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What if Goblin Mode is Right for You?

I wanted to share a brilliant story of one of my clients, let’s call her Hannah. Hannah noticed that whenever she needed to write a quarterly report for work, she’d start only three days before it was due and had to turn on “Goblin Mode” to get it done.

Goblin Mode is how Hannah described herself working on the report: hunched over her desk, frantically doing work while evilly cackling at declining any meeting requests and hissing at waving off any coworkers who stopped by her desk.

What if Goblin Mode is Right for You?

She’d always get the report done on time but noticed it took her multiple days to recover after turning it in due to the added stress, lack of sleep, and not eating enough or well. Hannah was exhausted by this cycle, so she brought it as a coaching topic to one of our sessions.

Goblin Mode, as it stood, was unsustainable, BUT let’s look at the parts that were working for her.

Important note: It’s not the deadline that gets us to do stuff. The deadline often gives us the courage to enforce boundaries, ask for help, and do what we need to do to get the task done our way.

For ADHD brains, getting into the flow (aka booting up our brains to start a project) can be difficult, but once we’re there, we’re golden. By working on a single project for three days, Hannah only had to boot up her brain once instead of multiple random days over the quarter. Next, she works best without interruption, so clearing her schedule of meetings and eliminating coworker distractions was non-negotiable.

How often have you canceled plans or cleared your schedule before a deadline so you could work in one long chunk of interrupted time? I know I have!

So, here’s the kicker. We weren’t getting rid of Goblin Mode. Instead, we’re preparing for it to happen! For her next report, Hannah blocked off her schedule for those three days in advance, told her coworkers/boss what to expect/not to interrupt her, grocery shopped, and cleaned the weekend before so she had easy-to-eat meals and fewer household/self-care tasks. Hence, recovery from Goblin Mode was easier.

She wasn’t wrong for doing her work this way. In fact, it was the most efficient way for her brain to get the report done. Neurotypical advice might suggest working a little each day on a project, but they don’t struggle with the booting-up process as ADHDers do.

I see Goblin Mode happening when my college students write their papers all in one go. I see it when adult clients pack their entire house up in the 48 hours before the moving truck arrives. I always see it in decluttering projects and packing before a trip.

The key is not to pretend it’s going to go any differently. Instead, embrace the way you do it and put some cushions in place so it doesn’t take so much out of you.

This client story is at the heart of what we do in coaching. People with ADHD are not broken, so there’s nothing to fix. Instead, we first help clients understand the neurologically legitimate reasons for their behavior and then find easier ways to work/live while embracing their brains precisely as they are. No changes are necessary.

If you’re stuck in a cycle that’s not working, reach out to one of our coaches for a free Get Acquainted Session to see how coaching might help!

Riley Karbon PCAC

Riley Karbon, PCAC

ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach