Five Things You’re Guaranteed to Get at the ADHD Open Space


Welcome to the ADHD Open Space Podcast. 

My name is Gray Miller, and I will be your host and facilitator as we explore ideas, workarounds, accommodations, and other aspects of being a professional adult with ADHD. 

Most of this will come from my perspective as a cis white male in his mid-fifties living in the Midwest who found out a year ago that I’ve been living with ADHD my entire life. 

I am not an expert on ADHD, except maybe in not knowing I have had it for half a century and somehow still getting by. But I promise to cite my sources or at least admit when I’m repeating something I read on the interwebs. If I say anything you don’t agree with, you’re welcome to call me on it and let me know. 

This podcast is also part of the lead up into the first ADHD Open Space happening in Madison, Wisconsin, on January 20th, 2024. 

You can learn more about that event both here in the show, and at the website, Enjoy the show. 

Hello and welcome back to the ADHD Open Space Podcast. 

This is the first podcast after National Podcast Post Month, which was November. 

And we succeeded in our goal of posting 30 different episodes about open space events and ADHD, different things about that, including a couple of interviews. 

Did I make all the interviews I wanted? Nope. 

Did I talk about all the stuff I wanted to talk about? Nope. 

Uh, but I did succeed in the goal of getting 30 posts up, which I think gives a pretty good body of knowledge. And I wanted to give it a, myself a little rest after that, uh, month long, you know, high pressure, have to get these things out kind of thing. 

And I also wanted to see if there was still interest and believe it or not, I’m still getting signups, even though I haven’t really done much on the ADHD OS sub stack or podcast. That tells me that there are still people interested and so we are gonna continue I’m not gonna sit here and pretend like I’m gonna make a schedule 

We’re going to aim right now for every two weeks. If I do it more than that, then I hope you’ll forgive me. And if I do it less than that, well, then that’s probably a sign that I need to take things down a little bit. 

But in the meantime, I’m also happy to say this is the first podcast that I’m recording using a non-Adobe product. I have cut my ties with Adobe and I am going for some pay once and then use it forever kind of thing rather than software as a service. 

And we’ll see how that works. If you notice any difference in the audio quality, please let me know. 

While I do have, I have a pinned on the site, the reasons why an open space is the just custom made for ADHD brains. 

I had a friend who he was we were talking about the fact that there’s not been a whole lot of signups yet at the ADHD Open Space at the time of this recording. 

That again, the invites are mainly for people who kind of have trouble planning ahead. 

So we’re still five weeks away. 

Of course, we’re not going to have all the signups. 

Anyway, but he said, well, have you have you put it out there to, you know, the people who are more familiar with open space events? 

And I was like, who? 

I mean, if there if there’s, if you look at two groups of people, and you have people that are familiar with open space events and how they work, and you have people who are familiar with or experiencing ADHD, the latter group is a lot bigger. 

But it also highlights why I need to 

Make sure that you understand when I talk about Open Space what you’re being invited to. 

And one of the questions I get from people is like, well, okay, an Open Space event is an event where people show up and they put sessions on the board about things that are important to them at that moment. 

or, you know, things that have been important to them, but things that they really want to talk about during that day, which means we don’t have a slate of certified, vetted speakers with lots of initials after their names. 

And if we don’t have that, how can we actually be sure that what we’re getting has any value to it? 

Now, I can go a whole lot of things about pedagogy, and I may actually even link in the show notes an article I wrote about 

the whole idea of why learning from your peers is often more effective than learning from experts, both in terms of pedagogy and that, especially when you’re talking about things. 

Well, I would say you’re talking about something just as general as productivity or things like that. 

But honestly, do you know where the first learn one, do one, teach one process actually was invented? 

It was invented at the Harvard Medical School Department of Surgery. 

It was a surgical training technique. 

Can you imagine the terror? 

Oh, don’t worry about this, sir. 

It’s just before you’re going under. 

Don’t worry. 

You know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve, uh, learned how to do this and I’ve seen it happen once and, uh, I’m sure it’ll be fine. 

Then you go under. 

Anyway, so the point is, is that, yes, I can say that peer led education is an amazing thing. 

And normally, I mean, for me, that would be enough, but it’s not for everybody. 

And, you know, this is a ticketed event. 

The admission price is still the pre-sale price, which is $50. 

