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Nuerodivergent’s / ADHD guide to the galaxy

The crow that does taxes

Written by Charley Sharkey

 

I think I was in my first year of university, desperately trying to remain on task and finish a lengthy 200-question multiple choice test, when it really hit me.



It was a quiet, but noisy day in the large gym at my university. Rows and rows of other students folded over their desks and chairs writing exams. An AC unit inconsistently buzzed overhead, and there was an odd but ever present scent of…what is it that… beef?... in the air. Did someone microwave baloney? No...No…No focus next question…we are on question 52 okay,


“The difference between an independent variable and a dependant variable is A; the independent-” 

Thats a cold cut deli meat, why would someone want to microwave baloney?…or I guess it could be pepperoni?…Why do gyms also have a vague smell of lunch to them?…Oh god, I hope that's not like a people smell. No. nope. Nevermind that, focus we are focusing. Okay.


“A: The independent variable does not change when-”

Hm, It is slightly cold in here, and I really don’t want to be here or doing this. Don’t they call it workplace winter when its hot out but the AC is just insane inside?…No multiple choice, focus on the multiple choice…This is impossible.


Who created multiple choices, what is the point, Why make B and C like the exact same answer but phrased differently. It is not natural for a human to be subjected to such bubble question monstrosities, it is an ethical violation, its awful, I feel so out of my element its like…Its like…


…It’s like a crow doing taxes.

 

And it was, I felt as successful as a crow attempting to submit their T1’s for the year end. Made too many french fries this year but little Caws for concern.


Prioritizing and completing tasks has always been a struggle for me. In school settings I struggled with figuring out what to do first and when to do it. Then on top of that there was the great enjoyment of having to motivate myself somehow to then complete said tasks. 


This later on transitioned to executive functions chores as an adult, like trying to climb a mountain of dirty dishes, or trying for it not to take 3 business weeks to do the laundry…which I’m still waiting for approval to be submitted on.


Teachers, family, tutors, doctors, psychotherapists, they all tried. They chased me around with day planners and agendas till the cows came home (which might I add is impressive as I live in a suburban area). 


There is not a lack of people trying to understand and accommodate those who are neurodivergent and ADHD (there’s also not a lack of people not trying, but I digress). Yet it feels like a lot of the systems in place are made by neurotypical people trying to think of what might be useful for neurodivergent people. And thus there is a silent impasse. 


I’m not saying that what I’m about to go over is going to be the cure all, but I do think it is important for people with ADHD and neurodivergence to be able to talk to each other about how they motivate focus and complete tasks. Hearing others' tactics and angles allows for your peripheral vision on the problem to expand and maybe give more tools in your tool box.


What’s the saying? If you only use a hammer everything looks like a nail. 

(Stop thinking of other things you've used hammers for… That's right, I see you)


So how do we prioritize tasks when it feels like prioritizing the tasks is a task in itself? 


This my feathered friends, is where the eclectic crow method comes into play. 


This method is based on two concepts, 


One, you have a brain that does not work in a typical way, so we must work with it to develop a different way. And two, slowly priming yourself to the task so it becomes less overwhelming and chip away at the expectations that may be walling off completing the task.


To best explain this I will use an example of a messy kitchen.


So imagine you just got down to business, maybe you cook, maybe you don’t… but whatever happened a bomb has been left in the kitchen. I’m talking pots, pans, sink full of dishes, paper towels you didn’t even know you bought, everywhere. There’s a elusive coating of oil to some parts of the counters, there's no clean forks, til foil and parchment paper run amok.


Get the picture? Hopefully I haven’t stressed you out.


So, you walk into this mess, and you're not even sure where to begin. You end up doing the classic disassociate stare off into the distance in a room full of mess as you slowly begin to feel overwhelmed. (its called a classic for a reason)


Except this time you're not. This time for whatever reason, you remember reading a slightly unhinged blog post online that told you to pretend to be a crow.


SOOOOOO…The first thing a crow would do in this catastrophe of a kitchen is fly around a little. It's not cleaning yet, it's just observing the mess, taking an inventory of everything, doing a couple circles. It may fly into another room for a breather and come back and do another surveillance of the area. 


Then it's just a little crow, it can’t pick up pots or pans, but it can start with some paper towels and wrappers, little bits and bobs. It can circle over to the garbage and drop them. The idea is to think of all the small things a crow could handle, and begin trying to tackle them.


Then slowly work your way up in your kitchen mess, until maybe it's a two crow job. Then start looking for two crow jobs…Then three crows, maybe three crows could handle the lifting the pots to the sink, and start wiping down counters. 


At some point you might need to imagine an ostrich steamrolling your kitchen depending on how messy you get (ostriches frequent my kitchen).


This type of approach can be applied to various different tasks. Need to start working? The crow can gather the pens and papers and slowly work up to bring out the computer. Then the crow may need a minute to look through the project because you know…it’s a crow.


We can’t get mad at the crow if the task is too big for it. It’s just a bird trying to help do its best. The same type of grace also needs to be applied within yourself too.


And after a task is somewhat, or dare I say completed, treating your crow to something shiny (like a fancy beverage or piece of cheese), is always a good way to end some peckin’ hard work.


The point of this approach is to provide a different narrative for completing tasks that may help with the overwhelming and frustrating feelings by putting a bit of a lighthearted spin on to it. This can be customized in any variety of different ways, it doesn’t even have to be remotely bird based. Some people find great success pretending they are maids coming into someone else's home. Others may put on a medieval playlist and pretend they are tavern keepers, cleaning their wares and bar. Whatever allows you to feel inspired to complete a task go with it. It’s not stupid if it works!


As a bit of homework I challenge you to get funky with some of the tasks you do in a day and try to think of a strange or fun narrative to put on them. Magic in the mundane and all that.


Oh and


The difference between an independent variable and a dependent variable, is that the independent variable is not affected by other variables, whereas the dependent variable is/depends on them.


 


Charley is accepting new clients.

Please email info@thejourneycounselling.com to book your free consultation.

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