Scrap the Apps – Do What Works

scrap the apps

Do you remember the days when an application was something you completed to get yourself a job, not something you used to get that job done?

If not, go away. You make me feel old.

Apps of the contemporary definition have become an inherent part of modern living. They make a multitude of tasks, commitments and goals more manageable.

At least, that’s what we think.

Three times recently, I’ve been stood up by people who forgot our appointment because their pc calendar didn’t sync properly with their phones. They didn’t get a reminder to remember me.

Of course, I forgive this oversight easily. I’ve been unreliable in the past too. But it does get me thinking…

If a person relies on their phone to remember important dates and commitments, why wouldn’t they use their phone’s calendar in the first place? Why rely on two different apps to sync with each other when quite possibly one would do just fine?

I get that there are reasons to organize your life with sophisticated apps that integrate with other sophisticated apps. I’m don’t disagree with those reasons. What I am saying is this:

Sometimes apps fail us.

Sometimes they fail us because we don’t know how to use them properly. And sometimes they fail us because, although they sound great in theory, all they really do is over-complicate what could be a really simple thing.


ADDers have a tendency to over-complicate things too. Even with old fashioned “apps” called notebooks, we often have several of them, making it arduous to retrieve the info we need.

Relying on multiple apps to simplify life management is like hiring a team of Michelin Star chefs to fry a couple eggs. They could definitely do it. But you know what happens when there’s too many cooks in the kitchen.

Complicated apps, just like complicated systems, fuel chaos instead of diminishing it. If you’re getting bogged down and dropping balls, maybe the best approach is to de-clutter your systems. The good old fashioned calendar has survived for thousands of years because of one reason:

It works.


Mediocrity and Cultivating Creative Confidence

creative confidence

How many times have you scrapped a project because you were sure it was going to turn out like crap?

Or – frantically scribbled down a clever idea in the middle of the night, only the rip it apart the next day, cursing: “What was I thinking!?”

Or – failed to try your hand at something, because you were sure that you couldn’t do it very well so why bother?

We live in a world that obsesses over excellence. We revere it like an ancient god with powers far beyond our own. And in turn, we reward it with acclaim, adoration, idolatry even.

Why do we seem to think that the only creativity worth admiring is the kind that is exceptional?

And what does that do for the creative confidence of us mere mortals?

Cultivating Creative Confidence

Creativity is not a gift. It’s an attribute we all possess. We don’t manifest art because we are creative. We’re creative, plain and simple. What we produce is an expression of our souls.

Being good at it shouldn’t even be a consideration. Who stops having sex because they aren’t the best lover in the world? Expressing creativity is a human need. We shouldn’t stop making stuff just because it might not be the best-thing-ever.

Being creative takes courage to be uncertain about your talent and make stuff anyway, because that’s what your soul needs you to do.

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.

Erich Fromm

Reveling in Mediocrity

Personally, I’m sick of awesomeness being so exclusive.  I want to see more okay or not-too-bad things get the spotlight once in awhile, and “average” people getting attention for their efforts. I love watching amateur theatre or admiring the work of aspiring artists and writers. It brings me joy to see the work that comes from someone else’s joy. It doesn’t have to be amazing for me to appreciate it.

Don’t get me wrong: I love masterpieces too. But few of us are prodigies. Excellence, in fact, is born of repeated effort. Perhaps if we embraced this a little more – if we loved our crap simply because it was our own effort that produced it – we would have the creative confidence to work at it until excellence emerged.

Sadly, I – like other people I know – have passed up many opportunities to express my creativity because I thought my work would not be good enough. I missed out on getting better. But, as I grow older, I am getting more courage to tolerate uncertainty and let my okayness shine. Do you have the guts to embrace mediocrity and keep making, even when it feels like you’re not good enough?

For more on this topic, check out this post: Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Badly.



Keep Making

keep making

Synopsis: How do you stay positive when you’re not sure that what you are creating is good enough? Simple: keep making. 

Every dream is burdened with a doubt that one day you will be good enough to succeed. You create – with no certainty that what you’re creating is good or will ever get noticed. How do you keep going?

When you feel like you can’t stand the uncertainty of success: Consider nature in all her creative power and prowess.

