10 Organizing Principles for the Organizationally Impaired


NOT Your Mama’s Organization

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In support of the Challenges Inventory™ & ADD Coaching Series
my edited reposting of a five year old article

If at first you don’t succeed . . .

I know.  I’m right there with you.  You’ve read all the books and made a good stab at following their advice, and you still live in what might affectionately be called a pig stye if only it were that neat.

Give it up!

Those books were NOT written for you and me.  They were written for fundamentally organized people with relatively reliable follow-through skills and abilities.

They simply needed a little how-to help and advice.

I don’t work their way.
Do YOU work their way?

How DO you work?

If you don’t get real about how you work, you will never be able to determine what YOU need to do to to keep from spending half your life looking for things that were “right here a minute ago” — and the other half tripping over dirt and detritus.

As I began in an even earlier post (ADD & Organized?) . . .

Yea verily, even YOU can learn to be organized
just as soon as you understand
the reasons why you’ve been stopped in the past.  

Those of us who struggle with any of what are referred to as Executive Functions work a bit differently than those neurotypical folks.  We do not have vanilla-flavored brains.  We’re more like the ice cream with the mix-ins.  Our stoppers are not their stoppers.

HERE’S the KICKER: it’s a different mix of stoppers for every single one of us.  

So much for helpful hints and tidy lists!  

That said, I’m going to go w-a-a-y out on a limb by offering my top ten organizing principles that I now call, collectively, The Executive Functioning Organizing Manifesto — a summary of some basic concepts that need to be embraced and understood if you want to have a shot at working out what you need to do for YOU to be organized.

In future posts in this series, I will expand on some of the points below.
For NOW, print ’em out and hang ’em up and follow them!

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Do you have a minute? Sorry for the Inconvenience.


Tough Love Lessons
from an Empathy Deficit Society

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Walking a Mile Series – Part I

“There, but for the grace of God, go I”

Not my problem, not my business?

Our society seems to be rapidly moving to a state where it is empathy-averse. The next few posts are my attempt at trying to change that sad reality in some small fashion by telling my personal story. It is time

Many who are still able to care what happens to others take the “wait and see” approach, hoping perhaps that some of the problems will resolve without their involvement.

I have noticed it most overtly in response to current political actions of late, but I have always seen it most pervasively in the continuing lack of Mental Health Awareness.

That attitude troubles me greatly.  We need each other, and the quote at the top of this page has never been more apt.

I always planned to speak out about it, once I put my life back together after a horrendous event that all but took it away from me entirely. But there was so much to do in the aftermath that time got away from me.

The attitude I observe, that seems to be increasing since the start of the most recent election cycle, has emboldened me.  I think it’s time to put some polish on a few drafts and publish them.

The Value of Personal Stories

Sometimes hearing the stories of people you know, even a little, makes a greater impact than any urging to step up, speak out and make a difference ever could.

So I will be sharing two personal experiences, one a great many years ago and the other only a few. I plan to divide the article into three parts, mindful of the time many of us lack for reading extremely long posts, even though these will be longer than many.  They will post on consecutive Wednesdays.

I am posting them NOW to underscore the reason we all need to increase our willingness to get involved before the next DSM is forced to add a new category: EDD – Empathy Deficiency Disorder.

Sympathy vs. Empathy

Sympathy is “feeling sorry for” a person in a particular situation. It is a feeling that allows us to be grateful that we are not the ones going through the experience personally. But it also fosters a pull to allow ourselves to sit back and do nothing to ease the burden for another.

Empathy is “putting ourselves in the shoes of another,” allowing us to imagine what we would find helpful and encouraging, and perhaps to step up to extend support – if only a little bit, and maybe more than that.

Talk and Timing

As I said in one of my updates to an article years ago now, NO contact possible: mugged at gunpoint, modern medicine is very different than the first time I had a broken bone but, unfortunately, bones don’t heal correspondingly rapidly.

My first experience was the result of multiple, serious, spiral fractures to my right leg, many years ago.  The damage was the result of a skiing accident that left me unable to get out of bed for a month, in a hip cast for about 8 months, and a leg that was smaller than the diameter of my arm once the cast was finally removed.

The negative impact to my acting career was substantial, but my attitude remained essentially positive – despite a great many challenges – thanks to more than a little help from a small handful of my friends.

This is my story

New York City, where I was living when I broke my leg, was in the middle of a transit strike, and New York cabbies were reluctant to take the time to deal with someone on crutches or in a wheelchair.

  • At that time I lived with a godsend of a roommate who stood at the curb to hail a cab while I was hidden from view, so that I could get where I needed to go.
  • She also emptied my bedpans for that first bed-ridden month. She kept me company, the bills paid and our services on, and food in my belly.
  • At no time – for an entire year – did she display impatience or treat me differently. Nor did she suggest that I pretend that lack of autonomy was less of a struggle for me than it was. She helped me keep my spirits up with conversation and laughter.
  • At NO time did she expect that I pretend my situation could be handled by “thinking positively” about it.  She understood without having to be reminded, that “motivational” talk of that type would have felt belittling.
  • She sat with me patiently during the times I wept over the seeming relentlessness of the situation.

Thank you Janine.  I was extremely grateful at the time but, until the contrast of my more recent experience, I had NO idea how very much your help and your attitude made it possible for me to make it through that time emotionally – and whole.

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Naps help Memory


 Our Brains are not Designed
to Learn Non-Stop
Sleep is essential for memory & learning

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Sleep and Memory Series
All Rights Reserved

National Sleep Awareness Week PostMarch 2 – 9

Sleep is more important than you think

Some preschools are still considering the elimination of naptime to fit in more teaching.

According to new studies,
that is probably a lousy idea.

Researchers have already shown that, following a good night’s sleep, facts learned one day are retained better the next, in learners both young and old.

It is looking like midday naps, discovered to be essential for brain development in infants, perform the same memory-enhancing function for toddlers and young children as a good night’s sleep for teen and adult learners.

Naps appear to help memory and learning

A study published in PLOS ONE suggests that a little snooze in the middle of the day may help kids retain information they learned earlier the very same day.

[Laura Kurdziel et al., Sleep spindles in midday naps enhance learning in preschool children]

To repeat what I disclosed in an earlier article, Emotional Mastery to help us move forward:

Sleep has been proven to play a critical role in both physical and mental well being. Sleep deficiency is not only associated with physical disease, but also with a range of emotional disturbances from subtle to dramatic.

A great many important functions take place while our brains sleep — such as the healing and repair of the heart and blood vessels, as well as the brain’s housekeeping chores, when memories are consolidated and debris is swept away with the help of glial cells.

Other related neurodiversity posts:
You Don’t Want to Pay the Interest Charges on Sleep Debt
Sleeping with the Enemy: Mom’s N-24

Remember that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

HOVER before clicking – often a box will appear to tell you what to expect

Preschool Z’s Make Good Memories

In the above titled article and podcast on the Scientific American site, Sophie Bushwick, a Senior Editor at Popular Science, reported on a particular study looking at how naps affected the academic performance in children between the ages of 3 and 6.

The study found that preschoolers who take a midday nap better retained recently learned information.

About the Study

Researchers taught 40 preschoolers between the ages of 3 and 6 to perform a memory task, followed by a break of several hours. After the break, the children were divided into two groups, one remaining awake or the other encouraged to nap. The nap group slept for about an hour and a quarter — an average of 77 minutes.

Later in the day, both groups were tested to see how much they had retained.

Although the brief nap appeared to make little difference in the children’s feelings of sleepiness, it did help enhance their memories. The children who had rested performed better.

Even more interesting was the finding that the children who had napped after the initial lesson retained more information the following day than those who had not.

The benefit was greatest for students who took naps regularly, by the way, not just during the study.  Which suggests, according to Bushwick, schools may want to keep sleep on the syllabus.

NOT just for Kids

A recent study reported on ScienceDaily on January 5, 2017, suggests that, upon retiring, so-called Seniors might also benefit from an hour-long midday nap.

It is looking like naps might well help deal with the short-term memory deficits accompanying what is often referred to as age-related cognitive decline.

To learn whether taking an afternoon nap had any effect on mental health, researchers examined information provided by nearly 3,000 Chinese adults aged 65 and older. Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Study participants who took an hour-long nap after lunch did better on mental tests, compared to those who did not nap.

