Productivity

5 Ways to Get to Bed Earlier without Fear of Missing Out

fear of missing out

Do you hate bedtime time as much as I do?

It’s a given that kids hate going to bed, but many adults with ADHD also loathe it. Especially those who have kids. When evening rolls around and the sprogs have finally drifted off to the land of nod, those precious few hours nestled between:

  • working at work
  • working at home and
  • working at getting to sleep

… they may be the only time we get to spend time doing things we truly want to do. The fun stuff, the meaningful stuff, the stuff that fulfills us and makes all the other stuff bearable.

So it’s no wonder most of us drag ourselves to bed kicking and screaming, way past the hour sane people nod off.

We know we need more sleep: for health, mental health and mental clarity. But that doesn’t make us WANT to go to bed any earlier than we already do. It just makes us feel like we have only two options:

  • More sleep and less time to ourselves or
  • More time, less sleep… and all the nasty side effects

Point in case:

When I go to bed earlier I feel much better the next day. My head is clearer, I’m in a better mood and I’m much more focused.

But here’s the catch: I don’t get enough time to read and write if I go to bed early. Those are the things that fill my soul. But they take time. Quiet, alone time. Usually, that’s the time when the kids are in bed. So that means later nights.

Or does it?

I’ve figured out 5 ways to get to bed earlier, without fear of missing out on the stuff that I really want to do. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Figure out what feeds you the most

I’m not talking about food. Decide on what activity makes you most feel like you’ve had “me time”. We often waste our evenings watching TV or getting sucked into the Internet vortex, not because that’s what we really want to do, but because that’s all we really have the energy for. Usually, though, it conveys an unspoken message of pointlessness to our subconscious. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with those activities, but doing them night after night makes us feel like we’re wasting our lives.

Not sure what you value the most in life? Try out this exercise to figure out how you could be spending your free time.

2. Steal time for your values

Night time isn’t the only time you can have to yourself. Sometimes, our lives are structured in a way that means we have to think differently about the time that we do have, rather than just focusing on the paucity of it. Do you get a 15-minute coffee break at work? What about a lunch hour? How about the time when you’re walking the dogs?

Make more out of free-time chunks when you get them, even if they’re not in the evenings. Read a book on your break or listen to an audio book while walking the canine. Crochet on the train as you head off to work. Listen to music while making dinner. Whatever your thing is – find a way to sneak in some time for yourself during the day, and you’ll have less of a need to exploit every second of the twilight hours.

3. Let stuff go once in a while

I have an obsessive need to get everything done as soon as I can. For example, I can’t cope with the visual clutter of last night’s dishes when I wake up in the morning. But sometimes, particularly when I’ve had a hard day, I recognize the fact that I need to let something go, in order to get some much-needed me-time in. Often, it means that I do those dishes – but I leave the laundry to another day. That’s what the space under the bed is for.

4. What? When? Where? How?

I can’t write when my kids are around. They interrupt – a lot, and that only frustrates me. But I want them to interrupt me, because that’s what I’m here for. So I write when they’re at school (if I have a weekday off) or when they’re in bed. That means the other stuff gets done when they’re around – the stuff I don’t really need to concentrate hard on. Usually, I try to incorporate them into that activity, by getting their help in trade for spending some time with them doing the things they love. Together we’ve built an entire Minecraft world based solely on this barter system.

5. And remember your Why…

Going to bed earlier isn’t about being a good boy or girl. It isn’t about doing the “right thing” or doing what you’re “supposed to do”. I used to hate sleep. It feels like a waste of time, and I can probably only say this because I’m someone who doesn’t seem to need a lot of it to function.

BUT…

I have noticed that I do function much better when I’ve slept well. Generally, the quality of my sleep increases when I get at least some of it before midnight. So, while I’ve had to sacrifice some of those all-to-myself minutes in the evening in order to get to bed earlier, I no longer have a fear of missing out.

The reason for this is simple: when I sleep better, I have more energy to do the things I really want to do, rather than flaking out in front of a box because I’m exhausted.

Try this for 2 weeks (I dare you…) How much better is the quality of your  “me time” when you actually get a better sleep at night? Share your experience in the comments below.

Mastery

Pretend You Don’t Have ADHD

ADHD

Sometimes I wish that I could follow a non-ADHD person around for a day – just to see how they do life.

