Reply To: Adult Study Techniques

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I’ve got something that acts like Executive Function Disorder, which is a big part of ADHD. The diagnosis is recent (and so far not confirmed formally but I am not in any doubt about it). The condition has been lifelong. My school career was mixed, and I’ve had a lot of problems and developed a lot of coping strategies (some successful. Not all) for it. Here’s what I have that has worked.

Please note that this is all In My Own Opinion. Don’t feel like I’m telling you that you _have_ to use any of it _unless you try it and find that it works!_

The way I accomplish important things is by:

1) Setting a _very limited_ objective – getting a one-day assignment done, for example.
1a) If there’s a really big assignment, I generally need advice from the prof or the TA (or my wife) in breaking it down into chunks. I _have_ to ask. I can’t do that stuff myself beyond a fairly small scale, and if I don’t ask for help, it won’t get done.

2) Staying on that _one_ thing, not going to book or television or music or window, until it’s done or I’m too tired to continue.
2a) Asking classmates for help or advice if I find that I’m not making progress or not understanding what has to be done/read/learned.

3) Accepting that I’m going to face distractions, going to _be_ distracted, and:
3a) Giving myself permission to say “I’m distracted, I have to come back,” or
3b) “I’m distracted, I need a short break instead of burning out,” or
3c) “I’m out of spoons for today, need to do something calming/hit the sack.”

Your success will very much depend on your ability to say “even if I don’t get done what I want the first time (or the second, or the third), I’ll get back up and try again, and ask for help with what I don’t understand.” If you can keep on getting back in the chair after losing focus, and forgive yourself for losing focus (instead of getting angry/frustrated!), you will be able to do what needs doing.

Winston Churchill: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” ( )

It’s customary to say “good luck” after these things. I say, instead:
Keep getting back up after you get knocked down. If you never give up, you will succeed at the important things.

Hope this helps.

–Phil S.