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When William Curb learned he had ADHD (and wasn’t just lazy), he felt empowered to build coping skills. Now, he hosts the Hacking Your ADHD podcast where he talks about ADHD supports, workarounds, and more.

In this bonus episode, host Laura Key and William talk about ADHD and emotions and his favorite ADHD hacks.

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Episode transcript

Laura: Hey listeners, we have a bonus episode for you today. I recently got a chance to sit down with William Curb, host of the great podcast "Hacking Your ADHD." I was curious to hear about some of the ADHD hacks he's learned and shared throughout his journey as a person with ADHD and as a podcast host. William also reflected a bit on his experience with ADHD, including a tense moment with a pumpkin pie. 

This is "ADHD Aha!," a podcast where people share the moment when it finally clicked that they have ADHD. My name is Laura Key. I head up our editorial team here at, and as someone who's had my own ADHD "aha" moment, I'll be your host. 

Well, I am very excited to be here today with William Curb. William is the host of the podcast "Hacking Your ADHD." William, welcome. Thank you so much for being here today. 

William: Thank you for having me. And I heard about the opportunity that sounded really exciting to do. And I've listened to a number of the episodes already, and I really like this telling the story of ADHD part, because so many people feel so alone in their story, and then they hear other people's stories and are like, "Oh wait, this is universal for people."

Laura: That's what we're trying to do here. So, thank you for going on this journey with me. I, really quick, I would love for you to tell our listeners a little bit about your show. I imagine that many of the "aha" listeners also already listen to your show, but those who don't, what do you do over there at "Hacking Your ADHD"? 

William: It started off with me doing a lot of the short-form monologue episodes, where I would just talk about a particular issue with ADHD, spend about 15 minutes talking about it, and then kind of reiterate the tips at the end. And that really resonated with people. I've been experimenting with more interview-based stuff recently to try and get some new ideas out there, but I'm going to be doing it for about almost five years now. 

Laura: Wow, congratulations! It's a great show. I highly recommend that everybody go and check it out. What would you say was your moment where, or a series of moments, that made you realize, "Oh, I think that I'm actually struggling with ADHD" or "ADHD is a really big deal in my life." 

William: This is one of the most interesting things that I can like pinpoint with all my memories of a few things. For my current podcast, I had another podcast I did, "An Ultimate Frisbee." 

Laura: Awesome. 

William: And I was struggling to put out some episodes on that, and I was just texting with a friend and being like, "I need to work on this, but I'm just being too lazy." Said that and then I like sat there for a second and I'm like, "Well, it's probably not that I'm lazy, it's just probably my ADHD." And that was just like a level like, "Oh, I can do something about that." 

Laura: Oh, interesting. 

William: And it was that disconnecting being lazy and ADHD that was that "aha" for me. Being like, "Oh, this is not the same thing."

Laura: Yeah. 

William: "This is something different." And that was well before I learned what executive dysfunction was and all these other things. But it was like "I'm going to go and like look online for some resources here." I went to the ADHD subreddit. I watched videos from Jessica McCabe with the "How To ADHD," and I was just like, "Oh, I thought ADHD was just getting distracted. I did not have this idea of all these other components." 

Laura: What other kinds of things were, like, what was so surprising? 

William: I think the one that really hit me was seeing how ADHD affects emotions and stuff. And I was just like, "Oh, of course, something that's in my brain affects all of my brain, not just the parts that are convenient or are like forward-facing, like it's everything part of my brain is going to be affected by this. There's no reason that it wouldn't. And then there's these aspects of why I'm being forgetful, how I can try and manage these things, how I can try and manage executive dysfunction, and getting myself to do things when I just don't feel like it. 

Laura: How have you struggled with emotions? What does that spark in you? 

William: There's a couple places where it's just like the RSD, the rejection sensitive dysphoria kind of aspect, where I felt very sensitive to other people's perceived rejections. 

Laura: Yeah. 

William: I think that's one of the biggest pieces there is. It's not just real rejections, it's perceived. It's how you feel. It doesn't really matter if it's real or not. And that's why it makes such a big difference, is because you go, "Why do I feel bad?" And it's like, "Oh, well, because I felt like this person was being very dismissive of me. It didn't matter if they were or not. That's just how I felt."

And then there's also this aspect of being I'm not really generally like a very angry person, but there is like the 0 to 60 anger that can happen where I'm just like, "Oh man, I'm really mad all of a sudden." 

Laura: Can you give an example of that 0 to 60 anger, one that you're comfortable sharing? 

William: Yeah, this is one I can definitely share. I've shared it on the podcast before because I was just trying to cut a piece of pie, and I could not get the piece of pie to come out of the pie. I was just stuck in the pie, and I took the pie and I just slammed it on the floor. And it, I mean, I'm like, I ruined the pie. It went onto the ceiling, and it was just like, there's no reason for me to have done that. That didn't solve the problem. It was just all of a sudden I'm like, "I can't handle..." 

Laura:  Of course. 

William: And I mean, it wasn't the pie's fault. So, it was just being like general stress on me and then just having this one thing that went wrong and it was just like, "Oh no, I'm going to take this out on this pie." I mean, the great part is I took it out on the pie. 

