Ep 8 - 10_10_19, 12.04 PM
5:40PM Nov 12, 2019
Lee Skallerup Bessette
Welcome to another episode of all the things ADHD with Amy Morrison and Lee Skallerup Bessette; two Gen X academic women trying to make sense of their late in life diagnosis of having ADHD. In today's episode, we're going to jump drop you right into the middle of the conversation again, and getting into the idea of gender identity and the affective of labor and how that impact is impacted by ADHD. We're then going to get into some tips and tricks about how we manage our day to day lives and managed to be quote unquote productive and effective and just generally survive in the world. So once again, I'm going to be dropping you right into the conversation as it goes on. And I apologize for the muffled sound on my track as I was recording in a bunk bed. So with that, I'm going to turn it over to myself and Amy in the past and have this conversation around affective labor.
There has been a lot of talk about affective labor and At home, yeah, women undertake a lot of affective labor at home. But like, I guess, because everything is affective labor, right? It's like how do you differentiate when you're ADHD when everything gives you all of the feelings?
I think for me. I think, for me, the aspect that has, I think really become clear in some recent writings about this is, you know, we're looking at how much housework do men do now in sort of straight heterosexual partnerships, and, and you know, the number is going up, but then what what women are reporting is like, Okay, well, maybe he spends, you know, x more hours of the week doing stuff, but I have to tell them, what needs doing, right. Like and that's, that's the kind of like executive function. Part of it is what's really difficult like I would do, you know, let's say 10 hours of work at my house a week, but the difficult part for me is like private remembering what needs to be done, right? Like, oh, yeah, I had to go by like a thank you gift for the teacher for doing that thing. Again, right? I just and I do it if someone would say like, at after work, you know, go to Shoppers Drug Mart pick up a like a gift card for whatever and then come home but the person who has to remember those things is me, right? It's like the Christmas card problems. So it's always like, you know, back in the days when people wrote Christmas cards, it was always, you know, the wife who would maintain the list of addresses, who is sort of, you know, maintain like, well, this person's husband died. So we're going to change you know that the address on that this time or like these people have a new baby or like these people moved, and you know, we have to write this number of cards per day and then you're going to do this and buy the stamps. It's like, I will sit and write Christmas cards, but like I will be damned if I am organized enough to remember who were supposed to send them to or to keep track The addresses are like,
I know, I could say to, you know, my husband Go, go do these things, and he will do them. But I sometimes where I am lacking capacity is remembering what needs to be done. Right. Yeah. And so that work is like less effective and more sort of, like, you know, mom as the household manager. Yeah. Right. So if your husband will do the groceries, but you have to make a list, right is like, that doesn't help me as much, right? Yeah. Cuz I also can put around the store and grab things off the shelf. That's not the hard part. The hard part is, what do we need?
What are we going to eat this week? I gotta make a meal plan. Right and I gotta go through the pantry and I gotta look at the fridge and I gotta think about like, who's eating out this week? And I'm like, now I need a nap. It's just you know, go buy the kids some shoes. Well, what size shoes does she wear? Well, I guess that's odd me to remember. Right? Like I you know, get the phone calls from the relatives like we want to buy, you know, a limb somewhat size tissue and I'm the one that knows I'm the only one that knows And I think amount of sort of like, brain cycles it takes for me to keep all of that information in my head is like completely just proportionate to the importance of that information. Right? Yeah, I would much rather like and sometimes we'll do this on a Saturday, like, I'll sit down and I'll say to Tom, oh, my God, like, we have so many chores to do, and I don't know where to start. And he's like, what do you need to do? And I will just like spout stuff, and he'll write it down, write down and sort the list into like, this type of thing. And this type of, you're going to do this before lunch, and you're going to do this after lunch. And how many of these things can I do for you? Right? Like, that's like, oh, because I don't mind working hard. Right. It's like the planning and remembering that's difficult.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And that's and that's it. That's it. And it's that's the one of the that's one of the interesting aspects of it. Right is that the prioritizing the organizing, The remembering and you'll speaking of remembering, you'll find this funny. It's my son. It's his birthday in January, but of course we'll have moved and it's immediately after the holidays. And so it's 730 and he's getting ready for bed. And he go comes out of there And oh, by the way, Mom, we're going to celebrate my birthday tomorrow in class. I need some cupcakes or something.
