A Guest Post by Roger C. Parker
I wish I had read Nancy Ratey’s The Disorganized Mind: Coaching Your ADHD Brain to Take Control of Your Time, Tasks, and Talents 20 or 30 years ago.
Reading The Disorganized Mind could have made a huge difference at several key points in my life.
The Disorganized Mind is a jargon-free story of self-coaching and learning to live with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Written from the perspective of someone who has struggled with ADHD throughout their life, then became a successful coach who helped thousands of Adult ADHD sufferers learn to succeed in spite of its symptoms, it’s remarkably convincing.
Reading The Disorganized Mind, I frequently felt a strong sense of déjà vu. At numerous points, I recognized behaviors and habits that have—over and over again—interfered with my success or caused embarrassing, expensive, and painful mistakes.
One of the most riveting chapters in The Disorganized Mind describes the experiences of “Sam,” one of the author’s clients suffering with Adult ADHD who had enjoyed a great deal of creative and sales success accompanied by frequent career setbacks. Sam had been successful and well-liked, but was perennially on the verge of dismissal. His ADHD symptoms were constantly undermining his creativity and ability to instantly assess situations.
Strategies for dealing with ADHD
Themes of control, coping, and optimism resonate throughout The Disorganized Mind. Ratey reports that either Child or Adult ADHD is not an “excuse” for inappropriate behavior, nor are medications—by themselves—miracle cure-alls.
In Nancy Ratey’s excellent book success comes from following a 6-step program, reduced to an acronym, ANSWER:
- Acknowledge. Both Child and Adult ADHD suffers must acknowledge that their brains occasionally misbehave, and that it’s their responsibility to devise strategies to cope, or work around, the way their brains respond.
- Narrow the focus. Sometimes “big thinking” gets in the way of paying attention to the details—like specific situations that trigger inappropriate responses. Focusing on specific situations allows sufferers to train themselves to anticipate approaching problems.
- Strategizing. Narrowing the focus and watching out for problems allows sufferers to prepare—or, even, rehearse—healthier responses.
- Working the plan. Reading about coping strategies, or making plans without taking action, doesn’t accomplish anything. The hard part, the core of a successful coaching or self-coaching relationship, is taking consistent action…even when the initial attempts fail to deliver the hoped-for results.
- Evaluating. At several points in The Disorganized Mind, Nancy Ratey emphasizes that there is no one, universal, coping strategy for all ADHD sufferers. Everyone has to track the results they obtain from different techniques, and create their own, unique, combination of strategies.
- Repeating. Since ADHD is unlikely to go away by itself, successful strategies need repetition to become habits—or patterns of healthy responses.
Organized for action
The Disorganized Mind contains hundreds of ideas, structures, strategies, and tips that can be successfully used to cope with the 16 key Symptoms or Issues of ADHD that are summarized in Appendix A, an Index of Strategies.
The book, itself, is a fast read that is well organized in 4 parts:
- Part l: Coaching. The 4 chapters in this section describe the author’s background and introduce the coaching, self-coaching, and the A-N-S-W-E-R framework.
- Part ll: Coaching the ADHD Brain. The next 5 chapters—the major of the book–describe the key issues that can keep ADHD sufferers from achieving their potential: time management, procrastination, impulsivity, distractibility, transitions.
- Part lll: Strategies for a Balanced Life. The 3 chapters in this section focus on strategies for home, physical health, and spiritual and mental wellness.
- Part lV: Living or Working with Someone with Adult ADHD. The final 2 chapters offer advice for spouses, partners, and co-workers.
Twenty pages of resources and an unusually comprehensive index round-out The Disorganized Mind.
Tips for creating your own action plan
The Disorganized Mind is an excellent and logical complement to ADHD Medication Rules: Paying Attention To The Meds For Paying Attention by Dr. Charles Parker—in combination with, of course, qualified medical advice.
ADHD Medication Rules will help you understand the variables that influence the effectiveness of any medications prescribed for you. By understanding the variables, you’ll know what to look for in your reaction to medications. You’ll also be better able to discuss their effectiveness with your physician or physicians. ADHD Medication Rules is the perfect “patient user guide for the medication side.”
But for either Adult or Child ADHD, medication, alone, may not be enough! You’ll also want to take action on your own—and either hire an ADHD coach to help you develop your own coping strategies—or you’ll have to become your own self-coach and take specific actions on your own. And this is where The Disorganized Mind comes in, outlining what you can do to develop the day-to-day strategies to maximize the effectiveness of your prescriptions.
Either way, these two books point the way to a happier, more successful future.
Roger C. Parker is an author, book coach, designer, consultant who works with authors, marketers, & business professionals to achieve success with brand-building books & practical marketing strategy. Visit Roger’s blog or to ask a question about writing & branding.
On a personal note:
I enjoyed coaching with Roger years ago whilst initially working on ADHD Medication Rules – he’s a phenomenal writing coach with outstanding credentials and a gift for what-works-best. You will appreciate his candor in this piece, an interesting and intimate view of another exceedingly successful professional working, as many of us are, on the ongoing process of self discovery.
Thanks Roger for posting this piece – and thanks for your kind remarks!
- Exercise Affects The Brain (medicalnewstoday.com)
- 12 Best Tips for Coping with ADHD (psychcentral.com)
- How ADHD Stimulant Medications Work (blackboxwarnings.wordpress.com)