Wednesday, August 27, 2014 22 Comments
Gettin’ UP and Gettin’ Going – Part II
Three more of my TEN “Practices” that beat back
©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Activation Tips #4, 5 and 6
Let’s begin with a very short review.
In Part I of this article, discussing the first three of Top Ten Tips to Combat “Laziness,” I began with gratitude that “Terminal Laziness Disorder” didn’t really exist . . .
. . . FOLLOWED IMMEDIATELY by mild dismay at the dearth of understanding about the impact of ACTIVATION struggles (vs. motivation), and consternation, actually, that there is even less practical advice to help those of us who struggle with activation to rise above it.
I enumerated ten relatively easy things I was going to share — ten things that I have discovered that, taken together, have made a BIG difference in my own ability to get up and get going (including the ones that have worked most effectively in the lives of my clients).
Before moving on to the first of those “tips,” I also urged everyone to read or review the earlier articles on Activation (and still do).
If you can motivate your loved ones to read them too, so much the better. Their understanding and support will make a significant difference in helping you avoid the black and white thinking trap that will slow you down to a crawl.
I want you to be able to understand a bit about the source of Activation struggles so that it will make sense to you to TRY some of the tips (and because it will help your loved ones better support you in a manner that doesn’t inadvertently make things more difficult).
Click below to check out:
- ABOUT Activation
- Procrastination — Activation vs. Motivation
- Lowering Activation Costs
- Is Activation SEEKING System Dependent?
Seriously! Whether anybody in your universe reads anything at all, if you don’t understand WHY you’re doing what you are doing (or NOT doing whatever it is you’re not doing), you will probably balk at trying any of these suggestions.
And that would be a crying shame.
Because if you’d take some time to read a bit (and try on a few of these suggestions), you would probably be surprised at how quickly these deceptively simple suggestions work and how much easier working through your to-do list becomes every day that you use them.
By this time next month your life-stopping struggles with activation could be largely a thing of the past, with just a little bit of fairly consistent attention to cultivating a couple of relatively easy habits. Whenever kludgy activation does threaten to trip you up again, you’ll know JUST what you need to do to start your own engines (and knowledgeable family members and loved ones will understand what NOT to do!)
In the first part of this article we covered the following:
1. Medication can help, but not by itself
2. Avoid shoulds and should-ers – and know why you must
3. Write it down, write it down, write it down
(If you’d like to read Part one, you will find it HERE.)
NOW we’re going to take a look at:
4. Distinguish Task Anxiety and begin there
5. Feed your head
6. Go like Glenda
Before we move on to handle:
* Stay off the Slide
* Best breathing for best focus
* Cross it off, cross it off, cross it off
* RATE IT – both before and after
If on-screen reading is frustrating for you, even with the article broken into parts,
try taking it ONE Practice at a time.
Okay – lets get back to it!
Be sure to checkout the sidebar for how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>
Nine of the “top ten” are aimed at reducing the drag on our activation abilities.
In other words, many of us have been holding ourselves back or making things tougher by what we have been doing (or not doing). Changes there can make the biggest difference in the least amount of time.
HOWEVER, there’s another side to the problem that we would be foolish to skip over: impaired ability, for a number of easily identified reasons.
In this section of the article, we’re going to begin there.
THREE More Tips to Activate ACTIVATION
Task anxiety is what I call that glitch-in-the-gut feeling, mild or strong, when even the simplest of tasks seems overwhelming. It occurs most frequently for a distinct handful of reasons, primarily six:
- When we don’t have sufficient training or information to take on what we’re attempting to do
- When we don’t fully understand what’s expected of us – the parameters of the task and what it would look like if it were already in the DONE category
- Whenever we are unclear about exactly which pieces to take on and in what order, leaving us stuck in an endless decision-loop,
- When we’ve agreed to an unrealistic time-frame for completion, or have been assigned a task with an unrealistic completion date (given what’s involved, no matter WHO might take on the task or how well they function) — or when we have imposed unrealistic time-frame expectations on ourselves,
- When we are already over-worked or over-committed and we said yes when we needed to say no (even to ourselves!), and/or
- When the pathway to begin the task is littered with “in order to” tasks that stand in the way.