Those who napped for about an hour also did better
than those who took shorter or longer naps.

People who took no naps, short naps, or longer naps experienced decreases in their mental ability that were about four to six times greater than people who took hour-long naps.

Get this: the people who did not nap, and those who took shorter or longer naps, experienced about the same decline in their mental abilities that a five-year increase in age would be expected to produce.

About the Study

Nearly 60% of the study participants reported that they napped in the afternoon, after lunch. Their naps lasted between about 30 minutes to more than 90 minutes, with the majority of them taking naps lasting about an average of 63 minutes.

The participants took several tests to assess their mental status.

They first answered straightforward questions — like the current date, the season of the year, and so forth — and then were asked to do some basic math problems.

They were also asked to memorize and recall words, and to reproduce drawings of simple geometric figures.

Finally, they were asked questions about their napping and nighttime sleep habits to put the memory data in context.

Given the size of the study compared to studies of smaller populations, these findings are extremely encouraging as to reliability.

——————
Edited Summary
from “Afternoon Napping and Cognition in Chinese Older Adults: Findings From the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) Baseline Assessment” — appearing online in the January 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Implications for ALL of us

I want to point out that younger and older participant groups are the ones that have been studied. The results DO NOT indicate that naps would not be equally useful for individuals outside the age ranges reported.

I would encourage anyone who has some scheduling flexibility – college students, entrepreneurs, and anyone able to retire at a younger age, for example – take the findings above as encouragement to adjust your schedule to allow for a midday nap.

And don’t forget that “mid-day” may not be the same time for everyone.
If YOUR daily schedule is not typical, your nap timing won’t be either.

NOT what was previously thought

You probably have read or heard that napping impacts night time sleep negatively.  That is likely to turn out to be old news.  The studies above seem to indicate that a nap of no longer than approximately an hour, and in the middle of the day, has no negative effect and may well turn out to be extremely beneficial.

© 2017, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”
(reblogs always okay, and much appreciated)


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IN ANY CASE, stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

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Dealing with Distractions


When the mind drifts away
Even when we’re trying hard to concentrate

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from The Challenges Series

This article (and Series) speaks to ANY of us who struggle with staying focused and on-task, by the way.  Distractibility is common with depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and in plain vanilla brains with too much to do and too little time in which to do it all. What do you think is behind procrastination?

More about Distractibility

As I said in the conclusion to an earlier post of this series, Distinguishing Distractibility, most brains screen out persistent stimuli.  That talent is part of the mechanism that ensures the survival of the species.

In order to be alert to something that might be life threatening, the brain automatically decides that ongoing stimuli are merely “background,” no longer important enough to pass along to the conscious mind.

I’ll use the sense of smell to give you an example of what I mean . . . 

Because smells are processed directly by what used to be referred to as the limbic area of the brain (instead of having to go through the thalamus, like the other senses), most ADD/EFD and “vanilla” brains – those without the cognitive mix-ins – usually have the same experience of the way it works.

Lessons from the Kitchen

Have you ever prepared a Thanksgiving meal, or been in the kitchen while one was being prepared?

Think back to those amazing smells. Mmmmmmmmm – heaven!

Yet, if you stay in the kitchen, after a while you stop noticing them.

In fact, when another person comes into the room exclaiming, “Boy, it sure smells great in here!” you can’t really smell those amazing aromas anymore, even if you try.

Because cognitive bandwidth is a limited resource, your brain has “backgrounded” the persistent odors so that you will be available to pay attention to any new ones, possibly needing immediate attention — like the fact that the rolls are burning.

If you leave the room (or the house) for a few minutes then come back into the kitchen, even a short while later, every good smell will hit you like a wave in the ocean. “Wow. It does smell good in here!”

YOU don’t have to think about handling the “backgrounding.”

Your brain does that for you, just as transparently as your brain tells you how to walk down a sidewalk without your having to consciously consider each little step in the process — allowing you sufficient “brain space” to think about something else.

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Friday Fun: Memory


I know we’ve met many times,
but what was your name again?
Let’s laugh the whole thing off

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Friday Funnies Series

Quick Intro before we get to the Funnies

What we can and cannot recall at any particular time depends on a lot of factors . . .

our generation … our cultural imperatives … what sticks out among the familiar … the time of day and how much sleep we’ve had lately … whether we are well-hydrated — even what we ate for breakfast.

Unfortunately, the mechanics of human memory still remain a mystery to the science crowd.

They now know a great many more things, however, for example:

* THAT memories are not stored in one part of the brain alone – nouns, names & faces are stored in different areas (and some brains have trouble with ALL of them)

* THAT bits of memories are distributed — each time they are recalled they are reconsolidated anew

* THAT how we feel and think when we recall them changes memory’s bits and bytes — which is why eye-witness testimony is not reliable

* THAT more recent memories become tougher to recall as we age, even when we can vividly remember what happened much earlier in great detail, and

* THAT attention and focus (and sleep) are essential for effective long-term storage. If we are paying attention elsewhere, storage for recall is iffy (and when we don’t sleep, brain filing is a crapshoot) — even our own promises to our significant others

But that is ALL little consolation when they can’t help us with CRS:
that disabling “disorder” when we
Can’t Remember Stuff.

Related ComicWinter Food Storage

All is not lost

Source: Wrong Hands

Fortunately, there are quite a few brain-based explanations and work-arounds for memory’s glitches.

I continue to share a great many coaching tips and tricks to help with more reliable storage and recall (and I’ve included links in this post to some of my longer, more serious articles on memory).

Today, however, we’re going to temper our frustrations with a quick bit of humor.
How many of the situations below have you experienced in YOUR life?

Oh, and after today, Funnies post only occasionally

Reminding you of what I disclosed in last Friday’s introduction to this series, Funnies about Perspective: unlike the ongoing Sunday Smiles and Monday Funnies you’ll find on Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog, my Friday Funnies will show up only occasionally, usually clustered around a theme.

If I get the feeling that things have gotten a tad serious here in the world – or on ADDandSoMuchMORE.com – get ready for another hit of humor, most likely another Friday Funny.

YOU PLAY TOO

If you have something on your website or blog that relates to the theme, especially if it’s humorous, please feel free to leave a link in a comment. Keep it to one link per comment or you’ll be auto-spammed, but multiple comments are just fine and most welcome.

AND NOW for some more humor . . .

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Happy New Year’s Life Upgrades to YOU


Resolutions? Affirmations? Intentions?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An edited reposting of an earlier idea

Drawing of a hand, arm, quill pen and paper, under the words New Year Resolutions - as if in handwriting.

A therapist I know has this to say about change:

“Everybody wants things to be different,
but nobody wants anything to change.”

He doesn’t add, “especially anything about THEM” – but I have always believed that’s what he was really talking about: the devil you know, and all that.

What IS it about change that makes us cringe?  

Never one to ask a rhetorical question without some kind of an answer gnawing at the edges of my mind, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking it is – at least where those of us with ADD/EFD brain wiring are concerned: it’s so darned disorienting.

  • JUST when we get a few processes on autopilot so that we can finally avoid the dreaded decision-making horror with every step of the process, and . . .
  • Just as we get things systematized, automated to the point where short-term memory deficits are no longer as likely to trip us up . . .
  • Some idiot updates the software and nothing works the same way anymore. (Those of us in the WordPress.com blogging community know I’m not JUST speaking metaphorically here!)

It’s beyond frustrating – it makes us feel stupid. It’s salt in an ADD/EFD wound that’s barely scabbed over to begin with.

Our only alternative is to revise and adjust, which sometimes feels like beginning anew — and often is exactly like beginning anew.

It seems that ever since the recently deceased futurist Alvin Toffler first published his only-constant-is-change Future Shock in 1970, nothing holds still for very long at all.  And, forced to adapt, we are absolutely powerless to do anything else about that but bitch.

Is it any wonder that we want to dig in our heels whenever and wherever we have a bit of power and change doesn’t seem absolutely necessary?

  • RESOLVE to change something we’re used to?
  • Change something about US?

When pigs fly, and not one moment sooner!

And yet . . .

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How to navigate those “Home Alone” Holidays


The Single Person’s Holiday Playbook

(Putting an end to those awkward holidays!)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An edited reblog of a previously published article

ENOUGH with the questions from well-meaning others!

