ADD ADHD and Focus, Or Not — ADD Tip O the Day 617

Can’t Focus?

Sometimes it’s said that those of us with ADD ADHD can’t focus. I believe it’s more accurate to say we can’t control our focus.

Often I can’t focus on things that are important but I can hyperfocus on other things.


Hyperfocus can be very useful. I can get a lot done. But it can be a real problem because I can’t control it. I can’t choose what to hyperfocus on and I can’t un hyperfocus when I need to.

I may have trouble focusing on this post and getting it started and sticking with it once I start instead of getting distracted into several other directions. But I can hyperfocus on a computer game for hours even though I eventually realize it’s a total waste of time.

” But just one more game. I bet I can do better this time.”

 “Focus Center” – A Hypothetical Part Of Our Brain

Most people’s  focus center is turned on  if something is important. 

Ours is turned on if something is personally interesting, novel, challenging or has an immediate heavy deadline and consequence. It may or may not be important.

Important is not important to us.

Strategies and Medications

The purpose of the medications is to help us focus.

Many of our strategies are aimed at dealing with this focus problem.


Bonus Links

On focus and hyper focus from carolyn

“10 surprising signs you might have ADHD”       Not so surprising to me, but a good article

Question O the Day:

ADD,ADHD,attention deficit,adult ADD,adult ADHD,focus,hyperfocus,strategy,strategies,brain


 Am I an expert on ADD ADHD?

I hope to address this question soon.

I hope to address a lot of things.

If I can just focus.


or learn to use twitter?  #ADD #ADHD

About doug with ADHD

I am a psychiatric physician. I learned I have ADHD at age 64, and then wrote two ADHD books for adults, focusing on strategies for making your life better. I just published my first novel, Alma Means Soul. Your Life Can Be Better; strategies for adults with ADD/ADHD available at, or (for e books) Living Daily With Adult ADD or ADHD: 365 Tips O the Day ( e-book). This is one tip at a time, one page at a time, at your own pace. It's meant to last a year. As a child, I was a bully. Then there was a transformation. Now I am committed to helping people instead abusing them. The Bully was published in January, 2016. It's in print or e book, on Amazon.
This entry was posted in add, ADD problems or symptoms, ADD strategies, adhd, ADHD problems, ADHD strategies, controversies, distraction, stimulants and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to ADD ADHD and Focus, Or Not — ADD Tip O the Day 617

  1. Carolyn says:

    Hi! Hyperfocus is a complicated beast. It can make or break my day! I sometimes stay up until 2 am writing or working on my site, but other times I focus on the “wrong things” and don’t get anything productive done! Paradoxically, meds can help or hurt, too, because I find that too high of a dose just makes me hyperfocus too much, so I have to be extra careful what I focus on! Dangerous territory! I try to be very selective about the environment I work in and making sure it;s as distraction-free as possible… Anyway, great write-up on the topic. 🙂
    Thanks for the link back to my post, too. 🙂
    -Carolyn (from The Distracted Mom)

    Liked by 1 person

    • carolyn
      i know about the 2am shifts- is it a curse or a blessing? dr parker writes a lot about gettign the meds just right, not too much or too little, as Goldilocks said.
      a strategy i try to use which so far isnt working great is to try to ask about every 15 minutes – ” is this the best use of my time?”. helps sometimes.
      good strategy about the environment.
      thank you for your good post and for commenting


  2. busydarling says:

    Oh yes. It’s not an attention deficit. I think I have an abundance of attention and focus.
    Just in the wrong time and the wrong place for the wrong stuff.

    I don’t see any normal people following the show on TV and the conversation whilst playing a game on their phone.

    I also don’t really forget things more than others, I just pick worse moments to remember them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • busy
      – welcome back!
      so maybe I have too much attention, it’s just scattered all over the place and i have no control over it.
      remembering – “oh, yes, i was supposed to do that yesterday.””
      thank you for commenting

      Liked by 1 person

  3. rammkatze says:

    I’m still not very sure about my hyperfocus. I’m very sensitive to sounds, so, unlike homey, I will constantly be distracted when reading a book. Although I have to say, if I really enjoy the book, I actually manage to block the sound once I’ve acknowledged it.
    I do tend to intensly focus on a new hobby every month or every week. Most I toss aside (knitting and the other 1001 I forgot about already), but others are hobbies that deal with plenty of impulse buys that sort of come and go but actually end up sticking over many years, despite the coming and going (like aquaristic, woodwork, film photography and, my most recent addiction, my old vintage rusty bike I’m working on with help of friendly people from an online bike forum). But it is true that, while I’m working on my bike, I can spend hours with success, but also frustration and rage attacks (sadly had a couple of those, lately). But it sometimes takes me a while before I actually dive in and focus on it.
    I like the links, but about the 10 ADD Symptoms list, I don’t quite understand the 9th: the mood all over the place, yes, so true! Like 10 times a day, I go from depressed and anxious to happy and content. But I don’t usually experience real highs, unless something extraordinary has happened. One of the first things I read about ADHD when I was diagnosed was that ADHD patients are often misdiagnosed as bipolar because of the strong mood swings, but there are (so the article claimed) two essential differences: the bipolars alternate between mania and depression, while the ADHD alternate between depression and feeling quite normal; and while the bipolars have moodswings that last weeks or even months between fases, the ADHD-patient suffers shorter mood swings, like a few days long or even as short as only a few hours. I think that was the moment when I realized “So THAT’s what’s wrong with me!”. You know…. feeling deeply depressed years without end but having several hours of feeling quite lucid and ok to say “I’m quite ok, better would be nice, but my life is quite ok and I have enough to be thankful for” – something that doesn’t fit perfectly in the depression symptoms. But anyway, you’re the shrink, you can say if the article was BSing or not.

