Learning to Work Around “Spacing Out”


Honey, you’re not listening
ADDvanced Listening & Languaging

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Memory & Coaching Skills Series

Spacing out – when attention wanders

We’ve all had times when our mind goes off on a short walk-about as someone seems to go on and on and on.

But that’s not the only arena where attention wanders off on its own.

Have you ever gone into another room only to wonder what you went there to do?

I’ll bet you have little to no awareness of where your attention went during your short trip to the other room, but if you’re like me (or most of my clients and students), you’ve sometimes wondered if doorways are embedded with some kind of Star Trekkian technology that wipes our minds clean on pass-through.

Awareness is a factor of ATTENTION

Has your mate ever said “Honey, I TOLD you I would be home late on Tuesday nights!” — when you honestly couldn’t remember ever hearing it before that very moment, or only dimly remember the conversation for the first time when it comes up again?

Most of the time, when that happens, we are so lost in our own thoughts, we have little to no awareness that we spaced out while someone was speaking to us.

What do you do DO on those occasions where you suddenly realize that you have been hearing but not really listening?

Don’t you tend to attempt to fill in the gaps, silently praying that anything important will be repeated? I know I do.

It is a rare individual who has the guts to say, “I’m so sorry, I got distracted.  Could you repeat every single word you just said?” 

And how likely are you to ask for clarification once you are listening once more?

  • If you’re like most people, you probably assume that the reason you are slow to understand is because you missed the explanatory words during your “brain blip.”
  • If the conversation concludes with, “Call me if you have any problems,” I’ll bet you don’t reply, “With what?!”

That’s what the person with attending deficits or an exceptionally busy brain goes through in almost every single interchange, unless they learn how to attend or the person speaking learns how to talk so people listen.

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Change, Growth and Decision Dilemmas


Decision Anxiety
Another glitch in the Change Management process

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Edited reblog from an earlier post, Choices & Decisions

Chocolate, vanilla or tutti-frutti? Early Monday or late Thursday?
This drawer or that one?  Move away or stay put?
Have a baby, adopt a baby or remain a dual-income-no-kids couple?

Avoiding the Agony of Deciding

We each must make a great many decisions every single day.  A few of them we think about consciously and carefully, and some we make quickly and unconsciously – sometimes even really big and important ones.

Since our mental processes are subconsciously influenced by our emotions and memories, more frequently than not we remain oblivious to what really drives those decisions we make.

Then there are the many times we’re thrown into the agony of indecision – even between choices that are actually too small to, ultimately, make much of a difference in our lives.

Change, Growth & Decisions

There is no doubt that the process of change and growth would be easier if it were as predetermined and automatic as the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly.

However, I can’t help but wonder if, were we humans relieved of the task of having to decide what comes next, we would be more comfortable with life’s changes or more frustrated by them.

As difficult as most of us find the process, it seems we are practically “hard-wired” with some kind of drive to exercise our free will.

  • Since early childhood, few of us have been especially happy when someone else tells us what we must do.
  • More than a few of us absolutely refuse to acquiesce. (Why else do you think we describe that particularly early transitional stage characterized by the single word NO! as “The Terrible Twos?”)

So how come so many of us AGONIZE when it comes time to decide?

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The Brain: Why much of what you think you know is WRONG


Science Marches On
and older information becomes obsolete

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

The Importance of Life-Long Learning

It’s an essential endeavor for everyone with a brain to continue to seek out and pay attention to credible information that will help us delay – or avoid – the onset of dementia, preserving cognitive functionality as we age.

However, it is especially important for scientists, treatment and helping professionals to keep up with new information and incorporate it into their theories, tests and treatment protocols.

And yet . . .

I have been beating this drum – while seeking new, scientifically valid information for over 30 years now – in my futile attempt [so far] to get some traction toward effective care for those of us with Executive Functioning disorders.

A concept known as Confirmation Bias explains part of the reason that my efforts [and those of others] have, for the most part, failed – but timing is everything.

Related Post: Why we HATE to Change our Minds

Getting updated, substantially more accurate information to “the professional down the street” simply takes far too long, as the continual explosion of partially-informed new coaches, bloggers and pinners confuse and confound the issue further.

They all seem to be well-intended, albeit at least partially misguided, spreading obsolete information all over the internet at an unprecedented rate.  For those who make an effort to continue to learn, it seems that the more that new information might persuade them to update their theories and methodologies along with their information base, the more tightly they hold to cherished beliefs – the very essence of cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory makes predictions that are counter-intuitive — predictions that have been confirmed in numerous scientific experiments.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept or the term, you will probably be surprised to see how widely it applies. Once you learn to pay attention to it, you will also be surprised at how it changes your behavior as well as your perception of your world.

Embracing its reality might also encourage you to investigate brain-based information further, allowing your mind to incorporate the latest in scientific findings, rather than repeating information that is, sometimes, decades old.

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The Backwards To-Do List


A Different Way
to Help you get UNSTUCK
Help for Activation, Hyperfocus & Scattered Energy

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another article in the ACTIVATION Series

Expanding on a helpful concept

In last Monday’s article [How to STOP chasing your tail], I introduced a productivity tracking technique I call The Backwards To-Do List.

Over the years, I have received many requests to explain the idea. I hope this article will help those of you with similar questions.

I initially developed this technique for myself, a year or two after my own ADD diagnosis – several decades ago now. I figured it out after realizing that the “standard” advice about making To-Do lists left me DE-motivated, rather than it’s opposite.

Lacking a sense of time, I never could get the hang of how much to put on the darned thing. Plus, my high level of distractibility made it certain that there would be many items undone every day.

As I told you in Monday’s article:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Unlike our neurotypical friends and families, those of us in the ADD/EFD camp find it more difficult to “let it go” when we see a to-do list with items untouched.

  • Many of us who try the typical advice end up becoming so demotivated that we tend to conclude that “to-do lists don’t work.”
  • Others in our club feel so overwhelmed by day after day of undone to-dos that we end up doing practically nothing at all.

We need to do it another way

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Choices and Decisions


Navigating the Forks in the Road
Carefully Anticipated
– or –

Suddenly Forced Upon Us

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Describing Decision Anxiety

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost*

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

*Published in 1916,
the first poem in the Mountain Interval collection.

Decision Anxiety?

Speaker_-_ScaredAlong with other sources exploring this poem, Wikipedia informs us that renowned poet Robert Frost (3/26/1874 – 1/29/1963) wrote The Road Not Taken as a gentle mockery of the agonizing that frequently accompanies indecision (in particular, the process of indecision that his good friend, writer Edward Thomas, displayed on their many walks together).

Although we are told that Frost later expressed his irritation that most readers took the poem more seriously than he had intended, we continue to do so because it so perfectly illustrates our experience of decision anxiety.

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Change, Growth and Decision Dilemmas

There is no doubt that the process of growth would certainly be easier if it were as predetermined and automatic as the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly.

However, I can’t help but wonder if, were we humans relieved of the task of having to decide what comes next, we would be more comfortable with life’s changes or more frustrated by them.

As difficult as most of us find the process, it seems we are practically “hard-wired” with some kind of drive to exercise our free will.

  • Since early childhood, few of us have been especially happy when someone else tells us what we must do.
  • More than a few of us absolutely refuse to acquiesce. (Why else do you think we describe that particularly early transitional stage characterized by the single word NO! as “The Terrible Twos?”)

So how come so many of us AGONIZE when it comes time to decide?

Read more of this post

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