The hardest part of having executive function deficit is forgetting that I have it. No, seriously. It’s not even a memory-fail thing. It’s just that this is still new for me. When I’m struggling with something, especially something that used to be easy, and I don’t understand why, I get frustrated. Which, of course, only makes the issue worse. At some point I will realize that maybe it has to do with my EFD. I check on it and find out that yes, this is a classic symptom.
Why does that matter? Because one, understanding that it’s not something I’ve done (or not done) allows me to stop beating myself up. It’s not because I’m stupid, or lazy, or whatever, it’s because through no fault of my own I cannot bring my attention to bear on whatever task it is that I’m unable to complete. And two, to get Buddhist about it, knowing the cause of this suffering allows me to find my way out of it. I can find a way to work through it, or at least work around it.
The Hardest Part
Not long ago I mentioned that I was unable to get any work done on planned projects. I couldn’t force myself to work on them. I could follow complex recipes, write blog posts, and read books without any problems, though. When I found another project that grabbed my attention, I was suddenly all-in on that. Zero to flow state with ease. There was nothing, though, that could get me to finish any of the three books that are mostly done.
The reason is that I’m down to the boring parts of the process with those books. Writing the important but relatively dry parts of the text. Editing, which is just reading what I’ve already written, which I find dull. My mind seeks distraction. When it can’t find any, it creates it by daydreaming and thinking about other projects to work on. The work isn’t stimulating enough to stay focused.
Add the stress of the current world situation, the infuriating levels of stupid trying to kill people with bad information, and my concern for friends exposing themselves to infection because they have essential jobs, and my EFD gets worse by an order of magnitude.
Executive Function Deficit
Cooking is something I enjoy. I have to pay attention to what I’m doing so that the dish comes out right, and, you know, I don’t burn down the kitchen. I want it to come out great. Stimulation. A good book works at keeping me engaged. Stimulation. Writing blog posts about things I want to share with you is fun. Stimulation. Clarifying how a rule works, or putting information into concise bullet points for comprehension? Boring by comparison.
What I need to do is find ways to make that work more engaging. Reward systems don’t work. Promising myself that if I write so many words, or put in a hour, then I can so something more interesting only puts my attention on the reward. It’s a distraction. I need to remember why I’m creating these projects in the first place. My focus has to be on why I was initially excited to do them. I have to think about how cool they’ll be when they’re complete, and get pumped up about that.
Understanding how my brain works now makes it possible to adapt. I need to accept this not as a limitation, but a new set of parameter I need to work with. Otherwise, I’ll just wander around in circles, never getting anything done.