Whether we are alone by choice or circumstance, holidays can be, at best, awkward.

Found on: Lolsnaps

“Have any plans for the upcoming holiday?” can be asked at any moment – even by total strangers trying to be friendly in grocery lines.

ANY version of, “Not really,” is something they do NOT, actually, want to hear.

Nor is it something that most of us who are already feeling marooned are eager to utter aloud.

No Mom, s/he won’t be coming

As any single person who’s ever gone “HOME for the holidays” can probably tell you, being “unpartnered” during special family events can present a unique set of challenges, especially the first time.

It runs the gamut:

  • from feeling awkward, maybe a bit defensive about your [lack of] relationship status this particular holiday,
  • all the way to feeling that you must either “ruin everyone’s holiday with a display of pique” -or-
  • grit your teeth, grin and bear it as you attempt to find a way to politely field unintentionally rude inquiries about why you happen to be alone.

The Formerly Familied

Far too many individuals who are divorced, widowed, separated (or outliving their families and many of their friends) can find solo-holidays sad and depressing.

A friend of mine, an emotionally healthy, extremely self-reliant, empty-nest single parent says her married kids “make other plans” for major holidays — at the very least every other year.

She really doesn’t resent the reality that the kids have their own lives, hope to start their own family traditions, and deserve to feel unconflicted about making holiday plans that won’t always include her,  BUT . . .

She says that she can’t face cooking a holiday meal for one OR going to a restaurant alone when everyone but her seems to have somebody celebrating WITH them.

She also finds it unbearably depressing to fuff around in her pajamas and slippers ALL day, even though she feels like she is “all dressed up with no place to go” if she doesn’t.

Reaching out to help others?

Even singles who volunteer at soup kitchens and so on have to make it through at least a portion of the day totally alone, at a time that was once known for family get-togethers.

People who never drink anything stronger than root beer have confessed that the idea of becoming a regular at their town’s version of the Cheers bar crosses their minds more than a few times, just to have somewhere to go and a few people to talk to on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve.

Different ways to make it work . . .

Since I have spent most of the major holidays alone for many years now, I’m hoping that I will be able to help you look at things in ways you haven’t already thought of, tried and rejected.

In any case, I’m not planning to rehash the holiday survival tips already found all over the internet (but in case you have missed a few bloggy ideas, check out the articles under the Related Articles ’round the net heading in the links below the original post.)

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

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Beyond the Limitations of a Post-It Note™ Brain


 

TIME Perception is a factor of Awareness

The more conscious the process,
the longer it seems to take

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections post from the Time & Task Management Series
Part THREE (Part I HEREPart II HERE)

According to Dr. David Eagleman, we humans are more than passive observers where time is concerned. And he should know. The author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, has studied Time perception for well over a decade.

According to his research, we are not merely watching the river of time flow by as if time happened TO us, or we happened IN time. Science is learning that our brains are actively constructing time.

Re-engineering Brain Resources

In Eagleman’s words, It turns out that it has everything to do with novelty, and with how much energy your brain has to expend.

So, when you can predict something, not only does your consciousness not come online, but [the event] feels like it goes by very fast.

In other words, driving to work may seem relatively fast eventually. The first time you had to do it, however, it seemed to take longer because of the novelty, as well as the amount of brain-power you had to burn the first time you did it — before your brain was able to predict much of anything about the trip.

Essentially prediction means that if it’s something you’re doing repeatedly, you’re actually “rewiring” — reconfiguring the circuitry of the brain.

You’re actually moving things into your sub-conscious circuitry, which gives you speed and efficiency, albeit at the cost of conscious access.

So you have to pay a lot of conscious attention if you’re learning to do something new, like playing golf or driving a car.

After a while it’s not necessary, because you’ve changed the circuitry of your brain — no longer at the effect of the conscious awareness of what you’re doing.

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Sherlocking for Task Completion


Looking at the details
of any problem with follow-through

How do YOU need to proceed?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections post from the Time & Task Management Series
Part TWO (Part I HERE)

Follow my process as you Sherlock your own

As I continue to remind you: ONLY when we take the time to Sherlock the details of how and why we get stuck are we able to figure out what might work to help us get UNstuck!

And I promise you that it is RARELY as simple or straightforward as the self-help books might lead you to believe, neurotypical or otherwise.  Everything depends on how any particular task intersects with your particular Challenges Profile™.

As you examine some of the details of my own particular problem example below, think about some of the areas in your life that might look like one type of problem but are actually the result of something else entirely. 

The Leaning Tower of Crockery

Creative Commons, Wikipedia

Creative Commons, Wikipedia

There is no room for a dishwasher in my current apartment. I’m stuck with the task of washing everything by hand.  As much as I hate it, it’s nothing compared with the struggles I faced in my last apartment.

During a hateful period of several weeks there was a faucet drip, compounded by a sink-drainage problem for at least two.

During this particular period, it could take hours for the sink to drain completely. Increasingly powerful drain cleaners did little to clear the clog effectively. Water backed up in my kitchen sink and my dishes piled up unwashed while I waited for my landlady’s follow-through skills to kick in.

Since water in that particular first-floor dwelling always took several minutes of running before it approached a temperature anyone might consider warmish, the sink filled with cold water before I had a shot at getting water delivery hot enough to clean anything.

It made me increasingly furious to have to boil water like a pioneer before I could wash my dishes, so I stopped.  Cold.

Calming myself down

Getting my shorts in a knot about the drainage problem wasn’t going to make it go away. Emotional upset would only increase the difficulty of getting anything ELSE accomplished.  It made sense to stay busy elsewhere so I wasn’t constantly aware of the problem building in the kitchen.  Some distractions are actually helpful!

Except for nightly applications of drain cleaner and cleaning out the goop in the sink – a process that seemed to be undone by morning – I tried to avoid using the kitchen sink at all. I waited for my landlady to find and fix the problem, calling her every day or so with a reminder message. Day turned into day after day.

Even though the resulting mess was beyond hateful in many ways, and even though I could not FORCE myself to handle it “in real time,” waiting was more of a choice than a problem with procrastination.

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Predicting Time to Manage Tasks


Beating Back Task Anxiety

by understanding your relationship to TIME

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections post from the Time & Task Management Series
Part ONE

What’s YOUR Tendency?

As regular readers already know, I tend to put my faith in what science crowd refers to as “anecdotal evidence”  — learning from what I have observed in my clients, myself, and what I have heard from thousands of ADDers who have attended conferences and participated in my support groups and workshops in the twenty five years I have been in the field.

As I expanded my evidence collection to include the experiences of the other citizens of Alphabet City (TBI, PTSD, OCD, EFD, AS, etc.), I began to mentally record their experiences as well, and factor them in to my techniques and theories.

When the science supports what I see in the population, I quote it.  When it doesn’t, I ignore it or argue with it. It makes no difference if 98 out of 100 people studied tend to do xyz if my client and I happen to be among the 2% who do abc.

It doesn’t matter.  Your job is the same either way: check your gut to see what makes the most sense to you and try it on.  Tweak from there. Check out another tool when something doesn’t work for you.

But hang on to the first!!  Just because you need a hammer NOW doesn’t mean you won’t need a lug-wrench later!

My take on Anecdotal

  • For years I struggled valiantly attempting to adopt “majority rules” norms — with little to no success and a lot of wasted life.
  • It took a long time for me to develop even a rudimentary feeling of entitlement to my own process, learning to close my ears to the words of the “experts” and neurotypical Doubting Thomases who kept telling me that I was only kidding myself or making excuses.

I coach, train and share here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com hoping to help others avoid some of the wilderness-wandering that has characterized much of my own life. And to remind myself of what I’ve learned.

Trying something different

I want to encourage you to find what works, not what is supposed to work

So, in the first part of this multi-part article, let’s take a look together at how people relate to time and tasks, and how that affects our ability to plan our schedules and run our lives.

Let’s examine the real stoppers to OUR forward progress to see if we can figure out how to work around them, independent of the “standard” assumptions and techniques – a process I refer to as Sherlocking.

