In typical ADHD fashion, I over-did the very things that were exciting me and energizing me until I felt like I wanted run and hide from everything. I love blogging. I love writing and networking and sharing stories and ideas and feeling like I’m helping others. And I’ve been working on a post series for another site on making the best use of Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, so I could rationalize all the time I spent on my phone sharing and chatting…
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
Over the last week or two, I noticed I started feeling differently about the beeps my phone made. It was no longer exciting; it was more like a task to attend to. I wanted to be responsive to any comments left on my Facebook page, and I didn’t want to ignore any Tweets… but I felt this pressure to check the messages even when I was trying to focus on work, even during family time.
It should be simple, right? Turn off notifications, Carolyn! Just look later! But it is not that simple. There is a reason ADHD people are more susceptible to internet and gaming addiction. Responding to those pings gives us a rewarding dopamine release, something our ADHD brains really dig. We’re like well-trained rats responding to our mobile phones.
So I was thinking a lot about how much time I spend on social media “investing in my blog,” and between my computer and my phone, it’s too much. The reality is, with the advent of apps like Tailwind and Hootsuite, there’s no reason for it. I could easily schedule time once a day to respond to any messages, and set aside time once a week to schedule pins and posts.
How much time could I recoup to give back to my family, to catch up on other things?
I have been feeling really overwhelmed, and that’s a cycle you don’t want to get caught up with if you have ADHD. You start getting behind on housework and grocery shopping, then you aren’t eating well, your to-do list grows longer, you start feeling terrible about yourself, you become less and less able to cope… I know we’ve all been there.
Jennifer Koretsky, author of Odd One Out: The Maverick’s Guide to Adult ADD, describes it perfectly as “The Cycle of Overwhelm:“
You wake up in the morning feeling completely overwhelmed by all the things you have to do. You spend your entire day thinking about all those things, and trying to get them all done. Your stress builds throughout the day as more and more gets added to your to-do list and little, if any, gets crossed off. You go to bed feeling even more stressed out, and then you wake up the next day and do it all over again.
Eventually, the stress gets to you and you burn out. Then you find yourself spending your entire day thinking about all those things you have to do, but feeling paralyzed and unable to even get started.
Yeah, that’s me. I spent my Saturday this weekend paralyzed. Then to top it off, I woke up today (grabbing my cell phone first thing because that’s what a well-trained rat I am) and the very first thing I read was a message from a reader who felt the need to tell me how much he didn’t like one of my posts and how I’m basically just a fraud. Way to greet the morning, eh?
I felt like maybe I should just pack it in and quit blogging (because I’m sensitive and I have been known to overreact).
But then I realized: I need to set better boundaries!
Why would I wake up first thing in the morning and let a total stranger into my bedroom to tell me what he thinks about me? And why would I keep opening the door (my phone) every time someone knocks when I’m busy working or making dinner or taking a bath or in bed or every other time I keep responding to the bings my phone makes?
It’s about more than just quitting my dependence on the dopamine fix. I need to set some business hours and protect myself and my family so I can avoid burnout… or else it won’t be long before I do close up shop!
I spent some time thinking about this today, and not only do I think most of my readers would totally understand where I’m coming from on this, I thought that many of you would appreciate the reminder: it’s hard to be mindful about where we spend our time and attention.
And it’s hard to notice when the overwhelm starts keeping up. For some reason, I almost never notice it until I have a crying fit. Then suddenly: There it is! It’s like: I’m going, going, going… Oh, I think I’m doing too much! Get me offa this ride!
So my plan is this: I will be more thoughtful going forward about scheduling time to check on my social media accounts, even if it means I won’t be as quick to respond. Instead, I’ll spent more time writing here (because heaven knows I should reclaim a lot of time!), and maybe being open about this will help me be accountable.
I even downloaded an app to help me with this: Quality Time for Android. It tracks the number of times I open my lock screen and how much time I spend on my phone, broken down by app. That should be a reality. check! Maybe I’ll do a post update. Yikes!!
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