The sun doesn’t ask why she rises each morning and sets at dusk. She doesn’t lament that, despite her best efforts, the snow remains cold, completely unaffected by the charm of her warm kiss. She doesn’t complain when the clouds dilute her beauty or when the night overshadows her light in a blanket of obscurity.

She concerns herself with only two things:

Rising and setting.

It’s not her business who sees her or whether she’s liked. Her business is to keep shining.

The waves of an ocean or lake don’t cry over their brevity, their crests and troughs fizzling as they reach the shore. They don’t worry that bigger waves are always right behind them, ready to take their place. They don’t fight against the tide that drags them back, to start again.

They concern themselves with only two things:

Rising and falling.

It’s not their business how long they last, or how many times they’ll have to start all over again. Their business is to keep flowing.

And so it is with your dream, no matter how big or small, important or insignificant it may feel at times.

Do not worry if it is good enough.
Do not care if other people like it or notice it all.
Do not fear the darkness that eclipses your efforts or the bigger waves that threaten your progress.
They are momentary.

Concern yourself with only two things:

Rise and set.
Ebb and flow.
Keep making. And resting.
Keep making. And resting.

It’s not your business whether you’re good enough. It is your business to bring your creativity to the world – your art, your writing, your business, your service – whatever it is.

When it’s not good enough – keep making.
When someone else is doing a better job – keep making.
When no one is paying attention and you feel all your work is for nothing – keep making.

Like the sun and the waves,

Your time will come.


ADD Mastery: The Time Management Habit


Imagine I delivered a truckload of money to your door step and handed it over to you with only one warning:

This is all the money you’ll ever get in your lifetime. Use it wisely.

Would you? Take care of it and use it wisely? Most of us would try really hard to not waste it.

So why do we squander time like an unending commodity when it’s the only resource we can never get more of?

Poor time management is a hallmark trait of ADHD, for both children and adults. We frequently run late, miss deadlines, or forget to show up at all. Quite simply – time eludes us. We just don’t get it. In previous posts about this challenge, I illustrated why time is not on our side and how to become better friends with it.

It is possible to get so good at managing time, it becomes an automatic habit. In this post, I want to belt out a few strategies that are useful in making time challenges a thing of the past (yep, I totally meant that pun). It’s not a long post. I don’t want to take up too much of your (ahem) time, I just want you to use it better!

Here they are, quick and dirty:

1. Get a Better Grip

Most ADDers have no idea how long something will take in the real world, but we sure do love to make creative guesses based on nothing more than intuition and imagination. Don’t know how long it takes to drive to work or write an email? Here’s a novel idea: time it! Get in the habit of timing routine habits for a couple of days (don’t bother with an hour glass, most phones have a timer on them). This alone will change your understanding of where all your time goes.

2. Double It

If you’re trying to work out how long something will take when you can’t measure it in advance, take your best guess and then double it. If you think something will take 15 minutes, give yourself 30. Most of us have incorrectly calibrated guessers (we’re overly optimistic). Doubling your estimation will get you closer to reality.

3. Set Alarms

Use an external alarm system (again, your phone?) to give you a warning when it’s time to leave. Don’t rely on your internal clock. If you get busy with something, you’ll lose all sense of time. Don’t let that happen. A simple alarm can snap you back into the moment when it’s time to go.

4. Watch for Just-One-More-Thing Syndrome

It can be really tempting to try to fit too much in, and in the process… sabotage your desire to be on time. While getting lots done is super-productive, being late super-isn’t. Resist the urge to do just-one-more-thing before you go.

5. Practice

Being on time is a habit, just like brushing your teeth and getting dressed. At the beginning, you’ll have to work at it. You won’t always be on time, but with repeated efforts, being on time will become more habitual.

Above I presented 5 concise strategies for making time management a habit. The best way to know whether or not they’ll work for you?

Try them.

(By the way, if you want the extended version with more strategies and a deeper explanation, check out everyday ADDvice Magazine ,where my article on ADHD Time Traps is featured in October’s inaugural issue).


One Goal Wonder

one goal

Which of your children would you give up if you had to?

Maybe you don’t have kids. Okay then- which of your limbs would you sacrifice in order to save the rest? I mean, if you HAD to.