And that’s to cover costs because we do have a few expenses for the space and things like that. 

But really the question becomes, you know, well, what, what am I, what am I paying for? 

What am I going to get? 

And I thought about it and I was able to come up with five things that you are guaranteed to get at the ADHD Open Space. 

Absolutely guaranteed. 

First thing, lunch. 

Lunch and snacks even. 

I have done a lot of open spaces. 

I have carefully cultivated a, 

menu and a shopping list of brain-friendly foods and various things that will keep people going. 

I accommodate vegetarian, gluten-free, and carnivorous things. 

I don’t quite have the ability to make sure everything is vegan. 

However, I guarantee you that a lot of it will be vegan-friendly. 

So, you know, you’ll definitely get that. 

Second, you will get access to space and time to ask the question, share the idea, or rant the rant that you’ve been wanting to do. 

a conversation for 


other other stuff like that. 

You don’t have those things going on that you really are invited to just think about that thing in the back of your head. 

Most people don’t actually have that all the time. 

But this is a space where I am telling you, whatever it is that you’ve been thinking about, you can ask that in public, probably you’ll have people wanting to talk to you about it. 

I have lots and lots and lots of times had somebody come up and say, well, you know, I want to talk about this thing, but I don’t think anybody else is going to want to talk about it. 

And I always tell them, hey, you know what? 

You may be right, but just put it up there anyway, just in case. 

And what almost always happens is that three people, five people, 10 people, 20 people end up getting together and going, oh my God, I thought I was the only one. 

And they talk about this thing. 

Now, even if it’s only three people, think about having three people that you can sit and talk for as long as you want to about this idea, this question, this thing that you’re concerned about, because they feel that way too. 

That is a really exciting thing. 

I love to see it happen. 

Now, I do say almost all the time, because there is exactly one time that I had someone at an open space. 

He came up and he proposed something and nobody showed up to his class. 

And I felt bad for him. 

I saw him. 

He went to the area that had been set aside and he was sitting there and he was writing in his book. 

And I’m like, oh, man, I feel so bad for him that, you know, nobody showed up to a session. 

This is the first time this has ever happened. 

Did I Fail as a Facilitator? 

So I went over and I said, Hey, hey, dude, you know, I’m sorry nobody showed up for your recession. 

I mean, you don’t have to keep it going if you don’t want to. 

And he looked up from his notes and his eyes were just shining with excitement. 

He’s like, Oh, man, I’ve got like three pages of notes written already. 

This is great. 

I have this time and this space I could do this. 

He was he was off. 

He loved it. 

So even if nobody shows up, you get that time for yourself, and that is absolutely guaranteed you will get that if you choose to take it. 

The second thing you get is that you get another place set aside, and we call this the introvert’s corner. 

Now the introvert’s corner is because there is a whole lot going on in an open space. 

A whole lot of stuff goes on. 

You know, you see lots of people doing different things. 

It’s very exciting, and it can use up your spoons kind of quick. 

Hey, even if you’re enjoying yourself, you still can get a little tired and you need a little time out. 

But you don’t necessarily want to just leave the group. 

So the introvert’s corner is pretty simple thing. 

It’s got a couple comfy chairs. 

It’s very clearly labeled introvert’s corner. 

And the rule is, is that if you’re in the introvert’s corner, or you see somebody in the introvert’s corner, you don’t talk to them. 

You don’t talk. 

You just you don’t you don’t wave at them. 

You don’t wake at them. 

You don’t smile at them. 

You just leave them alone. 

It’s a space where they can just be alone and not feel the need to engage with people. 

Sometimes I put coloring sheets there. 

I put, you know, little, you know, you can sit there and read. 

The only thing you can’t do is you can’t talk to somebody else in the interridge corner. 

And I also keep it in a space where you can still see the rest of the event going on. 

You don’t have to shut yourself off from the event. 

You can basically be alone and with everybody else at the same time. 

And so the introvert’s corner has been a really, I should add the introvert’s corner is the only thing that I have changed from the original Open Space framework. 

And the reason I changed it is because I didn’t. 

That was actually set up by an attendee in Seattle at the Seattle Open Space. 

And it, she’s like, I feel like there’s need for this. 

So I’m going to set it up. 

And I said, okay, go ahead. 

And it worked so well that it became adopted, not only by Open Space, but oftentimes at other events and things where people had seen that. 

