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TotallyADD Blog / Rick Archives - | Adult ADD | ADHD in Adults

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Tackling Big Projects When You Have ADHD

By Rick GreenFree Episode of History Bites

I have a lot of days where I can’t seem to get anything done. Other days I get a bunch of small, inconsequential things done. And now and then, I have a day where I’m actually feeling very productive, going almost non-stop.
Surprisingly, the productive days leave me less tired, less worn out, less spent.
How is that possible?

Wow! Did we really do that?

Recently I shared a couple of episodes of History Bites with some friends. It’s a TV series I produced a decade ago and I’m hoping another website picks up.

One episode is 12 years old. Watching it now was like seeing it for the first time. I’d forgotten so much, it almost felt as if I hadn’t worked on the show. The jokes were surprising and made me laugh, the performances amazed me, the twists and turns were surprising… Delightful!

How the heck did we do that?

Making History Bites totally engaged my brain—writing, producing, directing, and even performing. I recalled how each season, during the 8 months of production, I was in a semi-permanent state of hyper-focus.

After watching the show, when I went back to work, the warm feeling slowly evaporated, replaced by a sense of unease.

I was trying to understand how History Bites ever got made.

“How did I ever produce? 107 episodes of this series?!” Always on a very tight budget, with a small cast, a small crew, and a relentless production schedule.

This wasn’t the first TV series I’d done, not by a long shot. But it was the first one where I was the creator, producer, host, and director. How had I managed it?

I was actually intimidated by this achievement.

I shrugged and went back to work, editing an upcoming video, writing this blog, all while working on the launch of the updated version of

And it occurred to me that I could ask the same question about the whole redesign of the website “How did I manage to pull this off?” And then I wondered the same about the three videos that make up the Comprehensive Guide, it was such a big project!

How did I do it? I didn’t. We did!

The answer was obvious, the same for all three: with some planning, some meetings, check lists, and a lot of help. In fact, for the website, the planning, tracking, and managing was entirely handled by David Riddles, my wife Ava, our programmer Duane, and the folks at Training Business Pros. And we were all in different locations.

There were delays, sure, for any number of reasons, but one frustration that kept cropping up was missed communications. HINT: an email subject line should make it very clear what’s in it. When you’re overwhelmed by emails, this is a big lesson. Also, REPLY ALL should be used with extreme caution.

Talking it out; Talking it through

Looking back at the past few months, when David or Duane or Ava or I were struggling with something on the test version of the website, it was a phone call, a Skype, a meeting (in-person or online) that quickly resolved every issue.

My natural reflex is to write an email, rather than call. Writing means I can figure out my thoughts and get it just right. But I’ve learned from watching Ava, David, and Duane, it’s much faster to, “Just call and ask.”

So this morning, when Ava told me, “It looks like the new website will be ready to go live by Monday, maybe Tuesday,” my first reaction was, “Hooray! Finally!” Then it occurred to me, knowing all that’s been done, it’s amazing we finished it so quickly. And when I say ‘we’, it was a lot of really informed, and experienced people building things that I’ll never know about. And now and then I would say, “Yeah, I like that one better than that one.”

And of course the new site will never be finished. I mean, it could be… But I have ADHD. So we’ll be able to tweak, upgrade, add, modify, and enhance as we go along.

The Lesson?

Two lessons actually.

First: Be in communication as soon as you’re stuck. Call. Speak directly. It’ll save 5 to 10 back and forth emails.

Second: the bigger the project, the more planning you need. But in fact, it’s often less planning than you might anticipate.

Planning may strike some of us who have ADHD as boring. It can actually be a game. Like planning how you’ll conquer everyone else on a board game.

What’s boring is struggling with some tiny frustration that has become a huge roadblock that you can’t figure out, and it has rippled outward with all kinds of negative consequences… which could have been completely avoided with a bit of planning, a few questions, and a single phone call to the right person.