Can’t make a decision?

Thankfully, most of us don’t have to. But we do have to make important choices about our goals. And sometimes when I ask people to do that, they react as if it’s an offspring or appendage I’m asking them to relinquish.

By the way, that’s not what I’m asking at all. I’m not a prehistoric deity or the psycho out of Saw.


I am asking you to juggle your goals differently. One ball (goal) at a time.

But I have many… why should I choose just one goal?!


All too frequently, my coaching clients want to change their agenda every time we meet. They try to relegate whatever we talked about last week in favor of this week’s shinier (more urgent) topic.

I get that. We live in the moment. Whatever is on our mind right now feels like the most important thing. Ever. And sometimes it is, so we refocus our priorities and switch gears.

But other times, our vacillation is really just a symptom. We can’t hold on to our goals and priorities just like we can’t keep track of our thoughts, our keys or the passing of time.

In other words, goals can be distractions.

To pick one goal out of a bunch and focus solely on it feels like neglecting some of our kids in favor of one. Sometimes, though, one kid needs more attention. And then when that kid is okay, you can turn your attention to the rest.

And just so you childless people don’t feel left out, rest assured – the same applies to limbs. Sometimes you have to favor one of them (i.e. an injured one). That doesn’t mean the others aren’t important.

How do you choose one goal?

It really depends on your circumstances. There may not be one right answer. You may have to simply pick one and stick with it, until it doesn’t need your attention any more. You’re not going to say no to your other goals. You are going to say: not now.

Your other goals benefit by proxy from your discernment. Success breeds success. When you feel successful, it will make you more apt to tackle your other goals with vivacity and enthusiasm.

When your space is more organized, you’ll feel more focused when you write. When you’re managing time better, you’ll be able to grow your business. When your finances are in order, you’ll start saving for the round-the-world trip you’ve been dreaming about.

But if you try to tackle them all simultaneously, you’ll get nowhere on any of them.

So maybe that’s the best reason of all to stick to the one goal strategy:

Its better to get somewhere on one thing, then nowhere on everything. 

Check out Ramit Sethi’s interview with Noah Kagan for more on how focusing on one goal can accelerate your productivity.


ADD Mastery: Is “Now” Holding You Back?


Is “now” holding you hostage?

Much attention is paid to living in the moment. While this is a great mindset, you should also have an awareness that “now” is not permanent.

ADDers are often prisoners to momentary feelings. There’s no acknowledgement that we didn’t feel this way yesterday and won’t feel this way tomorrow. Which is okay when we feel great, but sucks when we don’t. We impulsively act on how we feel, often with unintended consequences and regret.

Spoiler alert: We want to avoid unintended consequences and regret.

Emotional dysregulation – the experience of intense emotional states coupled with an inability to change those states at will – is a common ADHD trait.

Learning to regulate your feelings better makes life a lot easier and starts with a few basic steps.

  1. Recognize what you’re feeling – “Sad”
  2. Label it as a feeling – “I am feeling sad”
  3. Add a but – “but it will pass”
  4. Do something – go for a walk, talk to a friend, remedy the cause of your sadness – or
  5. Don’t – but remember that the feeling with pass anyway

Yes, this is the over-simplified version of emotional mastery. Our feelings are intense enough, taking charge of them shouldn’t be intense too.

Doing one through five won’t solve an emotional break down, but it might take the edge off a bad mood.

Try it.


Exercise Your Imagination


What role does imagination play in your life?

We know that good eating, sleeping and exercise habits promote health. Likewise, stress management and positive thinking foster good mental health. However most of us want more than health. We want happiness too.

Imagination is a key component of happiness. For one, it allows us to recognize what a happier life would actually look like. But more importantly, it gives life a more magical quality to it, rather than just the same old-same old.

Imagination is Magical

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. Albert Einstein

Imagination is the one human attribute that has no limits. Your muscles, attention span, even memory – all have a maximum threshold. Imagination has no parameters. This gift, as far as we know, sets us apart from other beings.

For creative-types who invent, innovate, and make the world a more entertaining place – imagination is a vital function that must be exercised regularly. Without it, creativity wouldn’t exist.