So the Introvert’s Corner is another thing that will be available for you, a place where you can sit and you can watch other things happening, but you don’t have to worry about anybody talking to you. 

You will also get, brace yourselves, a pen and a notebook. 


That’s right. 

It’s the only merch I’m going to have. 

I can’t even guarantee that it will have anything on it that identifies it as ADHD OS. 

I might have stickers maybe, but you will get a pen and a notebook because I am such a strong believer in taking notes. 

And so you will get a pen and a notebook for the event. 

And then the fifth thing you’ll get is you will get a community. 

And I use that word. 

I know it’s good. 

Some people feel like you don’t have a community. 

We just all happen to have the same brain disorder. 

You know what, you can decide what you want to call it yourself. 

But what I’m saying is that when you spend a day sharing the things that you’re passionate about, that you care about, that are important to you, and having other people share those things with you, it forms relationships. 

People have made lifelong friendships at these open spaces. 

And I want to make sure that’s able to be carried on. 

Now, if you live in the Madison area, you know, you can always have a meetup, you can meet for coffee, things like that. 

But what if you don’t? 

Or what if you really wanted to come to this Open Space? 

Like I have the very first registrant for Open Space lives in Chicago. 

And how is he going to interact with people after the event if they’re in Madison? 

Well, the answer is, of course, Discord. 

So yes, I am going to be creating, actually I have already created an ADHD Open Space Discord. 

Now right now it’s under construction because I want to make sure that it is a safe space for everyone. 

So right now the only people that are actually invited to it are people who I know from other discords who are actually familiar with running discords that are very safe. 

And when that’s all set up, you will all be invited. 

If you’re listening to this podcast, if you’re reading this sub stack, you are invited to be part of it if you like. 

And I’m not saying it’s going to be yet another social network. 

You have to do stuff. 

We will probably have some discussions on it because it has voice channels. 

We will probably have some co-working events on it because I think that’s a very useful thing. 

But in general, you will have something, a place where you can continue on the discussions and the ideas. 

And hey, maybe we’ll even have an online open space using Discord. 

But those are the things that you will definitely get at the ADHD Open Space. 

You will probably get a lot more, but I can’t guarantee that. 

But those five things, I guarantee it. 

All right, let’s move on. 

If I had sponsors, this would be where the sponsor message would go. 

But we’re going to move on to a new series. 

And I’m calling this series Variable Capacity. 

And I’m spelling the T and making a little bit of a pun. 

Capacity is ca-pa-ce-te-a, capital T-E-A. 

And I want to give credit where credit is due. 

That’s Charlie Gilkey’s acronym for time, energy and attention, which are the things you need to get things done. 

And I am taking his his thoughts about capacity and I’m just I’m sort of exploring them in a different kind of lens. 

And he knows that I am doing this. 

I left the first comment on his one of his pieces that he wrote about this. 

Highly recommend his sub stack. 

I recommend his work. 

His books are great. 

I really enjoy it. 

And he’s very ADHD friendly and aware. 

But in this particular case, I’m really kind of digging in deep. 

What we’re going to talk about is the idea of using capacity. 

And let me just say that the ultimate framework, the ultimate goal here is that we are going to try and look at planning out a planning system that is not based on what you want to get done during a day, but rather based on how you want to feel at the end of the day. 

And the logic behind that is that if you feel good about what you did during the day, at the end of the day, you’re probably doing the right things. 

And sometimes, I think far too many times, we are doing what we think we should do during the day, and at the end of the day, we don’t feel so good about it. 

Whether we’re too tired, or, you know, there’s some kind of a, well, I finally earned my rest. 

You don’t earn rest. 

And I’m telling myself that, not you. 

I mean, I still kind of go, Hey, am I earned? 

Have I have I got the right to be tired yet? 

Have I done enough work? 


That’s what this is going to be about. 

It’s a series. 

And the first one, we’re going to talk a little bit about time. 

But first, I want to start out by sharing something you may have read already. 

If so, you can fast forward a couple of minutes in the podcast and get to the time part. 

But I want to talk about a different kind of a metaphor for ADHD. 

There’s a lot of them. 

I mean, there’s a whole lot of ADHD be like, you know, it’s basically its own hashtag. 

But this one in particular has to do with time and the idea of time blindness. 

Think about your morning commute.

Think about how many signs you rely on — street signs, construction notifications, speed limits.