ADHD Strategies for Adults

Rick Green, Adult ADHD By Rick Green:

You’re reading this because at some point you, or a loved one, saw a video, read an article, did an online test, or took our Unofficial ADHD Quiz, and the penny dropped.

You got diagnosed. Or did so much reading and research you’re certain you (or a loved one) have this mindset. (I recommend getting it confirmed by a doctor who knows what they’re doing.)

Now you’re eager to learn more. (Or desperately worried and anxious to find help.)

When I was diagnosed I wanted to learn everything I could about ADHD. But I soon realized that while the science and neurology were interesting, what mattered more was getting it handled.

Tools, Strategies, Tricks, Tips… Please!

It was enough knowing this disorder is highly heritable, that many suspect genes are involved, that it’s very situational, and every adult with ADHD has a unique combination of symptoms.

The more I read about the symptoms, costs, and negative impact, the more I wanted to know what, if anything, I could do about it.

Some adults could care less about the neurology, genetics, and ‘neurotransmitter re-uptake. They get it. They want to deal with it and get on with life.

They look for a list of ADHD tools and strategies. But since your particular collection of challenges will be different from mine, (some common ADHD symptoms may not be a big issue for you) then not every strategy will be helpful to you.

If some aspects of your life are humming along brilliantly, no need to change a thing. If clutter isn’t causing you or your loved ones grief, then great!

The question to consider is, “Where does it hurt?” No point in putting a cast on someone’s arm if it’s their leg that is causing them pain, right?

I often say, “You have to figure out your particular flavor of ADHD.” And then decide which symptom is hindering you the most, and start there.


Take Small Steps and Experience Small Victories

15 years into my own ADHD diagnosis, I am convinced one of the most universally powerful ADHD strategies is to ‘Get Started & Start Small.’

Of the 36 ADHD-Friendly strategies that Patrick McKenna and I explore in our PBS show, ADD & Mastering It?, this may be the one I use most often.

Usually a dozen times a day. (It’s how I’m writing, or rather rewriting, this blog.)

Whether I’m overwhelmed at work, resisting a new fitness regiment, wanting to finish a complex project, or simply feel the need talk to my coach about feeling stuck, I can only get past if I do one small thing.

Otherwise I continue to stew and strategize and ruminate. And then go off and do something irrelevant, some trivial task that only postpones the feeling of frustration.

When I’m Procrastinating, which is often, it’s a powerful strategy.

Just Start? Sounds Simple

Don’t get ambitious. Curb your natural ADHD enthusiasm. Just pick one task. Something quick. A ‘no-brainer.’

Go for a five minute walk. Make one phone call. Sort one shelf. Donate three things you never use.

And then decide if you can continue walking for another five minutes. Or make a second phone call. Or add 3 more things to the ‘Charity’ box.

Taking that first step, no matter how small, is how anything and everything is ever accomplished, right?

Which I find reassuring. Because when I’m faced with something that feels huge and overwhelming, I can always find one small thing that is manageable.

ADD Anger Meme

It’s the Secret of My Success

After I was diagnosed I understood why I had written hundreds of episodes of skit comedy. Thousands of short sketches. And only a few ½ hour sitcoms, and heaven forbid, no full-length screenplays. Even the stage shows I worked on were basically a collection of skits and songs around a theme.

A movie screenplay takes months to write—tracing character arcs, blocking out action, the saw tooth of rising action, developing characters and back story. The fun part, the snappy dialogue, comes last. (I was so disappointed when I learned this.)

I can write a short skit in a half hour. (And then rewrite it, again and again, until I’m happy with it.)

I divide complex tasks into doable chunks. Not just creating a TV series, but things as simple as cleaning the car, or In fact, I keep dividing the task into smaller chunks until it does feel doable.

The Payoff? I Can Do This

With ADHD, having successes, achieving small victories, is so energizing. Each little win gives me a boost of Dopamine, which is what I need to do the next step. And every step. Until it’s done. It’s not just being on a roll, it’s having the mental juice to take on what’s next.

