Productivity

Are You a Simplifier or an Optimizer?

The way you approach the multitude of tasks in your life makes all the difference between being a champion of effectiveness or a casualty of complete exhaustion.  If the latter sounds more like your description, you may be making life unnecessarily hard.

Simplifiers vs Optimizers

According to Scott Adams of Dilbert fame, a simplifier is someone who will choose the straightforward (sometimes easier) way of completing a task, even when he or she could have achieved better results with more effort. An optimizer, as he defines it, is someone who will take the extra effort to get better results, even at the risk of unexpected contingencies sending the whole plan south. (See Scott’s book – How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life.)

The Uncomplicated Path

A simplifier leaves on time for a meeting, arrives at least 5 minutes early and uses that waiting time to check his or her emails on a smart phone. Someone who simplifies their tasks and goals will take the most direct path towards achieving them. It’s not automatically the fastest route or the strategy with fewer or easier steps, but it’s the course least likely to have hassles along the way.

Because of its straightforward nature, it often does turn out to be the fastest or easiest option.

The Ambitious Path

An optimizer combines tasks that pair well together – either by proximity or likeness – and that, when executed well, will lead to higher levels of achievement and efficiency. An optimizer leaves on time for a meeting, but gets gas and drops books off at the library en route, in order to save time later. He or she may make phone calls at red lights or check share prices on the toilet.

In essence, an optimizer sucks every grain of sand from their hourglass, until its nothing but an empty shell.

When the optimizer’s strategy works, it’s a buzz. To clear essential tasks off your list and still get to your date in the nick of time – it makes you feel like a supercharged, productivity dynamo. That’s what makes it so compelling.

But when unpredicted glitches upset the delicate equilibrium required by optimizing – it’s stressful and deflating. Not to mention relationship-damaging.

For the record, I am an optimizer who is schooling herself in the art of simplicity. It’s not exactly a fine art, but it takes quite a bit of practice.

Driven By ADHD

I hypothesize that many ADDers are optimizers. We see opportunities to maximize productivity and we take them. Sometimes it makes sense. Getting gas on the way to the grocery store is efficient. Getting gas on the way to your wedding, however, is stupid. The problem is, we don’t always make the correct distinction.

Sometimes when we are “optimizing” though, it’s because, ultimately, we are terrified being bored and having to wait for something or someone. Have you ever heard of  “just-one-more-thing syndrome”? As in:

“I still have 5 minutes. I’ll just do one more thing (or two, or three), then I’ll go.”

It’s the effect of optimizing, but the cause of much tardiness and white-knuckle fever. One-more-thing can be efficient, but then again – it might not be. The passing of time, how long something will take, potential interruptions… all of these things are estimated by great optimizers. Most of us aren’t great estimators.

Which Approach Should You Take?

Adams suggests that if you can’t predict all the variables in a situation (red lights, traffic stops, old ladies crossing the road), choosing simplicity over optimum is a better choice.

But if punctuality doesn’t matter, optimizing your tasks may be the way to go. Sometimes, it may be your only choice, like if you run out of gas on the way to your meeting.

On a whole, however, I think most of us could benefit from learning the art of simplicity. Recently, I started working with a man whose life has been turned upside down from the hot mess created by not dealing with his ADHD challenges earlier. Let’s just say his life has suddenly become very complicated by court dates, immigration procedures, and financial crisis. It’s overwhelming.

His life has never been more complicated and there certainly are no simple solutions. And yet – there are. In fact, he has never needed simplicity more than he needs it now.

The most monumental of tasks can always be broken down into simpler steps. My client can’t control the judicial system. He can do what it expects of him: abide by his conditions and show up to court on time. He can’t control immigration procedures. But he can clarify the first step in the application process. He can’t reverse his financial problems. He can start by dealing with one debt.

There’s a Time for Both

Optimizing is about getting as much done as possible, with maximum impact. It’s an alluring tactic when you have a lot to do. Plan your tasks carefully and be mindful of the time each will take. Prioritize them according to their importance and urgency and be prepared to let some of them go. Ask yourself if each task is a “must be done” or a “nice to be done”, then prioritize accordingly.

