Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ADHD plus MLIS = slowest inventory ever

I work a couple of days per week at a fantastic retail specialty store that I love. Locally owned and operated too, another plus. Now that we've emerged from the madness of Christmas shopping season it's time to do inventory...and we do things the old fashioned way, counting by hand.

Well I have never done this before so this was a new process, therefore I did not have a clear picture of the overview. When I don't have a clear picture of the overview of a task or project, I tend to err on the side of overly detailed, for a couple of reasons, and usually this turns out to be a good thing...which is why I do it. Unfortunately this was not one of those times.

You see, one of my ADHD coping mechanisms is making sure I pay careful, methodical attention to EVERY detail. If I don't attack a task like this with a very specific process and do each thing the same way each time, I easily (INSTANTLY) lose track of where I left off. Memory issues are not awesome in a situation like this either...I can pick up an object to read one specific piece of information off of it, and by the time I look to my paper to immediately write it down, I have forgotten it.

Well apparently (being the new girl this year) I didn't grasp the "feel" of this project right away and because I didn't know the endpoint I wasn't sure what I was working toward. We were supposed to just fly like the wind, grabbing, counting, writing, grabbing, counting writing...and here I was methodically accounting for every detail. And when I finally noticed that others had gotten far more done, and asked what I was doing wrong, they told me to just "go" faster.

Ugh...I felt the impairment of my mind big time. It made me see, boldly and clearly, why I do these things the way I do. I would fly right through a few items, and then suddenly panic, realizing that I had no idea where I'd left off, or realized that I'd missed entire chunks of stuff on racks...frickin' hell! I was eventually able to strike a balance between lightning speed and honoring my need for methodical care but at no point was this fun.

I also have to remind myself that it's not just my brain I'm contending with, it's my training...I'm a hairsbreadth from finishing a degree in librarianship, a whole discipline that only benefits from the kind of methodical process that I use to organize my own thinking.

I spent the whole day battling my training AND my brain chemistry just to try to be a good retail elf and keep up with the rest of the girls, and I really just had to admit to myself that while I made improvement, I couldn't keep up. I actually am VERY fast at certain kinds of tasks...checking stock IN and keeping it organized? I'm really fast. Organizing and building displays? I'm really good at that. But we can't all be good at anything. Each time I finished a shelf and had to start another one I could feel the stress rise in my stomach, because it all just looked like a big jumble of overwhelm and it was MY job to figure out how to sort it all out.

By the end of the day, I finally had the overview that would have helped me to at least understand the need for speed earlier in the day and begin to address it earlier...now I know. No self-flagellation allowed.

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