Of course, dealing with my ADHD is the one task that will never be ‘done’.

There’s no final destination. Just getting better and better. One step at a time.


By Rick Green

So is about to launch a whole new look. Very different, but simpler to use.

If you’re worried that the videos, blogs, Forum posts, and Tools you love will be gone, let me reassure you, all the content is still there!

So it’s not a new site. It just looks like it. More like a complete facelift.

Here’s a sneak preview (just an image – the links don’t work… yet).

TotallyADD ADHD Friendly website

Behind the scenes, well, that’s where the biggest changes have happened.

How? I haven’t a clue. But catching snippets of conversation between Ava and David as they work with Paul, Adrian, Atty, Michael, Jason, Duane and others to restructure everything, it’s clear that the changes are profound. Everything is more connected and searchable, and that will just keep getting better as we go along.

So maybe calling it a facelift doesn’t do it justice.

Which reminds me, Bryce Hallett [] who does all the cartoons on the site, has come up with a slew of new and fun illustrations too!

Designed for the ADHD Mind

Here are a few of the improvements that will matter to you and I:

  • The site is faster to load.
  • The text is easier to read.
  • It’s less cluttered. Less distracting. Less confusing.
  • Everything works 17.5 times better on mobile devices. (It might be 18.9 times better, but I’m being cautious and not over-promising.)
  • It’s easier to get answers to your questions and specific topics.
  • Newcomers will find basic information. Regulars are guided to the latest content.
  • The shop is less confusing.
  • You can now stream purchased videos as well as downloading them! (Take that NETFLIX!)


It’s Almost Done! But Far From Finished.

The new site is scheduled to go live in the next week or so. However, at one point we had hoped to be live by the 4th of July, so there is that… (Blush. Stammer. Clearing of throat.)

A few minutes ago I peeked at some of the emails going back and forth, and though I didn’t understand some of the discussion, it was clear things are working, solutions are being found, and glitches eliminated. So, fingers crossed.

Every day one step closer. Or fifty steps. Almost a pilgrimage.

Once we’ve launched, I’m hoping you’ll tell us what you like, ask questions, spot typos, offer praise, like or dislike stuff, offer comments, and even share suggestions to make it even better…Because this new version of the site isn’t just user-friendly, it’s programmer friendly, so we can change things ourselves, easily.

For someone with ADHD, it’s heaven! I can tell you that I haven’t been this excited in ages. And I’m excited pretty much all of the time.

September 5, 2017 Rick

I Hate Change. I Love Novelty. An ADHD-Friendly Website Grows Even Friendlier

By Rick Green
TotallyADD ADHD Friendly website
Is it fair to say that most of us who have ADHD love novelty? We are drawn to new things. New ideas. A new pic on Instagram. When it’s the same old stuff, we get bored. “That’s the way it’s always been done,” is comforting to some people, but to me that sounds like an apology. “We’re too afraid to mess with it” sometimes strikes me as a challenge, “We can’t possibly imagine how it could be better so we just live with it.”

Look at the fields where we excel—jobs with lots of variety, ever evolving, never the same. In our video on Careers there’s a lot of talk about how adults with ADHD are open to taking risks. We embrace new trends, and leading edge gadgets, or ideas. In fact, we’re often the ones leading that leading edge.

One chapter in coach Linda Roggli’s book, Confessions of an ADDiva, is simply titled, “The answer is always YES.” We leap cheerfully into the unknown. As Linda points out, that can lead to overwhelm.

I know when something new sparks my interest I am a voracious learner. I’m locked-in, immersed.

On The Other Hand…

… when something changes and I have to figure out how the new version works? Ugh! I love novelty, but when I have to get a new phone? Or upgrade some software… I suddenly feel exhausted.

