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7 Tips to Help you Become a Better Listener

Posted on April 20, 2015



Your best friend just came back from Brazil and is eager to share with you all the sights and sounds she encountered on her 10-day trip. She calls you and begins to unwrap all the wonderful experiences she had, like tiny gifts to share, excited to pull you in to her recent adventure.

You’re happy for her, glad she had a fabulous vacation and you try to hear every word she says, from the flight in over the jungle treetops, to the exotic side trips, to the luscious meals she had in this foreign place you know you’ll never get to experience. But something strange happens and it happens often:

After 5 minutes, your attention span flies right out the window- straight to the pretty blue and white bird that’s singing right to you. You catch a word or two, then notice the click click zzzt of the refrigerator in the kitchen. You try and will yourself back in the conversation but before you know it, you’re remembering your clothes sitting in the dryer from 3 hours ago, composing an email in your head…and more.

As much as you want to hear your friend’s story, you are unable to stay connected. What can you do?

ADHD isn’t about a deficit in attention- it’s about having control of your attention. It’s roping it in so you can hear your child’s story about school that day. It’s listening to your partner share a funny story heard at the office. It’s sharing the excitement of your mom’s great find at an antique store. But try as you might, these daily verbal interactions might as well be as invisible as the sound waves themselves.

             How to Stay Connected in a Conversation

             Here are some ideas to help keep your attention during a conversation

  1. Remove obvious distractions when you’re on the phone (turn off the TV, take care of minor chores, etc.). Tell your caller you’ll get back to him as soon as you’ve done that, as you want to be able to concentrate on the conversation.
  1. Keep a notepad near the phone and take notes! Just like in school, writing down major points will help you stay connected. Doodling also helps.
  1. Make sure the conversation is two-sided. Don’t let your caller take over. If that is difficult, ask questions to get more information- that will help you to stay curious.
  1. For in-person conversations, meet at places that are quiet so you don’t get too distracted. Find a cozy corner in a quiet restaurant; position yourself so you’re not looking out the window or into the larger area of the room.
  1. Keep your eyes on the mouth. When we utilize more than one of our senses, we pay better attention. Listening while looking at the person’s mouth helps!
  1. Repeat in your head what you are hearing. That helps to “hook” you in.

       7. Pretend you will be quizzed later.


How about you? What helps you to stay connected when your mind wanders while chatting with someone? Share your thoughts and ideas in the Comment section below.





ADHD And Adults: How to Tell if You’re Getting Better

Posted on April 17, 2015

women-with-adhdBy Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Maybe you recently started seeing a new therapist for your ADHD. Or maybe you’re attending therapy for the first time. Maybe you’re taking a different medication. Or you began working with an ADHD coach.

How do you know if you’re actually getting better? How do you know if the treatment is working?

Many of psychotherapist Terry Matlen’s clients don’t know. This isn’t uncommon. “Adults with ADHD often are poor self-observers,” she said.

Continue reading HERE

Terry on the Michelle Skeen Radio Show: Listen to my Podcast on Women with ADHD

Posted on April 16, 2015

Had a wonderful chat/interview with Michelle Skeen on her radio show, where we talked about women with ADHD, as well as my book, The Queen of Distraction. You can listen to it here.



Queen of Distraction 2D

Terry Matlen’s Top 10 ADHD Myth Busters

Posted on April 06, 2015

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It takes a lot to get me angry. Some of the more minor offenses are:

When someone wants to talk to me before 9am

Finding raisins in my food

Telemarketers. Especially when they call before 9am


And then there are the major offenses, which are obvious if you know me or have been reading my newsletters over the last 15 years. These include:

Children with special needs not getting an appropriate education (or any child, for that matter)


Unequal rights


You get the picture.

But last week, an article appeared in Psychology Today, which really riled me up. It’s titled No, There Is no Such Thing as ADHD, written by an M.D who blogs for the magazine. Which of course, gives him a lot of credibility. Even though he’s dead wrong.

Facebook was all aflutter over this, with fellow ADD Myth Busters like myself, screaming at the top of our lungs. Some of us posted comments on the site, only to have them taken down (yes, I’m a rebel and get FURIOUS when I read such unscientific pablum).

