A sensitive subject, ADD and the workflow!

I have been reading up on ADD a bit, and have been reflecting on my own case of the Disorder, which made me wonder, what role can it play on the workplace?

It has made me need to pay extra attention to my scheduling and project management. Loosing focus and having to ‘reload’ has placed annoying loss of time on my projects.

Now on the flip side, sufferers of ADD have a gift too, there is this aspect described as ‘super-focus’. When the task at hand seems novel, the ADD sufferer is able to focus, perhaps more than the regular (average?!) person. I have definitely experienced this myself! (Check out my Totoya Prius rendering on Coroflot ) When it comes to illustrator work and Cad, I can work for large chunks of time and visualize much more efficiently.

Are there any other designers willing to post their experience with lack of focus or Superfocus? And… Is there anyone with tips on combating loss of focus?

I have ADHD, and I get superfocused sometimes, and can work for a long time.
And ideas flow. And i can do a lot fast.
And I pay a lot of attention to details, like analyzing a situation from all the angles and taking in account data that might seem to be irrelevant. And making connections.
I am like a sponge and absorb a lot of information. I’d say even when i procrastinate, it’s because i am not doing what i am supposed to be doing, but I learn about interesting stuff. And i don’t notice time passing by, so what has helped me is self discipline, and i started using control with what i do when I am using the computer.
Other times it seems my mind gets in a loop, other times it’s as if there is a link missing, like i can not successfully tie parts of a process, and lose track. I get distracted.
Other times i get too many ideas at once, and i am thinking of too many things.
I have two modes, i’d say that when the wave come i take advantage of it, and I know my rythm/cycle.
The other thing is because i work fast, there is a tendency for sloppiness, that could diminish the quality of what i do. But with age, i know myself and go over details

I have never wanted to take drugs for it, because i don’t want to slow my mind, and lose spark. That said I think it is one side of a gift. And i try to make the most of it.
My friends joke that i don’t need drugs, because of my brain chemistry.
I literally sometimes feel soaked with energy and creativity naturally.

The one thing that annoys me, is that sometimes i can look over and over for something (wallet or cel phone) and i don’t find it and later find it somewhere i looked before.

What has helped me is yoga, working out to let the extra energy out.
There is a supplement called Theanine . If you want look it up and tell your doctor about it ( i don’t want to be recommending drugs like that. )

What I’d like to know is how people who take medication for it feel?

Industrial Design is ADD.

Haha, that’s easy to say.


Yeah you definitely nailed what I feel sometimes, that whole ‘stuck in a loop’ feeling. Ohhh do I hate that. And yeah, i can get sloppy at times. I hear that. All of which remedied by a little ‘proof reading’

I have suffered from ADD as long as I remember. When I was in high school it was a big problem as most of the subjects that I studied I couldn’t give two sh@ts about. All I wanted to do was draw in my notebooks and not really pay attention. I did however have an interest in science and history. I did take drugs for it but stopped once I went off to college because I found that it limited me creatively.

I now find it a bit different. I now find that I tend to have a bit too much interest in many different things. I sometimes find myself getting involved in other peoples projects because they maybe a more interesting than mine. This is okay for them sense I am one of 2 ID guys in the group and they like the fact that the designer is involved. The problem with this is that I then get one more project added to my list and then I get over whelmed.

I also find my self going in circles like was mentioned before. I sometimes have trouble bringing things together or consolidating sketches or research. Or like also mentioned before getting Super Focused on one area of the design phase. This is a problem because if I over work something I tend to then get lost in what I need to do.

The way I have worked this out is make “To Do” lists every week and sometimes everyday for myself. I break each task down and put deadline on these tasks. This could be a deadline to get them done by the end of the day or week or it can be to get them done in 2 hours. It all depends on the task. I have also found that asking direct specific questions when a task is assigned help me as well. Things like “when does this need to be done by?” or “What is the deadline on this?” I find that when I get most ADD is when the project is very open ended. This happens a lot in a corporate environment with “Innovation Projects” or projects were you are doing Blue Sky work.

i also find that I need to limit my Core77 usage and I get much more done. :laughing: That has been difficult lately.


I too have been experiencing some embarrasingly feeble creative flows recently , but I feel a bit better thinking that you other creatives might regularly be going through the same kinda thing. Having Add hadn’t really crossed my mind though!