Sometimes, you are at the mercy of someone else’s schedule. You can only optimize so much. The compulsion to get things done, when you can’t get things done, will only make you impatient, frustrated, and wear you down. Let it go and simplify.

Simplifying turns a problem or a goal into a series of manageable challenges. It removes overwhelm by focusing on what is possible: show up, do the work, repeat.

Pay attention to how your days usually go. Are you trying to fit in as much as possible, sometimes to the detriment of your (or someone else’s) sanity? Or are you streamlining too much, and not getting enough done? Maybe you need to up your game.

Adams makes inferences that people are either an optimizer or a simplifier – but I think it’s possible to be both, depending on what the situation calls for. It takes a little awareness and self-reflection, but learning to shift between these two approaches can bring more calm, focus and productivity to your day.

For more about this and some surprisingly profound insights from the cartoonist himself, check out Adams’ book here.

In the spirit of “cartoonistry” (its a word, albeit not a real one), I thought I would commission a cartoon as the image for this post. A BIG THANKS goes out to my 8-year-old daughter “Zee” for her excellent work – love ya sweet cheeks! xxx

Focus

ADHD to Zen: Non-Doing

 

I start today with a deep, but not-so-heavy, sigh.

I am about to present to you the idea of non-doing, the second transformation step in this series of four (check out the first one here).

However, I’m perplexed. I have no idea how to present this topic. I really want to write a post so fascinating, that you feel compelled to read this post over and over again. My biggest problem: I’m not sure I can do it justice and explain it fully, without making it confusing.

So the only way I can express it appropriately is to “practice what I preach”, so to speak.

As I write this post, I am practicing non-doing.

How can that be?

In Wherever You Go There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn tells us:

“But non-doing doesn’t have to be threatening to people who feel they always have to get things done. They might find they get even more “done”, and done better, by practicing non-doing. Non-doing simply means letting things be and allowing them to unfold in their own way.”

We often think of non-doing as synonymous with meditating and doing nothing. But that is not the case. Certainly, the practice of sitting down and doing nothing can help us become more attuned to the present moment, to experience the richness and fullness of life as it unfolds in the here-and-now. However, that same presence and awareness of “now” can be achieved, just as easily, as we go about our day, doing whatever it is we do.

What does this mean?

It means that we can be present and allow our lives to unfold, to do the activities of the moment in a non-clinging way, without being attached to any particular outcome. We can appreciate the beauty of simply being, the wonder of what it means to be alive and wash the dishes or drive to work or do nothing at all – without clinging to the need to get more things done, figure things out or change our state of being.

We can let things be exactly as they are, and (as Kabat-Zinn says) “drink in the beauty of being alive”.

When we get caught up in the need to get better at something, to do more, or change the situation we find ourselves in, we attach ourselves to a notion that things are not okay – that we are not okay. Moments become minutes, become hours, become days – time that slips away unnoticed, and essentially – un-lived. Un-lived because we were somewhere else in our minds, thinking we should be anywhere but where we were.

When we embrace the perfectness of each and every moment, the absolute wholeness of who and how we are in it, we find ourselves in flow with the natural rhythm of the force behind life itself. When we start from this place of non-attached acceptance, we are able to go ahead and do whatever it is that needs to be done, in an effortless way.

Kabat-Zinn describes this: “The inward stillness of the doer merges with the outward activity to such an extent that the action does itself. Effortless activity. Nothing is forced. There is no exertion of the will…”

We, as ADDers, all have ample experience in doing things mindlessly, of being in action with detached minds that don’t concentrate on the task at hand. We also have the experience of getting lost in our activities – of being ultra-busy in pursuit of getting more done, often trying to catch up on those things never seem to get done.