First, I have to forget everything I already know. (My ADHD makes that rather easy.) But then I have to learn a whole new way of doing something. Why?! Why?! Why?!

I’m too busy! I don’t have time! Why did they change it? What was wrong with the old way? And yes, I know, 30 minutes later I’ve mastered this new thing, I’m using it to great effect, and even man-splaining to my wife how it works.

Why Does This Matter?

It matters because is about to be re-launched with a whole new look. It’s been several months of work designing, and building it all. Mostly by people other than me. (So there’s a good chance it will work.)

It was a big and complicated process. So why did we do it?

Why bother? Why not leave good enough alone? We have over two million visitors a year, nothing shabby about that. A bunch of reasons.

As much as people loved the videos and blogs, they also told us:
• It was overwhelming, slow to load, and complicated to run
• Material wasn’t searchable by topic
• The shop was confusing
• New visitors were unsure where to begin
• The Connect section was difficult to navigate
• Every section was laid out differently
• The Forums were impossible to search… and kind of ugly

It was time to bite the bullet! We found a company that does great work and they’ve guided us through the whole process. And sometimes we guided them.

Luckily, it’s been worth it!

A Million Tweaks

I’ll post some more images of how the site looks in our next Newsletter. (Don’t receive the newsletter? Sign up here. And make sure you get our Friday Funnies as well.)

My wife Ava and I knew that redesigning the website would not be a linear process. Creative stuff never is.
The first version wasn’t quite us. One friend said, “For a second I thought a Pharma company had bought the site.”

The second version was much closer….

The final version is definitely us. And by ‘us’ I mean you, me and everyone who’s part of the TotallyADD community.
That said, it looks different. We’ll let you know when it’s up and running. When that happens, please, take a few minutes to go exploring.

As you can tell, I was nervous about changing things. At several points I thought, “This isn’t working, maybe we should just leave it as is…” But our team found solutions. And now it’s close to done, almost everything is working and it’s clearly a big improvement. I’m getting really excited about sharing all of it’s newness with you!

That said, if you tell me there’s a brilliant new way to do my banking or a revolutionary new smart phone, I’ll still be upset and moaning, “Why? What was wrong with the old one?!”

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Yes. Sometimes

By Rick Green – TotallyADD

I keep hearing motivational speakers, trainers, fitness coaches, and successful people declare, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Yes. Sometimes.

From what I’ve seen in friends and family is that sometimes what doesn’t kill you simply scars you for life. Some people can never get past a trauma, a loss of a loved one, an act of violence. They struggle every day. They are crippled for life.

Undiagnosed ADHD doesn’t make anyone stronger.

It frustrates and disheartens them. It saps their energy, wastes their time, and ruins opportunities.

ADHD can sabotage their loftiest life goals and their intimate relationships. Undiagnosed, this disorder can be a life-sucking, invisible, vampire.

Diagnosed? Understood? Dealt with using strategies that work for those of us with this mindset? Ah! Then everything changes. Or rather, now there’s a chance things can change. Having a collection of great tools and beautiful wood doesn’t automatically mean you have a lovely cottage. But it sure helps.

Until you know what’s going on and why, the best strategy is often to play small, settle for less, assume everything is difficult, or, more likely, assume you’re weak, lazy, flakey, self-absorbed, stupid, or broken. I did. It was a reasonable explanation. A shortage of certain neurotransmitters? How would I have ever figured that out on my own?

How could anyone win a battle against an invisible enemy, especially if they don’t realize they are in a battle?

My ADHD didn’t kill me.

But I am not sure that it made me stronger.

It was learning about it, learning what to do about, and dealing with this shape-shifting saboteur that made the difference. Suddenly it was a fair fight.

And then dealing with my ADHD made me stronger. Happier. More self-confident. More aware of myself. And others. More compassionate and appreciative. And even, at unexpected times, filled with a sense of peace.

And those moments are when I feel stronger.


Rick Green TotallyADD

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