Right? Super. I'll get on that right now. not
and I was like, how long have you known about this? It's shrug your shoulders because it's either now or not now time,
Um, and then and then goes and then he's like, he's like I just kept forgetting. And I mean, he has ADHD as well. So I'm like, that's an and we've had a weird week and there were snow days at the beginning of the week and their grandmother was here last week. So they missed a couple days so they could be with their grandmother like then before that. It was Thanksgiving. And so, you know, he doesn't remember when it was decided. But his teacher probably came up to him in class and reminded him of it on Wednesday, right? And it only occurred to him as he was standing there brushing his teeth. And so he told me when he remembered,
yeah, and now you're like, freaking out. Yeah,
yeah, yeah. Well, I mean yeah, so it was better and of course the mom guilt right now is strong because we're moving in the second amount of school in the middle of the year so I was like husband. I like as you're going out taking out the trash. Could you also get in the car drive to the? He's like, What? I'm like, ordinarily, I would be like, That's too bad. So sad. And I'm just like, he only has like, six more classes left with his friends. So could we like maybe?
Oh, that's so hard. We have like a rule at my house that you need to give them a couple of days of notice. Yes, thank you
And we typically have that rule at our house too. But like I said, it's been really chaotic with packing and moving and driving and you know, spending our time with swim meets and swim teams and testing out ballet studio and all that kind of stuff. So it's like, you know, so it's Yeah, I don't blame him for not remembering. Yeah, right. Like maybe this was decided, like, the day before he left for two days to spend with his grandmother and then of course forgot because like, why would he remember that and then
I am like getting tired just listening to the story. Like, I'm getting sort of the existential Heebie Jeebies and deeply exhausted at the same time. This feels very real. Lee
Yeah. And it's just hit. And I'm not like I'm not also cool mom who could like whip up cupcakes in an hour no problem child all just make you some cup.
No, no, no.
That too. He wasn't expecting that either. Like he knows he knows mom is that you know, not mom's thing. But who's just sitting there going, like okay just go get store bought it these like their Christmas themed I'm like I don't care. Yeah, he's happy birthday Christmas. Yeah, happy birthday Christmas cupcakes that he's getting at the last minute. And it was so happy the next morning.
because he Well, I think he realized he was thrilled he was like, tackled his dad and said thank you dad for going to get it. This means too much to me. And, and that's the thing, right? It's it's not that it wasn't important to him. Yeah. And I knew it was important to him because his birthday is a big deal to him.
And so but but it's it's just the, the where it where it just, it gets shuffled in his head. And I know because things get shuffled in my head and I'm just even having this conversation. I'm remembering seven things that I meant to do today that need to get done, but I haven't done yet just because every time I do Start to do it. I'd start something else instead. Right? Right, the opening of the tab and being like, why did I open this tab?
Yeah, but now that I'm here,
right now that I'm here, I'll do this other thing. Yeah, exactly.
So I've been working. Maybe should talk about, like some tips and tricks now.
Yeah, I was about to ask. I was like, how do you do it? Yeah.
Well, I've been working on this with my daughter to like, how do you get these little things done that you don't want to do? And, and so it started a couple of things. The first one is, I will set a timer for the amount of time that it should take me to pack my daughter's lunch in the morning. And it's like six minutes, because it's not complicated. I just want to do it. And it often takes me 40 minutes, right, because I've just decided I'm going to unload the dishwasher right partway through making a sandwich because I don't want to sandwich or like, you know, just read Facebook for 10 minutes because I deserve a break because I put two cookies in a Ziploc bag, right? I just hate doing it. Like, I don't know why there's probably something in there. I just don't want to do it. But now I'm like, God damn it, Amy. This is why I keep lining up like walking her to the bus stop in my pajamas. Because it takes me 40 minutes to do a six minute task and then we'd be mostly because of me. Right? So now I'm just like, I would like to have pants on. By the time I leave the house this morning. I would like maybe to wash my face, you know, so that I don't have to like bring her to the bus and then come home and start my day. Like there's no reason I can't be ready before so now like it takes six minutes. So I set the timer on the oven.I just do it for six minutes and then it's over right. I don't like myself. I can put pants on after it right like if you still want to empty the dishwasher after the six minutes is done. But guess what? I stopped those procrastination activities when the lunches already made because I was only doing them with the lunch right. So just a timer and like to make it like not 10 minutes for a six minute job. Because then, you know, you're like, I got some time in there, I could just kind