Use It or Lose It

Just as laziness leads to muscle wasting, a life filled with activity and no “mental play” leads to an emaciation of imagination.  Your mind becomes satiated with pre-frontal cortex stuff like planning and organizing, while imagination withers away.

Ideas to Exercise Your Imagination

If you want to give your imagination a workout, here are some exercises to try:

1. Photo-bomber Fun

Examine the background stuff in a few of your photos, like the people who became unknowing photo-bombers in your holiday snaps. Who are they? What must their lives might be like? Why were they there? Write a short story about them.

2. Take a Test

Developed by JP Guilford in 1967, the Alternative Uses Test challenges your creative boundaries. Examine an ordinary household object, like a coffee cup or paperclip, and think of as many possible uses for it as you can. The more absurd or random the better! Try this game with a kid – they will teach you a lot about removing the boundaries that confine imagination.

3. Have a Brain Dump

Set your timer and write for ten minutes – about anything and everything. Let one thought flow into another, even if there is no real association or logic between the two. Play with words – try out new combinations or ridiculous metaphors. The idea is to write fast and frenzied, then see what comes out of it.

4. Play the Free-Association Game

Talk with a friend (or yourself, if you’re so inclined). Shout out one random word, then the next that comes immediately to mind. Don’t think too much about it. Write down each word that comes to mind, and see if you can find a connection between them. Again, this is game is a great one to play with a kid.

5. Thought Experiments

Use your imagination to investigate the nature of something you don’t fully understand or to explore all the potential consequences of a particular theory that may not be provable in real life. Here are some mind-blowing examples to get you started.

6. Nap or Daydream

Give your brain a break from tedium of the day to get its creative juices flowing. Dreaming is the ultimate expression of an unrestricted imagination. Take a cat nap and as you fall asleep, notice the images and sensations that send you off. Or, spend some time relaxing in a daydream about … anything you can possibly imagine! Notice what comes up when you don’t force your mind to think about anything in particular.

These are just a few ideas to help you exercise your imagination. Feel free to share what comes out of these exercises for you, or share a few ideas of your own!


Major Screw-ups and Fresh Starts

fresh starts

When was the last time you congratulated yourself for screwing up?

No, I’m not kidding.

We’re conditioned to believe that mistakes are bad things, and sometimes they are. Screw ups – while devastating at times – can also create fresh starts towards new and better things.

Two weeks ago, I tried to tweak this website. A function wasn’t working properly, so I went into the abyss of WordPress to attempt a fix. It didn’t fix. Instead, it booted me out and gave me an error message that could be loosely translated:

“You royal idiot. Don’t play with things you don’t understand. You are officially banned!!!”

I was locked out. The Art of ADD initiated a coup on me.

Eventually, I got help and fixed it. Since I’d been thinking about a revamp for awhile, I used the rebuild time to make The Art of ADD new. Hopefully better.

The redesign wouldn’t have happened had it not been for the crash. Why fix something that isn’t broken, right? But when it is broken – why stop at fixing it? Why not try to make it better than it was before?  

The point is: not all wrecks are total wrecks. Occasionally, they are catalysts for better – sometimes outstanding – things.

Some famous screw-ups…

Traf-o-data was a 1970’s company that aimed to process traffic counting cheaper and quicker than the existing methods of the time. As fascinating as it sounds, it didn’t last. But its co-founder, Bill Gates, did last – and went on to create Microsoft.

Laugh-O-Gram Studio had short lived success in the 1920’s before it went bankrupt. Its co-founder had the last laugh, though. He was Walt Disney.

A two-time Yale dropout authored a novel that didn’t make it to publication until 30 years later! In the meantime, he became the movie producer, Oliver Stone.

(Check out this post for a list of 50 famous people who failed in their careers before achieving massive success later on.)

What they had in common…

  • They weren’t held back by temporary screw-ups.
  • They believed that success was inevitable – and that failure was an unavoidable obstacle on that path.
  • They looked for new opportunities and applied what they’d learned to find future success.

What this means for you…

Of course, not all of your screw ups will lead to huge breakthroughs or gigantic achievements.

But if you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back to work – fresh starts may lead you down paths to better and brighter opportunities.

You won’t know for sure, though, if you don’t get back up.

(PS – when’s the last time you got back up?)