Haven’t you ever wondered how the so-called “normal” people do it?

I can spend a whole day, frenetically doing a bunch of this and a whole lot of that. I try to be mindful of what I am doing, while I am doing it. I feel like I am pretty efficient, for the most part. But I’m sure if I hung out with a neurotypical, their day would look a lot different than mine.

But would it be better?

I’m thinking of asking someone if I can shadow them for a day. But how do you approach a request like that?

“Hey, can I follow you around for a while? Just go about your business and pretend I’m not there. You be the lion, I’ll be the camera woman. I just want to know what a normal day looks like in your wilderness.”

It’s creepy and weird, so perhaps I won’t.

This idea came to me the other day. I am a member of a task force in my community, whose focus is on promoting education about ADHD and enhancing resources for those who live with it. Every October, we put on a community event in honor of ADHD Awareness Month. This year, our theme is going to be “Getting Inside the ADHD Mind” – with a focus on creating a better understanding of what it’s like to have ADHD, designed especially for those live with an ADDer.

I would like to engineer the reverse of that. What’s it like to not have ADD? Do people without ADHD have only one thought at a time? When faced with a big list, do they automatically know what to focus on first or do they have to think hard about it? Are they naturally organized and on time, or does it take effort?

Think about this for a few minutes. What would it be like to NOT have ADHD?

I’ve been contemplating this. I can’t come up with a conclusive answer, obviously. I can’t live in someone else’s head. I’m stuck with my own. But this is the conclusion I’ve come to, based on nothing more than a thought experiment.

Without ADHD, I’d still be me. I can see that certain parts of my life are definitely affected by the fact that I have it, but I can’t say that my struggles would go away if my brain was wired differently. Perhaps I would just have different struggles. Perhaps you would too.

Being organized, focused, and on time would no doubt be easier. But I don’t think I’d necessarily be happier, more successful, or fulfilled. I imagine it this way:

 

People who wear glasses might feel that some things in their lives would be easier if they didn’t need to wear glasses. No doubt, that’s why laser surgery has become a popular procedure. I don’t wear glasses, but I can imagine it’s a pain-in-the-butt to have to rely on them, and there would be times when it’s extremely inconvenient to depend on them.

But take away the need to wear glasses – how much better would life become? I mean, after the initial novelty wears off?

This is what I think:

Life without ADHD would have its own struggles. Having ADHD can certainly make a lot of things harder, but it doesn’t necessarily make life harder. Living with ADHD, successfully, can mean that it’s no more inconvenient than relying on a pair of glasses for reading or driving.

It really is that simple. As I’ve talked about many times before, there are many ways in which ADHD can actually benefit our lives, especially when we know how to use it to our advantage. The difference between being overcoming ADHD struggles, and being overcome by them, comes down to whether or not you find ways to make it work for you.

Read through the archives of this blog – I’ve outline dozens of ways that you can make ADHD work for you. If you’d like to find more unique ways to manage your ADHD, shoot me off an email and we’ll talk about it. And don’t forget to sign up for more free tips delivered straight to your in box in the signup sheet below.

Mindset

How to Feel Proud of Yourself

proud

No matter what you do, it never quite feels good enough, does it?

You may be growing a career, plodding your way through a difficult university course, or rearing a brood of children…it doesn’t matter what forum of life we’re talking about. In everything you do, you’re nagged by the sense that your efforts aren’t quite good enough.

Today, I am writing specifically for a few of my clients who struggle with this lack of self-belief, knowing that at least a handful of my readers (if not more), will know exactly what I’m talking about.

You see, so many people, and none more than those with ADHD, struggle with the notion that they should be doing better than they are. They should have gotten a better grade. They should have a better paid job. They should be a more patient parent, with exemplary kids, who excel in all they do.

I have felt this sense of “less-than” on many occasions. For example, I worked my butt off on my Post-Graduate dissertation and was rewarded with merit – only a few points short of a distinction mark.

A few of my classmates did get distinctions. I should have been celebrating my achievement but instead I was disgruntled with myself. I was just as smart as them, wasn’t I? Why wasn’t my best effort good enough to raise my work to the status my colleagues achieved? My topic was original and poignant, I nailed the arguments, used all the right language and references….

But somebody didn’t think it was good enough.

But actually – a merit is pretty good. In fact, just passing the course was quite an achievement. And heck – even being enrolled and showing up for the classes was quite a feat. When I come to think of it, my essay writing involved a grotesque process, with coffee-stained papers littering my living room for days, garbage piling up in the corners of the room, maintaining the upkeep of the resident mice in my South London flat. It was utter chaos. I should have been proud that I even handed that 10,000-word whopper in. Yet I was dismayed that I didn’t get the best mark. Not by a long shot.

It’s because, secretly, I never felt like I was good enough to be taking part in that Post-Grad in the first place. I felt like a fraud, rising above my station. In my mind, I had to do the best, in order to prove I was worthy. Anything less than best would show me up.

Well, I guess I got showed up. And what has it meant to my life since then?

Nada.

It’s ridiculous when I think of it. But we all apply this logic to our thinking at times.

It’s called “focusing on the outcome”. As in: I’ll be good enough when I am successful. Or when I am rich. Or when my kids are successful. Or when I get to the top of the corporate latter.

But “when” never comes. The bar we measure ourselves against lifts itself higher and higher.

I realize, as I write this, this topic is not unique. But I’m writing about it anyway, because I feel I’ve got to say this:

My ADD comrades – they tend to judge themselves extremely harshly. I know many ADDers who feel like they have to work harder and do better than everyone else, just so they can feel good enough. Note what I just said: good enough. They don’t want to feel better than everyone else. But the only way they get to feel like equals, is to excel.

Not really a fair contest is it?

We’ve all had plenty of reasons to feel “not-good-enough”. Always late. Never paying attention. Breaking things. Failing classes. Losing jobs….When our lives are dotted with experiences like these, how can we learn to feel proud of ourselves? Or, at the very least, like we are good enough?

Go back in time. Somewhere along the line, that message was fed to you like an airplane-spoon full of porridge into a baby’s mouth. Somebody or somebodies made you feel like you didn’t measure up to what was expected of you. They made you feel screwed up.

But when you look over these times, you’ll always ignore one fact. Those people who made you feel screwed up… were just as screwed up themselves. They’d been elevated to status of judge-jury-and-executor when they had no right to have that kind of influence over your entire self-perception. Those in glass houses, right? But it didn’t matter – their perceptions hooked your psyche like fishing in a barrel.

But the truth is – we’re all screwed up. Every. Single. Person.

So what’s there to feel proud of?

Feel proud of your efforts. Not of the outcome, but of your efforts. Feel proud that you showed up and did the work. That you tried, even when the trying got hard. That you pushed yourself past your own limits. That you learned when you messed up. That you learned some more when you messed up again. That you kept trying. Whether or not anyone noticed it. Whether or not you got that grade. That bonus. That promotion. That whatever.

Those things do not define your worth as a person. They are only minor benchmarks in the timeline of your life span. When you measure yourself – only against yourself – and focus only on the effort you make each step of the way… that’s when you get to feel the kind of pride in yourself that never goes away.

Tell me today: what are you proud of?

Mastery

Seriously, Why Do You Hate Schedules So Much?

hate schedules

I know you secretly hate schedules. You’d rather “just remember” what needs to be done and do it. Preferably, whenever the timing feels right.

Me too.
Its so whimsical, so very “us”. We’re an intuitive bunch. We’d much rather go with the flow than be confined by rigid routine. Who knows what we’ll feel like doing next Saturday morning? We might want to go running. Then again, we just might prefer a bacon sandwich and a YouTube binge in bed. We like to keep our options open.
 
I loathe schedules too, except I don’t, really. I just think I hate schedules.
 
Schedules sound tedious and boring. They sound like something I have to do. And I hate having to do anything. Inside, I am toddler defying the bossy mommy who tells me what to do. But I’m also the mommy – who knows that things need to get done. So you can see the internal conflict between these two people who are apparently both me.
I’d like to say I’m the kind of person who goes with the flow. That’s what feels natural to me. Except in reality, (without a plan) my “flow” is more like a tiny little trickle. A trickle of wasted time and aimless meandering. Constipation, personified.
Whereas creating schedules helps me do things, instead of just thinking about doing things.
I’ve learned to love my calendar. Here’s why you should too:
  • A schedule supports you by taking the thinking out of things. Why rely on a memory that runs out on you like a philandering ex?
  • A schedule means you have things to do. It makes you interesting. Snails don’t have schedules, and they’re very boring.
  • A schedule lets you be the boss of time. You get to manage it. Therefore, a schedule it makes you a Time Lord.
  • A schedule can be flexible. In other words, it can be rescheduled.
The last point is the most crucial. Just because you planned to do something, doesn’t mean you can’t un-plan doing that thing if you change your mind when the time comes. A schedule doesn’t tell you what you can or can’t do. It just guides you through possibilities.
Think about that. So do you still hate schedules now?
Mastery

Planning For ADD Moments

Is ADD getting in your way? Is it undermining your efforts to make positive changes in your life?

I’ve noticed this phenomenon too. In the past, it felt like I was always chasing my tail. I could see what I was doing, wandering around doing this and that, but getting nothing done. I just couldn’t stop it. Some days, I couldn’t make it out of the house before noon. Some days, I couldn’t make it out at all.

Now, I coach other adults with ADHD. I help them discover strengths, unlock potential and overcome challenges.

Pretty awesome work if I say so myself. But… it comes with a catch.

I love helping my clients reach their potential, but something can get in the way of progress. Can you guess what it is?

It’s their ADD. Their ADD gets in the way of our efforts to manage and overcome… their ADD. Imagine that.

For example, a client and I might be working on – say – strategies for getting organized at home. The next week, my client decides that some other tangent is more important, and forgets all about what we were talking about the previous week. The following week, they come back, having forgotten what we covered the previous two week, and now want to tackle a yet another agenda. It’s not that my clients don’t try hard – they do – it’s just that …. they are so ADD!

Yes, one of the most challenging parts of being an ADHD coach is that all of my clients have ADHD.

Would it help if I stopped here and added an emoji or a cheesy 😉 so there is no doubt I am be facetious?

The funny thing is, ADD doesn’t actually get in the way of progress at all. Coaching is designed to work with – or around – the ADD challenges. I know and my clients know that the impulse to change focus every week is compelling. So we pay attention to that. We know what is going to get in the way – so we plan for it. We predict distractions and plan ways to get back on track. We account for the likelihood of forgetting and set reminders. We notice we are getting off track and decide to get back on target.

And the reason it works is because there is no mystery and no judgment. We know that, as we work on ADD challenges, ADD is going to show up and get in the way. And the way we uncover strengths, unlock potential and master ADD is by learning to get around this challenge.

Most of us want to stop “being so ADD”, when we should really be seeking out a better way to plan for it being there, then find a way to work around it. This is always easier to do when you don’t judge yourself for making mistakes or when things don’t go as well as you wished they would.

Five ways to plan for ADHD

 

1. Never rely on your memory

Write everything down – in a notebook or on an app on your device. Preferably, keep notes in one location so you know which notebook or app to look in.

 

2. Set reminders and pre-reminders

Apps and alarms work best for this. Put your mother’s birthday in your calendar and set up an alert that will bring it to your attention on the day. Set a pre-reminder a few days ahead to remind you to get a gift or send a birthday card.

Don’t trust that voice that pretends “Oh, I’ll remember that!” Has it ever worked for you before?

I have a recurring reminder in my androids’s calendar, set up with an alert. Every morning at 8:00 a.m. it reminds me to… look at my calendar. No matter how hard I try, I never remember to actually look at my schedule for the day. Now, I don’t have to remember. My android tells me to do it.

3. Build a pause into your life

If you find yourself getting off track, pause and ask yourself:

What am I doing right now? Is this what I intended to be doing?

Get yourself back on track. Setting an alarm (yes, that strategy again!) is a great way to enforce a pause or two in your day.

 

4. Learn to simplify

We ADDers are notorious for trying to get too many things done. Tackle tasks the easy way, not the way that seems most productive. For more on this, check out this post.

 

5. Don’t commit to things you wish you’d do but won’t

Be realistic. It would be great to write a blog post, talk to a client, finish the laundry and take my kids sledding before my daughter’s theatre class, but at least one of those things is not going to happen today. Darn. Looks like laundry will have to wait. Commit only to what you can do, not what you think you should be able to do.

 

These are just a few ways to plan around ADHD. Other examples could include listening to your IPod while grocery shopping to drown out the noise, making meals in batches and freezing then for the rest of the week, or starting every day with a shower first – so you don’t end up in your onesie when your dinner guests arrive. The options are endless.

