Attentional struggles? Not ME!

Check out a few of the Symptoms of Attentional Struggles

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from an article published June, 2011

NOT just for ADD

MANY people – not just those diagnosed with ADD/EFD (or anything else) – report challenges with procrastination, follow-through, time and transition management, recalling directions, names or what they said they would do, keeping the bills paid on time, beating back the clutter, keeping on top of the laundry or the filing or the mail — or effectively handling any number of pile-ups of house, garage and lawn chores.

More than a few struggle to have much of a life beyond the all-too-familiar “mess it up, clean it up” cycle — in any one of a host of arenas.

DID YOU KNOW that fluctuations in your ability to manage the Attending system are at the root of every single one of them?

Not necessarily diagnostic

If YOU have even more than a few of the characteristics listed in this article, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have diagnostic ADD – or any of the bona-fide Executive Functioning disorders.

It DOES indicate that you’re juggling more balls than you can manage at one time, and one or more of the The Dynamics of Attending is suffering for it.

Room at my Table

I’d like to invite the rest of you to allow yourselves to benefit from the coping techniques I developed for the ADD community over the past 25+ years.

Whichever camp you belong to, ADD/EFD, “Senior Moment” tripsters, or CrazyBusy, I’m fairly certain you will find that employing a few ADD Coaching techniques will help you become more intentional with your attending, life will become a whole lot easier to manage, and your friends and loved ones will be much happier with the way you relate to THEM.

Looking through The ADD Lens™

I have found the idea of looking at things through The ADD Lens™ extremely helpful. In other words, looking at your functioning challenges as if they were a result of Attention Deficit Disorder.

If Challenges like any of those below (or their kissing cousins) keep you from getting things done, pretend you do have ADD/EFD and start to utilize a few of the techniques that have been found to work with people who have been diagnosed with ADD:

See if looking at yourself through The ADD Lens™as if you had full-blown, diagnostic ADD/EFD – gives you a way to approach areas of prior difficulty in a way that you can handle them successfully.

In The Journey toward Optimal Functioning™, we must give ourselves permission to utilize any trick, tool or technique that will help us to achieve it.

Remember that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

HOVER before clicking – often a box will appear to tell you what to expect. (This article is Link Dense)

Manifestations of Attentional Problems

Difficulties with any of the Dynamics of Attending can show up in a variety of way – and each of them is a symptom of “impaired attention.”

Below is a composite list of only some of the ways it shows up in bona fide (diagnosed) ADD/EFDers (with multiple links to more expanded information with actual help with many of the challenges below – some listed again in the Related Content below, in case you miss a few).

Looking at the list below

  • Very few individuals on the ADD/EFD side of the diagnostic line exhibit everything on the list below, and almost all of them struggle with a great many things that aren’t listed at all.
  • There are also a large number of overworked, over-stressed or under-slept “regular folks” and aging Baby Boomers who fit the ADD/EFD profile frequently enough to make them scratch their heads wondering if they are, in fact, part of the diagnostic ADD/EFD population themselves.

Related posts: ABOUT Executive Functions
Executive Functioning Disorders – NOT just kid stuff

How many of the Challenges below do YOU experience often enough to make you wonder?

Symptoms and Manifestations of Attentional Struggles

• Easily overwhelmed by tasks of daily living

  • Trouble maintaining an organized living and/or work space
  • Drowning in paperwork
  • Missing appointments
  • Difficulty sequencing and/or prioritizing
  • Getting lost easily

• Trouble directing focus and concentration

  • Easily dragged off the point
  • Losing the thread of your own conversation when speaking
  • Difficulty recapturing the moment when interrupted
  • Life as a protracted scavenger hunt (continually looking for misplaced objects due to lack of focus leading to impaired registration)
  • Knocking things over, spilling, bumping into things
  • Difficulty completing projects

• Activation struggles

• Apparent or actual slowed processing speed

  • Difficulties making decisions (especially when required “out of the blue,” or occasions where a sudden need for a rapid response follows a waiting period)
  • Lengthy deliberation (agonizing over detail)
  • Procrastinating to avoid decision anxiety

• Uneven performance

• Easily stuck in hyperfocus

  • Playing computer solitaire for hours on end
  • Web-browsing until surprised by daylight
  • TV hypnosis
  • Looking up “a minute later” to find an hour or more has passed

• Seemingly altered response to social reinforcement

  • Overlooking rules and regulations – misreading expectations
  • Appearing oblivious to consequences (likelihood of punishment or fines has no direct effect on actions)
  • Immediate & consistent positive reinforcement needed to overcome attentional difficulties
  • Tendency to lose motivation or interest with negative reinforcement (correction or criticism)

• Delay intolerance

  • Motor anxiety (pacing, etc.)
  • Road rage with slow moving traffic
  • Depressed moods during periods of inactivity

• Difficulties reading

  • Problematic attentiveness – losing concentration, skipping sentences or paragraphs, missing key modifiers
  • Words “jump” out of context
  • Retention struggles (losing the point of a sentence or a paragraph by the time you come to the end)

What’s it all ABOUT, Alphie?

