How online community and accountability helps me focus with ADHD
By Micah Yongo
Mar 17, 2023
We’ve been chatting with real-life FLOWN members who use our virtual body doubling sessions, we call ‘Flocks’, to get things done. Tapping into focus, ritual and online community has become a way of work and life they couldn’t imagine being without. Be inspired as Clare shares her story.
Clare Sherman spreads her time between her work as a teaching assistant, podcasting and studying toward becoming a yoga instructor, all whilst trying to keep her delightful Egyptian rescue cat Ahmedi away from her work desk.
Seeking new ways to structure and organize her time, Clare stumbled across FLOWN, and has never looked back.
Clare takes us through her FLOWN journey…
Tell us about yourself and what you do.
I discovered I am ADHD just last year at the age of 55. As with so many people with a late diagnosis, it explained so much that had happened in my life — including my many jobs!
I’d always found staying in one job a challenge, for so many reasons — feeling bored, trapped, not fitting in, and being plain unsuitable. As an ADHDer I’ve always needed a sense of variety in my life, which is why I work in a supermarket alongside my job as a part-time teaching assistant.
I’m also intensely passionate about radio work, and still live in hope of being able to transition into broadcasting! Having recently completed my 200 hours yoga training, I'm now working through my 300 hours with the aim of being able to practice as a yoga teacher soon.
I live on my own — well, I don’t, as I have a lovely rescue cat called Ahmedi (she’s from Egypt). She often accompanies me on Flocks. And yes, she is a distraction, but she is also a comfort.
How Flocks work
How do you use FLOWN in your life?
For everything except my paid work!
Actually, I do still use it for work as the sessions help to structure my time. When I am starting work in the afternoon or evening I love to use the morning Take-Off session to start my day as they’re helping me to get into the habit of journaling, which is something I’d always intended to do but had never quite managed to keep up.
If I am starting work late, using a Flock or two can prevent me from going into ADHD ‘waiting mode’, and helps me to do other things with my day, rather than just sitting and thinking about going to work.
I am so happy that weekend Flocks have started, as the retail industry of course doesn`t stop at 5pm on a Friday!
Also, like most people with ADHD, I always have plenty of projects on the go, and can struggle a lot with time management, time blindness and focus. I have used flocks for so many things — applying for jobs (ahem!), writing a podcast, studying, reading a book (I have terrible issues with focusing on reading), answering emails.
I also have a little side hustle selling items online. I love selling things — what a dopamine hit! But I find the process of packing the items to be incredibly tedious (executive function issues). I’ll also use Flocks to support me with cleaning and tidying, which is the main negative I experience with my ADHD. Flocks can be so helpful with tedious domestic tasks!
What do you love about FLOWN?
I’ll often use Flown in a way that isn’t typical, for cleaning and tidying etc. Although there are apps specifically for these kinds of things, I always come back to Flown because of the friendliness, the sense of community, and the instant connection with people from all over the world. And I love the facilitators with their humour and creativity.
I have huge problems with prioritising, planning, and structure, which means that days can look like a black void stretching endlessly ahead when I have many things to do but no starting point. This can result in ADHD paralysis where I end up doing nothing.
The Flocks help me to assign a task or two to a specific period of time, i.e. time-blocking. The fact that this time has a beginning and an end (with a break in the middle for the 2hr Deep Dive sessions), stops the task from being intimidating, and makes it more achievable.
Another danger with ADHD is going into a state of hyperfocus, possibly because you’re so scared of not finishing a task, which can result in getting stuck on doing one thing without taking a break. The Flocks ensure that this doesn’t happen.
“I always come back to Flown because of the friendliness, the sense of community, and the instant connection with people from all over the world.”
What’s your biggest FLOWN success story?
I have managed to complete many things that I probably would not have otherwise done, including writing my first podcast for a non-profit organisation called Discussing Mental Health.
It’s under 15 minutes long (and you can hear my cat’s water fountain in the background!), but it is one of those things I was never quite convinced I’d be able to do. Yes, it’s about ADHD, and I have a second podcast on the way!
What’s been your experience of connecting with the FLOWN community?
I think the Flown community is what makes Flown so great. It’s fun to meet different people and hear what they are doing, even if I don’t always fully understand it. The accountability of going back into your mini-flocks at the end of the session also helps, but I also value that you’re allowed to say you didn’t achieve all you hoped to, that you got distracted or you lost focus. You showed up and that is the most important thing.
Many Flownies have ADHD and understand the challenges it presents. It really helps that it is OK to say you didn’t do all you wanted to do.
What’s next on the horizon for you? Any exciting projects or pivots on the go?
More online selling! Another podcast for Discussing Mental Health, and maybe my own podcast. The only problem is, being ADHD, I have many interests, and I’m not sure anyone would listen to a podcast about all of them, so I probably have to narrow down the subject matter! (A previous community radio station did let me talk about whatever I wanted and that was fun. I had a show called Planet Clare!). But teaching yoga and continuing to pursue my radio dream would be good.
Clare’s podcast: ADHD and Me with Clare Sherman