So, to sooth my irritability and hoping this gets some attention too (as they say the truth rises to the top), here is my list of common myths that I work hard to debunk. Please feel free to share, especially to those who believe ADHD is a made up condition.

 Terry Matlen’s Top 10 ADHD Myth Busters


1. Myth: ADHD is not a real disorder.

Fact:  The American Psychiatric Society, The Centers for Disease Control, The National Institute of Health and basically all of the scientific organizations and government health agencies recognize ADHD as a true medical disorder. It is listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) which is the official mental health “bible” used by psychologists and psychiatrists to diagnose psychiatric and other brain disorders.


2. Myth: Children outgrow their ADHD.

Fact: The great majority of children with ADHD continue to exhibit symptoms of ADHD into adulthood. More than 70% continue to have symptoms of ADHD into adolescence and at least 50% will continue to have it as adults, though many clinicians feel this estimate is low.


3. Myth: All people with ADHD are hyperactive and/or impulsive.

Fact: There are three subtypes of ADHD: a) hyperactivity/impulsivity

b) inattentive c) combined. The inattentive subtype typically does not include hyperactivity/impulsivity.


4. Myth: Medications used for ADHD (stimulants) are highly addictive.

Fact: When used as directed, stimulants are very safe to use in both children and adults. In fact, studies are finding that those diagnosed with ADHD who are not being appropriately treated with medications, often self-medicate using substances that can be addicting.


5. Myth: ADHD is caused by poor or inconsistent parenting.

Fact:  ADHD is a neurobiological condition, often inherited. Parenting children with ADHD can be very challenging, causing much guilt for parents who are unsure how to best handle children who are hyperactive and impulsive. But parenting styles do not cause ADHD.


6. Myth: Sugar causes hyperactivity.

Fact: Earlier studies have debunked that myth, showing that children who seem to become more hyperactive while consuming a lot of sugar are often at parties and at other activities that stimulate them and their activity level. However, there is a small sub-set of children, approximately 1-3% that do seem to have food additive sensitivities.


7. Myth: Children and adults with ADHD have lower IQs.

Fact: People with ADHD do not have lower (or higher) IQs than the general public.


8. Myth: Children with ADHD are over-medicated.

Fact: Though more children are taking stimulants for ADHD than before, researchers believe this is due to clinicians identifying more children with ADHD who have been missed in previous years. In addition, it’s only been in recent years that more girls have been identified as having ADHD and thus receiving treatment for it.


9. Myth: There are fewer girls with ADHD and they are less impaired than boys with ADHD.

Fact: It’s believed that there are as many girls with ADHD as boys, but that they are less frequently identified and treated. Studies show that in some areas, girls with ADHD are more impaired than their male counterparts, in that in addition to their ADHD, they also more likely to struggle with substance abuse, anxiety and panic. Compared to non-ADHD girls, they have an increase in mood and conduct disorders and are more impaired in family, social and school functioning.


10. Myth: ADHD can be cured.

Fact: At this time, there is no cure for ADHD, but it can be well managed through a combination of medication, therapy, coaching, support and education.


What have YOU heard about ADHD that makes you want to scream and land a punch or two? Share your experiences in the Comment section below.


Ready to Spring Clean with the Queen? Join Today at Special Rates!

Posted on March 27, 2015


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The Queens of Distraction 10 Day Spring Cleaning Challenge to Clear out the Cobwebs and the Clutter! Special Rates if you join now!


         We’ll begin the challenge on April 1, so hurry and sign up today!

Huh? What is this all about?

The Queens of Distraction group is about to begin a 10-day challenge to get their homes and lives in order. Each day, we’ll be attacking a specific chore as a group in my private, exclusive Queens of Distraction Facebook. In addition to your membership, you will enjoy all the other activities you get in your Queens of Distraction membership:

Monday: De-clutter/Organizing Assignments

Wednesday: Procrastinator’s Workshop

Thursday: Women with ADHD Chat

…plus 24/7 support and more

Want to get your world in order? Join today at my special Spring rate, then roll up your sleeves and get ready to make your home sparkle. You can choose a 3 or 6 month membership- both include the 10- Day Spring Challenge. 


