Good Enough or Not Enough?

We’ve all heard phrases like, “Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good,” or “Good and done is better than perfect and none.” But sometimes, working to a state of excellence does require deep focus and attention to detail. ADHD can interfere with discerning what levels of energy and effort are worth expending in pursuit of a goal (contributed by Sara Skillen, certified ADHD coach).

When writing Living Well with ADHD, I would get so deeply focused I was often unaware I had missed at least one meal. Sometimes I was surprised that the room had gotten dark. When I began overlooking other priorities, I knew I had to find a way to step back from deep concentration. I had to broaden my awareness to maintain balance and respect my family. That’s what we call open awareness. Adults with ADHD don’t make that shift of attention easily. 

You probably have an extraordinary capacity for singleminded focus, but that mental strength can contribute to losing awareness of the bigger picture. What time is it? What other tasks are important today? What family priorities might I be overlooking? That’s why it’s important to practice some form of mindfulness of your attention states. You cannot be aware of your unawareness when stuck in a focused state, but you can (1) exercise the part of the brain that directs your awareness in and out of selective attention, (2) use alerts on your phone or computer to facilitate that shift of attention, and (3) keep a handwritten task list nearby (if it’s only in a digital file, out of sight can be out of mind). 

Once you improve awareness of your attention state, you still need to prioritize. For many items on your task list, good enough will be good enough. Being perfectionistic wastes time. Save perfection for what you aspire to do exceptionally well, for actualizing your dream. The labor of writers offers a good example. If you want to activate, write a first draft without editing while drafting. Maintain an open state. Editing while drafting inhibits writing, and the final product ends up seeming disjointed and difficult to read. 

My publisher told me, after I made many revisions to my manuscript and the proofs, that no matter how much I revised, I would find at least one mistake in the final printing. Sure enough, I misquoted Yogi Berra despite being a huge fan and having seen him play live. See if you can find the error. I’m over being embarrassed by it!

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