I will get right back to replying to this post, but first I have to…

check my facebook, twitter my thoughts for the day, catch the new episode of (insert TV show here), check both my email accounts, chat on gchat for a minute, text my friend Suzan, --hold one one second, I’m getting a Skype chat request— ok, done----, call my buddy Riley, update my phone’s software, download that new album I wanted and…

then I’ll get back to this post.

If you want to try:

When all else fail, I do this. Dance, it puts me in the zone

I mean when you are in the loop get away from the desk, go for a walk,do something else for 15 minutes then come back… For me dancing works, cause it has an unclogging quality to it.
Also good for when I don’t have a lot of energy, after this I have tons

hmmmm, I seem to be experiencing a great deal of ADD at the moment. … . .

Honestly, I don’t know too many people that can single-mindedly focus on something unless they are locked in a room with nothing but what they’re working on. There’s so much white noise in the world today, it’s tough to focus.

Is anybody here totally “on” any more than 50% of the time?

Taylor’s 2 comments are right on.

And, as Lew said, our little Brazillian friend above is quite the ADD inducer.

How much of our creativity comes from random thoughts? I began taking medication for ADD a couple of years ago. I was mainly having difficulty concentrating on learning technical programs. The medication has helped me stay focused.

The downside is being too focused. My creativity is gone. I used to have so many ideas going through my head. That has been replaced by one idea, whatever I happened to be working on at that time.

There are many people out there that are successful because of their ADD.

The difference is someone who has adhd, doesn’t plan or think they have to do this or that.
Here you have list. In adhd, there no “Hold on one second” Or you could start watching the show, then hours go by and you don’t realize…

It’s like your attention is on autopilot, I get I captivated, specially if its something i feel excited, passionate about or that i find challenging
Sometimes I worked simultaneously on different things. like have 6 windows open at the same time, and couldn’t keep my attention for long on one thing.
And when i am thinking it feels as if i think too fast, like the mind is a small tube where a lot of information is coming out, And i have a lot latent inhibition, like my thoughts go laterally. And i think it’s important for creativity because you don’t exclude possibilities.

Look up latent inhibition.

Talking about gchat, Sometimes i don’t hear the beep … Other times, it seems as if any little noise gets in the way of my attention. And you can be in a room on your own, without noise and still not be able to focus.

its something if you have not experienced you can’t understand.
I have struggled with it, before I used to try to control myself, and repress it, but now i understand i have a lot of energy, and it is not good for me to try to hold it back.
I am not saying this is the way I am and that’s it, I learned how to channel it to be productive.

The dancing is because i have a lot of energy, and if dance or work out there is an outlet for some of it. And you wouldn’t believe, but it is therapeutic, cause it makes me more free, and centered after.
They recommend working out for children with adhd because it “settles” them.

Most people that think they know what ADD is truly do not. We all have so many things going on. ADD only becomes a problem when it interferes with your life. The symptoms below for some are a blessing not a curse. There are others like myself that would never finish anything. I would have many things going on. The last thing I wanted to do was take medication. The medication was a last resort. Has it helped? Yes and no. I finish things more often. I also go to sleep much easier. Most people assume since I am taking a stimulant I should feel up. It actually makes me feel even.


  • Impulsiveness: acting before thinking of consequences, jumping from one activity to another, disorganization, tendency to interrupt other peoples’ conversations.
  • Hyperactivity: restlessness, often characterized by an inability to sit still, fidgeting, squirminess, climbing on things, restless sleep.
  • Inattention: easily distracted, day-dreaming, not finishing work, difficulty listening, and motor clumsiness.

I agree with you here. Like I mentioned before I have had this my whole life. I am now 29 years old and I have found that there has been an over abundance of children diagnosed with this disorder. I blame it partially on the doctors but also on the parents. Many parents want to blame the fact that their child is not doing well in school, will not listen, or just plain acts out on something other than bad parenting. (hope I did not offend anyone in this statement I never had a problem with hyperactivity or anything along those lines, but I did have major problems paying attention, concentration on a specific task, or keeping my mind from wondering. The only thing that I truly found that kept my interest was Art, figuring out how things work (took all my Transformers, G.I.Joes, and anything with a motor apart.) and later on architectural drawing.

I took medicine when I was younger and like you said it made me feel level headed and balanced, but as I got older I was determined to do it on my own. I am a strong believer that as you grow up with this disorder you can teach yourself how to cope and through discipline and organization one can train themselves to concentrate and be productive. I have found many different ways to make this work for me without relying on medication.

