Is It Distraction? Or Something Else? -An ADHD Dialog with Scott — ADHD Tip O the Day 804

I fear that some people may not read all the comments, which are over to the right on the site.  You are missing something.  Here are some great issues that Scott brings up (slightly edited):

Hi Doug,
I just realized, in one of those duh moments, that I actually seek out distractions as a way to feel a high, almost like drugs. It is so ingrained in me I’m not sure how to deal with it, but acknowledging it is a good first step. I’m starting to see that a lot of my other problems, not getting work done, piles of stuff that I can’t seem to organize, and not paying attention when listening and at other times, are caused by this getting high off of distraction problem.
So now I’m looking for ways to gently turn this habit in a much better direction.
Any ideas?

All the best,

Scott is right on.  Sometimes just recognizing there is a problem is a great step, and then identifying it even better.  (Everything in italics is my current comments on the dialog.)

Scott – late getting back to you – procrastination? Not exactly. Didn’t have enough info to address your question. It’s a new concept to me. So, OK, I was procrastinating.

Are you getting high off the distraction thing you are doing? Or are you getting high off the action of distracting?

So not sure yet if my ideas would fit?
1. focus on specific problems, one at a time. which one is most important now? piles or listening or getting work done? then strategies for that one. harder to do much about the general problem of distractability
2. thus also a change of focus and framing, from “I’m distractable” to “I have trouble completing a task,”  for example. There are many strategies for that.

If you let me know, maybe I can come up with more specific ideas
This is a great topic and I’ll use it as a post if it’s OK with you.
thank you for your comments as always

I tend to procrastinate when I’m not sure I can do something, or not sure I can do it well.

  Thanks Doug,
I tend to get really excited about “the next thing” whether it is solving some problem with the house or garden or learning about violin varnish or a boat building project or making the ultimate alcohol stove for backpacking. There are millions of “next things” out there and they are way more entertaining than the thing that may be right in front of me. There is so much information available on the internet, especially through YouTube and Amazon, and it is fun to look stuff up and then play with it in my head trying to figure it out. That often leads me to buying books and materials and starting new projects. I don’t always finish those projects or read those books before I’m off on the “next new thing” and the books and materials have tended to pile up in the physical space and the ideas and problems to solve have piled up in my mental space to where it is difficult to get work done or even concentrate without running into the physical or mental stuff of it all. The positive spin on it is the quest for learning and solving problems, the creative impulse. The negative is the mess and distraction.
Then there is the seeking for escape, which often happens by dreaming up a new project, searching YouTube or Amazon,… and the cycle continues.One thing I learned, on a YouTube video of all places, is how the internet, in only sometimes rewarding us in our searches, sets us up in an addictive cycle. We get a bigger dopamine response when we might find what we are looking for than when we know we will find what we are looking for. I think that is a big part of the high I get in searching for distractions.My latest strategy has been, just for today, no YouTube or Amazon. It is helping.Yes, use any of this for your blog or whatever.All the best, ScottScott is already coming up with good strategies.  What he describes here is typical ADHD.  The newer thing is the addictive power of technology. I am diligently studying Spanish on a great app, Duolingo (you can get any language on it.)  I don’t have any problem starting, it is scheduled and a daily habit.  But I have trouble getting off of it and moving on.We are interested in so many things, and so creative.  Blessings of ADHD, and part of the curse.


In reply to Scott Marckx.

Scott – lots of things going on. One suggestion – make a rule – you will not buy anything the same day, rule is to sleep on it before ordering.

other ideas: utilize the basic strategies – how to finish a task, how to manage distractions. use the search function on the site.

are you using two to do lists?

some things that may help:
1. pick one task to be sure to accomplish each day,a small step, and put it on the calendar. Schedule a week at a time.
2. schedule specific times to work on the task, and limit to 45 minutes per time.
3. schedule specific time for distractions. enjoy.
4. ditto for face book and u tube. schedule. and maybe a couple of days per week with no time for them.
5. Make sure you are not saying “have to” or “should” to yourself. Then distraction would be a rebellion against being controlled.

Again, strategies will be more helpful if you pick one area or problem to work on at a time.
the buying, the getting started, the finishing, the piles, not listening, the internet, whatever.

Most people at this point will be saying, “Yes, but -.” Are you hearing that from yourself?

One key point: You seem to have labeled your problem “a problem with distractions.” As you can see, I am suggesting these are actually multiple problems, where distraction may play a secondary part.

Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for contributing


I see that I’m being repetitive here, but these are basic ADHD strategy principles.  And often, whether or not a problem can be solved depends a lot on how you define the problem.



Distractions -“Do This.”

Procrastination – “I can always find something easier and more fun to do instead.”

@addstrategies  #adhd  #add  @dougmkpdp


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.
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2 Responses to Is It Distraction? Or Something Else? -An ADHD Dialog with Scott — ADHD Tip O the Day 804

  1. holdthatthought says:

    would you say that the pattern of distracting yourself is a habit that could be modified?


    • hold – if it is a habit, then it can be modified. However, I’m not thinking of it as a habit, but just something that happens with us, and I’m focusing on how to deal with specific problems -for ex. I can’t finish this post without getting distracted and pulled to start doing something else. So it’s a problem of not finishing posts, and I need a strategy for that.
      still, there are general strategies for dealing with distractions – for ex, write them down and go on with the task at hand.
      maybe I’m quibbling about how to look at it?
      thank you for contributing


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