of waste. Yeah, like, it's like doing class prep where my class prep takes as long as the number of hours that I have. Right? However many hours there are until class starts, that's how long my prep takes. So now I like have to push it close, right, I'd like to take about this amount of time. So I'm going to set a timer, or not started until this amount of time. And that really helps my daughter does that to another trick that I have is I write to do lists that are incredibly granular. I've just taken a picture of one of my lists from this weekend, and we'll we'll put it on the blog for this episode. And the list is called Windows to clean because, you know, I said to my husband, oh, it's like not snowing, and it's like warm and you know, we just had all this construction done on the outside of the house and like, the windows look like they've been dipped in mud puddles, like on the second floor, right? And so like, if I don't clean them now, we're not gonna be able to clean them until spring because like they're double hungry. Which means like, you just basically open a huge hole in the side of your house to clean these windows. And you can't do it in January and worldly escape. So no. And I was like, I'm just gonna do it. And we have like, I'll tell you how many items on this list 1-234-567-8910 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 22 items on this list, which is like, not only each individual window has it an item, but also stuff like the windows that I need to get a ladder on to go outside have like the inside part of the window is one item and the outside part of the window is another item because I will do those separately. And I have stuff like labeled the screens when you take them off, that's an item and then like remove the screens is another item because I find if the task is so big and boring. If I don't have little tiny items, I can cross off like literally one side of the window at a time. Right yeah. Now I have this like I like this list with like, what did I say? Like 1914 things on it. And it's just going to sit there with these checkboxes that don't have check marks in them. And that drives me insane. Okay, really very badly. It's like with my Fitbit, like, I want to hit my 10,000 steps and I will walk up and down the hallway because I like it's such a complex, maybe an autism thing, but I'm like, it needs to be done. Right? You can't just leave an open check box with no checkmark in it. So I put the tiniest unit of success on the checklist. Yeah.And that really helps because it feels like so good to put the big x through the list. That's all the way finished. Yeah, so my two main ones. What
I I outsource. you're saying how impressed you were by this. My kids make their own lunches in the morning.
Yes, I am so impressed.
And they're not complicated, like because they don't like sandwiches. So it's basically just like random stuff in bags. Anyway. Yeah, I'm fine with because I'm like look, as long as you eat it, and you You're not hungry when you get home like yeah, I'm that's fine, whatever. But I mean it's it's a it's especially with my son it's a it's kind of a fight every morning and that sort of way where I have to remind them like three times even though we do it every freakin morning every day. Yeah, every day. But um, but there but it's, I think the list because what I what I found is if I do put it on the list for the kids like these are these are your responsibilities and like enumerate them.
That is sort of like Oh, okay. You're right. I do have to do that.
Yeah, just like yesterday, and the day before.
Yeah. And the day before that. Except Fridays, Fridays I get to eat lunch at school. really look forward to Friday.
So I do to do the list as well and they have to be like hit physically handwritten, lucky to have like, everybody's like, put it in the project management system. No, no, no, then it'll just it's like when I when I tried to go electronic at first for grading. Yeah, and unless there was a stack of papers next to me I was like, I don't know, do a giant looming pile of papers. It's like it doesn't exist. It really does not exist. So it's got to be like this physical. I've got these great yellow post it notes that look like little yellow notepads. Right? But not so they're a little bit there longer than they are wide so they so they fit quite a bit of stuff on them. And those are my that's out there. Great. Yeah, that's my to do list and then but yeah, for me, it's a lot of like I said, outsourcing, right? Like I outsource the bills to my husband. I've outsourced lunched the kids. Yeah, you know, there's some things that we also but I also want to model for my kids that like Yeah, we got to do things that we don't want to do and we don't enjoy as well. So like, laundry is kind of my modeling for the kids, right?
That's like your your hilll you're gonna die on It's a hell of dirty clothes.
Yeah, yeah. And so, you know, and we'll go grocery shopping and you know, my son hates that more than anything, but it's largely a stimulus thing because he goes, Yeah, Costco is just too much too much for him. It's too overwhelming.
Well, the thing about Costco Can I tell you, I just learned Yeah, thing is that I read this on BuzzFeed. So like this, this gotta be legit, right? It. They don't label the aisles at Costco because they want you to have to go up and down every single aisle to find what you're looking for. Yeah, it's a nightmare. nightmare. Yeah, so it's my turn.
