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.
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:
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.
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,