Whenever you get stuck or can’t make yourself get started, ask yourself which, if any, of the six apply. Simply identifying and naming the glitch will reduce task anxiety by at least half.
AND THEN WHAT?
Check out The Terror of Tiered Tasks for help with the sixth item above. Let’s take a look at the first five a bit more closely here.
Besides lack of identification, they each have the same problem at their root: we are being run by our shoulds!
Our brains have evolved to pay attention to the rules of the pack — our very lives were dependent on it at one time.
That time is long past, however. We no longer risk death and destruction if we fail observe some “pecking order.”
Try telling that to your brain!
We need to retrain our brains if we ever expect to wrest free of our earlier programming. And the first step in changing a habit — especially a habit of thought — is allowing ourselves to become consciously aware that we are caught in its tractor beam.
Let’s give some language to the should-sources inherent in each of the first five items that lurk behind most task anxiety.
Should #1: There is something shameful about not knowing — or not being “smart enough” to figure it out on the job, all by ourselves. We’re supposed to ALREADY know everything about anything we agree to take on and anything that is assigned to us.
Should #2: We are expected to be mind readers with crystal balls that can peer into the future to picture all completions. We have bought into that idea so completely that most of us have embraced the crazy notion that we should be able to accomplish tasks without clarification (and that we’re “not allowed” to ask for it).
Professionals are some of the most shame-damaged by the first two (and more than a few of them should on others before they have a chance to should on them).
Should #3: There is a “right” way (or an easy way) to get the task done, and we should NOT do it the “wrong” way or the hard way (Or what? We’ll be thrown out of the Grown-up Guild?)
Should #4: We should be able to jack-rabbit our way through any task in remotely the same ballpark that ANYONE has completed quickly, regardless of the unique parameters of this particular task — and we are bad, wrong and lazy if we can’t!
Should #5: We should be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound – and saying NO will let everyone know that we can’t. (Hey! Nobody has time to say yes to every request, you know – and some requests are simply not appropriate in the first place.) Check out Priorities-101: Yes means No for more about this one.
If ANY of these five shoulds apply, review “no-shoulds” Tip #2 in the previous section, then hire a comprehensively trained, brain-based ADD Coach or bite the bullet and go ask your kindest friend or colleague for help!
Arm yourself with your own unique version of the following words, in case you get back any version of make wrong for “not taking responsibility” when you ask.
Practice saying them in the same tone in which you would deliver a weather report on an unremarkable day (or with a slightly quizzical tone to your voice, cocking your head to one side for subtle emphasis) — even if you never get up the gumption to say them aloud to anyone else. It will help you shift your programming.
“I am taking responsibility by asking for your help —
responsibility for for task completion, not for understanding what I obviously don’t.
If you don’t know either or don’t want to help me, simply say so
and stop making me wrong for asking. I can ask someone else.”
Keep it short, keep it sweet, and DON’T TAKE IT ON!
Stop believing what people say you should be able to do.
And by “head” I mean BRAIN. As I told you in an article published over two years ago now, ADD/ADHD and Time: 5 System Basics —
Whether you remember what the Door Mouse said or not, remember this:
your brain NEEDs them.
It needs all four to be able to manufacture the neurotransmitters that allow it to function effectively. Neurotransmitters are the cognitive batons in brain-communication relay races. Your brain can’t make them without your help.
FOOD as Fuel
Even with the newest and most enviro-friendly technology, cars don’t get anywhere without fuel of some sort. And the wrong kind of fuel is sometimes worse than no fuel at all. Don’t start your day with the wrong kind of fuel.
If you are struggling with activation, YOU NEED PROTEIN! A little bit of good fat in the morning will help as well – just not in a carbohydrate-rich food. (A lot of people don’t realize that our brains are composed of fat, much of which is located in myelin, which itself is 70-80% fat). Extremely low-fat diets aren’t great for brain health.
But why protein?
- The stimulating (or activating) neurotransmitter dopamine is PFC fuel. Regular readers have seen those three letters repeatedly, and already know that they stand for the pre-frontal cortex – the part of the brain behind the forehead that coordinates the brain’s Executive Functions.)