New members will receive a special gift: my Clutter Crusher Toolkit! Sign up today to become a Queen and get ready for the April 1st Spring Challenge.

(Current Queens are already registered).

Questions? Email me at  

 Register now  at our special Spring rates! But hurry- this won’t last!  





ADHD and Grief

Posted on March 23, 2015



I lost my step-dad a few weeks ago… at the ripe old age of 91. Though his passing was no surprise given his age and many health challenges, I was shocked at how hard it was for me, on many different levels.

From the perspective of ADD, there was only one easy thing about all of this: I didn’t have to decide what to wear to the funeral. Ok, so that might sound funny or insensitive, but it’s true. So let’s move on to some of the ADD related issues that weredifficult. I’m wondering if any of you can relate-

Other than the obvious heartbreak of losing someone close and its effects on the remaining loved ones, I found that I was thrown for a loop in other ways, mainly in the challenge of what I’m calling emotional multitasking. Ok, so I just Googled the term and see I didn’t invent it. Oh well.

They say that people with ADD are good at multitasking. I beg to differ, at least in my case and in many adults I know with ADD: we tend to get overwhelmed and de-railed when too many things hit us at once.

Not only is there a flood of emotional pieces that the griever must work on (the rush of feelings, even when you think you’re prepared; dealing with family members not getting along, working on your own grief while helping others get through theirs…etc.) but there are also the tangible things that have to be taken care of: managing estates, paperwork, belongings…all while having your routine thrown completely off- resulting in feeling, again, de-railed and often lost and confused.

Adults with ADD often feel things deeply. I addressed this in my book, “The Queen of Distraction” but it bears repeating here. Grief, concerns, worry, fear, anxieties- we don’t typically just breeze through any of these or other strong emotions. They leave their tattoos on our soul for weeks, months and often, forever. We’re told to “just get over it”. We’re told that the feelings aren’t normal. But with ADD in the picture (and often times, their not so friendly pals, anxiety and depression), we need to take a different path than our non ADD friends and family and allow ourselves extra time to recover and also to seek out extra comfort and support during life challenges.

How about you? What major changes in your life have thrown you for a loop? How did you get through it?

Please share in the Comment section below.

Do You Make To Do Lists But Then Don’t Follow Them?

Posted on February 23, 2015


While I’m on vacation, please enjoy this article, written by guest author, Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed. Read more about Ariane at the end of the article.


Do You Make To Do Lists But Then Don’t Follow Them?


If you are like the hundreds of people who tell me they make lots of lists, but have difficulty following them or even finding them, you are not alone!

Difficulty following lists is very common among people with a creative or right-brain dominant personality style as well as with ADDers. In addition, people with certain kinds of brain injuries or head injuries may find it easy to “make” lists, but have much trouble “following” lists. There are many psychological, neurological, learning style, sensory, and even genetic reasons why some people are not good at “following” written instructions of any kind, including their own lists!

I’m going to spare you the theories, but promise me you’ll stopping beating yourself up! It’s not that you are lazy or procrastinating…it’s how you are wired. So let’s accept it and work with it. Even though it’s not easy for you…there are some tricks to making your lists easier to follow.

Here’s the thing about making lists. Writing itself is a very effective way to clarify what’s on your mind, process information and enhance your ability to remember things. So there is a good reason to keep on making your lists! They help you:

  • Remember things better (just like taking notes)
  • Slow down your brain to the speed of writing so that you can think more clearly and get your ideas out.
  • Articulate your ideas.
  • Reduce your fear that you will forget the items

Before we look at ways to make lists easier to follow… let’s look as some of the things that make them more difficult to follow. Lists may be harder to follow if:

  • There are too many items on it
  • Handwriting isn’t clear or the lettering is not big enough
  • You use light colored ink or pencil
  • The paper used is colored and does not provide a high contrast with the ink used
  • Action items aren’t listed in order of priority and you have to scan the whole list to decide which things to do next.
  • Item don’t list all the information you need to act on it, e.g. for some people, if they don’t write the phone number and have to hunt it down, they will skip write over that item on the list.
  • The spacing between the items is too close.
  • More than a day or 2 goes by before you look at it again (particularly if you have ADD, the list may lose all sense of urgency)
  • You have any kind of reading or vision difficulties such as a mild dyslexia
  • You are stressed when you look at the list
  • You have lots of other ideas going through your head when you look at
  • The items are so brief that you forget what was actually meant. For example, I have seen many examples of people writing things like “Call Doctor” and then forgetting which doctor and why.