Laura: That's true. The most important question is what kind of pie. 

William: It was a Costco pumpkin pie? So it was a big one. 

Laura: Oh, man, I feel so much stress. Listeners of the show hear me talk about this all the time, but getting my kids out the door in the morning. It's... they're kids. It's not their fault. And I do so much prep work to try to make it smooth as, like I'm laying out the clothes. I'm putting up breakfast in advance. I've got my own clothes picked out. 

There's so many things that I've tried to scaffold, to make, to make the morning even possible at all. And then I'm trying to get out the door and I'm going to look for something in my purse or something like a key, and it's buried amongst the junk and mess that's in my purse. And what do I do? I pick up my purse and I flip it over, and I empty the contents and throw everything on the ground because I'm so frustrated. Because I can't find it. 

And now I've upset my kids. I'm feeling upset. I'm mad because I worked so hard to try to make the morning smooth. And then I just couldn't find my one thing. So there. I'm sharing as well. 

William: Yeah, I mean, I've definitely done the same thing too, where it's just like it has to be in this bag. And even when I do that, it tends not to be in the bag, it was just like somewhere else. 

Laura: Yeah. It's was like on my head or something. 

So, with your show "Hacking Your ADHD," you share a lot of tips and strategies. What is the most unique hack that either you or someone you know has come up with? 

William: One I always like to think about is sequencing, where it matters the order that you do things in. And the easiest example of this is you have to put your pants on before you put your shoes on. Totally. Like everyone can get that. That doesn't work the other way. Despite what my children have tried to show me. And I have noticed that this also applies for a lot of like how I do work. 

This really came in for a very simple problem that I kept having, which was relining the trash can where I would take out the trash, come back in it, just not reline it, and I would be like, get really mad later being like, "I'm not throwing trash into an unlined trash can, I didn't, was mentally, I just threw it and now I have to take it out. And maybe it was something gross and it's inconvenient to have not had that lined. 

And so, it was like, "OK, I will take the trash out. I'll put it next to the trash can, I will reline on the trash can, and then I'll take those trash can out. And just changing the order that I did things and made it so that that task got done. 

Laura: That's so simple and but yet so elegant, I like that. Give me another example of sequencing, a task like that, and how you've changed the sequencing. 

William: This might go to like how I like write episodes where I spend a lot of time not writing before I start writing, where I'm just not doing the actual writing for the episode. I do this pre-writing section where I'm like, "OK, I'm going to gather all this information and I'm going to vomit out all this idea onto this page," and this is literally never going to be what I use. I might copy and cut some sections out of it, but I will not just, this is not the script. 

And so, by doing that beforehand and not trying to do it at the same time and having it be a very separate thing makes then the process of doing the writing go a lot smoother and be a lot more enjoyable. 

Laura: What's something that you feel like you haven't been able to hack and you really, really want to? An ADHD-related challenge can be specific or general, but you haven't cracked that nut quite yet. 

William: Something I've been working on now it's keeping things on our radar so that you don't have things fall to the wayside just because you forgot about them. There is a lot of things that I can do to help with that, but then there are small tasks that might not get put onto a task list or something, and finding ways to make sure that they still get done, even though it might not be my top priority or my second priority. It's the stuff that I want to get done. So, it's a lot of the important but not urgent tasks. 

Laura: OK. And is the challenge there the remembering to remember?

William: Yeah, the remembering to remember and also just remembering that this is still a priority even though it's not the top priority. 

Laura: So, how are you thinking about hacking this, and like what are your hypotheses right now? 

William: A lot of where I'm thinking about it is just how I approach my to-do list, how I approach planning my days and weeks and stuff. So, I think a lot of it goes back to rebuilding my habits and systems of spending less time trying to keep stuff in my head, and more time using an outside system that I will maintain. 

And then thinking about, "OK, I'm going to want to keep more stuff externally. How do I maintain that system in a way that doesn't get overwhelming, that I can come back to have accountability around?"

Because a lot of times will be like, "OK, I'm going to build this great system to hold every single to do I want in my life." And then we stop using it because we stop trusting that system because we're not following through with what, we're like "Well, I didn't do this thing on there. And so I'm not going to keep doing this thing because I don't trust the system anymore." 

Laura: That makes sense. Is there a tip or a hack that you wish that someone had shared with you sooner in life, because it would have been a major game changer? 

William: Really the thing that I wish I knew is that I have ADHD and so I need to do things differently, and that's OK. It's OK that I have to use these strategies and stuff. If I struggle with something, it's again, not moralistic, it's just I struggle with it. So, then let's find a solution for that. And that's using that solution is OK, that's how I have to do things. 

Laura: Yeah, I love that. It really resonates with me how you're talking about taking the moralism out of this. It's similar to kids aren't good or bad. Maybe they just didn't follow directions today, or they're just being kids or whatever it is. It's so easy to make these sweeping generalizations, and it happens a lot for people with ADHD. I feel like, do you agree with that? 