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TIME to think about Group Coaching


Time Troubles and Coaching
For people who are “ALWAYS” running late and rushing around
— and the people who love them —
(who would like to understand how to change that sad fact)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Group Coaching Series

BEFORE  I tell you about the upcoming start of an affordable new Coaching opportunity designed to help you with A-WHOLE-LOT-MORE than time-management, let’s take a moment to chat about time itself.

Time can be MANAGED?

For over a quarter of a century now, I have been fascinated with anything related to the topic of the awareness of the passage of time. It has always been a mystery to me – and I now know that I’m not the only one with that peculiar problem.

Personally, I can’t recall a time when time made sense, except in the context of NOW and not-now.

Even when I explain it to someone who thinks they understand, it seems that nobody gets the implications. I am frustrated beyond belief when they continue to ask me time-based questions.

My secret fascination with the mechanics of time’s awareness began long before I first learned that I seem to be one who was born without that internal tic-tic-tock with which most people DO seem to have been equipped, part of the standard package.

I’ve been told I can’t get one now, even as an after-market upgrade.

Oddly, I have a great sense of rhythm – which is time-based – so I can change time-ING, but predicting how long something will take or how long ago a life landmark occurred is always beyond me.

Back in my acting days, when I had to do a 30-second spot and I was over or under by a few seconds, I understood how to tweak the cadence to end “on time.” But I never could stay tracked attempting to “time” much of anything for much longer than a minute (or “time” a dance number — I simply stayed in step with the music until it stopped).

Are YOU one of the time challenged?

None of us know what we don’t know . . . so how can we frame a question another will understand? It seems like magic when others are able to manage something in arenas where we are totally at sea.

The best analogy I’ve been able to come up with for a lack of time-sense is that it’s like trying to teach the tone-deaf to sing.

Friends who aren’t able to sing on pitch can’t tell when they wander away from the tune, and I have never been able to help them learn to do so.  They simply can’t hear it.

Unlike those who can’t match a pitch, however, I always knew there was some “secret” that others knew and I didn’t (and therapists have had a field day with this, by the way – “Madelyn, I don’t have answers for you!”)

I simply couldn’t imagine how to frame a question beyond, “How do you DO that?” or “What am I missing?” – which, I suppose, seemed more like feigned ignorance or an unwillingness to take personal responsibility to others. So I stopped asking. I hated the look on their faces, even when their responses weren’t cruel, and even though I understood they didn’t MEAN to be cruel.

Making sense of a lack of sense

I found out that there was such a thing as “a sense of time” in the same article I found out about adult ADD, published years ago in the New York Times magazine section – Frank Wolkenberg’s now landmark, “Out of a Darkness.”  I was 38.

My reaction to that particular aha! was, “Well, NO WONDER every one else can get places on time — they’re cheating!” (as if “a sense of time” was like having an exam crib sheet stuffed up their sleeves.)

Once I understood that some inner chronometer allowed others to somehow feel that time was passing (and how much time was passing, for most of them), I understood immediately that I had to stop attempting to “figure it out” and focus on easy-to-set alarms (one to STOP, to get ready for the next thing, another to begin walking out the door — etc.) That’s how I did it — and how I have to do it still.

I found it fascinating to hear that some people LOST their sense of time following a head injury. I know it must be frustrating for them, but at least they know how to explain what’s missing — not that it helps others to understand what they’re talking about or the extent of the resulting struggle one whit better.

Related Post: Lessons from the TBI Community

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Coaching for those Senior Moments


ADD/EFD or
Age-related Mind Blips?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections on memory before moving on with help

When your mind is like a steel sieve

It’s bad enough when we can’t recall a name in the middle of an introduction. It’s worse when we can’t remember where we put our keys when we’re running late — and so embarrassing when our minds drive right by birthdays and anniversaries.

We feel scatterbrained when we have to go back into the house several times to check that we turned off the lights, locked the back door, or unplugged the iron.

We feel stupid when we forget a basic fact we haven’t pulled out of our mental databases for a while – like how to divide fractions or figure percentages, or the spelling of a common word, for example.

We worry that we might be getting SENILE when we can’t recall entire events – like going to see a specific film with a certain person who is absolutely positive we were there with them, perplexed when we still don’t remember once they supply details to support their case.

If we don’t remember seeing the film at all, we begin to worry about incipient Alzheimer’s!

Memory lapses are not limited to those middle-aged mind-blips science sometimes calls “age-related cognitive decline.” It’s also awful when a student’s mind goes blank when s/he’s taking an exam after studying diligently for several nights in a row.

Question Mark in red circle; magnifying glass attempting to make it clearer.While the kids might substitute a different word for the last letter in the acronym, we all find it unbelievably frustrating when we have a CRS episode – those times when we simply . . .

        Can’t Remember Stuff !

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My way IS the Highway?


ALL Kinds of Solutions
for ALL Kinds of Minds

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from posts from January 2012 and March 2015

Get up Early … Exercise to FOCUS! … Bite the Bullet … Eat that Frog
Give it your ALL … Connect with the Pain … Clean out your Closet
Throw out your ClutterAccelerate your willingness . . .

WHY won’t everybody else do what they should?

Yep! So many people think that everybody else needs to do everything their way. It’s as if they believe that exactly the same techniques that have been effective in their own lives would transfer equally well to anyone else’s situationif those slackers would only DO IT RIGHT!

Everyone’s problems would magically disappear with “simple” solutions, IF ONLY everybody else would:

 — or really wanted a solution and not simply a chance to complain!

As if everybody needed to do the same thing – right?

I know what works for you – uhuh, uhuh-uhuh

More than a few Success Gurus approach the subject of productivity and goal fulfillment from a paradigm that not only is unlikely to work for everyone on the planet, I believe that much of what they suggest does not work very well at all for citizens of Alphabet CityIn fact, it shuts many of us down.

These “experts” certainly don’t mean to shut anybody down – and many find it difficult to impossible to believe that they do.  Still, they speak in soundbites that encapsulate the cornerstones of their systems.

They tend to promote techniques in alignment with the claim that increasing commitment to change, demonstrated by “giving up your resistance” to whatever it is they are suggesting, is the single most important step that turns the tide for many of their clients, students and seminar attendees – and that it would work for you too, if you’d only give it a try.

Different folks and different strokes

  • Tortoises and Hares
  • Linears and Holographics
  • Detailers and Concepters
  • Prioritize First or Do it NOW propronents
  • DECIDE and Do or Follow the Flow

Does anybody REALLY believe that the same “success techniques” are likely to work effectively for each of the examples above?  Their ways of approaching life is at opposite ends of the spectrum.  Who’s to say that one style is the “right” approach and the other is not?

Taking different routes to work

How you get to a particular location in your town, for example, depends upon a great many variables: where you are coming from, the amount of gas in your tank, the time of day, what else you are trying to accomplish on the same trip — even the type of vehicle you are driving and the state of your tires.

I can recommend the way I travel as the most direct route, or the one with the fewest stop lights, or the most scenic.  But it’s not true that one or the other is “the best,” or that the recipient of my suggestion is intractable or doesn’t really want to get where they are going if they choose another route.

In a manner similar to how a city’s network of roads determines how various people travel to the same destination, the connections that make up the networks in our brains determine how our brains operate. Variations in the way we navigate our world – physically or mentally – are a product of our “equipment” and how life tends to work best for us.

Still, we all like to give advice, and it makes us feel great when people take it.  But it doesn’t mean that we know “better.”

During my 25+ year coaching career, I have worked very hard to jettison “I know better” thinking. I have been relatively successful moving beyond the temptation to spread judgment like a schmear on a bagel, but I still defend my right (and yours) to offer advice, raising our voices of experience to offer information and suggest solutions.

It’s not the advice that is the problem – it’s the misguided expectation that others need to take it!

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Productivity: Paying Attention on Purpose


Keeping our Attention on Intention
Accountability check-ins for purposeful follow-through

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

The Link between Attention and Intention

Many qualities and skills combine to produce successful follow-through. Today, we are going to focus on the importance of attention.

If you ever hope to stop scratching your head or beating yourself up over your struggles with staying on track and getting things done, understanding the implications of the concept of attention is foundational.

Every single technique I have developed, coached and taught over the last 25+ years has been structured with the underlying goal of strengthening  the attentional muscles – or compensating for them when they are weak.

