Making Amazing Marvin amazing
January 13, 2021 12:45 PM   Subscribe

I am helping someone with ADHD (late life dx, medicated) get used to this software/app. The amount of features makes it overwhelming for me to suggest a structure that will work well for this person as I don't have time to do a deep dive into it. Seeking examples of how others with ADHD have set it up.

This person really struggles with:

Thinking of what tasks may need doing from multiple dimensions of life
Estimating the time needed to complete tasks
Remembering to check a calendar or planner
Creating a balanced work load - it is all or nothing
Getting overwhelmed if there are too many tasks visible at one time
Procrastinating until a crisis gives adrenaline needed to do the thing
Breaking down tasks into smaller steps
Being proactive
Starting tasks

Basically there's serious executive functioning impairment. I'm trying to help them create the scaffolding to be self sufficient without emergencies, lapses, crises, etc based on the above. I currently provide more organizational support than I want to. I don't want to remind or prompt or assist with figuring out what should be tracked anymore. Hoping once they master the right structure for Amazing Marvin and get into some kind of a routine they will become more successful.

Those with inattentive ADHD,. especially if you are not naturally organized to compensate for it, how did you structure Amazing Marvin to help you be self-sufficient?
posted by crunchy potato to Grab Bag (3 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Okay, Amazing Marvin looks like a good app BUT ADHD is different for everyone who has it (or rather has the collection of symptoms that are diagnosed as ADHD)

Part of the condition is that no SINGLE thing/system is going to be the THING THAT WORKS now and forever. ADHD brains - generally - crave variance in all things.

If you want to understand the condition better and methods that can help this newly diagnosed person I highly recommend this Youtube Channel How To ADHD

Also, a later-in-life diagnosis probably means that this person has compounded mental health issues related to not being diagnosed sooner, as well as existing coping mechanisms (likely healthy & unhealthy) which they've previously been using to overcome their unique set of Life Circumstances

If you / they are more of a visual learner then ADHD Alien is a set of webcomics that might help further understand why their brain works/doesn't' work the way a neurotypical one does.

I wish you and the person you are trying to help good luck.
posted by Faintdreams at 3:08 PM on January 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hi! I use Amazing Marvin and I have attention/executive functioning issues. My diagnoses are "it looks and acts like ADHD but we think it's cause of your chronic illness" and "autism, but provisionally until you spend $2k on more testing" so take that as you will.

The worst thing to do for Amazing Marvin is turn on all the features that look useful. The best process is to turn on a few at a time, use them for a week or two, and slowly add and take away as you practice using them a little at a time. There is no "set up the perfect system and then everything will be great." It really takes slowly building up to the right system and practicing using it. What is nice about Marvin is that if they start craving something new (as Faintdreams mentioned), they can switch things up a little bit at a time to help that.

That said, here's what I find helpful:

1) I have categories for Professional (e.g. school and work), Household (e.g. chores, errands, healthcare), and Leisure (e.g. hobbies, personal projects). This is important for giving me a quick look at things I can do when I'm in different "modes" and helps me when I'm trying to schedule my day. The Leisure category is especially important for two reasons. First is that when I want to have some downtime, I get easily overwhelmed by my choices and/or don't know where to start. I want to knit but I would need to find a pattern and the right yarn and needles etc., I want to read but I have too many books to choose from, I want to watch TV but I'm in the middle of a bunch of shows and don't want to start ANOTHER one and leave it unfinished but I can't remember what I've already started, etc. So for example, I have a task that's called "Books" with subtasks for the various books I'm in the middle of, and ones I want to read soon. This gives me an easy way to pick something and remind me of things I've left half finished. The second thing is that there are a lot of times where I am not. going. to get. any. more. work. done! But I feel guilty engaging in a hobby, so instead of doing either thing I spend hours refreshing unchanging pages on the internet. Having a list of books I want to read, TV shows I want to watch, games I want to play, etc., makes me feel like I'm doing something productive by hacking away at the list. So it's easier to convince myself to go do those things when I'm burnt out and not going to do any work anyway.

2) Labels for context. Really try to limit labels or they'll get overwhelming, but I like to use @errands, @school, and @home. This helps me pull up tasks that can only be done in certain places, and when I go to a place (or get in my car, re: errands) I can look at all the things I have to do there, instead of going to the school and printing something and then getting home and realizing I also needed to drop off some books, move files in the lab, and return a key, none of which I can do until I go to the school again.

3) Backburner. Anything that is a "would be nice to do someday" goes here. I combine this with the start dates strategy to hide things I can't work on yet. Declutter the main task list as much as possible by only showing things you can and should be working on now.

4) Custom sections. I have a section for Must Do, Work On, and Extra. Must Do are things that have to be done that day or else. Work on is where I put projects I want to make progress on. Extra is the stuff that would be nice to do, but is not a Must Do.

5) Procrastination Wizard is really helpful for that paralysis. I'm not an expert but based on my psych background it's based on solid behavioral principles.

6) Smart lists for "due in 1 day" "due within 7 days" and "due within 31 days." This lets me look at tasks by "needs to be done immediately" "needs to be done very soon" and "need to be working on/have on my radar." I use the Custom Squares strategy to keep these visible on my screen.

One habit I've ingrained that has been helpful is every time I enter a task, I schedule it for SOME day. Always. Otherwise it'll vanish and I won't think to check my master list for two weeks and oops I missed it. So I schedule it for a day I think I'll be able to work on it. I often have to reschedule things, and this can get overwhelming if I have a lot of tasks that I just keep rescheduling, but it helps keep things on my radar.

I don't do this myself, but for remembering to check calendar/task manager, maybe the mobile app + reminders strategy with recurring daily tasks to check?

I'll come back if I think of anything else, but maybe that will give you some things they can try. And of course second what Faintdreams said about everyone with ADHD being different and having lots of patience.
posted by brook horse at 7:34 PM on January 13, 2021 [14 favorites]

Oh! There's an Amazing Marvin Facebook group. Good for asking specific questions (how do I do x?) but both community members and developers are also often good at suggesting structures for specific executive functioning struggles, so could be good to post there.
posted by brook horse at 7:38 PM on January 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

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