Adult ADHD & High Achievers

In this VIDEO, I explore why it’s not uncommon for high achieving adults who have ADHD, who may or may not know it, not to get help. A lot of people think that if you’re doing well in life, like Bubba Watson, or other successful people with ADHD, you don’t need help. As a child and adult psychiatrist and someone with ADHD, I know firsthand that adults with ADHD who are diagnosed and treated live a much better life than those who aren’t.

ADHD does not have to keep you from achieving your dreams. When managed right, ADHD can take you to the very top. When managed incorrectly, it can lead you down a terrible path. That’s what makes ADHD so interesting. It can make you or it can break you. Find out why getting the proper help can make the difference.

LISTEN to Jaime Diaz discuss Dr. Hallowell and Bubba Watson.

Interested in learning more about Adult ADHD, click here.

Do you have questions about ADHD? Dr. Hallowell answers the top 10 ADHD questions HERE.

In Part 2, which will be released on Thursday, I’ll discuss the steps towards making an ADHD Diagnosis and the kinds of help available for adults.

ADHD and Focus at Work

Dr. Hallowell explains in this VIDEO how to reclaim your focus at work with ADHD.

  • He discusses the “salience network” and the default mode network (DMN), which he calls the “Demon of ADHD.”
  • He clarifies how these distractors take you away from the task at hand leading to distraction, negativity and rumination that so often accompany ADHD.
  • He shares his strategies on shutting down these distractors so you can manage your ADHD and focus in the workplace.

3 Tips to Help You Focus:

1. Close your eyes. When you are losing focus or feeling confused, the simple act of sitting back in your chair and closing your eyes can, oddly enough, allow you to see clearly. It can restore focus and provide a new direction.

2. Take a break. When you start to glaze over or feel frantic, stop what you are doing. Stand up, walk around, get a glass of water, stretch. Just sixty seconds can do the trick.

3. Do what works. Don’t worry about convention or what’s supposed to work. Some people focus better with music playing or in a noisy room. Some people focus better when walking or even running. Some people focus best in early morning, others late at night. There is no right way, only the best way for you. Experiment and discover what works for you.

Want more tips on how to focus in the work place? Read Dr. Hallowell’s book, Driven to Distraction at Work . Learn about ADT (Attention Deficit Trait), its traits, how it effects your focus and productivity, and what are the six most common distractions at work and how to overcome them.



Dr. Hallowell on ‘Take Your Pills’ Netflix Documentary

Dr. Hallowell shares his thoughts in this VIDEO on how this well meaning documentary meant to alert you to the dangers of stimulant medications used to treat ADHD misses the mark. It doesn’t include any perspective on what medications can do when they’re prescribed and used properly.

While one should be aware of the dangers of medications, they should also be informed that when medications are monitored and taken properly, they can be remarkably effective.

If you’d like to learn more information about medication to treat ADHD, consult with your doctor.
If you’re unable to watch the video, LISTEN to Dr. Hallowell’s mini podcast on why the Netflix Documentary ‘Take Your Pills’ misses the mark.

Can You Handle the Truth? Accounting For Phone Time

by Rebecca Shafir, M.A.CCC Personal Development and Executive Functioning coach at the Hallowell Center MetroWest

Where does the time go? Why can’t I get more done each day? I want to finish my business plan, but other stuff gets in the way.

Do these complaints sound familiar?

If you’re serious about improving your productivity and finding the waste in your day, being accountable for your phone time is a good place to start. Of all the distractions and interruptions we need to control for, smartphones and tablet use rates as Number One!

We typically underestimate the time spent on our phones. As an exercise, I ask my clients to write on a slip of paper how many minutes or hours a day they think they spend on their phones and tablets. Their estimate is sealed in an envelope. Using one of the apps below they track the actual time spent on their phones for one week. After seven days their written estimates are unveiled. The estimates are often off by 50% or more! These apps can also tell you how many times you check your smartphone, what apps you use the most, reminders to take digital breaks and help you set limits on phone and tablet use. You all know that I’m not a big fan of GAGs (Gimmicks, Apps Gadgets) except for the ones that can keep us from over-using them!

The truth can be liberating. If you care about productivity, the truth can also motivate you to make needed changes.

Moment – Screen Time Tracker
A Handy iOS Feature

Also read: Become aware of just how much your use your smartphone!

After the shocking reality hits home, you might take the next step and track your reasons for your excessive phone use. In subsequent blogs, I will address the most common reasons and their solutions.

I’m always glad to get your comments and suggestions for topics. Write to me at



ADHD and Time

In the world of ADHD, there are only two times:

  • there is NOW, and then
  • there is NOT NOW.

In ADHD, time collapses, making life feel as if everything is happening at once. It’s now or never…or maybe later. This creates panic. One loses perspective and the ability to select what needs to be done first, what needs to be done second, and what can wait until another day.  Instead, you are always on the go, leaping before you look, always trying to keep the world from caving in on top of you.