William: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there's a lot that goes into why we have this background in like, "Oh, we have this judgment behind why we can't do stuff." There's this like Protestant work ethic kind of ideas where it's like producing is what makes you a good member of society. Yeah, it comes back to kids for me a lot for I'm like, "How do I teach my kids that they have value beyond what they produce?" Because that's something it's important for me to be learning. 

Laura: William, do you have any questions for me? Because you're a podcast host, so I'm curious, like what's on your mind in general or topics that you're fascinated by right now? 

William: Two of the areas that I'm really interested in are, one is planning beyond time management and thinking about my daily energy. I'm feeling good. I can plan with that in mind, because that's so much more important than just having something on my calendar. Because yeah, while I do have to live by my calendar and watch what's on there, I also am not going to be able to follow through if I just fill that up. 

Laura: Yeah. 

William: And then the other place that I'm really interested in, just figuring out neat ways to use these new AI tools that are coming out. I've been playing with them and being like the other day with my kids, let's clean your room. My daughter's like, "There's too much to do here. This is overwhelming." And so, I had remembered this tool, I don't remember what it's called right now, but it's within the realm of ChatGPT architecture, where you take a picture of a room and you say, "What are the steps to clean this room?" 

Laura: Woah, cool!

William: It will look through the picture, it'll create a list, and then from that I was like, "Hey, can you break down this into these parts?" So that, and then printed that list out for my daughter. I was like, how does this look? And she's like, "Oh, this is really cool." 

Laura: That is so cool. Like AI is so ripe for ADHD life hacks. 

William: Yeah. I mean, I feel like there's a lot of ways that we can have that executive dysfunction feeling like, "I don't know where to start." And it being like, "Start here" and you're like, "Oh, good enough for me. That's all I needed."

Laura: What do you tell people, William, who like they know that they need support, they know that they need to make their daily lives more manageable, but they don't even know what they need to try to find hacks for?

William: The first thing that always comes up is just do less stuff. We have ADHD, we want to do everything. That is always going to be, we just do too much and we say yes to everything. So, it is being much more aggressive in deciding what we're going to say yes to. And being like, spending time being like, "Hey, every time I say yes to something, I'm saying no to something else because I cannot fit everything in." Despite how cool that sounds, I'm going to have to say no because there's other stuff that I have to do.

 Laura: That's a good tip. I could use that. We do say "yes" a lot, don't we? Why do we do that? 

William: Well, because it's fun. It gives us like, "Oh, I'm going to do that. That sounds great." And then it's important to not just be saying no to other people, but saying no to yourself. 

Laura: Yeah. 

William: Because I'm like, "Oh, I want to do this, and I want to do that, and I want to do this. And I'm like, I'm going to learn how to play the saxophone and the ukulele. And I also want to do this puzzle." When am I going to do that? 

Laura: Right. What did you say no to yourself for recently? It was the saxophone? That was you?

William: The saxophone. I'm like, I keep it on. Like "I want to learn how to play saxophone. "I'm like, "I do. That is going to be a priority at some point, but it can't be right now." And that's another way to do it. Like, hey, there is again, I can get into this side of being like, "Well, if I'm going to be doing something, it should be productive." I'm like, "No. Prioritize well-being. Prioritize having fun, but do know you have other obligations, too." 

Laura: So, what's coming up on the show that you're excited about? 

William: I'm working on that, all that stuff on the building systems. And like I was thinking about it this morning, like, how do I go beyond talking about a lot of the productivity issues? Because, while that is an important issue of ADHD management, it isn't the only thing. There is a lot of other stuff that goes into having ADHD, other than having trouble with work. Laundry is an example I use a lot. But... 

Laura: Yeah. 

William: Then me thinking about like "How do I, how can I better serve my audience in these senses of what does having ADHD mean beyond work?"

Laura: Yeah, yeah. 

William:  I'm going to be trying to explore some new things. That's also the fun of ADHD. Is that like, "Hey, I'm going to be doing new stuff because that's ADHD for you." 

Laura: That's a perfect place to wrap it up then. William Curb, it is so nice to spend time with you. Thank you for coming on "ADHD Aha!" William is the host of "Hacking Your ADHD." Everyone please check it out. And William, I'm just, I'm grateful that you spent this time with me today. Thank you.

William: Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure. 

Laura: Thanks for listening. As always, if you want to share your own "aha" moment, email us at I'd love to hear from you. Be sure to check out the show notes for this episode. We have more resources and links to anything we mentioned. 

This show is brought to you by Understood is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people with learning and thinking differences, like ADHD and dyslexia. Learn more at And if you like what you hear, help us continue this work by donating at 

"ADHD Aha!" is produced and edited by Jessamine Molli. Jessamine, are you there? 

Jessamine: Hi everyone. I'm still here. 

Laura: And Margie DeSantis. 

Margie: Hey, hey. 

Laura: Our theme music was written by Justin D. Wright, who also mixes the show. Ilana Millner is our supervising producer. Briana Berry is our production director. Neil Drumming is our editorial director. Creative and production leadership from Scott Cocchiere and Seth Melnick. And I'm your host, Laura Key. Thanks so much for listening. 


  • Laura Key

    is executive director of editorial at Understood and host of the “ADHD Aha!” podcast.

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