No matter what your most frustrating problem is: clutter-management or up-front organization, making yourself start or procrastinating at the back end, time or mood management  — and a whole host of other challengesunderneath them all is a problem with attention allocation and management.

If you don’t understand how to work with yourself to focus your attention on what you want, when you want and for as long as you must, you’re going to have problems in some or all of those arenas.

So let’s get to it!

As I said in Brain Waves, Scans and ATTENTION —  One of the goals of comprehensive brain-based ADD Coaching is to identify areas where our clients can improve on the intentional direction of attentive awareness.  Nobody gets much done if they can’t focus very well on what they’re attempting to DO.

HOWEVER, without supportive follow-through structures in place, whether professional, partner or peer, the self-discipline to stay focused and in action for as long as it takes, is rare.

As our attention meanders from distraction to competing priority our willpower seems to drain away, leaving us wanting nothing so much as a vacation or a nap!

And then we turn on ourselves, beating ourselves up with negative thoughts and comments we’d never say to another living soul.

Related Posts: How to STOP Chasing your Tail
Productivity, Focus & Follow-through

How Come?

In case you missed it in Why Accountability Leads to Follow Through, it’s not that we’re lazy or lack sufficient motivation, even though many of us have been accused of exactly that, far too many times.

It’s that few of us realize that, no matter how strong our initial commitment, will-power requires cognitive bandwidth that is limited in supply. Just like a a muscle, it can only be exercised for so long – and handle so much – before it gives out.

We see the negative effects most dramatically in the citizens of Alphabet City, whose attentional “muscles” aren’t as strong to begin with. However, we can ALL use a little wind beneath our wings to help us keep on keepin’ on.

Related Post: From Impulsivity to Self-Control

Unfortunately, it becomes difficult to impossible to reach that happy state of managing our attention with intentionality until we understand what it is, exactly, that we are attempting to manage.

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Accountability & Systems on Auto-Pilot


Systems Development is Part ONE
It’s that consistent follow-through part that’s the killer!

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Treadmill Deja Vu

As I explained in Keeping Up with the Treadmill Tasks, published over 2-1/2 years ago, Treadmill Tasks are those things that are never really done. No sooner do we put a task behind us than its evil twin materializes in front.

If we expect to eat every day, somebody has to fix the food. Then somebody has to deal with the dishes at least once a day or so, and wipe spills off the counters and the floor (at least well enough to keep the Board of Health away from our door).

Oops, let’s not forget to take out the garbage – and how about that grocery shopping?

Then there’s the general digging out: policing the living rooms and the bedrooms, the kitchens and the bathrooms . . . not to mention those home office to-dos, even for those of us who work for wages somewhere else.

SOME-body has to attend to all of those items or everybody must live with the consequences of mounting disorder and disarray that eventually makes life practically unlivable.

When YOU are that somebody – especially if you are one of the citizens of Alphabet City – I’ll bet you frequently feel like your life is little more than one rapidly revolving to-do list, and that you will never be able to cross off anything anywhere near the bottom.

Hang on – help’s coming!

But wait – there’s MORE!

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Why Accountability Leads to Follow-through


Keepin’ on Keepin’ ON
Accountability check-ins for follow-through

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Structures for Accountability

Have you ever gone on a weight loss diet?  Even if you are one of the few people in America who have no personal experience with that particular follow-though struggle, I’ll bet you are familiar with somebody else’s on again/off again attempts at “losing a few pounds and getting into shape.”

Psychologist Dan Ariely, author, professor and Duke University’s founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight has made a comprehensive study of self-regulation abilities.

He’s noted that people can promise themselves they will stick to a plan (as with a weight-loss diet), and have all the motivation in the world (like a serious health concern, for example) but, without external controls, most people are unlikely to follow through on their commitments to themselves.

Why else do you think so many people trying to lose weight turn to Weight Watchers and other organizations that use an accountability/motivational check-in format?

Related Post: Productivity, Focus & Follow-through

Without support and check-in structures in place, having the self-discipline to follow through for as long as it takes is rare.

  • Haven’t you noticed that you have a better shot at staying on task when someone is watching?
  • Didn’t you study more diligently when you knew a test was coming up?
  • When your follow-through energy begins to flag and you start to get discouraged, doesn’t having somebody in your corner who reminds you of how well you’ve been doing make a difference?
  • When your will-power wilts, doesn’t it help to have a champion in your corner?

It’s not that we’re lazy or lack motivation — it’s that we don’t realize that no matter how strong our initial commitment, will-power requires cognitive bandwidth that is limited in supply.

Just like a a muscle, it can only be exercised for so long – and handle so much – before it gives out.  We need a little wind beneath our wings to help us keep on keepin’ on.

Related Post: Can This ADDer be Saved?

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The Virtues of Lowering your Standards


Consider this a “Track-back Tuesday” post

Late last night (or early this morning, depending on where you are and how you track time), I received a comment from an extremely frustrated ADDer struggling with cellphone and I-pad impulsivity. Most of us can relate, huh?

You can read her comment HERE (my coaching response follows).

Double-checking one of my older articles that I suggested she read, I notice that it received fewer “likes” or comments than I thought it would when I wrote it. It struck me that MANY of you who read ADDandSoMuchMore.com only occasionally probably missed it, and it’s a goodie. It contains more than a couple foundational concepts that create issues that most people find problematic, and those of us in Alphabet City frequently find debilitating.

SO . . . I am reblogging my own post,
hoping it will provide a few keys to turn a few of YOUR locked doors.

If you want to add velocity to your self-coaching efforts, take the time to read the articles linked within that post as well. They will open in new tabs/windows, so you can click them as you come to them and keep on reading.

Enjoy!

ADD . . . and-so-much-more

click image for sourceclick image for source

 When “Good enough” is Good ENOUGH!

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Let’s delve deeper into a couple of foundational problems,
particularly for those of us with Executive Functioning dysregulations:

* struggles with activation,and
* the perils of falling victim to black and white thinking.

Hand in hand, each exacerbates the other,
until it’s truly a miracle we ever get anything done at all!

To the neurodiverse AND the neurotypical

On a very different kind of blog, post-production supervisor and self-professed Edit Geek Dylan Reeve shared his thoughts on the very topic I planned to write about today (the image above is his). He began and ended his relatively brief article with a wonderful synopsis of exactly what I am about to tackle in this article.

In Defense Of ‘Good Enough’

For many people . . . ‘good enough’ is a dirty word…

View original post 2,887 more words

Relationship Repair when Apologies are Due


HOW to Apologize
beginning with how NOT to

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Intentionality Series

Find it on ADDCoach Wisdom on Pinterest – linked to thedailyquotes.com

Just because we didn’t do something intentionally (“on purpose”), doesn’t mean the injured party is not entitled to a sincere apology for the reality that we were involved and that something was damaged – or somebody was hurt – as a result.

Apologizing doesn’t mean that you have been purposely wrong and that the other person is absolutely right. It means that you value your relationship more than your ego.

ADD/EFD oopses

Far more often than many of the neurotypical members of society, those of us with what I refer to as Alphabet Disorders (AD[h]D, EFD, TBI, OCD and more) tend to say and do things that get us into hot water with our friends and loved ones.

  • Unfortunately, according to a great many of my clients through the years, instead of cleaning it up and asking for forgiveness, we tend to allow hurt and resentment to fester as a result of our reluctance to apologize.
  • Even more often, we make things even worse by our bungling attempts at taking responsibility for our actions when we do attempt to say we’re sorry – making it even more difficult for us to decide to apologize in the future.

While we might argue that the above points are two sides of the same coin, shame (certainly a factor), I have observed that only a few of us truly understand HOW to apologize – so we tend not to offer them as often as they are deserved.

That’s unfortunate, because apologizing costs us nothing, means a great deal to those we have disappointed or offended, and is a relatively easy thing to learn to do in an effective manner.

8 Reasons we don’t apologize more readily & more often

There are probably as many explanations as there are people who “refuse” to apologize, but they tend to cluster in areas similar to one or more of those below.