So how to best manage your time when you have ADHD?

Here are some tips that have helped me get things done:

  • Make deadlines.
  • Prioritize. Avoid procrastination. When things get busy, the adult ADHD person loses perspective: paying an unpaid parking ticket can feel as pressing as putting out the fire that just got started in the wastebasket.  Take a deep breath. Put first things first.
  • Break down large tasks into small ones. Attach deadlines to the small parts. Then, like magic, the large task will get done. This is one of the simplest and most powerful of all structuring devices. Often a large task will feel overwhelming to the person with ADHD. The mere thought of trying to perform the task makes one turn away. On the other hand, if the large task is broken down into small parts, each component may feel quite manageable.


    Want to learn more tips on on managing ADHD? You can find tips for adults, parents and teachers  HERE!.

    *Adapted from Delivered from Distraction, Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., John J. Ratey, M.D., Ballantine, 2005



Wanted: Future ADHD Superheroes

X-Men – Superheroes that are powerful, potentially dangerous, yet are capable of so much good. This is the dramatic conflict in Marvel comics and the hugely successful Marvel movie franchise.

People with ADHD – Superheroes with brilliant minds, who can fall astray, yet are capable of so much good. This is the dramatic conflict of everyday life for many people with ADHD.

In Marvel’s comic series, the X-Men attend the Xavier Institute. It is a training site to help them explore and refine their powers. The Institute helps them accept their differences, bond with similar individuals, and build confidence in themselves. Upon leaving, they are ready to use their strengths to better the outside world.

What if there was such a place for people with ADHD? What if we stopped trying to adapt people with ADHD to the outside world, and instead created a place where their strengths were nurtured and refined.

I discovered just such a place called InventiveLabs. It is a new research lab, with an associated business incubator, whose mission is to capture the brilliance and creativity of high-ability ADHD and dyslexic individuals. The Lab will be opening in September and they are currently recruiting for their first team of young adults, called Inventives.

Some ADHD traits can be like super powers. Successful people with ADHD, like Bill Cosby, Charles Schwab and Richard Branson have excelled in their field. Characteristics of people with ADHD include the ability to be hyper-focused, creative, artistic, visionary and inventive. InventiveLabs will explore these advantages with young adults in a structured environment to help them establish their careers.

The founders of the Lab are serial entrepreneurs who have been involved with many start-ups. Along with therapists, life coaches, and facilitators, they will be the guides that lead the Inventives to reach their potential.

People with ADHD are natural entrepreneurs, and a targeted outcome of the Lab is to assist them in starting their own business, either as an individual, or as part of a team. Alternatively, the Inventives may secure employment at a larger organization as a result of the work they complete at the Lab. Or, they may decide to enter or return to college because they found their passion and desire additional education.

Many years ago, people’s lives were improved by putting a name to ADHD and learning methods to manage it. InventiveLabs plans to take it to the next level and demonstrate the advantages of ADHD to the world. The goal is for society to realize that people with ADHD should not be forced to adapt to society’s needs.  In reality, society needs to adapt to the needs of people with ADHD in order to thrive.  Every society needs its X-Men.

You can find out more about the Lab at or by emailing the company at

Don’t Let Anxiety Hold You Back!

If you’re struggling with anxiety, it may be hard to recall the last time  you weren’t feeling tense, worried, or on edge. Anxiety can cause sudden panic attacks, may interfere with your personal or professional responsibilities, and is often tied to depression and insomnia. When you feel overwhelmed, you need a safe and rapid solution that can relieve your anxiety and help you regain your confidence and zest for life.

The Hallowell Center Boston MetroWest has a solution. They’re offering Alpha-Stim: A New Technology for Anxiety, Depression and Insomnia. 

The Alpha-Stim is a new technology designed for patients with anxiety, insomnia and/or depression who prefer a non-medication treatment approach, or for those whose medication regimen is insufficient for treating their symptoms. The Alpha-Stim is a small, hand held, FDA approved device that uses electromedical technology to relieve anxiety, depression and insomnia in a safe and painless way. It provides long-lasting, cumulative relief without the risk of negative effects.

Listen to an audio recording of Alpha-Stim with Rebecca Shafir, M.A., C.C.C. and Jeff Marksberry M.D. Vice President Science and Education at Electromedical Products International, Inc.

Come to the Hallowell Center Boston MetroWest and experience a safe, effective and medication-free approach.

Call (978) 287-0810 to set up your 30 minute Alpha-Stim trial session with Rebecca Shafir, Coordinator of the Alternative and Complementary Services.

Go to to read how Alpha-Stim works and the supporting research.