The point is, we can’t stop ADD. We just see it coming, like a road block up ahead, and drive around it.

What are your best strategies for circumventing ADHD challenges? Please share in the comments. And make sure to sign up in the box below for more tools to manage your ADD!

Growth

How to Be Your Own ADHD Coach

adhd coach

It doesn’t seem like it should be this hard to get on top of things, does it?

If you know what needs to be done, you should be able to just do it, right?

Maybe its the approach you’re taking.

I’m going to shoot myself in the foot when I say this, but you don’t need coaching to help you manage the challenges of ADHD. To say that in writing is a bit bonkers, since I am an ADHD coach. Why would I tell you that the thing I have to offer is something you don’t actually need? Hint: it’s not because I lack sales skills (though actually, I do) or because I am a half-wit (though actually, I hope I’m not!)

In truth, no one needs coaching. No one needs counseling either. There’s no rule of physics, philosophy or otherwise, that states things have to be any different than they are right now.

But when you want to feel better, leave a problem behind you, or move past a limitation – you may choose to get help. Through coaching or counseling or whatever means available. You don’t need to overcome challenges. You want to.

And get this: a lot of the help available, should you choose to seek it out, is free – or close to it. ADHD resources – such as books, websites, online videos and courses – are bountiful and relatively inexpensive. Most of them are but a click away, at any time, from anywhere in the world. Maybe not from my house on a Sunday evening, when the Internet connection collapses from winter traffic. But from anywhere else, anytime else.

But here’s the catch:

Just reading the book or watching the video is not the same as doing the work.

A lot of people use self-help materials. It’s a huge industry. No doubt, some of them are better than others (this blog is one of the better ones, just ask my mom). In any case, it doesn’t really matter. You have all the answers you need within yourself. Whatever resource you consult is merely a way of tapping into those answers.

That’s why I want to share with you the “secrets” of coaching. There’s no real mystery to it. You are the expert on you. And you can coach yourself through ADHD if you know how to approach it.

Here’s How to Coach Yourself

 

1. Find out everything you can about it

Books, videos… whatever! A good ADHD coach knows a lot about ADHD, and not just about the typical symptoms listed in a wiki. They know that ADDers can be accident prone but also make great athletes, can be unfocused at work but awesome in emergencies, and can look like they’re procrastinating when really they’re perfectionisting  (my word, but you can use it).

ADD is full of paradoxes. Learn about those paradoxes so you can understand why some so-called easy things are hard while other, objectively harder things – are easy.

 

2. Become more aware of YOUR ADD

It’s been said that there are around 18 thousand variations of the ADHD presentation. That’s why it’s so highly misunderstood.

My ADHD will most definitely look different than yours. Coaches help individuals figure out their own brand of ADHD, from the big challenges to the more subtle nuances of it.

 

3. Be More Accepting of Yourself

My most important job as a coach is to teach my clients how to let up on themselves a bit. You know how honey catches more flies than vinegar? My clients work harder when they know it’s okay to screw up. I don’t lecture them because I’ve made all the same screw ups in the past too. Except for my client who once burned down his garage. I haven’t done that (yet?)

Don’t lecture yourself. Remember: you are learning. You don’t have to get it perfect. You just have to step back and think:

What did I learn from this and what will I change next time?

 

4. Stick to one or two strategies at a time

My clients show up to our first meeting wanting to work on time management, clearing up clutter on the second, and by the third – they want to launch a new business selling personalized hour glasses to house keepers.

I’m no different. I’m an avid reader. I’m certain that each book is “the one” that will change my life forever. I’m a book-promiscuous. My Kindle has become a cemetery for forgotten epiphanies.

An ADHD coach’s job is to hold dear what the client quickly forgets. When my clients bring up new goals, I check in with them… “Are you sure you want to tackle thermodynamics right now? Cuz we haven’t really nailed the scientific method yet!”

In the beginning, focus on one or two of your “this-will-be-a-huge-relief-when-it’s-gone” type of challenges. Focus on first-things-first, before you take on the complete redesign of your entire life.

 

5. Keep doing the work

Richard Branson wasn’t built in a day. He may have been made in 15 minutes or less, but his empire took years to build. And he built it by making records and launching airlines, not watching TV.

My job as a coach is to keep my clients working hard, even when they don’t feel hopeful or motivated. Your job, as your own ADHD coach, is to make that commitment to yourself. Show up. Do the work. Repeat.

 

6. Celebrate successes

My favorite coachy things to say is: “Whoa pony, slow down! You just did what?!”

Not because my clients like being referred to as equines, but because my clients rarely take a moment to congratulate themselves when they kick butt. That’s where I step in and high-five their butt-kicking.

So when you coach yourself, make sure you high-five yourself. A lot. When no one is looking of course.

 

There’s no mystery to coaching yourself to overcome ADHD challenges, it just takes the right mindset and a willingness to accept your challenges, learn from them, and take a moment to celebrate when things go well. Now that I’ve talked myself out of a job, I must add that I’ve been incredibly happy to do so. I want everyone to know that the power to change their lives is within themselves, but you have to treat yourself the way a coach would treat you. Do onto yourself as a coach would do onto you – remember that okay?

But if you can’t do that, then maybe we should talk. Drop me a line on the contact page and we’ll see what we can do.

Creativity

How to Make Ideas Happen When You Have LOTS of Ideas

make ideas happen

There is a yin and yang to fertile minds. Creative ADDers can have lots of ideas, but little output around those ideas. This juxtaposition is a huge obstacle to overcome if you want to be productively creative, or in other words – you want to actually do something with your ideas, not just daydream about them.

Stop Dreaming and Start Doing

First, we need to acknowledge that we will always be in surplus. The amount of ideas we conjure up will always outweigh our ability to follow through on all of them. We have a lot of interests and curiosities. But we can’t pursue all of them, or we wouldn’t get very far on any of them. Ever eat at a buffet and think: “Well, that was good, but I didn’t really enjoy any of it”?

Secondly, ADDers are constantly interrupted by tirades of distractions that thwart our efforts. When we’re working on one project, something(s) else calls out to us: “What about me!?” Our minds have no filters. Whatever gets in (and it all gets in) seems just as important as whatever we are doing in the present moment.

I struggle with this every day. Each post I write conjures up ideas for two or three more posts. But I can’t write them all simultaneously, and sadly – the inspiration for the other ones often vanishes as quickly as the ideas pop into my head.

One of my clients is an incredibly imaginative artist, whose mediums span a wide range of endeavors. She might be working on a piece of art, then have an idea for a song – it can be a struggle to know where to put her attention.

Another friend of mine is a talented photographer. He’s also an idea generator. I would estimate that he’s probably come up with no less than 20 great ideas for businesses he could start, none even related to the photography business he already runs. But he’s only one guy. If he followed through on every impulse, the business he already has would sink into an abyss.

The biggest problem for people like us is this:

If we chase all our creative impulses, they will stay just that – impulses. Creative people aren’t satisfied with just having ideas, they want to make things and bring their imagination to life.

What do you do when your heart yearns to make something, but your brain is at the mercy of a bountiful imagination and insatiable curiosity, with no reigns on either of them?

How to Make Ideas Happen

1. Let it go

We have to learn to let go of some ideas in favor of others, at least temporarily. Don’t gorge at the buffet table, making yourself sick on a little of this and a little of that. Pick two to three projects you really fancy and stick with them. Enjoy them. And leave the rest aside for now.

I suggest picking two to three projects for a couple of reasons. One project is unlikely to satisfy you – you’ll get bored and fed up. That’s the way the ADD mind is built. Plus, as we’ll talk about in a minute, you need to have an array of tasks to choose from, according to the frame of mind you are in. Working on one project means that you always have to be in the mindset that project requires. Not possible.

Any more than three projects and you’ll find yourself right back there at the buffet table.

 

2. Pick your priorities according to your frame of mind

This means knowing, intuitively, what you’re up for. Some days are great writing days for me. The words flow almost faster than my pudgy little fingers can two-finger type. Obviously, I choose to write those days.

Other days, my mushy mind can’t string two intelligible words together. (That’s assuming my writing is usually intelligible, but I’ll gamble on that hunch.) Those days, usually after a long day at work, I don’t write. This goes against most writing authorities’ advice – almost all suggest to write every day, no matter what. But screw ’em. I’ve got my process, they can keep theirs.