  1. We have collapsed blame, fault, and intentionality with apologyThey are NOT the same, and the presence of the former is completely unrelated to the need for an apology.
  2. Our egos are attached to appearing “perfect” or loving or emotionally sensitive in some black and white manner, fearing that apologizing makes us seem weak, ineffective or damaged in some fashion beyond that which we already fear that we might be.  The opposite is actually true.
  3. We aren’t fully appreciating the feelings of the individual at the effect of our actions, words or behavior, frequently because we ourselves would not respond in a similar manner.  We let ourselves off the hook with the lame excuse that they are “over-reacting”  — contexting our actions their fault.
  4. We feel as if we’re “always apologizing” – most often because we’ve been told that so many times throughout our lives we’ve concluded that yet another won’t really make much of a difference anyway. How can we expect to rebuild trust if we won’t take responsibility for our actions when they are hurtful?
  5. We don’t know how to “fix it,” and we are hoping that saying nothing will allow it to become no more important than a bit of dirt under a carpet.  By the time our attention is drawn to the huge dirty pile in the corner, it seems as if it really could be too late to repair the damage.
  6. They are younger than we are, or less senior, so we allow ourselves the excuse that an apology from us would be “inappropriate.”  Even very young children and junior office assistants are entitled to an apology whenever our actions would merit an apology to someone older or more senior – especially if we didn’t intend harm.
  7. It takes us a while to realize that an apology is probably due – or to work up the courage to offer one – and we don’t know how to begin at a later date.  It’s never to late to attempt to set things right.
  8. We lack the skill. When we believe we are apologizing, the person on the receiving end hears something entirely different: an attempt to shift the blame.

Whatever underlies our reticence or lack of effectiveness, we can learn to apologize effectively, and our happiness with our relationships will improve significantly once we do.

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Productivity, Focus & Follow-through


What helps & what hurts
– so that you don’t unintentionally
make accomplishment harder  –

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

The Motivation/Activation/Focus Continuum

As I’ve explained in the Activation articles, cheerleading – or any other attempt to motivate someone who is struggling with activation – is likely to backfire.

There are many tips and techniques that can help a person who struggles with Executive Functions initiate action and stay on track to completion, but most of them are counter-intuitive. The “typical” advice only works for the “typical” person.

Attempting to explain the differences between the neurotypical and the neuro-diverse, I’ve said many times, “The reasons they don’t do things are seldom the same as the reasons we don’t do things.”

Different causes mandate different approaches and ideas.

One of the best ideas I know is to make use of the services of a Body Double – as long as both partners are aware of some of the unwritten rules of the game.

Body Double Confusion

An ADD Coaching technique I introduced in Body Doubles for Activation & Accountability, the Body Double concept underscores how simply having another person in the room can make things easier to do — because it is an externalized reminder of the need to stay on track for the person being doubled.

Haven’t you ever noticed how much easier it is to stay on track on certain types of tasks when somebody is observing?

Some repeat information from the earlier article:

  • It’s important to note that the Body Double does not actively help, advise, disrupt concentration or comment outside of a structured, agreed upon set of circumstances.
  • The Body Double’s only task is to sit quietly out of the way, reading or writing while the ADD/EFDer attends to work (unless it has been agreed in advance that s/he will interrupt a hyperfocused worker-bee occasionally to ensure that s/he stops for periodic breaks or for meals).
  • Frequently, the Body Double brings along a compatible task of his or her own – like journaling, knitting or catching up with email on a laptop or tablet.  They’re only there to externalize the observing ego of the person they’re doubling – the witness self of the person they are assisting.

I have observed for almost three decades now that having another person in the room actually helps those of us with activation and follow-through struggles focus on the task at hand, and stay on-task to completion — provided that the person in our space doesn’t feel it is their job to “help” us with what we are doing.

THAT’s where the confusion begins

In general, people tend to think about “helping” as an active state: donating food, clearing the table, fixing a flat — DOing something.

So when they are asked for help as a Body Double, they tend to be as much an active off-task distraction as a passive partner who helps to improve the odds that someone with Executive Functioning struggles will stay on track.

  • They often assume they are at least supposed to ask how things are going, or for a report of what has been done so far, or to remind the person of the items still undone (or something else that also needs to be done).
  • Unfortunately, intruding on the process in a manner that might be intended to be  “actively helpful assistance” actually makes things harder – sometimes much harder.

To be really helpful to someone already struggling with attention, focus and follow-through, a Body Double needs to be passive.

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar for a reminder
of how links work on this site, they’re subtle (scroll UP for it) ==>

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The Backwards To-Do List


A Different Way
to Help you get UNSTUCK
Help for Activation, Hyperfocus & Scattered Energy

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another article in the ACTIVATION Series

Expanding on a helpful concept

In last Monday’s article [How to STOP chasing your tail], I introduced a productivity tracking technique I call The Backwards To-Do List.

Over the years, I have received many requests to explain the idea. I hope this article will help those of you with similar questions.

I initially developed this technique for myself, a year or two after my own ADD diagnosis – several decades ago now. I figured it out after realizing that the “standard” advice about making To-Do lists left me DE-motivated, rather than it’s opposite.

Lacking a sense of time, I never could get the hang of how much to put on the darned thing. Plus, my high level of distractibility made it certain that there would be many items undone every day.

As I told you in Monday’s article:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Unlike our neurotypical friends and families, those of us in the ADD/EFD camp find it more difficult to “let it go” when we see a to-do list with items untouched.

  • Many of us who try the typical advice end up becoming so demotivated that we tend to conclude that “to-do lists don’t work.”
  • Others in our club feel so overwhelmed by day after day of undone to-dos that we end up doing practically nothing at all.

We need to do it another way

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Starting early – making it easier to decide & do


Planning for NEXT Christmas
(What better time than when the weather blusters?)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Habits, Decisions, Attention Series

Reviewing a Planning Concept using Christmas as a model

If you ever hope to live your life as an organized person – or even a more organized person – you need to think in terms of making sure you jettison the dead weight – those things that are working against you. Begin with a vision of where you’re going and the “somethings” that are keeping you from “gettin’ up and gettin’ on it.”

As I told you in several earlier articles

the further away from the moment of need the decision is made

  • the easier it is to make . . .
  • and the fewer the distractions that will disable you.

It’s always a good idea to front-end the decision-making process for any task you can’t seem to make yourself do early enough to avoid the last-minute scramble.  Planning in January is about as far from next December as possible.

Be sure to write it down, write it down, write it down. On paper.

Handwriting uses a different part of the brain and activates different pathways than typing into one or the other of our devices.

It also feels less like “doing” so is less likely to set you up for activation agita.

Most of us can follow simple “directions” fairly well – one at a time. Planning is like leaving breadcrumbs for yourself to follow later: directions!

Christmas Planning Lessons

Since, for many of us, it’s too cold to play outside much anyway, lets play an indoor game: planning.

Grab a planner, a pencil with a decent eraser and your favorite pen or hi-lighter, then snuggle in with your favorite cup of something warm and wonderful. Let’s plan next Christmas.

I can almost hear some of you moaning that Christmas comes too early already, but anyone who knows me will tell you that I start thinking Christmas the first time the temperature dips below 70 degrees.  January weather is clearly colder than that – where I live, at least.

Anyway, what better time than January to review the Christmas in our rear view mirror before it disappears from sight: what worked, what did not, what you wish you’d done, and where you put everything you just took down?

If you wait much longer you probably won’t remember much of anything very clearly – except the very best and the very worst.

Let’s use planning for next Christmas as a model for up-front planning for other things in our lives (like packing for a trip, finally organizing your kitchen so that it works for you, labeling the boxes and bins that you’ve stashed ladder-high, no longer sure what’s up there, and so on).

Christmas still up? Even better!

  • That means you haven’t stashed things away before you considered how best to store the items (and whether anything you used this year isn’t worth storing at all).
  • You can also still use your eyes to jog your memory. Since our emotions leave tracks, pay attention to any tightness in your body to tip you off about what didn’t work well this year.

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

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How to STOP chasing your tail


Changing your approach to
Productivity
Help for Activation, Hyperfocus & Scattered Energy

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An article in the Org&Task Series

The Problem with Planning

We’d be nuts to believe that we could carefully plan every minute of every day and that life would line right up with the plan.

For one thing, activities always seem to take longer than we mean for them to take. In addition, a great many other items intrude – including some that cannot be put off.

Unlike our neurotypical friends and families, those of us in the ADD/EFD camp find it more difficult to “let it go” when we see a to-do list with items untouched.

