ADHD ABC| H is for Hyperfocus- What is It?

God is in the detailsGod is in the details.- Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, German-American Architect

Mies was on the right track. Yet I say that God is in the hyperfocus.  When Mies said it, he meant whatever you do, you should do it well and thoroughly. That doesn’t happen without hyperfocus.

What is Hyperfocus?

…is a mega intense form of concentration, visualization, or “flow” that ADDers zoom into when they’re completely immersed in an activity that interests them. Many parents of ADHD children don’t understand how their children have a hard time paying attention at school, and yet can totally concentrate when playing baseball, drawing, or playing a new video game. It’s the power of hyperfocus!

When I first got diagnosed, my psychiatrist informed me that a person with ADHD can focus better than a regular person when they get into hyperfocus mode. When I learned that, I felt like, “I may have ADHD, but I also have a super power.” 

hyperfocusWhen Does Hyperfocus Happen?

I can get into hyperfocus mode in about 5 minutes after starting a task that intrigues me (like writing, reading a book, or art).  When I really get into hyperfocus, I can feel the whoosh of the holy spirit guiding me–like God is really with me.

My husband Kevin, who has ADD, said, “It’s like there’s no time. You’re completely in the zone. You can’t hear much.”   He can get into hyperfocus mode in about 15.2 seconds–whether he’s driving, cooking, researching fly rods, or watching baseball.

What Happens When You Lose Hyperfocus?

Ack! Disaster. It feels like a sensory assault.

If the phone keeps ringing,  my husband stomps upstairs and asks me a question, or my daughter keeps clicking away at Snapchat, it jars me out of going into that zone. Extraneous stimuli, from the buzzing of a flourescent light, someone slurping their coffee, or the sound from a video game feel like I’m a Zip-lock baggie and someone keeps poking holes in me and stretching my skin.

Kevin also said that he gets annoyed when people interrupt his hyperfocus. (I can attest to that. When I ask him a question several times, and he ignores me because he’s in hyperfocus mode, he usually thrashes his head around like the girl in the Exorcist, and growls, “Whaatttttt?”)  Transition to another activity- ACK!

How do you feel when you’re in hyperfocus? How about when you get jarred out of it and can’t refocus?

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Nancy Carroll Written by:


  1. April 10, 2014

    Nancy, Your article is confirmation that perception is everything. In an effort to artificially create a state of hyperfocus, I utilize brain entrainment music. What I LOVE about your post is that you give voice to our differences. Your platform has created expanded awareness.

    Thanks for sharing!


    Jacqui Dobens

    • April 10, 2014

      What’s an artificial state of hyperfocus?
      Brain entrainment music?

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