On the days I have brain-fatigue, I do other things. I do research or do something physical. Like painting or gluing stuff to other stuff. It doesn’t always work out (I haven’t decoupaged the dogs, yet…) but it feels good to do something with my hands.

Figure out what you’re in the mood for, and do that.

 

3. Define a work period. Period. 

Creative ADDers have this funny habit of believing that thinking about something is the same as doing that thing. Like mysterious little imps will bring their ideas to life while they sleep, such as The Blue Fairy in Pinocchio. Sorry my friend, you aren’t Geppetto. You have to carve out time in your schedule to make your magic happen. Preferably, every day – even if only in short bursts. This is where the writing authorities are right – do it every day. It just might not be the same goal you work on every day.

Even short bursts of activity can be super-productive. Check out the Pomodoro Method to find out more about how you can supercharge an hour or two of work time.

 

4. Manage Distractions

Find a quiet space, turn off your email and phone, blah blah blah. Yeah, we know all that. In truth, we’re most likely to get distract by… wait for it… other ideas! Get yourself a notebook, and quickly jot down those inspirations. Learn to tolerate the impulse to follow those shiny things right now. Just say “no”. Just say “not now”.

Yeah, like me, the inspiration may leave you. That’s okay. See point number one. The really good ones – they’ll come back again if they’re worth it.

 

5. Go Faster

We ADDers tend to over-think things. Often, we want to get things “just right” and that pursuit of excellence can actually hold us back. Sometimes, we need to just sit down and churn out the work. It might not be our best stuff – but we can always tidy it up later. Again – it’s a mindset thing. Editing and revising require access to a part of the brain that is not friendly to creative thought. For example, it’s pretty sucky to write and edit what you are writing in the same sitting. It makes the whole process arduous and painful. Write first, edit later.

When people are struggling to motivate themselves to do the work, it’s usually because the work feels tedious. The best way to get around this is to go faster and charge through it.

 

Though you may feel boggled and scattered by having so many ideas, its not a bad thing. It can be a blessing when you don’t give in to the impulse to follow all your brainwaves. Often, you will find that a few of your ideas actually tie together into one great idea. Other times, you will find that some are best left alone. These are my 5 preferred ways of bringing ideas to life when I’m inundated with many of them. I’m sure you guys have some even better tricks than the ones listed here – I’d love to hear them! Share your thoughts in the comments and don’t forget to sign up for free ADD tools in the box below!

Productivity

Productive ADDers Manage Expectations to Be More Successful

manage expectations

Synopsis: Getting things done and finding more success when you have ADHD comes down to how you manage expectations. 

Are you exhausted by the myriad of things you do each day, but go to bed feeling disappointed that you didn’t accomplish quite enough?

ADDers have a hard time feeling satisfied with their achievements. We have a lot of interests and ideas we want to put into action, and we want to get them ALL DONE (even when it’s not realistic). And sometimes, we get so distracted by our voracious goal-appetites, we end up “grazing” all day – on this and that – but we don’t really do anything substantial.

Right now, I’m working on a few different projects. I am co-editing an online magazine for ADDers. I am developing on an online course for Adult ADHD, to be published on Udemy in February (fingers crossed). I am also halfway through writing a book, though I’m not sure I should even mention it in this lineup, as I’ve been “half-finished” since January of last year. Oh yeah, and then I’ve been writing for this blog, too.

Some days, I’m on fire – I get in a few uber-productive hours of work and make real headway on these projects. Other days (in fact, more days than not) – I get little to none done. It might even be weeks between bursts of super-powered productivity. It used to depress me. The term “long on will, short on skill” comes to mind. I do everything the productivity gurus prescribe – get up early, remove all distractions, work hard for defined periods of time.. How is it that I can be so motivated, yet still so inefficient at times?    

I’ve come to realize that it all boils down to how we manage expectations.

I wish I could be more productive on my goals each day. It’s kind of disappointing that I can’t work as fast as my head imagines things getting done. But when I EXPECT myself to be more productive – to write 5 blog posts in a day, to publish an e-course within a month, or to write, edit and publish a book within 6 months of its conception – well, it’s downright devastating.

When it comes to being satisfied with your daily output, it’s crucial to distinguish between wishes and expectations.

