Sri's ADHD Reasons For Regular Scheduling

Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2022 by Sri. Tagged JOURNAL

The past couple of weeks have been really bad productivity-wise. I touched on this in the previous entry; my goal for these past two weeks was to (1) work on ecommerce shop stuff and (2) physically clean out my basement. I got the ecommerce stuff moving (ETP StickyPads are available again on Amazon for as long as stock holds!) The clean-out, though, is proving surprisingly slippery to start. It doesn't help that I started a new game recently, No Man's Sky, and deeply diving into its game mechanics is WAY MORE FUN than sneezing my way through piles of dusty boxes.

Focusing vs Starting

In the last session with my ADHD practioner, she asked me to keep a sleep log so she could see what my patterns were; she was thinking that being out-of-synch with the world would be a source of problems. However, I mentioned that my "natural day length" seemed to be about 30 hours, and noted that my sleep schedule didn't cause problems with my work (I don't work a 9-5 job) or household relationships (I'm cheerfully single). Here's what the data looks like:

Sri's Sleep Data; I actually am trying to maintain a regular schedule of waking at 9AM and going to sleep around the same time every day with a 'bookending' strategy of winding down.(full size image)

What is particularly notable is the last week, when I gave up all pretense of trying to go to sleep at a regular time every evening. While starting No Man's Sky might have something to do with my drop in productivity, I found that it got MUCH WORSE when I was in NoSched Extreme mode. I started to feel less anchored and my ability to focus was considerably diminished. "Aha! See! Regular sleep is inmportant for mental function!" you might think, but I don't think that's the reason. Here's my hypothesis:

  1. In theory, having the freedom to be awake and working on projects when I have the energy, then sleeping when I am tired using a polyphasic sleep approach seems ideal for focus.

  2. In practice, though, I rely on people to feel connected to the work I'm doing. This may be an ADHD-related trait; body doubling is a common way to improve focus. But I also just LIKE talking to people about what I'm doing; this gives me the energy to start because I'm excited to report what happened with people who know what I'm doing.

Takeaway - In practice, though, I don't start the work if there aren't people around, and since the people are around during the day that's what I need to prioritize.

That isn't to say that having the polyphasic sleep approach doesn't work. It works very well once I've already started a project that requires deep levels of concentration, especially if the work is really mentally challenging for me. The hardest things for me has always been starting the project, followed by maintaining interest when I need to focus on the same project for more than 10 days. It's easier when there are other people around that I can converse with about the work, and it's even better when it's face-to-face.

It's interesting to think that approach 1 is about focus, and approach 2 is about starting.

So I'm now commited to establishing a regular daytime schedule and am actually excited about it. I was not motivated to have one without a good reason to do it, because I knew that for focused work the polyphasic approach has gotten me through some really bad jams and I liked knowing that I could rely on it. That said, I didn't like going into hermit mode and feeling disconnected from was super-depressing...

Now, I can reframe "regular schedule" from "necessary chore" to "effective scaffolding strategy for my ADHD" by "including people as a necessary source of external motivation". This is a much more acceptable framing than "normal people have regular sleep schedules, so you should do it too for generic health reasons." OH SO BORING.

Now, how do I deal with distraction? I'll save that up for another post.

Refocusing on Current Priorities

The current focus remains the same as last week, using the two-slot aux format:

  • PRIORITY SLOT - make more space by reducing clutter and streamlining my collections of junk.
  • SECONDARY SLOT - restart e-commerce activities with an Amazon-free package fulfillment solution.

New this week is an AUXILIARY task that popped up on Monday:

  • AUXILIARY - experiment with podcast with Sid. We haven't made a podcast in a couple years, and there are a few things I need to figure out with the new gear and my transition into non-binary transfem identity/expression.

Hopefully now that I've written this down, I'll be a little more focused tomorrow morning.