  • Many of us who try the typical advice end up becoming so demotivated that we tend to conclude that “to-do lists don’t work.”
  • Others in our club feel so overwhelmed by day after day of undone to-dos that we end up doing practically nothing at all.

We need to do it another way

Coming back from my difficulties of the past two years, I am working diligently to [re]teach myself that listing 1 to 3 things in most of the currently active/important areas of my life – not thinking of them as things “to-do” but more “to keep in mind” – is extremely helpful to jumpstart my overall productivity.

My [no more than] 3 Item Overview has always helped me keep these items at the front of my mind – even if they aren’t addressed and accomplished every single day (or week!)

In addition, I always handle more than I anticipated doing on any particular day – every single day. I find it useful to write those items in my datebook and cross them off (as if they’d been there all along and I am the master of intentionality and productivity!)

It’s what I refer to as my backwards to-do list.

Seriously, that little trick helps to remind me, when I beat myself up about delaying the start of certain projects, that I’m not sitting around doing nothing all day – eating bon-bons or worse.  It also lets me become conscious about the areas where I spend the most time.

I highly recommend it.  You certainly don’t think you’re likely to remember what you’ve done if you do NOT write it down, do you?  Besides, it’s incredibly motivating.

Yet if you don’t write these things IN your datebook you are not very likely to be able to find the scraps of paper where you did write them down at the time you need some additional motivation.

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Getting up and Getting Going


More on ACTIVATION
(versus Motivation)

© By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Foundational Concepts of the Intentionality Series

ACTIVATION can be a BEAR!

From my favorite illustrator, Phillip Martin

As I illuminated in three earlier posts of this Series of articles – ABOUT ActivationIs Activation “Seeking System” Dependent? and Procrastination: Activation vs. Motivation – struggles with activation are a common occurrence in the AD[h]D/EFD/TBI population (vs. garden-variety “procrastination“)

What’s the Difference again?

  • ACTIVATION refers to the initiation of an action — the process that gets you up and doing, apart from what inspires you to WANT to be up and doing.

Insufficient motivation – REALLY?

Many (if not most) of the “get it done” gurus believe that insufficient motivation is a primary source of the problem for individuals who procrastinate endlessly.

  • For them, maybe, but my extensive experience with hundreds of individuals with Executive Functioning struggles of all types doesn’t support that simplistic conclusion.
  • In the population I work with and support, I see more than enough motivation and way too much heartbreaking agony over struggles with activation.

According to Wikipedia, “Activation in (bio-)chemical sciences generally refers to the process whereby something is prepared or excited for a subsequent reaction.

Alrighty, as I’ve said before, that definition works for our purposes well enough – as do a number of explanations of terms outlined in various Wikipedia articles on the chemical process – so let’s explore their concepts a bit more.

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The Single Person’s Holiday Playbook


“Home Alone” Holidays —
without the tears

(Make this your LAST awkward holiday!)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Note: If you’re jumping over from the 2016 edited reblog
[How to navigate those “Home Alone” Holidays]

scroll down to “NOW let’s really shake things up”
to read the remainder of the article (with the TIPS)

ENOUGH with the questions!

Whether we are alone by choice or circumstance, holidays can be, at best, awkward.

Found on: Lolsnaps

“Have any plans for the upcoming holiday?” is asked even by total strangers trying to be friendly in grocery lines.

ANY version of, “Not really,” is something they do NOT, actually, want to hear, and not something that most of us who are already feeling marooned are eager to utter aloud.

No Mom, s/he’s not coming

As any single person who’s ever gone “HOME for the holidays” can probably tell you, being “unpartnered” during special family events can present a unique set of challenges, especially the first time.

From feeling awkward, maybe a bit defensive about your lack-of-relationship status this time, all the way to feeling that you must either “ruin everyone’s holiday with a display of pique” -or- grit your teeth and bear it as you attempt to find a way to politely field unintentionally rude inquiries about why you happen to be alone.

The Formerly Familied

Far too many individuals who are divorced, widowed, separated (or outliving their friends and families) find solo-holidays sad and depressing.

A friend of mine, an emotionally healthy, extremely self-reliant, empty-nest single parent says her married kids “make other plans” for major holidays every other year at minimum.

She really doesn’t resent the reality that the kids have their own lives, hope to start their own family traditions, and deserve to feel unconflicted about making holiday plans that won’t always include her,  BUT . . .

She says that she can’t face cooking a holiday meal for one OR going to a restaurant alone when everyone but her seems to have somebody celebrating WITH them.

She also finds it unbearably depressing to fuff around in her pajamas and slippers ALL day, even though she feels like she is “all dressed up with no place to go” if she doesn’t.

Reaching out to help others?

Even singles who volunteer at soup kitchens and so on have to make it through at least a portion of the day totally alone, at a time that was once known for family get-togethers.

Even the ones who are teetotalers tell me that the idea of becoming a regular at their town’s version of the Cheers bar crosses their minds more than a few times, just to have somewhere to go and a few people to talk to on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve.

Different ways to make it work . . .

Since I have spent most of the major holidays alone for many years now, I’m hoping that I will be able to help you look at things in ways you haven’t already thought of, tried and rejected.

In any case, I’m not planning to rehash the holiday survival tips already found all over the internet (but in case you have missed a few bloggy ideas, check out the articles under the Related Articles ’round the net heading in the links below.)

So read on . . .

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When SHTF is a DAILY Occurrence!


Emergency Preparations
for lives that have A LOT of emergencies

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Introducing the Surviving EFDs Series

“Preparedness, when properly pursued, is a way of life,
not a sudden, spectacular program.” ~ Spencer W. Kimball

Lots to learn from the Survivalists

“SHTF” – for those new to the acronym – is a Survivalist abbreviation for Stuff Hits The Fan (with a 4-letter “S” word replacing the one I used to keep things acceptable to my ENTIRE readership).

As with any subgroup, Survivalists run the gamut from the extreme through the consumed by anxiety to the worried . . . all the way to the merely cautious.

At base, most of them are no different from savers and planners in any arena — except that they larder physical supplies and foodstuffs instead of cash reserves in more traditional savings formats.

They’ve lost faith in the system.

That’s something that many here in Alphabet City share with them.  Except the system we have a hard time trusting anymore is Mental Health Care, including the lawmakers charged with protecting the rights of the many in our society who have “invisible” disabilities.

It occurs to me that, like many of the Survivalists,
we ALL might be wise to expect the best,
but prepare for the worst.

Global catastrophe’s aside, the “worst” here in Alphabet City seems to happen A LOT more frequently than in the neurotypical population – and we can expect precious little help from the current state of the Mental Health [lack of an effective] System.

Let’s not spend time going over all of the ways in which the system desperately needs changing.  I’ve been ringing that bell for over 25 years now – along with a great many other Mental Health advocates – as things continue to worsen nonetheless.

Instead, let’s focus on what we might think about putting in place to BE PREPARED.

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ADDing to Subtract


How much change can you tolerate
before you STOP trying to cope?

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Intentionality Series

We HATE to give things up

Have you ever tried to convince a kid to give away a toy – even a toy s/he no longer plays with and, truth to tell, never cared much for in the first place?

Most kids will take quite a bit of convincing, and some will throw a fit and refuse.

Truly clever Moms and Dads replace the toy with something new – putting the emphasis on what their kids are getting rather than what they are giving up.

And most parents who follow the “one-in/one-out” rule figure out very quickly that the swap needs to be agreed upon UP FRONT.

If they can get the child to fork over the old toy before they receive the new one, so much the better.

An Overwhelmed Brain says NO!

Have you ever allowed yourself to get in over your head?  In your home, for example, have things ever gotten so messy that you begin to doubt your ability to ever clean it up?

I refer to it as being “over my limit.”  Finding myself over my limit happens to me regularly.

  • It happens every single time I move to a new home, for example, or the times I’ve been too sick to have the energy to do much beyond making it to the kitchen or the bathroom and back to bed.
  • It also happens during (and following) any period where the serious illness of a close friend or family member shifts my priorities.
  • Things seem to get worse every day.

Suddenly – or so it seems – I can’t cope any more.  EVERYTHING seems to be everywhere.  I can’t see the items for the clutter, and life becomes a scavenger hunt of epic proportions.