One is like I mentioned before is to create “To Do” lists. When I get in the office every Monday morning I write out a list on an 8.5x11 piece of bond paper what I need to get accomplished for the week. I then break these tasks down into sub tasks. This ranges from simple thing as “Do expense reports” to “Do Minimum of 50 sketches of X”. I then put timelines on those and stick to them. Most of the times this works, but on the days it doesn’t I then modify the list for the next day.

Another that I have found that seriously helps me is listening to my iPod while working. This could be anything on my iPod, music, Audio Books, podcast, anything. I think part of this has to do with having noise the background, but I also think it has to do with my ears being plugged and being in my own little world. I do not seem to have the same effect when I listen to it without head phones and I feel lost at work without them.

I guess what I am saying in my rambling ADD way is that I totally believe that it is a problem, but I think in the passed 10 years it has become very mainstream and there is a bit of over diagnoses. I also believe that one can train themselves how to deal with this on their own with time an discipline, and if you do what you love for a living than it is much easier to get along with your day.

You say you have a problem finishing things, but do you start them or have ideas?

I’ve read many times that Leonard Davinci procrastinated and only completed/started a small percentage of what he conceived or imagined. And would spend a lot of time on projects.
And i am not saying that to make me feel good about my own procrastination.

I wonder is what difference working in teams has on procrastination.

I also think laziness and procrastination is not the same.

Here is a quote about Da Vinci

" Leonardo is just one example of an individual whose meaning has been constructed, in part, to combat the vice of procrastination; namely, the natural desire to pursue what one finds most interesting and enjoyable rather than what one finds boring and repellent, simply because one’s life must be at the service of some compelling interest — some established institutional practice — that is never clearly explained, lest it be challenged and rejected.

If there is one conclusion to be drawn from the life of Leonardo, it is that procrastination reveals the things at which we are most gifted — the things we truly want to do. Procrastination is a calling away from something that we do against our desires toward something that we do for pleasure, in that joyful state of self-forgetful inspiration that we call genius."

W.A. Pannapacker


I guess what I am saying in my rambling ADD way is that I totally believe that it is a problem, but I think in the passed 10 years it has become very mainstream and there is a bit of over diagnoses.

I think this statement explains the real debate. The over diagnoses. Especially with children. When there is a problem we want to be able to fix it. That is human nature. As a child and through college I learned to embrace my ADD. The laziness debate goes out the window when properly diagnosed.

You say you have a problem finishing things, but do you start them or have ideas?

I’ve read many times that Leonard Davinci procrastinated and only completed/started a small percentage of what he conceived or imagined. And would spend a lot of time on projects.
And i am not saying that to make me feel good about my own procrastination.

I would say both. Da Vinci could pick and choose what he wanted to finish. I have no problem starting something. I have a problem finishing. Some of that has to do with starting things before actually thinking it through. Reading a book is difficult. I am unable to go a couple of pages without thinking of other things. Da vinci very well could have had ADD. Many people like him embrace it and use it to their advantage. There are many careers that people with ADD thrive. Da vinci had over ten job titles. The perfect match for someone that has a mind that is always going, always thinking.

I have not been diagnosed with ADD, but I experience a lot of the symptoms of the disorder and am sure that if I went to a doctor I could be “diagnosed” with it.

I have found that many times when I work, I jump between many different things that I am working on all at once. It definitely takes more time than just going straight through on each project one by one, but it gives me more angles to look at something and think about each project simultaneously. I find that my work ends up having more depth to it, and becomes more thoughtful, rather than superficial.

For example, I worked on two different projects in between writing this post. And its not even that I think to myself, “I need to work on several things all at once,” I just find myself constantly and spontaneously switching between things for no apparent reason, other than, I sort of am at the whim of my imagination’s fancy.

…i think i have some of these symptoms, but had never thought about having ADD.

too often, i will simply not do things until the last possible minute, or even miss deadlines, just from simply being…lazy? I don’t know. I have literally stayed awake all night to do an assignment, but spent most of it watching youtube or whatever. does anyone else do this?

Would post more, but i have to do this poster for tomorrow.


…i think i have some of these symptoms, but had never thought about having ADD.

Most people don’t think about having ADD until it becomes a problem. Maybe written up at work, or doing things impulsively.

I don’t know. I have literally stayed awake all night to do an assignment, but spent most of it watching youtube or whatever. does anyone else do this?

Are you a lazy person in general? Do you start the assignment and lose focus? What happens when you miss an assignment? Are you failing classes? [/quote]