Problems with any or all phases of The Dynamics of Attending are at the very heart of ADD/EFD characteristics – as well as everyday struggles of individuals who would be categorized neurotypical.

Diagnostic ADDers typically have impairments in at least one of the Dynamics, often all three in combination, which dominoes into problems with the registration, linking and retrieval stages of the memory process.

However, every single person alive
has problems with each of the Dynamics of Attending
in some situations at some times —

WHICH MEANS they struggle with:
#1 – Focusing on the Intended Object
#2 –
Sustaining the Focus, and/or
#3 – Shifting Focus at Will

A few of the ways those occasional “mind blips” show up in our behavior provide very funny stories – afterwards. Unfortunately, some of them (or too many of them) lead others to conclude that we are not reliable and can’t be trusted — and lead us to doubt our own talents and abilities as well.

Don’t let what you can’t do determine what you CAN

Even if you’re strapped for cash to the point where you can’t even consider hiring my professional services one-to-one, watch for upcoming skills classes and Group Coaching that can be offered at a price that most of you will be able to manage.

Meanwhile, check out Peer Coaching Basic Training to help you learn how to set up accountability and follow-through coaching where you trade services with someone else who can use a bit of assistance keeping life on track and moving forward.

Stay tuned and click around for more articles and tips on Attention, Memory, Executive Functioning Challenges, and EACH of the elements involved that complicate your life and hold you back.

© 2011, 2016-17, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules
(reblogs always okay, and much appreciated)

The above text is excerpted from Intentional Attending,™ the 4th of the 12 eBooks
in the upcoming Optimal Functioning eBook Series™
©2000, 2006, 2011, 2016 Madelyn Griffith-Haynie,
ALL rights reserved

The E-books in the upcoming Optimal Functioning Series™

1. The ADD Lens™
2. The Challenges Inventory™
3. Rewrite your Owners Manual™

NINE Individual Challenges Modules:

As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Intentional Attending™ Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

IN ANY CASE, stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some one-on-one (couples or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series, click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end, or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page. Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Related articles right here on
(in case you missed them above)

Running your Life:

Intentional Attending:

The ADD Overview series – the best basics:

Related articles ’round the ‘net

BY THE WAY: Since is an Evergreen site, I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

24 Responses to Attentional struggles? Not ME!

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  17. bethbyrnes says:

    I think, as in most things, these attending issues affect us on a sliding scale, i.e., all of us grapple with some of these things to a greater or lesser extent at various points in our lives. So, we can all learn to recognize it and address it when it happens.

    Lot’s of valuable food for thought here, Madelyn!


    • Thanks, Beth – and you are absolutely right. And it’s a moving baseline, depending on what else is going on in life. Cognitive resources are limited – there is only so much we can “juggle” before all the balls start tumbling down.

      When our resources are taxed to the limit already, existing vulnerabilities are exacerbated — and we are sometimes overwhelmed by them. Even when we manage fairly well, things are more difficult than they would be if we had effective coping strategies in place for when life became more stressful than the norm (or as insurance – because we all know that stress and life walk hand in hand).

      The existence of the continuum is actually part of the problem for those who fall on the diagnostic side of the line. People who are less impaired by attentional issues seem unwilling or unable to believe that there are others who are less cognitively nimble (from birth or as a result of a TBI, stroke, etc.)

      My point remains, however – we can all navigate more easily if we get out of denial about our difficulties and actively seek out solutions that have been developed for those who have ongoing struggles and have no choice but to employ work-arounds to manage life’s logistics effectively at all.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


  18. Being one-handed and maintaining life independently I’m always trying to do too many things at once to stay independent. I know I’m calmer if I single-task its just hard to cdecide which one thing is the absolute most important over everything else. Single-tasking really does help switch off the brain. Even if that one thing is to just sit and watch something on TV.


    • I’m with you on both counts – the benefits of single-tasking to a calm and centered existence and the difficulties of prioritizing focus (*plus* focusing on only one thing at a time once I choose).

      The struggle is finding that balance — the exact number of what kind of balls to juggle that keeps one engaged but not overwhelmed. Most of us get into b-i-g trouble when were bored. lol

      Thanks for reading and ringing in.


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