    There. I hadn’t posted a real reply for a while now, and I kinda splurged. I had a couple of questions I wanted to ask you, but the subject of the posts is never fitting. I might just go ahead and ask them anyway some day 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • ram – that is a lot.
      i am hypersensitive to some sounds, but not others. can read fine tho – wish i could remember some of what i’ve read.
      and i sure know about the hobby of the week thing. can get pretty expensive, and tie up a lot of closet space.
      I don’t understand what you don’t understand – here’s number nine:

      “9. Your Mood Is All over the Place
      People with ADHD may notice extremes and variations in mood, even if they don’t necessarily have a clinical mood disorder. You might feel really high highs only to experience basement-level lows a little while later—a result of emotional regulation issues in ADHD, says Dr. Rostain.
      One important note: ADHD in adults often goes hand in hand with mental conditions like anxiety or depression. In fact, many adults with ADHD who have not been diagnosed actually have been treated unsuccessfully for a mood disorder. So people who haven’t responded to typical treatment for these disorders may want to also investigate whether they also have ADHD as a complication, Dr. Rostain says. ”

      I think our highs are not really like bipolar highs, just feeling really good on the rare occasion when I finish something successfully for example. those moments need to be savored.
      I think we get a lot of lows from not doing things well, screwing up, getting criticized, etc.
      that leads to a tendency to get an actual depression, or just to feel low a lot of the time
      i dont think the article was BS – what did you have in mind?

      the rages – can you spell out a) what are the signals to you that you are about to have one? b) what are the typical things or situations that trigger them or places where they occur? c) what is the self talk? What are you saying to yourself, just before or during them?
      these questions can be the key to your gaining control over them, which I believe is possible, and you have already made progress on.

      So what are the questions you have?

      Best wishes


      • rammkatze says:

        Hi Doug. I’m sorry, I guess I don’t know my way around words sometimes. I understand what they mean about in part 9 of the article, but the part I wonder about (i.e. the “could it be BS?”) is the highs. You seem to agree with me that we experience some highs when something good happens, but the highs I associate with bioplars are like ridiculously high!
        The rage attacks, as usual, come sudden and unexpected, but I can manage them well enough. They’re just very umpleasant.

        Liked by 1 person

        • ram
          yes, i think the highs of bipolar are much much higher. tho i have occasionally shown poor judgement when i was on one of mine.
          sudden and unexpected – no preliminary at all – not red in the face, or muttering to yourself, or jittery in the stomach, or tension in your neck, or clenching your fists or your jaw, etc eetc etc???
          no self talk – they cant treat me this way, i’m an idiot, ive done it again, they cant get away with this, this sucks, blah blah blah???
          what would you notice if you were paying real close attention? what might someone else see if there was a video taping?
          its an interesting problem and i think it can be helped
          thanks for commenting

          Liked by 1 person

          • rammkatze says:

            I wouldn’t notice anything. The anger is just there all of a sudden, it feels like adrenaline. I don’t think I can control my glands more than I can control my heartbeat. I can only deal with what cones with it and I’m doing a well enough job with it – asking people to please not talk to me for a few minutes, for ex. But the only way of not meeting frustration and thus having no anger issues is sit on my behind all day and not talk to anyone – seither doable nor pleasant! 😉 I think some of it is related to my monthly cycle – although it happens at the most unexpected part if the cycle. I’m going to set an appointment with my gynecologist.

            Liked by 1 person

            • ram- not clear yet. you’re talking about the anger/rage feelings, which are a problem. I’ve been thinking more about the behavior when you have those feelings, because it is the behavior that causes you trouble. It sounds like you have that well under control. You know what to do when you have those feelings.
              Actually, the feelings can be worked on too with strategies, but it is harder and more complex. You have noticed, perhaps a relationship to the cycle- , the GYN appointment. Sounds like a good idea.
              thank you for clarifying
              best wishes


            • rammkatze says:

              I See! My biggest problem is, I find adrenaline quite unpleasant. I don’t even like rollercoasters. 😉


  4. Everything you said is SO true! When I used to play the piano at church, I wouldn’t let myself get completely absorbed in the music because I was terrified I would forget where I was and do something embarrassing.

    I read a lot and my husband and kids laugh at me all the time because when I read, I am GONE. They can have a complete conversation about me, in front of me, loudly, and I miss every word of it.

    So I’m careful about allowing myself to hyperfocus. The down side is that I frequently don’t feel fully engaged in what I’m doing. But it can’t be helped. Sometimes it’s just not a good idea to hyperfocus so holding back is my coping mechanism. My other coping mechanism is setting a timer. Then in some situations, like reading, I can let go and fully engage. The timer will tell me when I have to stop.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Homey
      WOW! you play the piano TOO! and you do have some control over your hyperfocus. i think mine just kicks in whenever it wants to.
      the timer is a good strategy. i use my i phone, when i remember to.
      thank you for every comment


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.