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Understanding my ADHD

Since my diagnosis in February 2023, I’ve become more familiar with the traits that I’ve been masking for so much of my life. I was even in denial about some of them during my assessment!

Although I was working to manage my symptoms before my diagnosis, by working with the amazing Kim Raine, time has given me the opportunity to review what works and what doesn’t and to try new strategies.

I find it much harder to focus on work during afternoons, and mornings are the best time for creative work. I, therefore, now plan meetings during afternoons, as I find it easier to focus on meetings than solo work. This then leaves mornings free for powering through creative work.

I use multiple other strategies, such as body doubling, my visual timer and putting my phone out of sight on digital well-being settings to prevent distractions.

Getting started can be difficult for people with ADHD, so switching between different tasks, e.g. a creative project to an admin task, can be problematic and involve procrastination. The best way is to avoid task-switching where possible. I work with my wonderful OBM to plan studio time sensibly and reduce the number of times I have to task-switch by batching similar tasks one after another.



Setting myself up for a creative and productive day starts long before I hit the studio. I’m always evolving my self-care strategies to keep things interesting enough for me to stay engaged and to see what works best.As well as continuing to exercise as much as possible, with yoga and weights, and to aim to get enough sleep each night, I’ve also recently started a couple of other self-care practices.

  • Gratitude journaling. I was so sceptical about this one until I tried it! I use a free app and spend a few minutes in the morning writing gratitudes and intentions for the day and again in the evening reviewing my highlights from the day. Let’s be honest: not every day is amazing for everyone, but practising gratitudes helps me celebrate the wins, large and small (something we ADHDers aren’t traditionally good at!) and appreciate the small moments. After a week or two, I noticed a difference to my outlook
  • Wim Hof breathing and meditation. I’ve been doing morning meditations for a few months to help set me up for a day of calm focus. However, I rather impulsively decided to start doing the whole Wim Hof Method, including cold exposure! I have found that as someone with a delayed sleep cycle, which is very common in ADHDers, I struggle to get motivated in the mornings. This method definitely wakes me up! As I’m also working with a homoeopath on my lifelong eczema, I realised I won’t know whether the cold exposure or the homoeopathic work is reducing inflammation, so I’ve reverted to doing morning meditations, sometimes substituted for Wim Hof breathing exercises and will go back to the full Wim Hof Method after the homoeopathic work has settled. Even without the cold exposure, the breathwork alone helps get my blood pumping.

Good fuel

Managing my energy levels is key, so I aim to:

  • Eat foods high in protein for breakfast and lunch. These keep me fuller for longer and help stave off sugar cravings.
  • Avoid sugar. It’s so difficult. Especially when I know there are custard creams in the studio biscuit tin!
  • Drink one caffeinated coffee a day and always before noon to avoid issues with sleep. This one lasted from when I was very ill with perimenopause symptoms, and I was advised to cut my caffeine intake. However, I still love coffee, so I have a decaf mid-afternoon!
  • Try to drink plenty of water. I have a Chilli’s bottle and aim to finish that during working hours, and even that is a challenge! Sometimes, I just have to set my timer for every half an hour to remind me!
  • Take my supplements. Conveniently, a lot of supplements recommended for people with ADHD are also recommended for women of my age, and a lot of them are to support brain function. I also take a multivitamin with iron, plus magnesium and omega-3 oil. I’ve noticed a big difference in my focus and brain function since phasing on to the magnesium, and I have noticed I stay hydrated more easily. The omega-3 is positively affecting my eczema, although I’m not sure about brain benefits yet. I’m going to start B vitamins next, then look at other supplements to support ADHD, such as saffron and lion’s mane.

Sh*t tonnes of music

I struggle to do anything without music! Before I knew I had ADHD, I explained my life-long music obsession’s place in my day by likening my brain to a train with multiple tracks. At any point, my thought process can jump tracks at no notice. However, listening to music fills up one of those tracks, which means there are fewer tracks for my brain to jump to. Now that I know I have ADHD, I understand music gives me dopamine to satisfy my dopamine-hungry brain and, as a result, means I’m less likely to get distracted.

I generally clock up over 100,000 hours on Spotify every year, and that doesn’t include listening to music on one of my colleagues’ accounts or listening to music on other media like Bandcamp, YouTube or vinyl records. And yes, I do collect records, which are a source of inspiration in themselves – check out my The beauty (and pain) of record collecting and Top 10 eye-candy of 2023

I love to listen to my latest favourite release or artist on the walk to work, as that sets me up for the day with a chunky dopamine hit.

A lot of my most productive days involve switching up the genre every hour or two – because, you guessed it, I need variety to keep that dopamine flowing.

I’m aware this might make me sound like a heinous music snob. I’m not; I love music, and I just can’t get enough of it!


Changing things up

ADHD brains like mine thrive on variety and novelty. Even when everything is set up for a productive day, sitting down and churning out high-quality creative work all day is hard, even for a neurotypical. It’s therefore really important to take regular breaks:

  • Exercise and walks. I have a lot of hyperactive as well as inattentive ADHD symptoms, so exercise is vital in helping manage all my symptoms. In personal time, I do yoga and weights, but I ensure my working day includes some movement, too. I’m fortunate that I can walk to and from my studio, which helps book-end the day well and separate personal and work time. At lunchtime, I aim to get out of the studio and get some fresh air, even on a rainy day. Sometimes, when I work from home, I slot in a lunchtime yoga session. If I get stuck on a project or need a new perspective on a problem, I’ll go out for a walk or do some yoga. Sometimes, I spot something on a walk that gives me an idea. For example, a colour palette on a recent design project was inspired by some colours I’d seen in an advert during a lunchtime walk to town!
  • Dopamine hits. A good way to keep the creativity bank stocked up is by browsing art and design blogs for inspiration. I make time during my working week to do this. Sometimes, it’s at the beginning of the day if I’m having trouble getting started or in the middle of a creative project if I need something fresh. In all cases, I set my visual timer so I don’t get drawn down a beautiful rabbit hole!
  • Art galleries. Inspiration comes in many forms and isn’t always obvious. In Nottingham, we are blessed with two free art galleries, and I take advantage of this whenever I can, especially if a new exhibition piques my interest. Experiencing creativity in all its forms can inspire incisive, clever branding solutions.

Research and strategy

Last but by no means least is project-specific work. All of the above points are groundwork for producing the best version of me possible to be able to give every project my full creative potential.

In every project, research and strategy are crucial in understanding my client's needs, market position, values, target audience and how we’re going to appeal to that target audience to land sales.

I go into more detail about how the brand analysis and research segments of design projects influence the final designs in my post and Unlocking creativity: A journey through the graphic design process

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