Anxiety & Hyperfocus Propelled Me Into Productivity Outer Space

I’ve been reading all kinds of accounts of people whose lives turned around when they started ADHD medication. “I became so much more productive when I started my meds,” they would write. After some shallow reflection, I’ve realized that my experience seems to be the opposite! What the hell!?

I’ve been an absolute powerhouse of productivity for the past three years in my work life. No time ever wasted, sitting at my desk for seven hours a day and layering tasks that had complimentary timelines. Send out emails, write reports while waiting for responses, schedule social media posts during short downtime, be insanely vigilant about finances, etc etc. I know now that this is something called “hyperfocus”- a trait known to those with ADHD. To illustrate, since April 2014, I’ve fundraised and managed over $817,000, joined two non-profit boards, sat on six committees, mentored 28 staff, volunteered with three organizations, bought a house, renovated a house, and so much more that it makes my head spin. It sounds like I’m bragging, but speaking about it now and knowing how it made me feel at the time, I can see that I had a problem (read my article about being Addicted to Busy).

Having an Executive Director title was daunting, and I’m realizing now that my anxiety paired with my ADHD drove me like a motor to reach the highest goals I could set for myself. Together, they fueled the majority of my achievements. I’m a perfectionist and couldn’t rest unless things were done “right”. There was no time to stop and think- only to do, do, do. I wasn’t reaching all these milestones out of pure passion- I felt like I had to or else it would be revealed that I indeed was not qualified for the position and/or no one else would save this endangered river. That is a lot of pressure to put on yourself, but at the time, it felt necessary to keep my head above water.

Figure 1. Fighting against the weighty thoughts of self-doubt and failure.

I imagined that I would turn into a super hero once I started taking stimulant medication that helps people be more productive. I was already insanely productive, so imagine my surprise at the actual effects of my medication: less productivity at work, and more effective productivity at home. At work, I now take my time with tasks and take breaks. Breaks! At home, my spaces are cleaner and I feel like I have greater control over my own life. It’s definitely not perfect, but being able to let my guard down and enjoy my surroundings every now and again sure is nice.




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