I graduated the university with a degree in Civil Engineering, barely surviving that four year journey. I knew there was something wrong with me, but seeking help seemed like a weakness until I kept getting into trouble, skipping classes because i had absolutely no interest whatsoever or I just could never find the motivation to learn and do my assignments.
After graduating, I worked as a Civil Engineer in a fast paced environment which was all fun until my country went on full lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19. I found myself stuck at home, bored and very depressed. And that was when i decided to scratch the itch to learn programming as a hobby.
I learnt a lot about myself when i started learning programming on my own. I understood myself better and realised that I wasn't slow or lazy like I thought I was in school. That, coupled with speaking to my therapist at the time, helped bring much clarity to my situation: I had ADHD. It finally made sense. It had gone unnoticed for a long time because I was already being treated for another mental health issue.
My diagnosis brought me so much clarity and positively affected how I approached my studies, and currently, how I approach my job.
1. I learn better when I make notes.
No matter how seemingly trivial a lesson is, I have to write it down for it to make sense to me. It is not enough for me to just listen or watch. I would forget everything the moment I finished, unless I make notes. My notes are essentially my way of walking myself through whatever I have learnt and this serves as a sure way for me to remember everything I learn.
I still apply this approach to my current job. Every task I am assigned to, I write down the task, elaborate on what the task description is and finally write down the step-by-step solution to the given task, before going ahead to write my codes. My notes basically help me walk myself through my thought process and make me more efficient.
2. Having a routine and (trying to, lol) stick to it.
This is a difficult thing to do for someone living with ADHD. As productive and efficient as routines are, they seem quite impossible to follow. I forgive myself when my day goes wasted when I don't have a routine because my excuse is that I didn't plan my day anyway. Having a routine and breaking it makes me feel terrible and so in order to avoid that, I do everything possible to stick to it. I set reminders on my phone, my watch and on sticky notes and I sometimes set reminders to remind me of these reminders.
Currently, one routine I am proudly sticking to, is pushing a commit to my Github every day. So far, I am 33 days in and I am eager to see how far I can go on this streak.
3. I listen to myself speak.
Whenever I learn something new, or I'm faced with a task and I need to understand my solution better, I like to listen to myself while I reason with myself. I do this by recording myself as I speak out loud, whatever steps I'm taking to reach the solution, or when I'm learning, I like to record myself as I revise my notes off the top of my head.
I then go back to the recording, listen to it and correct any mistakes, make notes of what solutions work and also appreciate my understanding of what I am working on.
This blog post has taken me a week to write because initially, the words were all jammed up in my head and I couldn't make any progress until I followed all the steps I just spoke about. These are not the only things I do that work for me, but they are the major ones and I hope they work for someone else too.