Being Productive with ADHD

ADHD Dog

I have ADHD. Ok… it’s out there.

If you know me, you are not shocked. It explains a lot of things that I do. It explains some of my patterns (or lack thereof actually). It explains why I do the things I do… and why I sometimes don’t do the things I should do.

If you have ADHD you will understand what I am about to say: being productive and effective when you have ADHD has very little to do with your lack of skill and a lot to do with your lack of structure.

ADHD Dog Quote1

Structure is the foundation to effectively managing ADHD… but it is also the bane of our existence. We want structure… just so we know where we can colour outside the lines.

Anyway, I digress (ADHD shocker).

Last week I knew I needed to get away and think. Without the interruptions. Without the calls and the “squirrels” that would cause me to become ineffective (I have just spent the last minute thinking of Dug the dog in the movie Up just because I wrote “squirrels”).

So I got away for the day. My office knew they could contact me if they needed to but for most of the day, I was alone with my headphones listening to the Deep Focus playlist on Spotify).

If you struggle with ADHD, or have a hard time setting up a structure to get things done, I thought I would let you know what I did for the day. This may help you if you are needing some time alone to think, plan, and prepare for your upcoming week, month, projects, etc.

Here’s what I did:

1 – Got up early! I had my computer on and ready to go before most people hit the snooze button for the first time. Most days I am working by 5am and I plough through a lot of my tasks before the first person asks me a question and starts my cycle of pseudo-multitasking (I don’t believe men can multitask… and don’t even get me started on a man with ADHD!!!!).

2 – Reviewed Last Month’s Calendar (30 minutes). I looked at my Google Calendar (everything I do is on there) and went over the last month. I asked myself where I wasted time. I looked at where I may have started something but didn’t finish it and I made myself a note to make it a task in Asana later.  When it was all said and done, I probably had 15-20 new tasks to add to my list simply by looking at what I had done, and not done last month.

3 – Set “Personal” Goals (60 minutes). After reading it 25 years ago, I still use the “Sharpen the Saw” technique of  Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to help me make sure that I am making “me” a priority first to work on. I wrote down four categories in my journal with three lines under each: physical, spiritual, mental, and social. I gave myself goals that were attainable to reach by the end of the month. I continued on with writing my different “roles” down (7 Habits model) and gave myself a few things that I wanted to accomplish in each role over the next month.

4 – Populated my To Do list (30 minutes). I took all of the “to do” things and asked myself three questions:
What must I do?
What should I do?
What could I do?
Once I was done that process I took the “must do” list and broke it quickly down into three categories:
critical,
imperative, and
important.
After finishing that process, I prioritized only the critical list. I knew that once I was done the critical list, I could move onto prioritizing the imperative list. If I took the time to prioritize anything else I knew I would start to “squirrel” off. Deal with only the critical… the imperative and important would eventually be dealt with.

ADHD Dog Quote2

So now, after starting the morning feeling overwhelmed with all that I needed to do, I was ready to work on my tasks simply by spending two hours basically planning my whole month’s worth of focus.

So I got to work. And I only focused on the list… nothing else. No emails. No Facebook feeds. No Insta-stories.. Just… the list. And I was amazed as to how much I got accomplished. Yes, for many people you may be reading this and saying, “Welcome to my every day.” But to someone with ADHD it’s like hitting the “Productivity Lottery”… you know it is possible to win, but your chances are like 1:1,000,000,000,000. So… there’s that.

It’s now the beginning of the next week and I know that I have a LOT to do over the next few days, few weeks… even few months. But having taken the time to think, plan, and prepare my upcoming schedule, I know that I have set up my life so that by the end of the month, when I need to do this all over again, I will have accomplished and forged ahead much further than had I simply chased after the closest “squirrel”… (and… now I’m back to thinking about the movie Up again).

At least that’s how I see it,

 

C

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Declutter Your Schedule

declutter1

If you are anything like me your daily to do list looks a lot like the first draft of the Declaration of Independence: scratch marks, circles, and arrows pointing in every direction; a work of Picasso proportion

The goal of scheduling your day, week, month, and life is to make the most sense of the moments you have; which you always wish you had more of but spend too many on things you wish you hadn’t.

The people over at www.developgoodhabits.com came up with 6 great strategies to make the most of your schedule. I’ve listed them below as well as how they relate to what I presently do. Here they are:

1 – Prioritize your daily priorities. Every morning I write down what I “Need” to do, what I “Should” do, and what I “Could” do. That way I focus on the first list before moving onto the other two.

2 – Purge your commitments. Look at what you plan on doing that week and ask yourself how many of those things can be dropped without affecting much. Look hard for the ‘time wasters’. Those are usually the commitments that benefit others with no real benefit to yourself.

3 – Focus on 3 important daily goals. Ask yourself every day what the three things are that MUST be done. Focus on those first to ensure that what matters most is mattering most.

4 – Build in sacred time. I cannot stress this enough. We need to not talk so much about ‘balance’ in life as much as the ‘rhythm’ of life (I need to write more about this in the future). No one knows your rhythm more than you do. Some cars can go 1000km (625 miles). Others can only go 500km (313 miles). Know when you need to ‘pit stop’, pull over for a few minutes, recharge however you do that best, and then get back at it. You will find that it’s a lot easier to keep going with a full tank of gas than on fumes.

5 – Leave work on time. Technology is making this harder and harder to do (and the stress-related work issues show for it). All I will say is that when you’re working, work. When you are not working, don’t. Sounds simple but we all know that it’s easier said than done. Your mind and focus needs to detach in order to be more intentional and productive when it’s expected. Someone once told me, “Divert Daily. Withdraw Weekly. Abandon Annually.” I still use that model to this day.

6 – Take a digital sabbatical. This is good advice (though you are reading this because you are presently ‘not’ doing it). The key is that the world is now always in your pocket, purse, or hand. Once a week, or whatever rhythm works for you, shut off your devices and breathe. I know one couple that turns off their phones and computers when they get together to watch TV after a long day. Sounds strange and foreign nowadays. Just take the phone off the hook — for all you Boomers and Busters.

If you take the time to make your time matter, you will feel more productive, more fulfilled, and more alive.

Now go make the most of today.

 

C