- Protein supplies much needed amino acids that are the precursors for the dopamine your brain needs — the building blocks. They are especially important in the wake-up transition period. I’ll explain why in just a few paragraphs.
Besides the meat, chicken and fish we generally think of as protein sources, foods that promote dopamine include avocado and coffee, as does supplementation with the amino acid tyrosine, which the body converts into dopamine.
I don’t advise self-medicating with supplements any more than I advise you do the same with any substance. Work with a doctor or nutritionist or you may be increasing the wrong thing by the wrong amount. But most of us can’t go wrong eating protein in the morning and saving the carbs for the end of the day, when they’ll help us get to sleep.
Carbohydrates – whether “good” carbs or “bad,” are what most of us are in the habit of eating for breakfast (if we eat anything at all, that is) — and neither habit is a good idea for most of us.
Breakfasts high in complex carbohydrates give the engines of farmers and steel workers a slow-burning fuel intended to keep their bodies going until they can break for a huge lunch that has to do the same thing until dinner.
Exercise boosts dopamine levels naturally, and they certainly get plenty of exercise in the course of their normal day, as they slowly burn off that big-carb breakfast.
Those of us who don’t engage in manual labor with most of the hours of our lives – we who sit at desks and frequently snack our way through our days – don’t need that kind of fuel first thing in the morning. In fact, it will make things harder for us.
- Carbs supply serotonin precursors. Serotonin is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that keeps you feeling happy and relaxed, but it is also likely to make you a bit sluggish.
- Unless our primary goal is mood regulation, a high-carb breakfast will produce exactly the opposite of what most of us with sedentary lives are hoping to be able do: ACTIVATE and focus.
Sleep itself is a high serotonin state – we certainly don’t need to increase its supply when our goal is to get up and get going. First thing in the morning we need to tip the balance the other way as quickly as possible if we expect to grab the day by the horns.
And it IS a balance we need to remain aware of, though not in the way that most people think. Think of it more like regulating hot and cold water in the shower. You can’t adjust only one without changing the overall temperature.
We need to pay attention to maintaining a balance between the two that gives us our own preferred water temperature. It’s not that either one cancels out the other, but each does decrease the effectiveness of the other as far as its contribution to the water temperature.
Increasing the flow of the wrong one of the two might tip the balance in a manner that might not be what we want to experience in our morning shower.
- If the shower is cold we’re smart enough to turn up the hot water.
- If it’s already too hot, we’d be mighty displeased with what happened unless we turned up the COLD water.
Most of us awaken with enough serotonin already.
- Protein in the morning “turns up” the dopamine — which is what our brains need to be able to focus and activate.
- Turn the dial in the appropriate direction, and you might be quite a bit happier with what happens as you begin your day.
Continuing with water metaphors, let’s take a look at technique number six.
Glenda the Good, however, seems practically like one of those ethereal water spirits – right down to the color of her costume.
I’ll grant you that the metaphor breaks down at this point, but I’m hoping these words will help you remember that we need to think more like Glenda than her evil counterpart.
We won’t melt.
Most of us don’t drink nearly enough liquid to allow our brains to work at the top of their respective games. If we wait until we notice that we are thirsty, our brains have been desperate for a while — crying out for water like the Tin Man cried for his oilcan.
Our brains are especially parched on awakening — they haven’t had a drink for more than a few hours.
Expecting functionality without hydration is like expecting your vehicle to operate well once the oil has begun to turn to sludge. It will usually run, but you’ve got to expect some sputtering — and it’s lousy for the engine!
That immediate boost we get from that first cup of coffee or tea may well have as much to do with the liquid as the caffeine.
For peak efficiency, your brain needs much more water than your body — and few of us drink nearly enough or nearly often enough. I know I don’t unless I keep it at the very forefront of my mind. (For those of us on medication, that goes DOUBLE, by the way!)
Meds or not, whenever you find yourself spinning your wheels and getting nowhere you intended to go, take the time to take a quick break to go get a glass of water – and down it!
