Wednesday, January 27, 2016 6 Comments
What helps & what hurts
– so that you don’t unintentionally
make accomplishment harder –
© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
The Motivation/Activation/Focus Continuum
There are many tips and techniques that can help a person who struggles with Executive Functions initiate action and stay on track to completion, but most of them are counter-intuitive. The “typical” advice only works for the “typical” person.
Attempting to explain the differences between the neurotypical and the neuro-diverse, I’ve said many times, “The reasons they don’t do things are seldom the same as the reasons we don’t do things.”
Different causes mandate different approaches and ideas.
One of the best ideas I know is to make use of the services of a Body Double – as long as both partners are aware of some of the unwritten rules of the game.
Body Double Confusion
An ADD Coaching technique I introduced in Body Doubles for Activation & Accountability, the Body Double concept underscores how simply having another person in the room can make things easier to do — because it is an externalized reminder of the need to stay on track for the person being doubled.
Haven’t you ever noticed how much easier it is to stay on track on certain types of tasks when somebody is observing?
Some repeat information from the earlier article:
- It’s important to note that the Body Double does not actively help, advise, disrupt concentration or comment outside of a structured, agreed upon set of circumstances.
- The Body Double’s only task is to sit quietly out of the way, reading or writing while the ADD/EFDer attends to work (unless it has been agreed in advance that s/he will interrupt a hyperfocused worker-bee occasionally to ensure that s/he stops for periodic breaks or for meals).
- Frequently, the Body Double brings along a compatible task of his or her own – like journaling, knitting or catching up with email on a laptop or tablet. They’re only there to externalize the observing ego of the person they’re doubling – the witness self of the person they are assisting.
I have observed for almost three decades now that having another person in the room actually helps those of us with activation and follow-through struggles focus on the task at hand, and stay on-task to completion — provided that the person in our space doesn’t feel it is their job to “help” us with what we are doing.
THAT’s where the confusion begins
In general, people tend to think about “helping” as an active state: donating food, clearing the table, fixing a flat — DOing something.
So when they are asked for help as a Body Double, they tend to be as much an active off-task distraction as a passive partner who helps to improve the odds that someone with Executive Functioning struggles will stay on track.
- They often assume they are at least supposed to ask how things are going, or for a report of what has been done so far, or to remind the person of the items still undone (or something else that also needs to be done).
- Unfortunately, intruding on the process in a manner that might be intended to be “actively helpful assistance” actually makes things harder – sometimes much harder.
To be really helpful to someone already struggling with attention, focus and follow-through, a Body Double needs to be passive.
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