah, I use Tile. I’m sure there are other ones out there, but that’s the one I was introduced to and I like them a lot.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

As always, Jessica, you are a treasure trove of tips. Any of you listening, you can find many more by going to Jessica’s website, HowtoADHD.com. And your YouTube channel is what? Just, How to ADHD again?

Jessica McCabe:

Yeah. youtube.com/howtoADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s wonderful. That’s wonderful. Well, thank you so much. And Landmark College, thanks you, the wonderful sponsor that we have. Learn more about how they help students with ADHD succeed in college at LCDistraction.org.

I kid about it, but this truly is the best in the world at what they do. And if you want to get ready for college or supplement college or have it be your college experience and you have one of these wonderful brains that Jessica and I share and talk about, go to LCDistraction.org.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. The podcast is recorded and edited by the amazingly talented Pat Keogh, and our producer is the unbelievably awesome star of stage and screen, Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell, and thank you so much for listening.

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Tools to Help You Stay Calm

Tools to Help You Stay Calm

It’s more important than ever to take care of yourself mentally and physically. Dr. Carole Locke of OmegaBrite Wellness returns to Distraction to share the science behind how Omega-3s, melatonin, vitamin D, and CBD help to calm you at the cellular level, and why certain supplements strengthen your immune system and help you feel more in control.

To learn more about Omega-3s go to OmegaBrite.com.

To learn more about CBD, melatonin and vitamin D go to OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Reach out to us! Write an email, or record a message using the voice memo app on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Learn more about our newest sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Dr. Hallowell takes the supplement every day because it’s safe, 3rd party tested, and it works. Shop OmegaBrite CBD online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Do you know a high school or college student with ADHD or other learning difference? Tell them about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Find out more HERE.

Click HERE to read a transcript of this episode.

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The Highs and Lows of Hyperfocus with How to ADHD and Landmark College

The Highs and Lows of Hyperfocus with How to ADHD and Landmark College

Our favorite ADHDer, Jessica McCabe, joins our host for a conversation about the positives and negatives of hyperfocus in this special episode brought to you by Landmark College in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently.

What are your thoughts on hyperfocus? Write an email, or record a message using the voice memo app on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Do you know a student with ADHD or other learning difference looking for a higher education experience? Tell them about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Find out more HERE.

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Improve Your Reading and Attention Skills by Strengthening Your Cerebellum

Improve Your Reading and Attention Skills by Strengthening Your Cerebellum

Wynford Dore of Zing Performance joins Ned for a follow up discussion about his breakthrough non-medication treatment for ADHD, dyslexia and other neurodiverse conditions. They discuss how and why strengthening your cerebellum creates lifelong and lasting improvements in a person’s focus, attention, reading and organizational skills, regardless of age.

To learn more about Zing Performance click HERE.

Click HERE to listen to the previous discussion with Wynford Dore: BREAKTHROUGH Non-Medication Treatment for ADHD and Dyslexia

Do you have a question or comment? We’d love to hear from you! Write us an email, or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Learn about our sponsor, Landmark College, HERE.

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Meet the Doctor Using Hyperfocus to Find His Own Cure

Meet the Doctor Using Hyperfocus to Find His Own Cure

Dr. David Fajgenbaum was diagnosed with a deadly disorder called Castleman Disease when he was in medical school. But instead of giving up, he used his ADHD superpower of hyperfocus (and his own body) to seek out a cure for the rare and under-researched disease that he was battling. Now, a decade later, his breakthrough research has resulted in treatments that are keeping him and others alive. Dr. Fajgenbaum is still looking for a cure today, and joins Ned to talk about his new memoir, Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope into Action.

Learn more at Castleman Disease Collaborative Network: CDCN.org

Do you have a question or comment? Reach out to us with an email, or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Do you know someone who learns differently? Our sponsor, Landmark College, might be the right place for them. Learn more HERE.

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Give Yourself Permission To Be Real

Give Yourself Permission To Be Real

If you’ve spent any time on social media in the past few years, you’ve likely seen posts tagged with #happiness and #blessed as users share their lives. But is it for real or for show? Today’s guest, Monica Sweeney, offers a refreshing look at the path to finding happiness. Her bold and irreverent guided journals allow people to work through life’s ups and downs in a way that feels authentic and genuine, with a healthy dose of curse words to help them along the way. WARNING: This episode contains strong language.

Monica Sweeney’s journals include: Zen as F*ck, Let That Sh*t Go, Find Your F*cking Happy, and her latest work, Zen As F*ck at Work.

Reach out to us at [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is @sarahguertin and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Do you know someone who learns differently? Our sponsor, Landmark College, might be the right place for them. Learn more HERE.

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Mini 35: 10 New Tips for Setting Smartphone Boundaries

As more and more “screens” compete for our attention, Dr. Hallowell believes it’s crucial to set boundaries and limits with them. In this mini, Dr. H offers suggestions to help you control when, where and how you use your phone, computer and other electronics.

This episode’s sponsor is OmegaBrite, the premier natural advanced omega-3 formula for mind, heart, and joint health.

Explore OmegaBrite products and benefits at www.omegabrite.com.
Check out this episode!

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Mini 34: 5 Tips for Clearing Out Your Mind

Our minds can easily be overrun these days with interruptions, obligations and general clutter. In this mini, Dr. Hallowell offers five quick tips for weeding out your mind and quieting all that noise. 

This episode’s sponsor is OmegaBrite, the premier natural advanced omega-3 formula for mind, heart, and joint health.

Explore OmegaBrite products and benefits at www.omegabrite.com

Check out this episode!

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Ep 31: Time to Change the Way We Teach Kids

“You can’t tell kids with learning differences to ‘try harder,’ ” says Dr. Hallowell, speaking live to educators at the New York State Association of Independent Schools’ conference as part of ADHD Awareness Month. Dr. Hallowell discusses the history of learning differences and treatments, and offers some new solutions.

This episode’s sponsor is OmegaBrite, the premier natural advanced omega-3 formula for mind, heart, and joint health.

Explore OmegaBrite products and benefits at www.omegabrite.com.
Check out this episode!

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