Reply To: Overthinking and Underperforming

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Your overthinking can be thought of as analysis paralysis and you are hyperfocusing (the “H” in ADHD.) Classic ADHD. Of all the symptoms, signs, and characteristics of ADHD, I think this is the worst when it goes bad This is one of the main reasons so many people take the meds…it’s to get focused and decisive. I recently unmasked this characteristic in myself and I continue to battle with it every single day. Even today.

I have planned out entire businesses before, writing detailed Business Plans, opening business checking accounts, attending seminars, buying expensive equipment, and researching vendors to buy products from but failing to work on sales…getting clients. That to me, is boring. A central problem with this lack of follow through is that the task one is supposed to work on is not as interesting as the shiny bling and that makes the bling more satisfying to accomplish. When you begin to get that dopamine rush, it entices you further to pursue the shiny bling rather than what you are suppose to work on. It can be awful and it will never cease unless you take steps to overcome it. Many people with ADHD can quickly suffer from addiction because of that recurring Dopamine rush. Hyperfocusing can be a good thing or a bad thing. The challenge is to acknowledge when it is a bad thing.

Before going to bed, I make my to do list for tomorrow then I prioritize it (#1, #2, etc.) Then next to the task, I write down how much time I will spend on the task. Be realistic and imagine your boss putting pressure on you to finish within the next 30 minutes (or whatever.) The next day, I only look at the first task and start a timer. I always keep in mind that after about 20-25 minutes, unless I am working on a major project that I want to hyperfocus on, I stand up and get UNFOCUSED. This is important because if I fall down a rabbit hole, I won’t know it, the alarm will snap me out of it, AS LONG AS I STAND UP AND WALK AWAY FOR at least 1 minute. That is key. This is why the To Do list or task list is so important. It provides structure and discipline to complete and that structure is a key element in getting you out of the starting gate. You’ll begin to recognize when the shiny bling bling has become a distraction look the other way, and move forward. But to make this work, you need that structure and then be disciplined by working within the structure or scope of the project. Everything else becomes white noise. But be disciplined.

This is and will continue to be a challenge for you unless you either find a med that helps you to focus or you recognize this characteristic and decide to actively take steps that will keep you focused, without distraction. For many of us, ADHD is all about distraction (over planning in your case) and the ability to reduce it and maintain being focused and engaged. I recommend reading, “Driven to Distraction” and “Driven From Distraction” for more insight on distraction.