Take these two examples from everyday living. Example A – When my Internet connection is poor and my search leads me to the dreaded “Internet Connection Timed Out”, I nearly explode in frustration at the sheer incompetence of my Internet service provider. I expect it to work after the first click. Fifteen years ago, I didn’t care that a webpage took 5 minutes to load while the modem dialed up – the Internet was such a marvelous novelty then.

Now take example B – I really wish that I could be a millionaire (who doesn’t?). I would spend half my time engaged in charitable occupations and the other half doing wonderful and exciting things with my family. But I get over it pretty quickly when the lotto fails to come up with my numbers.

Although I dream of winning the lottery, I don’t expect it. Yet taken at face value, surely the loss of millions of dollars (even if only just the potential) is far more devastating than the inconvenience of a timed-out Internet search! The difference lies in my personal appraisal of these two events: one is an expectation and the other a wish. I hate to imagine how I’d react if I expected to win the lottery.

Yet, for so many ADDers, what we expect from our daily accomplishments is about as realistic and likely as winning the lottery. We need to better manage expectations.

 

Here’s What Happens if You Don’t Manage Your Expectations:

  • You’ll never be satisfied by what you do get done
  • This feeling of disappointment lends to a “what’s-the-point” sense of futility
  • Feelings of futility make it less likely you’ll keep working at something (after all, what’s the point?)
  • Your work rate suffers – you’ll either give up easier or give up all together

Before, you weren’t getting as much done as you wanted to get done. Now, you’re getting nothing done at all. A lifetime of Facebook and Game of Thrones it is for you then!

Success breeds success. Dwelling on positives inspires more positive action in your life; the more satisfied, fulfilled and successful you feel in your efforts, the more likely you will be to continue applying more effort. Be warned, though – the opposite is also true.

 

Manage Your Expectations to BE and FEEL More Successful

1. Play a Game of Semantics

This tactic is the verbal equivalent of diazepam. Instead of saying “Ugh, I didn’t get anything done today!” say:

“I wish I would have got more done, but I guess it just didn’t happen. I’ll try again tomorrow.”

When that ping of frustration bubbles at the surface, check in with yourself, decode expectations and translate them to wishes. Unfulfilled wishes are disappointing but manageable, while unfulfilled expectations are devastating.

 

2. Set the Bar Lower and Surprise Yourself

We know ADDers have a lot of desire to bring ALL our diverse ideas to fruition. Often, it’s not physically possible to get everything done.

In a world that offers so freely a plethora of stresses, frustrations and even tragedies, why add coal to the fire by heaping on unrealistic and incalculable personal expectations? If you scrutinize and exam your expectations closely, you will likely find that many of them are not only unreasonable, but also unachievable.

Plan, intentionally, to do less than you think you are capable of doing. If you exceed expectations, you’ll feel all the better for it. If you simply meet those lowered targets, you’ll still feel satisfied because that’s what you set out to do.

 

3. Under-Promise, Over-Deliver

In the same spirit as #2, many ADHD Coaches (myself included) work with their clients to develop this principle. Commit to less than you are capable of. If you give more than what was expected, other people will be delighted. Over-committing and not following through – because you set the bar too high – disappoints everyone – including yourself.

 

4. Work towards a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

In the start-up industry, the MVP is a pivotal starting point in accelerating growth. In brief, an MVP is a “product with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development.” (Wikipedia) In the ADD world, we refer to this as “good enoughness”. ADDers are prone to perfectionism, and we see things in black-and-white terms. Either something is done or it’s not. We see no in-between.

In reality, there are multiple steps between coming up with an idea and bringing it to life. Work towards achieving a minimum viable product or good-enough effort each day, knowing that continued application of these principles will lead to eventual completions.

 

I don’t propose that learning to manage expectations is the only way to be more successful with ADHD.  There is no one-sure-path to success – it’s more like a system of interconnected highways, byways and even a few grid roads. But by becoming aware that expectations do not have to be fulfilled in order to be successful, and in fact can be limiting, takes you a small chunk of the journey closer to that destination.

 

If you want more strategies for productivity, success and bringing your ideas to life, make sure to sign up for free tools and updates in the box below, or contact me to find out how ADHD coaching can help you.

P.S. If you’d like a free year’s subscription to the online mag I co-edit, email “editor at everydayADDvice dot com” and mention that Andrea sent you!