Many of my friends and colleagues with ADHD identify as “jack-of-all-trades” types. We may have one specific job that we do to sustain ourselves and also have a wide variety of interests and hobbies outside of work.
I like to call myself an “intellectual tourist.” I’m always navigating from interest to interest. I’ve collected a strange and fascinating array of fun facts, certifications, and hobbies over the years. I hope to have many more eclectic experiences!
Being “fun fact guy” at parties and social events certainly has its perks. I learned a varied skill set in college and have certifications in nutrition, animal psychology, music theory, and hypnotherapy. I’m still unsure as to how all of this will help my career as a filmmaker.
My wide variety of interests sometimes gets the better of me. I changed my major some 28 times before finally deciding on one. Everything and nothing can be interesting at the same time.
Here's how I navigate the turbulent skies of intellectual distractions to keep working toward my goals.
Set your short-term goal
Research papers were my kryptonite in school. It sometimes took hours just to get through a few pages. I became overly curious and distracted by other parts of the article I was reading. I went on tangents that had nothing to do with my original assignment.
My ADHD readers know what I’m talking about: the Google spiral of information.
One minute you’re working on an assignment about Mozart. The next thing you know, three hours have passed. You’re on a Wikipedia page about the union government ministries of South Asian countries. And you’ve somehow learned nothing.
That’s why it’s important to set strict rules to only learn about a specific topic you’re researching. Then do your best to avoid distractions.
Ask yourself if it’s useful… or just interesting?
I need to understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. Will this piece of information really get me toward the goal I’ve set?
Some things are worth doing because they’re interesting. But there’s a time and a place for that.
Treat hyperlinks like purchases
Time is money, right?
There’s a common rule that impulsive buyers use called the 24-hour rule. If they want to buy something, they wait 24 hours to see if they still do. Most of the time, they don’t. They end up saving money!
Treat your time with the same value as your money. Wait a while before you click on that hyperlink. Chances are, you won’t find it as interesting anymore. You saved yourself time.
Write it down
A hyperlink-filled page might make you go down a rabbit hole on half a dozen other topics that also look interesting.
Don’t click! Write the topic down so you can safely come back to it later.
Allow the right diversions
Sometimes I allow myself to dive into something new when I can genuinely and honestly justify why it’s helpful. Sometimes that isn’t even directly related to my goal.
I took a variety of psychology and anthropology courses when I was studying film in college (very much to the raised eyebrows of my counselors). I knew that understanding people and cultures would help me write more whole and fleshed-out characters for the class films I made.
Don’t forget your long-term goals
Not every single fun fact is productive or lucrative in the long run. But you can turn your curious brain into a productive one in the long run if you have a clear understanding of your career goals!
Take a step back for self-analysis if your ever-scattered brain makes it hard to pinpoint a single career goal. Is there a common theme with all of your interests and hobbies? It might not be clear at first, especially if they’re seemingly opposite fields.
I enrolled in flight school for fun while I was getting my film degree. There was a boom in the video drone market by the time I finished both. Now I combine those passions by piloting video drones!
See if there’s a similar trend in the many hobbies you love. There may be a world where you can combine at least some of your interests.
Do you love teaching but also want to work in film? There’s a job for that! Are you passionate about politics but are also a creative? See if you can do photography for your local politician.
There’s nothing wrong with being curious. Just keep those interests in check. Try to avoid the turbulence of getting caught up with trying to learn too many things. Otherwise you might end up learning nothing!
Having a wide variety of hobbies undoubtedly makes you a more interesting person with a multitude of experiences. Knowing yourself and keeping true to your ‘why’ allows you to have a fulfilling career and a lifetime of fun stories to tell.
For more information on how to manage ADHD, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
NPS-US-NP-00527 DECEMBER 2019