Tips for Transitions

by Liz Ahmann

This is an occasional summary of conversations from the ACO yahoo group.
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The topic of transitions was a recent thread on the ACO list-serve. What richness of wisdom was shared! Because transitions require the brain to shift focus from one activity to another, they can be tough for many individuals with ADHD. Self-monitoring is an additional challenge that can interfere with the transition process.  Here is a compilation of these and a few other TIPS FOR TRANSITIONS:

  1. Planning: look over your schedule and plan ahead for what’s next – e.g. lay out items the day before so you are ready or gather in advance what you need for your next project before you start something else. Then when you turn to something else you are doing it in “real time.”
  2. Rehearse transitions: set an intention and practice rehearsing it when an alarm rings – start with practicing 2-3 times a day.
  3. Experiment with varied types of alarms: a song may be harder to ignore than a buzzer. Change alarms from time to time. Try a visual timer.
  4. Try an alarm for a two or five minute warning, then have it ring again. In between rings, tie up loose ends.
  5. Post a note to remind yourself WHY an alarm is ringing.
  6. Consider arranging for a “boot in the butt!” caring friend call.
  7. Plan ahead for how you will exit one activity before starting another. Afraid you’ll forget where you are in a project – leave a short note to yourself and schedule a time to resume if need be.
  8. Recall a time you were on time. What was that like? What enabled you to be on time then? How can you use those strengths or strategies now?
  9. Explore questions such as:
    • How might ignoring reminders and being late be serving you?
    • What does being late say about you, about the people waiting?
    • What does being on time say?
    • What changes if you are on time?
    • Who are you if you’re late? On time?
  10. Use the bulls-eye exercise to raise awareness. The goal is to find out what DOES work that may never have been tried:
    • Draw a target with a bull’s eye and concentric circles.
    • On the outer-most ring, write “The Problem: Often Late.”
    • On the next ring in, write the cause for that problem, e.g., trouble with transitions, and
    • Keep going toward the center bull’s eye, breaking each ring down by asking “What’s the problem?”
  11. Engage your creative side to visualize success with transitions and being on time.
  12. Reward yourself for progress on this challenge.
  13. Explore resources:
  • Nancy Ratey’s book The Disorganized Mind has a chapter on strategies for transitions.
  • Thom Hartman’s Healing ADD includes an exercise on re-envisioning one’s internal time line.
  • NLP practitioners can work with time lines in depth.

This activity might help to find out why transitions don’t work and why alarms and reminders don’t work, etc.