No, keeping a glass of water by your side and taking periodic sips is not going to do the same thing for you. Nor will asking your secretary, your spouse or one of your kids to bring you one. You need the break.
- It serves as what is sometimes referred to as a “pattern interrupt.”
- It’s a little bit like pushing a reset button on a pinball machine or at the bowling alley.
Keeping water with you is a great idea – but if you’re spinning, walk away for a fresh glass of water — even if the one beside you is still full. Drink it down – THEN go back to wherever you were when your brain seemed to be stuck on idle.
Notice that you’ve washed away a few cobwebs, and expect things to look a little less daunting.
If you paid attention to Tip #3, and have actually taken the time to write it down, write it down, write it down, a quick gander at your list may well be enough to get you back in action at this point.
Still more to come in Part 3: Lead us Not into Temptation
(don’t miss it!)
- Stay off the Slide
- Best breathing for best focus
- Cross it off, cross it off, cross it off
- RATE IT – both before and after
© 2014, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”
No TIME to read all this stuff? Want more help?
Once my own life recovers from a protracted repair deficit situation where even the ability to use the systems I have put in place was taken from me, watch for the announcement of an upcoming 12-week TeleClass on Modular Success Systems.
It will help you sort through a great many of the “functional modules” so that you can design an action plan guaranteed to be easier than what most of you are currently attempting to work with.
Classes are a much cheaper alternative to hiring my personal coaching services (and the FIRST time I offer a new class is always your least expensive option by far!). As always, class size will be small to allow for personal attention, so don’t miss the announcement if you want to make sure you sign up before the first class fills.
If you already know that this is something you are going to want to be part of, let me know in a comment below and I’ll make sure you have advanced notice (don’t forget to fill in your name and email on the comment form or I won’t be able to contact you).
Meanwhile, keep reading as often as you can! Until my own life recovers, I won’t have the time to post as often as I have in the past, but there is A LOT already on the site. Don’t waste this free resource – and I’d REALLY appreciate it if you would help me out by taking a few moments from your own life to spread the word about the blog and the upcoming TeleClass, OK?
To double the benefit, whenever you read a new article, make it a habit to pick at least one of the Related Content links to read at the same time (embedded in the text and duplicated in the Related Links at the bottom of every post).
If you’ll “like” or comment after the pages you’ve read, it will help you keep track and will point others to posts you find especially helpful (as well as helping ME to know what you want me to write about).
As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Time & Task Management Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy.
Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series (one-on-one couples or group), click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end (or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page). Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!).
You might also be interested in some of the following articles
available right now – on this site and elsewhere.
For links in context: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links will turn dark red;
(subtle, so they don’t pull focus while you read, but you can find them to click when you’re ready for them)
— and check out the links to other Related Content in each of the articles themselves —
Related articles right here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
(in case you missed them above or below)
- Moving from Black and White to Grey
- ABOUT Activation
- Procrastination — Activation vs. Motivation
- Lowering Activation Costs
- Is Activation SEEKING System Dependent?
- Shame on Shoulds
- Changing a habit to change your LIFE
- The Link between Procrastination & Task Anxiety (the terror of tiered tasks)
- Priorities-101: Yes means No
- ADD/ADHD and Time: 5 System Basics
- Executive Functioning Disorders
- Repair Deficit
LinkLists of other supports for this article – on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
- When you are NEW to ADD (or this blog/Attentional Struggles/ADD Coaching)
- Variations on ADD-ADHD (Are YOU included in this subset?)
- Individual Challenges Inventory™ Series article-links by category
- LinkList of Articles in the TransitionTamer™ Series
- LinkList of Articles in the TaskMaster™ Series
- LinkList of Articles in the Time & Time Management Series
Related Articles ’round the net
- The Advantages of Drinking Water in the Morning (undergroundhealthreporter.com)
- The Fat-Fueled Brain: Unnatural or Advantageous? (Scientific American Mind)
- Serotonin and Dopamine Interaction (National Center for Biotechnology Information)
BY THE WAY: Since ADDandSoMuchMore.com is an Evergreen site, I revisit all my content periodically to update links and content — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from