There are many more items I could add, but I think you get the idea. Everyone is different in terms of what works best for them, but here are some tips that might help you make your lists easier to “follow”.

  • Limit the items to 4 – 6 short items on them
  • Use very clear large lettering, I use a black Sharpie for lists I really need to follow
  • Put lots of space between items. This makes it easier for your brain to focus on one item at a time.
  • Put a little box or circle in front of each item so that you can check it off when you are done
  • Put high priority items at the top, lower priority in the bottom half of the list.
  • Use color or other visual cues to help you highlight the highest priority items: e.g., highlighters or my personal fave is to draw “clouds” or “bubbles” around the most important things.
  • Use brightly colored paper with high contrast to your ink.
  • Use a TO DO notebook that is ONLY for Action Items. Put a removeable tab or post-it on pages with open items in your notebook.
  • Don’t mix things you would “like to do” with things that you really “will or must do”. One trick I’ve used is to turn the notebook upside down and use the back of the book to capture “brainstorms” and “ideas” or use a separate notebook all together.
  • Some people need “novelty” to help stimulate their brain to pay attention to their lists, so using different color paper and highlighters may be effective. So if you are the types that likes trying out new ways to make your lists, have fun with it, but be aware that if you try lots of complicated software to do lists you are probably wasting a ton of time learning and setting up new ways to do your lists. Try to restrain your “novelty needs” to simple, easy changes.


Alternatives to linear lists and paper may also help you follow lists better. I use different methods for different kinds of lists. Some of the tools I use:

  • Digital Recorder
  • Calling in to my Voice mail
  • White boards (I have a couple small ones that I use like pads of paper, and one on the wall fo rwhen I need to move around to think/)
  • Mind Mapping
  • Flip Chart that I hang on a nail on my office door
  • Post-it Flip Charts that I hang on my wall.
  • Magnetic pads for my refrigerator
  • Chalkboard in the kitchen

You may need to experiment with alternate ways to find the best way for you to make your lists, and you may need different kinds of lists for different things. Some people need to stick to one kind of list, others need the diversity.

Give yourself permission to play and experiment till you find methods that not only attract you but are easy to read and follow later. Another option is to just give yourself permission to make lists with the intention of helping you get things off your mind without the expectation that you have to follow them! If they helped you remember, and you did the action item without looking at your list. That’s good enough.

© 2008 Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed.

Would you like to simplify your life and get more organized? Get her free e-book let with strategies for “Simplifying your Life” at Ariane has been quoted in Psychology Today, the Wall Street Journal, and Ariane has over 25 years experience helping businesses and individuals cultivate personal growth and enhance performance by learning life-changing skills, attitudes and habits.  Visit her popular Neat & Simple Living Blog at


Need more help? Join the Queens of Distraction so I, along with your fellow Queens, can help you stay on track all while cheering you on and offering support and strategies:


15 Time Management Tips for Adults With ADHD

Posted on February 10, 2015

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By guest author, Cassandra Greene. Cassandra is author of the eBook “How to Conquer ADD“. Check out her blog for more great tips and information at

An adult who has ADHD tends to be impulsive and restless. At times they may have a difficult time paying attention. ADHD can make time management quite hard. Some of the symptoms of adult ADHD can mean that you are not aware of time passing, predicting how long a task will take, monitoring your work and making adjustments. If you have adult ADHD, here are some tips on how to manage your time better.

  1. Create a New To Do List Each Day

Every morning you should make a list of the things that you want to accomplish for the day. Make sure that you keep your list realistic so that you have a better chance of getting to each thing. Your tasks should be arranged in order of importance. Each task should be assigned a specific time of the day. As you complete each task mark it off.