My curiosity about the topic of non-doing for ADDers is this:

What if we practiced “doing”, more often, with full presence and non-attachment to particular outcomes? We know what it is like to be mindless and not-present, and at the same time worried about results or if we are going to achieve something. We don’t know what it’s like to do things, being fully immersed in them and present, and not really caring how they turn out at all.

This is how I practiced what I preach throughout the writing of this post. I wrote this post word-by-word, without editing or changing it (apart from a spell-check). I was in the moment, writing – being present with the idea, the keyboard, and my fingers typing away. I wanted this to be a good post, one that you liked. But I detached from the desperation that it must be so. I let go of any desired outcome and instead… I wrote it and let it be okay as it was. In essence, I let the post write itself.

You may or may not have enjoyed it. But I enjoyed the experience letting it unfold. I cannot say that it would have been any better if I had put pressure on myself to write the best post of my writing career.

The ADHD mind’s biggest enemy is pressure. If you drop the pressure, what becomes possible in your life? If nothing else – an appreciation of the moment and a life lived more fully-present. In the spirit of curiosity, I encourage you to try “non-doing”, even if for only a moment or two over the next couple of days. Share your experience in the comments below.

And have an awesome day.

Mindset

ADHD Restlessness – Sit & Stay Is Not Just For Dogs Anymore

If you’re restless and you know it clap your hands. If you’re restless and you know it stomp your feet. If you’re restless and you know it and you really want to show it, if your restlessness and you know it, do something else!

Doing something else has been the story of my life.

“What are you doing?” someone asks.

“I’m looking for something else to do, that’s what I’m doing”, I say.

I’m not talking about the distractible part of my ADHD brain. I can be completely focused and still have the urge to move on to the next thing. Even when I am interested in that thing I am doing, I still feel compelled to do something else. I can be having fun, a lot of fun for crying out loud, and still be thinking “When is this fun going to be over so I can move on to the next thing?”

This Restlessness has a Siamese twin following it everywhere. She is called Impatience and let me tell you: she is a b*tch. But I won’t get started on her right now. These two hijackers seemed to have permanent residency status in my psyche. Meaning, they are the part of my ADHD I have yet to achieve significant mastery over.

You too?

My ADHD Restlessness… is not what I thought

Recently I had an epiphany about those crazy sisters Restlessness and Impatience. Through talking with my own coach, I discovered a new awareness about myself. This was following a cognitive preference survey I took, and learned a few things about myself I had not known previously. Or paid much attention to anyway.

I am built on forward motion. It is a fibre that is weaved through every cell of my being. This is the H part of my ADHD. It doesn’t always look like it on the outside, but inside that engine is always revving. Always looking forward, always moving forward. I don’t dwell on the past because I can’t go back in time. But I can get to the future if I keep moving, so guess where I dwell?

It’s not necessarily helpful. You can’t stop and smell the proverbial roses in the future because it hasn’t happened yet. And who cares? By the time I reached the roses I would have already started looking for the lilacs anyway.

Mindfulness practice has helped, to a certain extent. But not as much a conversation with my coach did.

See, I thought I needed to master my restlessness. Find a way to manipulate and manage it, the way I have done with my organization skills and attention span. This is a perfect example of how a one-size-fits-all approach will never work, especially when you’re trying to fit the “size” on ADHD.

The logic behind my view of restlessness was that I needed a better “strategy”. Not so. See, it’s not so much that I need to be moving. It’s that I need (NEED!) to be going somewhere. I simply need to be going. And I’m seldom happy for long when I get there, and that’s why I am eternally searching for the next thing.

So in the end, I didn’t need a strategy, I needed a way to re-frame this restlessness. I wanted desperately to be able to sit and play with my kids, be in the moment with them, and not feel the constant urge to tidy up the toys or start a load of laundry. I wanted a way that I could enjoy laying on the beach, without continually thinking about moving on to another beach or wondering if we should have chosen some other outing for the day.

I wanted to be able to sit and stay.

Here was the clincher for me. In order to sit and stay, I needed to honour my need for forward movement, which can also be expressed as “growth” or “making gains”. By focusing on the personal growth I am achieving through sitting and staying, just a little bit longer than I normally would, I have learned to linger.

This lingering is helping me move forward in leaps and bounds on some major personal and relationship goals I have. I am turning my challenge in on itself, leveraging it is a strength.

I needed to see “staying” from a different perspective. With every moment I am able to linger, when old fibres compel me to move on, I am going forward personally – further than I have ever gone before. Because going is really about growing.

Tell me about your restlessness, where it shows up and how you manage it. Have you had any other challenges that you’ve turned in to strengths? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Growth

25 Simple Ways to Transform Your Life This New Year

Christmas is the time of giving.

But New Year, for many, is the time for receiving – new opportunities anyway. It is the time for redesigning life and initiating changes that will make the coming year more successful, productive, enjoyable, healthy, happy and rewarding. If you want the coming year to bring with it more of these things, the following guide can help you bring them to fruition.

Remember this though: change is a process, not an event. Work on a couple of these things and positive changes will occur. Consider your efforts in life-transformation to be a “work-in-progress” rather than a one-time event, and this will go a long way to making sure changes actually take place.

For a quick reference, the following steps will be explored:

1. Celebrate the small successes.

2. Let go of negative thinking habits.

3. Change one small thing.

4. Practice pausing.

5. Deal with, once and for all, one major inconvenience.

6. Practice making eye contact.

7. Build your boredom muscle.

8. Practice square breathing.

9. Spend more time in nature.

10. Rewrite the story of your life.

11. Rewrite the story of your future.

12. Make a commitment to get some help.

13. Get an accountability partner.

14. Start every day as you mean to go on.

15. Determine what your values are.

16. Follow you passion.

17. Put more passion in to the mundane.

 

1. Celebrate small successes.

Who doesn’t want to get more done? When we have so much going on in our lives and our minds, life can feel a bit like forest fire-fighting with a water pistol.

One of the best ways to get more done is to acknowledge – and truly appreciate – all that you have already done. Finished projects are once-in-awhile phenomena. Every endeavor has a series of necessary steps taken that get it to the point of completion. Learn to acknowledge, celebrate and feel good about each of these steps and it will keep you motivated, focused and feeling that your efforts are worthwhile.

Gratitude journals help you find more joy in life. In the same token, keeping a list of daily accomplishments (no matter how small) can help you feel more productive and satisfied with how you spend your time.

 

2. Let go of negative thinking habits.

No matter where you go or who you are with, the one constant you take with you in life is – you!

Your thoughts determine how you experience life. They are what make you human as opposed to a fur-less mammal. Life is a lot better when you make your head a nicer place to experience it from.

Black and white thinking, jumping to conclusions, assuming the worst, and neglecting the positives are just a few examples of unhelpful thinking habits that stop us from getting the most out of life.

 

Change negative thinking patterns by:

– notice negative thoughts when they pop up

– determining what triggered them

– label them as negative (not pessimistic necessarily, just a thought that doesn’t work for you)

challenge them

– then let them go

 

3. Change one small thing.

Everyone knows that going to bed before midnight, eating right, and regular exercise are good for our bodies and our brains.  But when we have less-than ideal habits in all of these areas, it can feel like an onerous task to change.

Because we usually commit to changing too much, we give are destined to slip back in to old habits quickly. If this is the case for you, set your sights lower. Pick one small change you can easily achieve and go for it.

Instead of trying to get to bed early every night, try for 10 minutes earlier or aim for an early night once a week. Rather than eliminating all simple carbs and sugars from your diet, make a decision to simply add in more vegetables and water. Try jogging on the spot for ten minutes every day, rather than committing to a gym membership that won’t get used.

Positive habits can have a knock on effect and inspire you to make more changes later on. The most important thing about developing a new habit is not the size of the impact it will have on your life, but its degree of “stick-to-it-ness”.

 

 4. Practice pausing.

 Mindfulness practice has been shown to have a positive effect on … almost everything.

The art of mindfulness is often assumed to be complicated and difficult but it needn’t be. Even the busiest minds can be trained to incorporate more presence in each day.

Yongey Mingyur-Rinpoche, Buddhist master and author of The Joy of Living, suggests that the practice of mindfulness is best learned by beginning with short bursts of being present with yourself – even 5 minutes a day can help. Simply notice what you are thinking about or doing – observe it without judgment – and bring yourself back to the moment.

 

The best question you can ask yourself each day is:

 “How is what I am paying attention to serving me right now?”

Ask it several times a day. While you are building this muscle, you may need some reminders. Post reminders around the house or office, or schedule check-in periods into your daily planner.

 

5. Deal with, once and for all, one major inconvenience.

What are you putting up with?

Have you got a closet door that can’t be closed without a human bulldozer to ram it shut? Maybe it’s an un-filed tax claim being used to shield the corner of your desk from dust. Or have you put off returning that call from moaning Auntie Milly – since 1989?

We all have things we put up with it because it feels easier to “put up” than to deal with them. But these kinds of “tolerances” occupy space in the back of our minds and consciences. They are not out-of-sight, out-of-mind – they linger and beckon us with feelings of guilt, annoyance, or frustration. These spaces could be better used for more productive things if we simply faced up to the tasks and got ‘em done.

Free up some space in your mind and deal with one thing you have been putting off.

Then, as is number one, celebrate the success of having finally completed it.

 

6. Practicing making eye contact.

We talk to people all day long. But do we listen? Especially when we have ADD?

Busy minds do not shut up simply because someone else is talking. Sometimes, we need anchors to keep us in the present moment so that we can really hear what is being said.

When someone talks to you, make a habit of stopping what you are doing and looking them in the eye. It will give you an anchor to stay in the moment and listen. If eye contact is too uncomfortable for you, trying looking at the other person’s mouth as they speak.

 

7. Build up your tolerance to doing one thing at a time (aka build you boredom muscle).

If there is one thing most of us dread (or perhaps have an allergy to) – its boredom. So much so, that we often try to fill every minute of the day in an effort to avoid it.

This often shows up as multi-tasking. Once in awhile, practice paying attention to only the thing you are doing. Do it as if it were the most important thing you have ever done. Step outside of your body for a minute and observe what it feels like just to be alive and doing that one thing, and boredom will become an opportunity for inspiration.

Pay attention to the way that task serves a greater purpose than the obvious one. Washing dishes is no doubt mundane. But doing it means you don’t have to do them later when they’ve become casualties of an accidental science experiment (being responsible). It means that you are being productive (being useful). It means that you are looking after your belongings (being thoughtful), taking care of things that other people put a lot of effort into making (being respectful)….

Okay so maybe that’s a trite example, but you see what I mean.

We often assume that we can get more done by multitasking, but the truth is people are incapable of paying full attention to more than one thing at a time. Inevitably this means that we only give partial effort and attention to some of our tasks, which can actually make them take longer to complete.

Do one thing and do it well, before moving on to the next thing. Read Unclutterer’s post Single-tasking helps you get more done with less stress.

 

8. Practice square breathing.

 Zen Habits, read by millions worldwide, has this as its tagline –

“Breathe”

That’s it. Simple, eh?

But breathing is something most of us do pretty shoddily every day.

We spend so much time listening to the constant chatter in our heads telling us what to do, how to do it, when to do it and when to stop – that automatic but crucially important body functions such as breathing can become stiff and tense.

Take a few moments a day to listen to your heart and your lungs. Simply breathe to melt away the tension, stress and chaos.

Square breathing is a simple but effective way of reducing stress. Imagine following the lines of a square as you breathe in to a count of four, hold the breath for a count of four, then exhale for four seconds and again hold the breath for a count of four. Repeat – four times, four times a day (or more!).

 

9. Spend more time in nature.

Spending more time in the natural world brings most people calmness and a feeling of being grounded and centered. It also inspires creativity. You don’t need to live on the coast or in the mountains to find nature. A city park, botanical centre or even a communal garden can offer a much needed break from the concrete jungle.

Sometimes, a little bit of the outdoors can be a great natural remedy for our concentration woes.

10. Rewrite the story of your life.

Disappointment, failures, and mistakes are a part of life for everyone with a pulse.

The stories we tell ourselves about the mistakes we’ve made are fairy tales. Not the nice, touch-feely, warm Walt-Disney-kind. The harsh, brutal, scare-mongering kind that circulated pre-20th century, warning the poor children of those times to tow the line or they would face uncertain death by some horrible, mythical figure.

These days, that mythical figure is the voice of guilt and shame that lives in our heads.

We waste time feeling bad about something that is as innate to being human as breathing is. Mistakes are there to serve us, not to hold us back.

“You can only go forward by making mistakes”

                                                         Alexander McQueen

Let go of old shame and disappointment. Rewrite your life story by focusing on what was learned and how it will help you in the future.

 

11. Write the story of your future.

Every moment is a new start.

Write your success story of where you will be this time next year – what you are doing, how you feel, what your environment is like and what the people in your life notice is different about you.

Write it in the present tense, as if it is happening now. Sometimes, we work best when we start from the destination and work backwards. Start with the end in mind, as if what you really want from life has already happened, and make space in your heart for that end to become reality.

“Dreams are the seedlings of realities”

                                               James Allen

Visualize the end product and the series of steps that got you there. Then visualize yourself taking each one of those steps.

All great endeavors start with a powerful vision.

 

12. Make a commitment to get some help.

Pick one area of your life or task that is incomplete and holding y0u back from getting what you really want in life. Decide to get some help, whether that means enlisting a friend or family member, or even hiring someone.

We often tell ourselves that we should be able to do certain things and refuse to get help even when it could make life a lot easier.

Just because you could (technically) cut your own hair – doesn’t mean you should! Let the people who are good at cutting hair do it (or whatever it is you need help with!) and do what you are good at!

If your house is a disaster – hire a cleaner or a professional organizer. If your finances are in shambles – find a good financial adviser or budgeting expert. If you have dreams you haven’t quite reached or have ADHD challenges that continue to wreak havoc in your life – hire a professional coach.

There is no shame in getting help, only in letting pride get in the way of asking for help that would enable you to excel in that area of life that is holding you back.

13. Get an Accountability Partner.

This can be a professional life coach or even just a good friend who has your best interest at heart.

Accountability partnerships are designed to help you meet your goals and keep your commitments. Sometimes, we don’t make ourselves or our desires important enough to be accountable to them. We let other things get in the way because we don’t value our own intentions.

But when we have someone else checking in on us, those goals and desires become more important to us, simply because we are being held accountable for them. A bit like a weekly weigh-in ca help keep you on track with a diet, a weigh-in on your goals and commitments can be great motivators for keeping you on task.

Accountability partnerships are set up with complete collaboration and transparency. You decided what you want to be accountable for, and how you want your partner to respond when you don’t live up to your commitment. They can help productivity, and when done in a professional coaching context – inspire personal growth and development.

 

 

14. Start every day as you mean to go on.

No one wakes up hoping their going to have a bad day.

But the way most of us wake up and start each day is often good-mood-conducive. The way we start the day impact our moods from the get-go and set the pace for the rest of the day.

Make the first thing you do on getting out of bed be something that will put you in a positive mood. Smile, sing your favorite song to yourself or have a boogie in the shower. Make yourself laugh for no reason, say a prayer or meditate, or recite out loud your gratitude list.

It’s not guaranteed to make your whole day go swimmingly. But it will certainly help to get you in a happier mindset from the start. It certainly has a much better chance of lifting your spirits than hitting the snooze button eight times, grumbling as you role out of bed, and hitting the shower like a life-sentenced inmate of the Daily Grind Penitentiary.

Practicing positive wake-ups everyday will have an accumulative effect and become habitual over time.

