Hyperfocus and ADHD
You would think with ADHD it'd be hard for you to focus on things you need to get done. But no! It's the other way around. (Sort of.) Have you ever been so focused while doing something that you forgot about everything except what you were doing?
Have you ever focused so hard while doing something that you forgot about everything except what you were doing?
This article will explain everything you need to know about hyperfocus, including the pros and cons of hyperfocusing and how to use hyperfocus to your advantage.
What you're doing is hyperfocusing, and it's something people with ADHD do more than people who don't have ADHD.
Why Do People With ADHD Hyperfocus More Often Than Those Who Don't Have ADHD?
Get ready for a quick psychology lesson involving dopamine and executive function.
People with ADHD can hyperfocus more often because there's something different about dopamine levels in an ADHD brain. Long story short, dopamine is a chemical signal your body produces to tell you that something is rewarding or fun. Dopamine is a chemical signal your body produces to tell you that something is rewarding or fun.
ADHD interferes with someone's "executive function." Executive function is the conductor of your brain, similar to the conductor of a train. Executive function tells you what you should and shouldn't do, like how a conductor tells a train to turn or keep going or stop.
Here's The Catch: Dopamine Plays a Big Role in Your Executive Function
When a person lacks dopamine, their executive function won’t work properly. Just like a train without a power source. (No more train metaphors I promise.)
It is well known how children with ADHD have a hard time paying attention in school. What may not be as well known is how easy it is for children with ADHD to focus on playing their favorite video games or reading their favorite books.
Now, look at yourself. You're an adult. You may have a hard time focusing on work, or doing whatever. But when you start doing something you enjoy, whether it’s reading, shopping, or pursuing your interests, you have no problems focusing your attention.
The reason you are able to focus on doing what you enjoy versus what you don’t is because when you’re doing things you enjoy your brain produces lots of dopamine.
None of the things you do would be enjoyable without dopamine. When you do something you think is boring, your brain won’t produce much dopamine. This creates a “deficit” which prevents you from paying attention.
Now we can finally get to the pros and cons of hyperfocusing.
Hyperfocus: The Pros
For starters, being able to hyperfocus means you can get things done no matter how you feeling. While hyperfocusing you forget about eating, sleeping and using the bathroom.
Say you hyperfocus while doing something at work. Your work will get done faster and be of a higher quality because you are putting so much of yourself into it.
The bad news is you can’t exactly hyperfocus anytime you please. The good news is if you start writing down the activities causing you to become hyperfocused you can better understand how to trigger, avoid, or control hyperfocus.
Hyperfocus: The Cons
The problem is you can enter a state of hyperfocus happen anytime, anywhere. If you take your kids to the park and then start hyperfocusing while doing some online shopping, you would most likely forget about your kids. Who knows what could happen in a situation like that.
Likewise, if you hyperfocusing on the job and spend an hour or two trying to fix a stapler, you would have a hard time explaining what happened to your boss.
Hyperfocus can cause you to forget about your family, your job and yourself at any moment, which is something you probably can’t afford to do 99 percent of the time. This brings us to our next point.