  1. Check Your Planner 3 Times Each Day

Having too much to remember is a problem for everyone, but can especially be difficult for adults with ADHD. Make it a habit to put each of your activities and appointments on your calendar. You can use a smartphone app, a day planner, or a regular desk calendar. Keep the calendar in one spot and make sure that you check it at least 3 times each day. Make it a habit to check it during the same times every day.

  1. Organize Each Room in your Home

Take on one room of your house at a time and begin organizing it. Start with the easiest room and do not become overwhelmed by “getting organized.” Organization time should be scheduled into your planner and use a timer in order to manage each work session. Start out by putting things where they go and throwing out anything that you do not need. When going through items have a keep and toss pile as well as a separate box for items that you want to go through later.

  1. Create Daily Organizational Habits

Do not think of becoming organized as cleaning up. Instead, think of it as a plan. If you keep any items they should have a place to go. Every day schedule ten minutes to pick up and return your things to where they belong. If you take something out, put it back. Keep mislaid items and papers in a box and go through this at the end of each day.

  1. Create a Rotating Menu

Menu planning may be a bit difficult. To overcome this and better manage your time create a list of 10 dinners or a regular rotating menu for dishes that can be easily cooked. Try to keep the ingredients for each of the menus on hand or list the necessary ingredients on index cards that can be taken with you to the grocery store. Keep a “free” night on your schedule so that you can order carry out or share the cooking responsibilities with other members of the household.

  1. Create a Mail Routine

Create a system for sorting your mail each day. A special area for important mail such as bills, bank statements, etc. should be created. Plan a set time each week to sort through the mail to file important documents where they need to go.

  1. Create a Budget

People with ADHD often have difficulty managing money. One of the reasons for this is impulse buying. Take an electronic device or notepad with you when you are shopping to write down everything that you spend. Knowing what you spend each month and what you spend it on will help you better manage your money.

  1. Electronic Reminders

Forgetting your medication, meetings, deadlines or any of your other responsibilities is common for adults with ADHD and can create problems in both your work and social life. One way to help you remember is to set electronic reminders for your events. You can set your smartphone or computer to alert you 5, 10, or 15 minutes before each event on your calendar to help you stay on top of things.

  1. Work Distractions

One of the biggest challenges for adults with ADHD is work distractions. There are several strategies that you can implement to help you better manage your time at work. First, turn your phone off and schedule set times to check your voicemail each day. At work, ask for a cubicle or office that is quiet. If possible use a white noise machine or headphones to drown out all of the other sounds at work. Finally, work on a single task at a time.

10. Fighting Boredom

 One of the many problems for adults with ADHD is that they get bored easily. This is especially true when completing routine tasks. One of the ways to help you save time and meet your deadlines is to break up some of your larger tasks into smaller ones. After you complete a small task, take a small walk, even if it is just to the bathroom at work and back. When attending meetings, make sure to take notes to help alleviate boredom.

11. Take on Fewer Tasks

Simplifying your surroundings will help you keep better track of your belongings. It will also help to remove some of the distractions that may keep you from focusing. This can work for your schedule as well. Do not start a new project until you have completed the one that you are working on. Do not overschedule yourself by taking on too many tasks at one time. In order to stay focused you may need to practice saying no to any new tasks.

12. Exercise

 Studies have shown that getting regular exercise may help a person with ADHD better manage their symptoms. The movement can help you channel some of your extra energy. Karate and Yoga are great choices for adults with ADHD because they provide the opportunity to memorize movements.

13. Set 15 Minute Blocks for Tasks

If you are struggling to start a project try setting a timer for fifteen minutes. During this time you focus on that single task. When the time expires you can decide if you can go for 15 more minutes. If you can focus and go on, reset the timer. Keep resetting the timer for 15 minute intervals until you can no longer focus. When you can no longer do anymore, try again later in the day.

14. Color Coding

One of the best ways to save time and to help you be better organized is to use color coding. You can color code notes, folders, and files. In your planner, use different colors to highlight different areas of your life such as work, family commitments, and dates with friends, and appointments.

15Use your To Do Lists as a Guide

 Look over your to do lists. Are there a lot of unfinished tasks? Why? Did you try to complete too much at once? Did you commit to too much? Did distractions keep you from completing your tasks? Use this knowledge to help you create new to do lists in the future. These lists can also help you come up with different ways to work more efficiently in the future.