 

15. Determine what your values are.

“I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want. So tell me what you want, what you really, really want”

The Spice Girls

(smiles to myself… yes, I did just put the Spice Girls in here!)

When we are acting inline with our values, life becomes much more fulfilling.

The only problem is, because life is so busy sometimes it becomes difficult to be sure of what it is we really value. Or what we really want from life.

Make the time to figure this out. Set aside a couple of hours to brainstorm and write out the things that you truly value in life.

Keep the list with you. When you are struggling with a task, take the list out and see if it fits in with one of your core values.

This can help keep you motivated by reminding you why it is you are doing it. It can give you permission to abandon a task altogether if it serves no purpose and does not align with your values. And it can help you choose new goals when your not sure what you are doing at all.

16. Follow your passion.

This seems to be one of the hottest topics out there in the blogosphere – following your passion.

But not everyone knows what they are passionate about.

If you have been longing for your life’s passion, but nothing in life (yet) has inspired you to this extent – don’t fret. Passion can grow. Pick something that interests you, even if your not passionate about it – and grow it.

“We must act out passion before we can feel it”

                                                        Jean-Paul Sartre

No one understand this dilemma better than my husband. He has searching for his passion the entire thirteen years I have known him.

This year, he decided to invest more of himself in his photography. A few months ago he deliberated whether or not he should continue pursing it. He enjoyed photography, but he didn’t feel passionate about it. But for whatever reason, he carried on.

Now, he has made a career out of it.

I’m not sure if he feels that illustrious “passion” for it or not. The fact that he spends several hours a day with his camera in hand or his head buried in Photoshop (even after the work is done), that his eyes automatically search for the perfect “photo opp” everywhere we go, and that he sees things in pictures that are invisible to me (maybe he’s woken up to the matrix and I haven’t?) – leads me to believe he might just be growing a passion.

 

17. Put more passion into the mundane.

Its good to follow your bliss if you can, but regardless of what the pop-prophets tell you, not everyone can make a living from their passion. Bills need to be paid and mouths need to be fed while you are trying to find your bliss.

But everyone can put more passion into what they are already doing.

Mindfulness, focusing on how your daily tasks feed your values, starting each task with the same joy you now start each day – are all easy ways to put more passion in to the ordinary tasks of daily living.

 

Try some of these things out in the next few weeks and take notice of the impact they have on your life. As stated before, transformation is a process, not an event. But the more that you work at it, the more solidified these changes in your life will become.

Have some ideas of your own? Share them in the comments below!

Productivity

Two Life Changing Tips To Manage Your Time Better

Everybody’s busy. Everyone needs more time. But apart from Dr. Who, none of us can control how fast it passes.

We do control how we spend the time we have. But even when we ADDers have time – we often fail to use it effectively. For several reasons: we don’t have a firm concept of how it passes, we aren’t realistic about what we can do with it, and we struggle to make the most of it.

There are plenty of great Internet resources that will teach you some techniques to manage these challenges. But I am more interested in experience than how-to’s. It makes no difference how well you spend your time if you don’t enjoy it while you are spending it.

Most people have too much on their plate. In yesteryears, families resorted to two incomes as a way to make ends meet. As wealth increased, we used the superfluous earnings we had improving our quality of life. But as a society seduced by consumerism, we’ve lost track of the difference between needs and wants. Often, we work for our things rather than our needs, sacrificing time for money.

No one needs an extra bedroom or a cottage at the lake. Granted, they are nice to have. A room for company to sleep in and a cottage for respite certainly improve quality of life. But only if you’ve made the conscious decision that they are worth the time and money they require. The point isn’t whether or not you should have these things, it is whether or not you value them enough to sacrifice your time.

The challenge for everyday tasks is no different. In order to get a firm grip on how you spend your time, it is important to clarify between your needs and your wants. More importantly, you need to clarify your values. Knowing why you are doing what you are doing, and whether the thing you are doing is something you value, helps you make more conscious choices over how you spend your time.