Dr. Hallowell reports, “We are very pleased to discover Alpha Stim, a safe and effective approach for our patients; I highly recommend it — our results have been excellent.” Here’s what some of our Alpha Stim users say:

“I have tried several medications for my anxiety over the years with little relief and many side effects. The Alpha Stim works for me so much better without the side effects. I’m very pleased to have found this device, and recommend it to my friends.” Ben J.

“My 12 year old son had always fought medications and other more traditional relaxation approaches to curb the anxiety he experiences with his ADHD, but he thinks the Alpha Stim is cool. He uses it every morning before school to set the tone for the day. I use it a few hours before bedtime to help me quiet my mind. We love it!” Kathy O.

Looking for tips on ADHD & Anxiety?  

Anxiety is often brought on by “worry.” Dr.Hallowell offers the following 3 Antidotes for putting worry in perspective:

  1. All worry is not bad. Identify all the things you worry about and separate out the toxic to your health worries from good worry. Good worry amounts to planning and problem solving. Toxic worry is unnecessary, repetitive unproductive, paralyzing and life-defeating.
  2. Exercise at least every other day. It reduces the accumulated noise and helps relax you.
  3. Repeat the mantra “I’ll fix what I can and, then I’ll put the rest out of my mind,” when you feel anxious thoughts emerging.

Dr. Hallowell offers 5 tips on Clearing out your mind in Distraction Mini Episode #34.

ADHD – No Creative, Productive Outlet

NO CREATIVE, PRODUCTIVE OUTLET: All of us do better when we are creatively and productively engaged in some activity. It doesn’t have to be overtly creative, like writing a poem or painting a portrait. Almost any activity can become a productive outlet that you feel good about. Cooking a meal certainly can be. Even doing laundry can be.

How can doing laundry be fulfilling? By turning it into a form of play, by  turning it into a game. Children show us how to do this all the time. When my son Tucker was younger,  he turned his bath into a creative activity every time he takes one. He adds a few action figures and the game is on. If you are willing to be a little silly and let yourself go, you can turn doing your laundry—or anything else for that matter—into a playful, creative activity.

The more you can do that the more likely the activity will turn into flow, a psychological term invented by the great pioneer of the psychology of happiness, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow is the state of mind in which you lose awareness of time, of place, even of yourself, and you become one with what you’re doing. In these states we are at our happiest as well as at our most effective.

The doorway to flow is play. You can play at anything you do. If you have ADHD, play comes naturally to you. So do it!  Play is deep. Play changes the world. Play can turn the most mundane of tasks into an activity you lose yourself in. Play is not a silly, superficial activity. By play, I mean creative engagement with whatever it is you are doing. The opposite of play is doing exactly what you are told to do; that is the refuge of people who have attention surplus disorder. For people who have ADHD, play should come easily. You just have to get shame, pessimism, and negativity out of the way and make sure you’re not so isolated that you get too depressed to play.

     To get out of S.P.I.N., PLAY. As you play, you will find something you like to play at over and over again. With any luck, it will have value to others. That is called a great career: some form of play that someone else is willing to pay you to do.

At core, being stuck means not having a creative, productive outlet. If you hook up to a creative outlet you can’t stay stuck. Oh, sure, you can get blocked. You can have periods of inactivity or frustration. But then you will start to fiddle around—to play—and you will dislodge the block.

Adults with ADHD who stagnate after starting treatment need to find some creative outlet to get going again. Everyone does better with such outlets, but for people with ADHD they are essential for a fulfilling life.

Once you find a creative outlet, or several, you will be much more able to hook your waterfall up to a hydroelectric plant. Don’t say you can’t find it. That’s negativity speaking. Get with someone who believes in you, or listen to the part of yourself that believes in you. Brainstorm. Try this. Try that. You’ll find your hydroelectric plant.

ADHD and Isolation

ISOLATION: Isolation is often the by-product of shame, pessimism, and negativity. It intensifies the shame and negativity, and can lead to depression, toxic anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and generally poor performance in all aspects of life.

Staying connected with others is the most important life line any of us has. And yet, as naturally inclined to connect as most people with ADHD are, their shame and negativity can grow so intense as to lead them to cut themselves off.

If you feel this happening to you, do all you can to counteract it. You may feel that all you want to do is to hide. Try as hard as you can not to let yourself do that. Talk to a friend. Go see a therapist. Pick up the telephone and call someone you trust.

Isolation develops gradually, almost imperceptibly, and you justify it to yourself as it happens. “Those people are just a bunch of hypocrites.” “They don’t really want me there.” “I’m too tired.” “I just want to stay at home and relax.” “I need my down time.” “My doctor told me to avoid stressful situations.”
Of course, isolation is better than the company of nasty, disapproving, shame-inducing witches and warlocks. So, as you try to reconnect, do so judiciously. One friend makes for a good start. Have a regular lunch date. Or a weekly squash game!

Learn about ways to connect here.