Want more help? Join the Queens of Distraction so I, along with your fellow Queens, can help you stay on track all while cheering you on and offering support and strategies: .


Penny Williams Reviews The Queen of Distraction

Posted on February 04, 2015



Thanks, Penny Williams, author of Boy Without Instructions, and What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD for your great review of my book, The Queen of Distraction.

Read it HERE.

7 Surefire Tips to Deal with Clutter Right Now

Posted on January 26, 2015



I was talking with a friend online who was in the middle of clearing off the major clutter on her desk. For those without ADD, that seems like a simple enough task. But those if us with ADD, it is a monumental endeavor. Where do you start? Where do you put stuff? Save? File? File where?

Decisions, decisions. What if I throw it away and find I need it someday?

What if I put it away and can’t find it?

How did this problem start, anyway?

Often times, clutter happens because of one of three situations:

  1. You don’t have time to put it away, so you dump it…somewhere.
  2. You have no idea where to put it because it doesn’t have a home.
  3. You figure you’ll do it later because there are more interesting things to be doing than putting something away.

Then before you know it, you’ve got piles. And more piles, and they grow each day, until you get completely overwhelmed.

Yet, with most people I know, including myself, we’re somehow able to find whatever it is we’re looking for, somewhere in the pile. Unless it’s something super important, like your tax form.

What to do? What to do?

When I hired a professional organizer many years ago to help me set up my home office, the first thing she taught me was to make a home for everything. Photographs, bills, receipts, etc etc.

Here’s what she did:

She held up one item at a time and asked me: where is the logical place for this to be? Filing cabinet? Linen closet? Office supplies closet? So little by little, we began setting up homes.

That made it a LOT easier to get things put away where they belong. But it didn’t solve the clutter issue because of the other two situations I mention above: You’re in a rush so put it off or you don’t want to be bothered with a boring task.

So let’s get down to the dirty truth that few ADD experts talk about:

You can get your stuff under control, but it’s might hard to KEEP it under control. And then we spin and spin, anguished over the piles we create shortly after having eliminated them. And that, my friend, can assault our self-esteem, make family angry with us and put us straight into a stinking depression, even.

Here are some tips to help you deal with the magical piles that keep re-appearing no matter what you do to tame them:

  1. Do your best to tame things as best as possible but do NOT expect perfection. Say it again: DO NOT EXPECT PERFECTION.
  1. Do not let your clutter define you in a bad way. It’s a microcosm of your brain, which is usually splaying thoughts and ideas all day (and unfortunately, all night for many of us). The thoughts, plans, poetry, inventions, worries, obsessive thoughts and more…swirling throughout your brain, plop down on your counters, dining room tables and more. It’s simply a symptom of how your brain works.
  1. Every time you enter the area that is upsetting you, put away 5 things. Or 3 if you don’t have enough time.
  1. Invite a friend or family member (one who’s totally non-judgmental) to help you. Or buddy with you: they can be paying their bills while you are filing yours.
  1. What I do when I get overwhelmed with a tableful of clutter is throw everything in one big box so that the surface is now less horrifying to look at. Then I choose a time to begin going through the box to put things away.
  1. Make a date with the clutter. Mark it on your calendar or planner. Then spend 15 minutes only on it. If you find you have the energy to continue, go for it!
  1. Take a before/after photo of your space. Tape it to the wall so you can remember that you CAN do it and also to remember how GREAT it feels once it’s done.

Purging is frightening for many. We hold our identities, our special memories in “things” so that it’s hard to part with them. For me, I have the toughest time throwing away purses or shoes because they’ve been so much a part of me for a long time. Try taking a photograph of something you know you need to get rid of, but can’t.

Lastly, think about how you feel when you see the piles and replace that thought and feeling with: HOW would I feel if that space was cleared out? Let that thought guide you into getting started.

You can do it!

Want more help? Join the Queens of Distraction so I, along with your fellow Queens, can help you stay on track all while cheering you on and offering support and strategies:

What areas are the hardest for you to keep tidy? Have you found tips and strategies that work for you?

Please share below in the Comment section.