Which brings me to the next challenge we so often face: competing values. I value being a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, employee, coach, housekeeper, philanthropist… but I can’t be all of those things, all of the time. The sad truth is that when we spend time doing one thing we value, we unavoidably fail to spend time doing something else we value.

In Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness, Tal Ben-Shahar shares an anecdotal study that was done on women and happiness. He explains that women frequently report their least satisfying part of the day was the time that they were spending with their children. Not because they didn’t love their children or enjoy their company, but because the time they spent with them was often punctuated by multitasking and doing other things like chores, emailing, or talking on the phone. Quite simply, they were with their children in body but not in mind. Being with their kids simply highlighted the nagging sense that they weren’t really giving themselves over to their kids, but coping the best they could stretched out on life’s wooden horse.

Multitasking rarely makes life more enjoyable. But we do it, because it seems we have to. When was the last time you ate a meal and did nothing else? I mean – nothing else. No talking, driving, texting, opening emails, watching TV – only eating? Few of us sit down and just eat. Interestingly, unconscious eating is partially responsible for today’s obesity problem.  In his hugely successful series “I Can Make You Thin”, British hypnotist and neurolingistic programmer Paul McKenna advises that slow and deliberate eating, done in isolation of any other activity, is one key way to eat less and lose weight.

We don’t just need more time or less to do. We need to experience the time we have more fully, no matter how we are spending it. Stress doesn’t come from infinite to-do lists so much as it comes from the loss of seconds, minutes, hours or even days of your life. Doing five things at once is not time well spent. It’s the passing of a moment without ever really experiencing it.

This is one of the biggest challenges ADDers have with time. We are never really here, but a millions places at once. It’s hard to feel like you have any time when you’re never fully there to experience it.

If you want to make the most of your precious hours on this earth, you only need to focus on two things.

1. Quality

Increase the quality of the time you are spending (no matter what you are doing) by being as present as possible, whether it is through use of medication, mindfulness, single-tasking, or any other means. It may seem counterintuitive, but most people enjoy things more when they are present.

There is a way to slow time down. It’s called Mindfulness. Mindfulness can be extraordinarily hard to achieve at the best of times, let alone when you have ADD. Yet, it can be very simple at the same time. In the Joy of Living, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche makes it very accessible for amateurs. In its simplest form, it only requires you to notice and observe all that you are experiencing and doing in the present moment. And when you notice your mind slip out the back door and on to other things, you gently bring it back to the moment. You don’t even have to give up daydreaming (which I secretly love, when it is not interfering with other things in my life). You simply notice yourself daydreaming. And by doing so, you are present.

Slowing down and doing one thing at a time is another way to capture the moment, especially if you practice mindfulness at the same time. The idea of it may sound like nails on a chalkboard to us ADDers who thrive on momentum, velocity and multiple sources of stimulation. But a bit of slowing down once in awhile can actually make us more efficient, and even more fulfilled. I feel like a better mother when I am fully present during playtime with the kids, as hard as it is to do when Barbie vs Batman has had its third spontaneous plot change, directed by a 5 year old who demands perfection from the performance.

But feeling like a better mom lets me focus more clearly by removing any source of guilt when I shift my attention to other things later on. Sometimes, you have to pay attention in “installments” by bringing your mind back, over and over and over again.

You won’t be able to slow down and be mindful all of the time, but any time you do will add a great deal of quality to your life.

2. Quantity:

Increase the quantity of time you spend doing things you value by clarifying your values and differentiating your needs from wants. Some things need to be done, but not nearly as many things as we think. Thinking about the “why” behind your activity can make it more rewarding for you, if it is in line with your values. I don’t value cooking and would happily eat out everyday – but I do value providing a nutritious meal for the family and reserving our finances for other things. Being conscious of the “why” can make certain tasks less frustrating, even if they aren’t that enjoyable.

You may be irritated right now that I haven’t highlight ways for you to get more done. But I can almost guarantee that when you spend more time on things you truly value or conversely, find value in the things you are already doing, your time will be better spent. And when you stop and pay attention to those things, the roller coaster slows down.