The professional organizers would probably tell me to start pitching things left and right to “clear out the clutter” – but which things?

What the neurotypical never seem to understand is that overwhelm shuts down our capacity to make effective decisions.

  • I don’t know about you, but the few times I’ve allowed myself to be pushed to toss against my better judgment have ended badly.
  • In a couple of cases, it took me months to jump through the hoops to replace something I’d tossed that I actually needed – and that’s after I’d spent a great deal of time looking for it.
  • As I grow older, I am less and less willing to throw those months under the neatness bus!  Especially since I’ve learned the hard way that “neat” and “organized” are two completely different things.  I’ll bet you have too.

Fear of Tossing?

No, I haven’t developed “fear of tossing” as a result, like some of my clients, but I HAVE learned not to jump in pitching when I’m overwhelmed.

And I’ll bet you have too – whether it is the result of a conscious decision or merely what looks like intractability to anyone watching.

  • What’s the worst thing that could happen? they ask, in their ignorance.
  • Are you kidding?  I’m barely hanging on NOW – my goose is cooked if things get worse.

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A brief bit of FUN for Halloween


Ghost Writers who are actually GHOSTS!

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC

click image for source

click image for source

A brief introduction (to a brief little post)

My poor mother had to pack and move a family of seven practically every year of my childhood.

She managed to do a lot of really nifty parenting things anyway, but on Halloween she sometimes took the easy way out.

This happened most often when we lived somewhere that the weather was expected to be particularly cold.

Since we had to wear coats anyway, she reasoned, why not create costumes that could be tossed over them?

You got it – rifling through the older sheets, the costumes for a family of five little ghosts and their Mom were quickly produced with little more than a pair of scissors.

Soooooo – to give me a bit of time off to create a really cool Halloween costume this year, I am repeating an article written earlier – a bit of a different take on ghosts – no disrespect intended.

I believe the ADD/EFDers whose forays into the book world have been as varied as my own will especially enjoy it.

There are links to the sources, for those of you who are unaware of them.  Look for the slightly lighter text – which will turn red and underlined when you mouse over it.  (Hover before clicking for a bit of information about what you will find when you click — it will pop up.)

Writing of a Different Sort

The article below is from my personal blog on ADDerWorld, “the ADD Facebook” – where, in contrast to the more serious, informational, articles that make up the bulk of ADDandSoMuchMore.com, I tend to let my quirky take on the universe out of the box.

In re-posting this particular article, one of my personal favorites, I’m hoping to get more of you interested in hopping over, signing up and seeing what ELSE is available on that site — and maybe to encourage you to let YOUR creativity out of it’s box too.

Life doesn’t have to be so darned SERIOUS all the time
especially important for serious people.

I hope you enjoy it – and I hope you’re ALSO motivated to check out ADDerWorld.

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When You’re Not Fond of Worms (and don’t eat frogs)


When your day starts slowly
and other tales of functional differences

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Hey, Early Birds!
You can have MY worms
(never much cared for them myself)

What’s so sacred about MORNING?

I’ve never been able to make friends with the neurotypical glorification of black and white thinking. 

Their gurus seem to believe that there is some secret magic WAY to do things that will bring everybody success, happiness and all of life’s goodies — tied up in a pretty little package topped by a lovely little bow.

Many people actually pay good money
to find out what it is.

Then they write books about it, and blog about it, and do TeleClasses about it — repackaging to pass it on: Early Birds get all the good worms. Make sure to Eat your Frog before Breakfast.

SORRY – no such “WAY”

It’s easy to conclude that they’re on to something, those gurus and their disciples. After all, many of them have lives that look highly successful.

How nice of them to entertain us with such a lovely fantasy: if we do what they did, we’ll have what they have.

The gurus only seem to have the secret.

What the followers of those particular gurus are actually paying for to take those seminars is a blueprint of the way those gurus need to do things.

  • It might well have worked for them.
  • It might even work for YOU.
  • But then it again, it probably might not.

YOU are not them.  If what they suggests fits with your functional profile, congratulations — assuming, of course you can stay the course.

pretzelPerson2Turning yourself into a pretzel, however, attempting to do things THEIR way, is the recipe for a dish even less appealing than those worms and frogs they seem to be so eager to suggest as necessary items on the pathway to productivity and success.

If you want to find out what will work for YOU,
you have to take a careful look at how YOU work,
and tweak from there.

Unfortunately, there are quite a few things to understand about functioning before you can figure out why (and where) you operate differently in areas where many others seem to function well.  We ALL have to do that, by the way.

  • That looking takes a great deal more time than most of us are prepared to give it.
  • So most of us struggle on until we find ourselves at the bottom of our own metaphorical wells, wondering what we did “wrong.”

I’ve been working on it myself, practically full-time for thirty-five years now, and I still run into roadblocks I must stop to Sherlock.  Yet I believe I have discovered the real secret to success, and I’m not going to charge you a ton of money for it.  Not even one red cent.

Are you ready for the REAL secret way?

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When Acknowledgment Backfires


Owning our Brilliance
How come that is so much harder than owning our Challenges?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Black & White Thinking category
part of The Challenges Inventory™ Series

Click image for source

Click image for source

Performance Pressure

Most of us can’t get ENOUGH positive feedback, even if we deflect it for one reason or another – as most of us tend to do.

WHY would anybody toss aside positive comments, you ask?

Check inside.  Why do YOU?

The causes of deflection are varied and individual-specific, but there are a few categories in which they tend to cluster.

For example, because:

  • We aren’t developmentally ready to let our awareness of our own expertise, learned or innate, really sink in
  • We’ve internalized the cultural meme that there is something intrinsically wrong with “owning” our brilliance.  Admitting that we are aware of what we do well is frequently considered conceited, ego-based, or heaven forbid narcissistic! (Odd, isn’t it, that owning our Challenges is laudable?)
  • We’ve learned that people who compliment frequently have an agenda beyond encouraging us to bask in the glow of accomplishment — and we’ve equated “compliment” and “acknowledgment” (NOT the same things at all).
  • We’ve learned in the past that acknowledgments are some kind code — a sneaky way that others let us know that somebody’s trying to raise our bar — usually them.
Important Distinction:
compliment vs. acknowledgment

When we compliment, we are VOTING – an expression of praise or admiration indicating approval, acceptance, or flattery; the opposite of criticizing with censure.

When we acknowledge, we are NOTICING OUT LOUD – while positive in tone, an acknowledgement is an expression of our recognition of a quality, action or accomplishment we admire; the opposite of ignoring, discounting or overlooking

©1994 from Madelyn Griffith-Haynie’s upcoming Coaching Glossary

As I explored with you over two years ago in Doling out the Cookies (one of the reward and acknowledgement articles in the TaskMaster™ Series):

Besides the feeling that there is something wrong with endorsement, our knee-jerk responses often point to a paradigm leading us to embrace the idea that unless we are perfect, we are worthless, undeserving of acknowledgement: black and white stinkin’ thinkin‘.

The underlying concept that keeps that particular example of black and white thinking in place is the idea that things of value are pure examples of absolute consistency. That’s insane!

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Breaking the back of Black and White Thinking


Three Tiny Things

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another of The Black & White topic articles from
The Challenges Inventory™ Series

click image for source article

In last week’s article [What GOOD is Black and White Thinking?], I introduced the idea of maintaining your own version of my Three Tiny Things Gratitude Journal™

The Three Tiny Things™ process encourages us to pare down the scope of what we explore when we look for things for which we can be grateful.

This concept focuses on a slightly different objective than other gratitude suggestions you may have heard: this idea is going to take on the task of breaking the back of black and white thinking (and lack of ACTIVATION).

As I implied in my introductory article, Black and White Thinking is probably the most insidious of the Nine Challenges identified by The Challenges Inventory™.

In Moving from Black or White to GREY I went on to say:

  • Until addressed and overcome, black and white thinking will chain one arm to that well referenced rock and the other to that proverbial hard place. At that point, every single one of life’s other Challenges will loom larger than they would ever be otherwise.
  • With every teeny-tiny step you take into the grey – away from the extremes of black and white – life gets better, and the next step becomes easier to take.

What I want – for me, for you, for EVERYONE – is to be willing to change the experience of life by transforming our black and white thinking – one small step for man, one giant leap for man-KIND!

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