Meet Brittany Smith: The ADHD and Productivity Coach
Brittany Smith is an ADHD, productivity, and technology coach for teenagers, college students, and adults. She has a background in cognitive neuroscience that helps her clients manage ADHD and work more effectively with less stress.
Today, Dwellingright founder, Miriam Rapaport-Hindin, sat down with productivity coach Brittany Smith to chat about what it's like to have ADHD and be an ADHD coach!
If you suspect you have ADD / ADHD but are daunted by getting a formal diagnosis, having a casual conversation with your doctor would be the easiest place to start.
If you don't care about an official diagnosis but would like to connect with a community, you can already reach out to ADD / ADHD support groups and coaches, as they don't need a formal diagnosis to work with you.
Interested in reading more? Let's get into the interview below 👏🏽
Miriam: Thank you so much for joining us today. We're excited to learn more about you and the work that you do with your community and professionally. To kick us off with our first question, can you please share with us what you do professionally?
Brittany: I am an ADHD productivity and technology coach. I help people get their work done better.
Miriam: And what drew you to this work?
Brittany: I was studying cognitive neuroscience as my master's degree, and I found myself drawn to practical applications and helping people who had brains like mine.
I learned a lot along the way in Grad school. Getting myself through it was a whole process. I then noticed that a lot of the things I had learned were helpful for other people. It was actually my ADHD coach that helped me get through grad school that recommended I look into coaching.
Miriam: Wow. And can you tell us about how old you were when you first got diagnosed?
Brittany: I was 29.
Miriam: How did that change your life?
Brittany: There are a lot of issues that come around a late diagnosis, like - why didn't anybody tell me? I could have done so many other things! And my brain suddenly makes so much more sense to me!
There's a whole process of understanding there. But on the other hand, it can also be a really cool opportunity. For example, now that I know this, I know I don't have to do things the normal way and maybe I just can't do them the normal way.
The most liberating thing for me was realizing that it’s an awful thing to try to do accounting the way my mom does. Like sit down, hit menu and 'voila!', I'll just sit here entering in the receipts for all the things. It’s actually a bad idea for me to try to do that, it was not going to lead anywhere good, and I was never really going to be amazing at that.
So, the day that I realized, “Oh right, I don't have to do that and it's not a good idea”, it was so liberating. Just learning what are the things I'm actually good at and starting to notice things in the world around me.
Miriam: Do you have any tips for people who haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD and suspect they have it, or for those who have just been diagnosed with it for the first time?
Brittany: If you need a diagnosis, there’s standardized testing. By all means, go through the formal thing if you need to.
But quite often, all you need is your doctor to diagnose you. If you're worried about this huge process, e.g. 'Is it accurate? Are they knowledgeable?' Maybe they will be, or maybe not. But if you just need to get started and you know that you’re a person who loses your keys six times in a week then it might be an easy place to get started.
I'm not a diagnostician either, but if you're worried about the paperwork involved, you don't necessarily have to go through all the formality. If you start by having a conversation with your doctor it would really be the easiest place. If they're not comfortable, ask for a referral to a psychiatrist or somebody in that field.
If you’re still curious, most services and coaches out there don’t require you to have a formal diagnosis. I don’t require formal diagnoses to work with someone. Many people will join a group like ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association) and look for support there.
There are a lot of people there in the investigation stage. They're wondering if they have it, or maybe if their spouse has it, or their kid has it and they start exploring there. A lot of those services and the community is very open. It's OK to come. It's OK to learn more within that community. We are such social learners. Why wouldn't you take advantage of that? It makes sense to.
Miriam: Do you see commonalities in the challenges that your clients face?
Brittany: There are things that come up a lot. It does depend on the person. One person with ADHD is one person with ADHD, and that's an important thing to realize. Not every story has to sound like you, but if you hear yourself in enough of the tales, that can be an indicator.
If you have a hard time doing things the simple way. If you find yourself needing to make a big project out of the little things. If somebody has come along and said, ‘why can't you just do it the simple way?’
If you want to make something very complex and make it more efficient. Sometimes that's not making it more efficient. It's part of the other edge of the two-edged sword of this powerful imagination. It’s coming up with too inventive ways to put my shoes and socks on, for example.
If you have a stack of papers that kind of feels like it's yelling at you because you haven't been taking care of whatever is in there for so long, that you’ve forgotten that it even exists. It’s one of those things that you can experience without having ADHD, but it is the level and degree that changes when you have ADHD.
I call ADHD being extra-human. All those things that somebody like Doctor Who came around and said, ‘Humans are great, you're so imaginative and you just go ahead and try it’ - like that’s us, right? We're going to impulsively just go try that thing. And it's so cool! We can create these amazing things. But, on the other hand, you then realize, oh I brain-farted and now my keys are locked inside my car.
Or for example, 'how did I not realize I needed to call ahead to make this reservation and now I'm here and oh dang, I can't get in'. Those little things that we do, we do much more of the time than other people.
The reason that it’s so easy for so many professionals to say, 'Is ADHD real? I don't believe in it', is because so many of those traits are traits everybody has. It's just how much did you do it?
One of my favorite things at the international conference on ADHD, when we were in person, was how many times they're calling out on the P.A. for somebody's wallet that they left behind somewhere. Everybody has a good chuckle, and we all get it. It's not a chuckle at anybody's expense. It's just like, 'oh hey it wasn't me this time!'
Miriam: What do you feel your life’s mission is now?
Brittany: My life's mission is making stuff suck less. That comes out in a lot of forms and through helping people accomplish their goals.
I love working with somebody who has this thing they want to do, and they don't know how to move forward. They don't know how to plan it, or they have these barriers that are getting in the way of this thing that they really want. We can find ways to move past it. We can find ways, together, to say - 'How could we simplify this? What are you feeling you must do, that you don't really have to do? How do we make this goal feel accomplishable and feel like something you're connected to so you can really move forward and get that thing that you want?'
Miriam: That’s such an inspiring answer and I love seeing how connected you are with your work, your purpose and this community. Thanks so much for chatting with us today!
If you're interested in finding out more about Brittany's work, you can find her here.
Brittany Smith is an ADHD, productivity, and technology coach for teenagers, college students, and adults. She has a background in cognitive neuroscience that helps her clients manage ADHD and work more effectively, with less stress.
She offers private Parent Consultations to help parents better understand and work with their ADHD children.
This interview was brought to you by Dwellingright, the app that helps you stay one step ahead in life. Download Dwellingright on iOS and Android today.