ADHD in the studio

20 May

I discovered long ago that the key to living with ADHD is to just keep moving.  Lists?  Oh please.  A list will not keep me on task unless that list is equipped with excellent managerial skills and a whip, and is dangling a cup of tea like a carrot in front of my face.  The key, for me, has always been this: don’t sit down.  If I just keep moving then my attention will fall, eventually, upon all that needs to be done.

This worked well for years.  Out of the house– at school, at a job –forward motion and the presence of someone else to answer to for my productivity was enough for success.  At home, I didn’t need to be in forward motion, but just in motion generally, and everything eventually got done.

But now work is home, and I am the presence I answer to for my productivity.  I’ve said it before: I should not be the boss of me.

This is how my day goes after I get the boys off to school:

I need to get that silver pendant polished and shipped today (head to studio) → Sit down, notice half-made bezel, and OH LOOK!  I needed to get this diamond ring finished (begin to work on ring) → What size does it need to be? (head to computer to check order) → See email from Matt’s teacher.  She needs times and dates for the class project → Pull up the computer calendar → Oh! Is it the 15th?  The soccer tournament is this weekend, and I need to make hotel reservations! (go find purse to get credit card for reservations) → Find purse…..oh, there’s my lipstick!  I love this lipstick.  Is it too dark for summer? (head to bathroom to check seasonal appropriateness of lipstick) → Notice the pickle container by the bathroom sink, and OH LOOK! A ring shank is still in the pickle, and OH, THE PENDANT! (head to studio)→ Pendant…WHERE is the spool of cord I use for this pendant? I should get that out while I’m thinking of it (head to supply cabinet) → Hear cat meowing to come in, let cat in, and OH!  I never walked the dog! → Walk dog.  It is so pretty outside!  I haven’t walked in days.  I need to walk, and it will only take 30 minutes and I need to take care of myself. I’ll go put on my sneakers and then walk.→ (Head upstairs to bedroom to get sneakers) Good heavens, what is that SMELL?  Do those children not understand that the toilet FLUSHES? Must we ferment the pee? (Head to boys’ bathroom) → Flush toilet. They should pick up their own laundry, but I’m here, so I might as well…. → La la la. Head downstairs to start load of ——

AND DO YOU SEE THE PROBLEM, BLOGOSPHERE?  Do you?  Because, I think we’d all agree there’s a problem here, wouldn’t we?  My ability to focus is similar to that of a three year old on crack.

I can say with certainty that I’m really good at what I do.  I make beautiful jewelry, and I’ve never had anything but raves for the quality and value of my work.  And with an equal amount of certainty I can tell you that my inability to stay on task makes me THE WORST BUSINESS WOMAN IN THE WORLD.  And that wouldn’t bother me, except that I want purchasing something from me to be a good experience from start to finish.  My work might be beautiful, but when I’m disorganized and late on orders it taints everyone’s satisfaction with their purchase, and that upsets me.   I want to feel good about all the hard work I’m doing, but everything is flavored with a touch of guilt and the feeling that I’ve partially failed: I’m so glad you love your new ring, but I’m so sorry it was later than expected.

I worry that my clients’ experience is like being given a gorgeous, delicious cake….but knowing there is the tiniest bit of poo mixed in with the icing, and so the whole thing adds up to…. Poo Cake.  I want better for my clients than Poo Cake. I want better for me.

Enter Jill: the boss of me.

Jill has helped me before, but only as needed.  My mother has pointed out, repeatedly, that Jill is needed all the time if I want to run a profitable business.  She’s right.  Karen has pointed out that my disorganization causes me to spend huge sums on rush shipping when all my orders are late, and if I were better organized the money I’d save in shipping could easily cover Jill’s salary.  She’s right.  Jill has pointed out that she’s offended by being paid because she’s my friend, but I’m not listening to Jill about that.

