Today I want to talk about Hyperfocus. The best thing about having ADHD by far. It is one of the 5 ADHD Superpowers, and it’s my favorite. It is the ability to attend to one thing to the exclusion of all else. That means you can write a paper, and the house could burn down around you, and you wouldn’t notice… Okay, that’s maybe not the best example of its power. But it brings up my first point about Hyperfocus…
Superpower or Kryptonite?
While I genuinely believe that Hyperfocus is definitely a remarkable benefit, but it can also have some adverse side effects. Today I’d like to fully explore both sides of the coin so we can learn how to avoid the bad and harness the good. In the end, you can see if Hyperfocus has been your superpower or your kryptonite.
Hyperfocus as a Superpower
Here are the top 3 ways Hyperfocus can be used as a superpower. These little gems have been life-saving for me on more than one occasion. So let’s begin…
1 – Get Things Done
When I say, “get things done,”… I mean all the things. I have gotten focused on completing a project that I thought was going to take me days and finished it in a matter of hours. Can you imagine how powerful that makes you feel? I’ve been told I’m amazing simply because one of these blog posts takes me 2 hours or less to write, and many are 2000 words or more. I guess that is pretty amazing, but I wouldn’t be able to do it without my superpower.
I have learned to turn on Hyperfocus whenever I need it. It took time to master, but I found if I get excited about what I’m working on, my laser focus is not far behind. It’s all about how I frame the task in my mind. Let me just say, I’ve never been able to get it to kick in while I’m doing the dishes. Somethings are just never exciting, and dishes are one of them 🤣🤣.
2 – Efficient in Crisis
Another way we can use Hyperfocus as a superpower is keeping cool in a crisis. I sometimes term this as crisis control, and it’s a superpower in its own right. So when everything is going crazy around you, you can zero in on the thing or things that will fix the situation most efficiently. Sounds great, right? I think it’s the reason so many people with ADHD end up in high stakes careers. There are many first responders with ADHD. In fact, we’re drawn to those types of jobs. We excel at it because we cannot only maintain focus, but we crave the excitement that comes with a crisis.
3 – Can Work Anywhere at Anytime
ANYTIME and ANYWHERE takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to this ADHD superpower. Most people use the terms loosely with limitations. For us, there are no limits to what we can do. At least that I know of… I know of one girl who wrote a section of her master’s thesis while hiding in a closet during a tornado. Seriously, that brings a whole new level to those two words!
Can you even imagine the amount of productivity we can have when the sky is the limit? I must admit I’ve used this ability to my own advantage a time or two. I’ve worked at the hospital, and doctor’s office, the park with my kids, in the middle of a crowded bar at 2 am… If you’ve ever been in a crowded bar at 2 am, you know that’s some superhuman focus. Well, it’s not a bathroom during a tornado level, but it’s pretty dang-on close.
Hyperfocus as Kryptonite
Unfortunately, my favorite superpower does have its downside. Here are three ways Hyperfocus can trip you up and become your kryptonite.
1 – Can’t break out easily
You have to train yourself to relinquish focus on cue. If you don’t, you may find yourself in dangerous situations. I had this issue with my children. I learned to tune them out and slip into Hyperfocus when needed. Yet, I hadn’t learned to pull myself out if things changed. I’ve come out of my trance-like state to find a crayon mural on the wall, a graveyard of ripped books and broken toys, and two smiling girls with pink and purple mouths 🤦🏽♀️.
I can only imagine what could’ve happened if they’d had access to the kitchen or bathroom or worse… outside. Would I have even noticed if my children had left the house? Luckily I never had to find out the answer to that question, and I quickly trained myself to notice a change in my surroundings. I learned to look up when it got too quiet or loud, there’s a change in scent or temperature, and when I heard a new voice.
2 – Focus on the wrong things
This one is a BIG problem when you’re first learning to control your new superpower. I’ve had many occasions where I sat down with the best of intentions to be productive only to be distracted by something shiny. In fact, I’m still a little guilty of this.
I have to be on the internet to do my job. And we all know the internet is a treasure trove of shiny distractions. I sit down at my computer, ready to get stuff done, and I get a notification for Pinterest, YouTube, Insta, or TikTok and with my Hyperfocus already engaged… I waste hours going down the social media rabbit hole. I’ve had to learn to turn off notifications when I’m working. Especially when I’m harnessing my superpower.
Always keep this in mind as you learn to use your ability. Find a way to limit your access to distractions. Turn off your phone, notifications, tv, ads… if it can take you down a rabbit hole, you shouldn’t be able to see it until you’re out of Hyperfocus. Trust me, you’ll save yourself a lot of future headaches.
3 – Promotes procrastination
I mean, this one is obvious and maybe not entirely in the kryptonite category. Let’s face it, being able to procrastinate and still produce fantastic work is definitely a superpower in itself. Yet, sometimes we come to rely too much on our ability to focus at the last minute. If you’ve learned to properly harness your ability, then you should be able to use it without the added pressure of running out of time. Besides, waiting until the last minute causes undue stress. I’m a firm believer that we should never cause ourselves more stress than necessary.
So, has Hyperfocus been your superpower or your kryptonite? At the end of the day, Hyperfocus can be both an excellent resource and a crippling hindrance depending on how it’s used. That’s why I believe we have to properly educate ourselves on how to master this amazing ability. If we don’t make it work for us, then it begins to work against us, like many other things that come along with being an ADHDer. We want our ADHD to work to our benefit. We want to have Amazing Atypical lives. That means we can’t settle for letting our symptoms control us. We have to take the time to learn to control them.
Honestly, I love my ADHD life.
For all its ups and downs, it has made me the person I am today. The same can be said of you. Every time I talk about my superpowers, I feel so motivated to just be more and do more. I want you to learn to feel that way too. So today go out there and do something Amazing, be Awesome, be Empowered, be Motivated, but most of all… Always Be You!!
Until Next Time…
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