Work and play are often posed as contrasting figures.
Particularly for those who struggle with ADHD, they may even seem enemies.
But what if there is a fusion between them, a fusion that could even measure success…
“I have to get this done and turned in by Friday. But it’s Monday… I’ve got time…”
The big report looms, but it’s a ways away and there are other things that need doing. In fact, you know you “do well under pressure”.
“That’s when that flowing state really kicks in!”
And though, you may well know that working under pressure can be a bit painful (ok, more than a bit) it’s the only way you know how to get work done, and besides …
“I’ve still got time! I’m fine!”
So, you watch a show, hang out with friends and the like.
Tuesday rolls around. While the stress grows a day’s worth more, the project now looms larger. And, once again, you might say,
“I’ve still got time!”
As the pressure builds, so do the attempts to relax. A party to go to? A show to binge watch?
Some combination of conscious and unconscious forces continue their dance until one day… perhaps on Thursday, sometime during dinner, someone says that one something that makes you think about the paper, and then
“OMG I’m not fine!”
Maybe you make it in time. Maybe you don’t. Maybe an exam showed up the same day. How about a sudden performance review? Maybe you forgot to renew your driver’s license in the meantime.
Regardless, the entire system is based on anxiety and fear. Even the “I’m fine” comments are about mollifying the worries, their winds ready to billow into your sails once they can break through the defenses of “I’m fine”.
Those with ADHD often heavily rely on a feeling of what is real. The depth of focus on the Now and the struggle to see into the fog of the Not Now, means that only those things that can be relied on can guide. Desire and fear seem to predominate.
And while you can’t fake either, fear is somehow more workable than desire. You can at least procrastinate until you get to a deadline where a set of stakes threaten to rake across you, unless you get it done.
What is lost in it all is play, creativity, and discovery, each a powerful potential ally for the wandering mind.
Whether somehow finding yourself in a cleaning binge, learning about how to brew a cup of tea just right, or diving into a new board game, that flow of play just brings out the most meaningful, engaging, and creative experiences.
There may even be times when you’d discovered play in between the words of that report, where you suddenly felt a welling of questions, “What if I did this? What if I tried that?”
When we arrive in those places, it’s as if the playful spirit has just been so eager, so hungry to get out and make a splash in the most beautiful way.
I wonder if that playful spirit is always there, just waiting for the right conditions to come out.
PS. If you’re interested in finding ways to bring play into work, consider Waves of Focus: Guiding the Wandering Mind. The course and community is well underway and many are already finding benefit, supporting each other, and engaging projects they’d not thought possible.