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As someone with ADHD, overwhelm is a constant struggle. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of commitments and priorities, unsure of where to focus my energy – because, #ADHD. In this blog post, I’m sharing my personal experience with overwhelm and how I manage it using tools I use in my coaching practice, like the VIA Strengths Assessment, Values Inventory, and Needs assessments.
Understanding the Problem
One of the most challenging aspects of ADHD is the tendency to feel overwhelmed. This state of mind can be triggered by a number of factors, from a busy schedule to a lack of structure, which can make it difficult to know where to focus your energy.
For me, this often appears when I’m already feeling stressed, so I commit to even more things in an attempt to self-soothe. This (of course), leads to a feeling of paralysis, as I become frozen by the fear of making the wrong decision or the fear of never being able to get out of the state of overwhelm.
Prioritizing with Strengths, Values, and Needs
One of the tools that I use to prioritize is the VIA Character Strengths assessment, which helps me understand how I best show up in the world. My top strengths are love of learning, gratitude, and hope. I also use values and needs assessments to understand what is most important to me. My values include freedom, flexibility, energy alignment, and meaningful work. My needs are meaningful work, feeling peaceful, and learning.
When I feel overwhelmed, I use these tools to help me prioritize my commitments. For example, I recently had a laundry list of commitments related to my business, including:
- A program I’m developing for ADHD entrepreneurs
- Managing my existing programs that need ongoing promotion
- My weekly cadence of YouTube videos, podcasts, blog posts, and newsletters
- A strategy of growing my Instagram and TikTok
- Another website (that’s getting no love)
- My 2023 taxes
- Along with a full roster of coaching clients
A coach training program I signed up for through the Heart Math Institute
- A Joe Dispenza event I’m traveling to next month, and
- A YouTube channel that’s experiencing a growth spirt, so I’m getting a lot more coaching and brand collaboration inquiries that I’m not sure how to integrate yet.
Courses & Templates
Distraction to Action
A science-based productivity program that helps ADHD’ers define what’s most important and follow through on it.
Vision to Action
A template to help you clarify and align your strengths, values + personal needs with your intentions.
The Organized Business
A robust template for getting your business organized with trackers, workflows and project planning.
Prioritizing my ADHD Overwhelm Based on Interests, Strengths + Values
So as you can see, I’ve got a LOT going on right now. But by using my strengths, values, and needs, I was able to go through each item on the list and evaluated it based on how it aligned with my energy and what was most important to me.
Once done, I confidently deprioritized things like my Instagram and TikTok, my other website, and my taxes (which were delegated to my husband). I slowed down the progress of the course for ADHD entrepreneurs and maintained my waitlist for coaching clients. I recommitted to my coach training program, the Joe Dispenza event, and my weekly content creation schedule – because these things are important to me, and are aligned to my goals. I also carved out time to automate more of the program promotion so that I don’t need to think about it.
Optimizing for Freedom and Flexibility
For me, energy management is vital, and I always optimize for freedom and flexibility first, energy management second, and revenue third. When you find yourself looking to prioritize things or evaluate decisions, ask yourself, “What am I optimizing for?” This question helps you identify your stake in the ground and what’s most important to you.
Automating to Take the Pressure Off
One of the biggest challenges of ADHD is maintaining focus and memory. It’s easy to forget important tasks or commitments, which can lead to further feelings of overwhelm. To combat this, I try to automate as much of my life as possible. For example, I have set up systems to automatically promote my programs and remind me of important deadlines. This takes the pressure off of me to remember everything and allows me to focus on what’s most important.
Celebrating Your Wins
One of the most important things to remember when managing ADHD overwhelm is to celebrate your wins, no matter how small. It’s easy to get caught up in the feeling of never doing enough or never meeting your goals, but this mindset only leads to further overwhelm. Instead, focus on what you have accomplished and take the time to celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may seem.
If you’re struggling with ADHD overwhelm, here are some takeaways that might help:
- Recognize the pattern of freezing up and address it early.
- Use tools like strengths, values, and needs assessments to help you prioritize your commitments.
- Optimize for what’s most important to you, whether that’s freedom and flexibility, energy management, or something else entirely.
- Automate as much as possible to take the pressure off of memory and decision-making.
- Remember to celebrate your wins, even if they don’t look exactly like what you had planned.
The Key Thing to Remember When it Comes to ADHD Overwhelm…
Managing ADHD overwhelm is not a one time fix. It’s an ongoing process, that starts with being more mindful of what choices and behaviors tend to lead you into overwhelm.Caren Magill, ADHD Coaching
Keep in mind that what works for one person might not work for another. But by using tools like strengths, values, and needs assessments, you can gain clarity on what’s most important to you and prioritize your commitments accordingly.
Remember to optimize for what’s most important to you, whether that’s freedom and flexibility, energy management, or something else entirely. And don’t forget to celebrate your wins, no matter how small they may seem.