And how many signals — seeing when to stop, when to go, when people are going to change lanes. In fact, think about how irritating it is when someone cuts in front of you without signaling. How that puts you on edge, spikes your cortisol, makes your heart beat faster with fear masked as anger (because it’s not that you’re mad abut the signal, you’re mad because of what could have happened if you weren’t a good enough driver to have noticed them moving over).

Now that you’ve imagined that, imagine that you have a certain kind of mental disability that made you blind to all the signs and signals.

You could see everything still. You could drive, you had the skills, but you had to make your best guess about where to turn. You had to be hyper-vigilant while driving, because you never knew when someone was going to slow down, turn, or when traffic might get faster or slower. You had to deal with other drivers honking angrily or shaking their head at you as you try to drive as well as they do — but the thing is, they can see the signs, they can read the signals, it’s second nature to them.

Why don’t you just try to drive better?

Welcome to the world of a time-blind professional with ADHD. Except instead of making the commute to work, we’re traveling through time — all in the same direction as our coworkers, both neurotypical and neurodivergent.

But very much not at the same rate. We’ll talk about that later.

To carry the metaphor a bit further, if you were blind to the signals that had been created for people that could see them but still had to get places, you would likely find other ways to help you travel. If you can’t rely on your senses, you’d use other sensors that you could rely on — perhaps the odometer telling you distance, combined with a map of the area. Maybe you’d spend extra time driving around, trying to connect landmarks to your common destinations.

And if there was a new destination, or a new route you had to take, you’d simply buckle down and accept that getting to where you need to be was going to be a bit more complex for you than for most of your colleagues.

That’s the difference — a professional finds scheduling tools useful. For a professional with ADHD, they are necessary.

Most people have a general idea of what they are going to do during their day. Most people can tell when a certain amount of time has passed, and they need to move on to something else.

That’s not how it works for the professional with ADHD. Put them in a room where there’s nothing to do, and after a bit ask them how long they think they’ve been there.


On the other hand, put them in a room with something they care about, they are interested in, they enjoy doing, and leave them there for three or four hours. Then come in and tell them it’s time to leave.

What, already?

I know, I know. “That happens to everybody.” Yes, of course it does — it just happens to people with ADHD more. A lot more. In fact, for some, it feels like all the time.

There is no such concept of “a while”, “a bit”, or that nefarious prankster, “just a few”.

There is now. And there is not now.

Anything else? We have to rely on externalized systems.


Externalized Systems Help Everybody

Externalized scheduling tools are not new. You may remember some kerfluffle about a particular Mayan version of google calendar a few years back? Or maybe that bunch of rocks in England that line up with uncanny precision during certain times of the year.

Of course, we can’t all carry around big seasonal stone alarm clocks, or even tiny sundials on our wrists a la Fred Flintstones. If you’re reading this, you probably use the default 12-month, 365-day, 24-hour timekeeping system that we inherited from the Romans who stole it from the Greeks who inherited it from the Egyptians and Babylonians…look, it’s complicated, and outside the scope of this article.

But there’s a neat little theme to the history of how we arrived at the units we use to measure time, and it’s a pretty simple one:

It was convenient.

What follows is some “facts” about the history of time, as much as lightly-researched reputable-publications can relate them. Any errors are likely my own, but I didn’t have time for a deep dive.

But get this:

  • We have 60 seconds in the day and 60 seconds in the hour because that’s how the Sumerians did it. No one knows why they chose that number — best guess is that it’s usefully divisible by 10, 12, 15, 20, and 30 — but that’s how they did it, and the Babylonians learned it that way, and so did the Egyptians, and therefore the Greeks did it that way, and the Romans…all the way to that “:59” on your technologically advanced supercomputer on your wrist.
  • We have 12 hours in the day possibly because there are 12 lunar cycles in the year, but also possibly because you have twelve knuckles on your fingers — which you can count with your thumb like a little counting rod. Yes, seriously, that’s one of the reasons historians think the Egyptians used base 12. As digits go, it is pretty handy…
  • Because they liked base 12, when they invented the first sundials, they attempted to divide the day and the night into 12 sections as well — 10 regular “hours” and then an hour on each end for twilight and dawn. Unfortunately, sundials are entirely solar powered, and that made it hard to divide the night equally — so that’s when they got really complicated:
  • Stay with me here: Egyptian astronomers divided the sky into equal parts using 36 stars, 18 of which would appear on any given night (with each of the two twilight periods highlighted by three particularly bright stars that they could still see). That left 12 stars to divide the “dark” hours equally (yay, back to the comforting duodecimal system!).
  • If that seems too complex, they felt that way too. During the “New Kingdom” (well, new to them, it was in 1550 B.C.) they “simplified” it to 24 stars — still with 12 to mark the passage of the night.
  • Before you get too comfortable with the idea of these twenty four hours days, you should know that since they were measured with sundials, they only were equal hours on the equinoxes. The rest of the year, the length of the “hour” varied based on the season. Roman hours, for example, were more like this:

Illustration By Darekk2 via Wikipedia — Own work, used under CC BY-SA 4.0

  • It wasn’t that they couldn’t divide the hours equally — there was a device called the clepsydra or water clock that kept incredibly accurate time, and that’s been found in places dated as early as 1400 B.C. It just wasn’t very useful.People’s lives were ruled by the seasons, and why pretend like a winter night was the same as a summer one, when it was obviouslydifferent?
  • Even when a Greek smart guy named Hipparchus finally standardized equal hours, they were more an oddity or a scientific tool than any part of everyday life. It was another 1500 years before the common people started even using hours in clocks — and another two hundred before any regular folks bothered with minutes.
  • We know exactly when we all finally started using the same “standard” time — December 1st, 1847. And not because that has any particular kind of galactic or seasonal or even religious significance (except perhaps to trainspotters). No, that was just the point at which the British railways adopted a standard time to measure when their trains would arrive.
  • The U.S. would take almost another forty years to adopt the same system, and it eventually spread throughout the world as countries had more global contact.

So what it comes down to is that this system of time that we use, that is held up as being “the most valuable asset” and “not to be wasted” and “every minute counts” — is a big pile of convenience, coincidence, tradition, and we’ve all agreed on it for less than 200 years.

That’s 6,311,433,600 Seconds, if you’re counting.

So what’s the point of all this? 

It’s just this: as we are looking at figuring out a productivity system that works for us (and notice, I haven’t even gotten into the whole idea of subjective time, but that’s because I don’t want to spend all of this podcast talking about time. We’ll talk more about that later on ) I want us to let go of the idea that we have to do it exactly the way that it has always been done. 

I mean, sure, you’ll have to have a reference to it. I can’t say, I’m going to divide my day into a morning and an evening and then expect that, you know, I’ll tell my kids, oh, I’ll pick you up from school, you know, some time in the evening. 

No, I have to actually know what time that is. 

But for myself, I can divide the time up in whatever way works for me because that’s what people have always done. 

Time is designed to be a tool that we use. 

So as we go into this idea about tweaking our schedules and coming up with a productivity system that works for us as individuals, let’s let go of the idea that we have to subscribe to anybody else’s idea about how many hours a focus block needs to be, how long a Pomodoro needs to be, how many Pomodoros you have to do before you get a rest, how long a rest should be. 

Let go of how many hours of sleep you might need. 

Sure, we can do trends, but all those trends, you will also recognize they’re just “lies, damn lies and statistics.”

So let’s start there. 

And if you have any comments or ideas about your own perception of time and things like that, I’d love to hear them. We will talk more about the subjective nature of time — you know, the idea that when you’re doing something you love, time flies, and if you’re doing something you don’t, time drags. And we’ll be also talking about how we can accurately understand how much time we really need. 

And along the way, we’re going to talk about some ways of doing time tracking, because that personally is one thing that I am still trying to work out. Still have some ideas, still some thoughts on it, but we’ll figure it out. 

As usual, my name is Gray Miller, and I can always be reached at gray, G-R-A-Y, at 

You can also comment on this, you can find me on threads (on threads and things like that, I am actually @CreativeGrayVisual because @CreativeGray is my online persona ). 

For this particular time and place, we’re talking about ADHD and open space. And I will talk to you in the next episode. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of the ADHD Open Space Podcast. Again, my name is Gray Miller. 

If you have any comments or questions about the show, you can feel free to leave them on the podcast page at forward slash podcast. Or you can email me directly Gray, G-R-A-Y at 

The background music for the intro and outro are from and are called Funny Days Together by Background Music Lab, used under a YouTube Content ID license.

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