A Big Box of ADHD

Sometimes I have trouble focusing. Most of the time actually. My high school coach warned me about burning the candle at both ends, a college professor recommended Zen meditation. By now I’ve learned that a necessary part of life is making choices, and that means sometimes letting a few of the things you’d like to do go to the wayside.

I think I’ve done that, but then I look at all the things I still want to do RIGHT NOW. I’m in the process of rewriting my novel and when that one’s done, I’ll need to find a publisher and start on book 2. I have plans to start a webcomic about the back story, and another graphic novel I’m trying to work on with my brother. I’ve recently decided that I should probably be trying to get some illustration work in children’s literature, so I need to pump up my portfolio in that area, and really, my portfolio needs work all around. Of course I also have to make some changes to my website since all the artwork on there now is pretty outdated and I have to make some changes to my blog. There are a few other website ideas I’ve been meaning to get started, including an art blog index, a challenge blog of monster art, a webzine for junkers and a few bigger projects. I have a fencing Tournament with a capital T in less than two weeks so I should be training for that, plus I need to get my epees in working order and make sure that I have all the other equipment I need. I’ve got a few short stories I’d like to write, a couple nonfiction pieces I should get started on, and a nonfiction book idea that I think has a lot of potential. Also, I want to learn to program.

You should see all the wishes I cut out.

The problem is I’ve trimmed my goals as much as I’m willing, and now I’m convinced that if I can just sit down and FOCUS, it’s possible to get it all done. The trouble is, the more I try to do, the more quickly I get overwhelmed and too often I end up doing nothing at all.

adhd_box_4So. I made this box.

This is my ADHD box. The theory is that my lack of focus doesn’t HAVE to be a bad thing. Afterall since when is it bad to have diverse interests and skills?

I’m hoping this box can be the organization that my brain is lacking. This is meant to keep me from getting overwhelmed. I can work on whatever I want, so long as I’m working on something.

I started by finding a box that would let me compartmentalize my goals. I eventually found a wooden jewelry box from Pat Catans that was perfect and got started on painting it be something FUN to use. Note: if you are the person looking for more focus, you might want to skip this part. This project has been a two-month long excuse for procrastination.
I separated the different things I want to work on into 8 categories with “time” in the center.

adhd_box_2In terms of prioriries, getting my novel finished so I can graduate is pretty high up there, so for a while the novel drawer will be seeing the most action. Still, I can only correct my own grammer for so many hours before I go insane, so with an organizational structure in place I should be able to get a lot more done than I have in the past. It’s so easy to waste time when you’re not keeping track so this is a crucial first step.

adhd_box_3What I’ve done is put all my hours for a week into the center drawer: time. When I work on something for an hour, I move a button, or coin or whatever from the time drawer to whatever I’ve been working on. That way even if I’m “in progress” I feel like I’ve accomplished something, which helps keep me going. I may have to put caps on some things so I don’t spend all my time “brainstorming” but I think this is going to be an enourmous help. It’s simple, but it’s also a powerful visual reminder, which is exactly what I need.

I think this could be helpful for other people who have trouble focusing, especially kids with ADHD. It doesn’t have to be a box, just something visual and tangible. It could be a series of jars with marbles to drop into different subjects. A re-purposed connect 4 board, with each row a different activity. That one would be even more satisfying because at the end of the week you’d get to dump all the hours to start over again.

The point is, having lots of hopes shouldn’t be a bad thing. There’s no rule that says I have to work on things consecutively just because that’s what most people do. If this works I think my distractibility could finally be an asset, allowing me to express all my varied potential, rather than a liability holding me hostage to my own whims.

Posted by Meagan

Meagan is an artist, writer, and whatever else suits her at any given moment. She lives in the Cleveland area with her husband, son and too many cats. Meagan blogs at http://hadesarrow.com/blog and cartoons at http://dragondown.com


Wow, I just read a whole lot of stories about me!
I’ve been diagnosed ADD/ADHD, I take my meds, and still the problem descriptions listed here on organization are very active in my life. Why take the meds then? Well, it’s actually the improved version of me. I have a similar system as Meagan but it simply consists of bunch of notebooks, a few storage containers, a desk calandar mounted to the wall where I can see it from near anywhere, and a hella lot of alarms set on my cell phone.
There is a lot of misconception about what ADD is and who it affects. I’m 39 and still dealing with it; very frustrating.
What you have created here is a powerful tool. It isn’t just an item of visual impact, it’s a powerful coping tool. Everyone needs coping tools in their lives no matter what the situation and here you have provided for those most in need!
Bravo Girl! You done a great job !!

Thanks Kaboom, glad you like the idea!

Hello, just landed on your blog randomly. Your Dad is absolutely right on the money (no pun intended): You should absolutely think about making and marketing these. You’ve already got a wonderful prototype, after all. This idea is just brilliant, seriously. It’s something everyone needs (because everyone procratinates), and I’m not sure anything else like it exists. And you can bet someone else will make and market this (or something very much like it) if you don’t, and you’re going to kick yourself when you see it for sale in an office supply store or a department store for $29.99!

Of course, if you’re not actually interested in making and marketing these, you should probably take a pass on the idea. But if the idea interests you at all, try to find a creative entrepreneurial person who’d be willing to help you out. (Your instructors at school might know of someone; your parents might know of someone.) You might even dig around on Etsy.com and in the classified section of BUST Magazine for contacts and inspiration. This is just too good to forget about. And so smart!

Leave a Reply