Can we just go? Yeah, can we just go? No, we're not going down there. We don't need anything. Just go. Yeah. I think I do a pretty good impression of him, honestly. Yeah. I mean, I, I just I that it's the whole thing where I thought I had trained myself to do things at the last minute, right, I can only do but then now I realized that I didn't train myself. That's my ADHD.
Yeah, for sure. Right.
So I sort of I forgive myself, like you saying about class planning. I just, you know, I know how long it takes me to plan a class if I don't do anything else. And so that's the time like you, like said, that's the time I give myself. Right. Or, you know, I do things I try to get things done right away. Yeah, right. Yeah, I'm not saying I'm successful at it. I'm just saying that I do it. Right. We're trying to do it.
So like if it if it flickers across your attention, and it's one of those things that takes two minutes or less, you're just going to do it.
Yeah. Okay. And, and, you know, a lot of people say, Well, you shouldn't switch tasks and all that kind of stuff, but it's much easier if I'm doing something that I really want to do. Yeah, it's much easier for me to get back to it, right? Because it's something that I want to do. Right. But I also know that if I don't answer this email, it's never going to get answered. And all I need to do is say yes or no. Right. Right. Right.
Or I am a slightly like, I think that's interesting. And I think that works. For some people, like, you know, if you have a sort of very low boredom threshold, it's sometimes nice to have like something sort of fly across the transom hit you on the head, and you do something with it right away. Right? Yeah. I find I tend to get if I switch tasks too frequently, I get overwhelmed. And yeah, so what I do instead of like dealing with the little things, because like, for a long time, I would say to myself, like, it's just a two minute thing. Like, why can I just answer this email, but like, the two minute thing always would take me like half an hour and then I need to take the dog for a walk to get my head settled. It was like, not efficient for me. And so one of the things I started to do is to chunk things. Yeah, right. So like when I was grad chair, I was getting like all these emails from students like help me with this help me that it was like And they look come in all the time. And they were each like two minute tasks, but took me way longer than two minutes. And then like miss some of them and, and so what I started to do with them was like I jumped, I was like, this is the time I'm going to address emails. And also I'm just going to have a big block of open office hours, and you can just come right and then I will deal with it because you're right in front of me. And like I do that with administrative tasks, I'll be like, this is, you know, my Friday afternoons are what my writing coach calls my bullshit round up. So like all the little things that are kind of stacked up, like, Oh, I have to register for that conference, or I need to submit this travel receipt or, oh, I have to give a copy of my syllabus to the graduate office like all those like little tiny things that individually take two minutes I do in one, three hour block. Nice, because that works better for me actually. So like during the weekend, it will just write them down. Right? And then there'll be a big list it might be like 20 things Sometimes 30 things on the list, but if I have three hours to do them now it's kind of like a game. Like it's kinda like Tetris. Like, how fast can these things come at me and I can deal with them without the screen getting full and I have to quit my game. So just for me that's much better so that when something tiny and annoying and essential flies across my desk, I can just think like, it's okay. There's a time when I'm going to deal with that. And that time is not right now. Stop.
Yeah, that makes perfect sense.
Yeah, I mean, like, I think your strategy and my strategy can both be equally effective. It just kind of depends on whether you find distractions of that nature gives you like a sort of little dopamine boost of accomplishment or whether you find it's like, you know, the, the straw that broke the camel's back, which is more how I experienced it. Right. So let us let 1000 flowers and productivity tips bloom, right. Yeah.
Just no straws on my back, please.
I think that that's a good place to end it for this episode. Yeah, given them a lot and we'd love to hear what your tips and tricks are and you can email us at all the things ADHD gmail.com You can also comment on the blog post where we're going to be sharing this at all the things ADHD com, we would really love to hear from you and when we as we collect your tips and tricks, we will definitely be sharing them out for everyone. They can benefit as well.
And probably what's going to happen is if you send in your tips and tricks, Lee is going to send them out right away and I'm going to send them out in one three hour block on Friday.
That's a great way to reach me this one right now. I got forgot about that. You can also tag us on Twitter with the hashtag all the things
we'll be looking at that and I am ready writing on Twitter
and I'm digiwonk on twitter.
We forgot to talk about our Twitter but that'll all be there eventually in post production.
Alright, well until next time, hope you hope your daily day to day lives aren't nearly as as as unnecessarily chaotic.
Bye, everybody. Bye