Art has been a big inspiration for me lately. More specifically photography. I am finding that just the right combination of words and images can inspire me to write and to think in ways that I never imagined.
I spend hours on Unsplash gazing at free stock photos. Some are of people, some are of objects – all of them are beautiful.
So I started thinking about how can I use my love for visuals to inspire me to do the things I need to do. Things like getting out the door in the morning without forgetting anything, or cleaning my kitchen. The mundane things that those of us with ADHD struggle with.
For a short time I thought perhaps adults shouldn’t use visual reminders because it seems sort of childish or something. Truly, the only references I found to visual schedules were for use in elementary classrooms.
Soon thereafter I was talking to Jennie Friedman, and I realized that we can indeed use a favorite song or picture to trigger us to take action. This cue actually reminds us of the reward that follows the desired action.
For me to take action, I need something to “trigger” me that is up in my face. Especially in the morning.
I need something that will remind me to grab my snack and my purse, and my child’s backpack and all the other items I so often forget.
I considered using a wall calendar with written notes. Then I thought of adding small photos – things like keys, snacks, backpacks, etc. No matter how much I tried, I could not come up with a visual that inspired me and kept me on track.
And then I found it. A combination of words and visual that was perfect for me. Here it is:
Visual triggers are not just for kids, they can be powerful tools for adults too. And you don’t even need a fancy launch pad to make it happen.
How to create inspiring visual triggers
that get results
Ease the transitions in your day
Since childhood I have had issues with transitions. It is difficult for me to mentally switch gears from home to work, and then work to home. My son is apparently suffering from the same inability to move flexibly through his day. This transition issue is quite common in those of us with ADHD.
If I had a visual aid to glance at while I put on my shoes, maybe I could prevent myself from forgetting something. Taking a moment, thirty seconds even, to look at a calming image before I race out the door would make a world of difference.
After looking at my visual trigger I feel inspired and ready to take on the day.
Visuals are compact
I love the idea of a launch pad. But my family has a tendency to pile up our coats on the entryway chair. We pile our shoes in the shoe basket at the top of the stairs, and we pile our bags and backpacks next to the shoes. The entryway to my house is a mess, so adding a bench or coat rack will inevitably make it worse.
I also have a habit of leaving important paperwork on the bar between my kitchen and living room. While this type of visual cue sometimes works to remind me to grab the papers, other times it doesn’t work and my counter top ends up with a heap of paper.
Taking all of this into account, a physical launch pad is not a good idea. But a beautiful, inspiring visual trigger is.
Visuals allow you to manage your symptoms
Part of living with ADHD and parenting with it is finding ways to support yourself and gain a sense of control. Medication is part of it and so is therapy. Coaching and community support help too.
We owe it to our children to show them that it is possible to manage their symptoms.
If you have ADHD and one or more of your children do also, managing your symptoms using the visual trigger sets a good example. I want my son to see that though it is sometimes hard to hold it together, I do manage. There is no quick fix or shortcut.
Visuals Keep Things Simple
All you need is a bulletin board or possibly some magnets. I suppose it depends on what fits in with your décor and lifestyle. If you are really motivated you can invest in a dry erase or chalk board attached to a bulletin board so you can make grocery lists or other shopping lists.
This combination of visual trigger and task list might also be useful for other times of day, like after school and work. Children respond better to sequential tasks in visual format, so it makes sense that we might also.
This is the fun part! Look on Pinterest, Unsplash or even in your own home for a photo that inspires you. If you prefer, look at photos of paintings or sculpture. Whatever appeals to your senses is what will work.
Download or otherwise save a couple so you can choose your favorite later.
Then go straight to Google and look for inspirational quotes. My advice would be to look for quotes by Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle Melton or other thought leaders that you like. Make sure you give credit to the person who said or wrote the words.
Once you have made your choices, open a free account on Canva. Create an 8.5 x 11 inch blank document and upload your chosen image. Canva can auto adjust the photo so it fits or you can manually drag it around until it is positioned in a way you like. You can even adjust the brightness of your photo.
Pick out a font that appeals to you and then slap that quote right on there!
Download the image as a jpg onto your computer and either print it out yourself or send it to your local CVS, Walgreens or other retailer that offers photo printing.
Creating inspiring visual triggers is THAT easy.
Most of us have not outgrown our ADHD symptoms. As mothers, organizers, chauffers, planners, housekeepers…fill-in-the-blanks, we often feel overwhelmed. The result is frustration and self-doubt.
There is nothing wrong with using all of the tools at our disposal. This includes visual triggers…and maybe someone to keep us accountable.
Join my new Coaching Corner and help keep me accountable – I promise, I will do the same for you!
What do you think?
What kind of trigger would work for you?