I’ve put off having Jill help because,  in the same way that people feel the need to clean their houses before the cleaning lady arrives,  I’ve wanted to get everything in order before she starts.  I don’t want Jill to see how disorganized I am; I don’t want my friend to think badly of me, or to think I’m irresponsible or have a bad work ethic.

Let’s be honest, though: will I ever be organized enough for help without help?  Three year old on crack. So,  I’ve sucked it up and invited Jill into my organizational black hole.  She starts today.

It will be Jill who is organizing things around here from now on.  This means orders will be shipped to the right places at the right times. Emails will be answered  in a timely manner.  I’ll be gently but firmly shooed back to work when I wander.  My work will be prioritized.  I’ll do more of what I do best, and less of what I do badly.

What a relief.  No more Poo Cake!

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6 Responses to “ADHD in the studio”

  1. Anne Lessing May 29, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    Poo cake. XD That cracked me up. I happened across your blog from the Featured Posts and came to this article…you are such a funny writer! You really have a gift for writing–I hope you know that. Your writing style is the kind I aspire to have. 🙂

  2. Silacruz May 28, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    I randomly hit this blog – and LOL! I really enjoy reading about your days, you are a very good writer, and letting me have a enjoyable time while reading.

    I can totally understand how it can be to have ADHD and working at home. When I was studying at home, my home was totally clean – always! No laundry stuffed around the laundryroom or anywhere else. No clothes not ironed. No clothes waiting to be put in the closets. No dust. Anywhere. Not even in the laundryroom.. Yeah, I did get my exam, at last.. 🙂

    I wish you a wonderful weekend!
    Greetings from Bergen, Norway 🙂

  3. interpretartistmama May 28, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    Totally enjoyed reading your post. I can SO related to the whirl-winding through the house and just grabbing whatever you see, dealing with it partially, getting distracted, starting to deal with another issue, and so on…

    As a full-time working mother of two little munchkins, I have always felt like it was necessary to be a little ADHD, to be able to switch attention quickly from one task to the next (and back again) in order to multitask successfully. I would even argue that from the dawn of time women had to be multitaskers, tending the fire while peeling carrots while making sure their children don’t fall into a ravine or get eaten by an alligator, while the men had to be able to focus completely on one task, sit in ambush for hours and then pounce on that saber-toothed tiger…

    Problem is that once we become mommas, we seem to lose our ability to focus on any given task for long even when we need to. When I was in college I could spend hours engrossed in a book. Now, even if I have those precious hours, I cannot stay focused on it for more than 10 minutes…which is a bummer.

  4. dullgeek May 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    This reminds me of my wife. And she’s developed a catchy slogan to help her along. She calls it her rule of inertia: A woman in motion tends to stay in motion. A woman at rest…

    She doesn’t finish the statement. Actually she usuallly just mumbles “a woman in motion..” as she’s reminding herself to get back on task.

    Have you been diagnosed with ADHD? Because it’s pretty widely accepted that the ability to efectively multitask is much stronger in women than men. But that same skill manifests a decidedly worse ability to focus. I remember reading about tests which demonstrated this. Women did a ton better in the “complete x tasks in 1 minute” test. And men did much better in the collect as many falling $100 bills in 1 minute test. The former requiring multitasking and the latter requiring the ability to not be distracted by other $100 bills.

    So I wonder if you’re just an excellent multitasker instead of someone w/ADHD.

    • vakadesign May 21, 2010 at 12:41 am #

      I’ve been diagnosed.

      Whether a person is more adept at multitasking or better at focusing singularly upon one task at a time, the ability to stay focused upon that task (or group of tasks) is necessary to bring the task to completion. Yes, women often have the ability to keep several balls in the air at once, but that still requires sustained focus; it requires the executive ability to corral one’s focus, filter external stimuli, and control the impulse to react to that stimuli.

      As far as being an “excellent multitasker,” the point is that I’m not. Having Jill’s help allows me to narrow my focus to one task at a time, and see that task through to completion.

  5. Lolly May 20, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    Yeah, Jill!!!

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