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.

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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.

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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.

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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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

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.

Acknowledgment Avoidance

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 might as well be worthless, undeserving of acknowledgement: a perfect example of 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!

Be sure to check out the sidebar for how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

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What GOOD is Black and White Thinking?


If Black & White Thinking Never Works
How come so many people DO it?

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

Image from Kozzi.com

I have received some version of one of the two questions above more than a few times recently.

Since I’m now guiding my writing by the number of blog comments or questions a topic generates, I’m thinking it’s time to turn my attention back to Black and White Thinking.

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, “It’s like a VIRUS: it infects, proliferates, and spreads to others.”

  • Until addressed and overcome, I asserted, 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.
  • By the end of the Black and White Thinking Series, what I want for you is to be in a place where you are ready to change your life by transforming your thinking – one small step for man, one giant leap for man-KIND!

Be sure to check out the sidebar for how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

But does it EVER work?

Black and white thinking? Sure, it works sometimes.  I’m sure you’ve heard about “the exception that proves the rule.” 

Here is the short version of my answer to the implied question of
WHEN it works:

Although there are better ways to get the job done, it can work for you when you are mired in a decision quandary and absolutely MUST move forward.

  • It reduces rumination as a result of “choice overload” in a manner that unlocks brain-freeze.
  • It lowers the expectation that you will be “perfectly satisfied” with whatever choice you make, ultimately leaving you happier than you might have been otherwise – either way.
  • Parenting small children aside, it usually works best when the individual making the choice decides to employ it – not as well when others force a black and white decision upon them. (Ask any parent about how well their teens react to either/or enforcements: they can sulk for days!)
  • It is helpful when making decisions during bona-fide crises situations, where choices are reduced dramatically to begin with (the reason that many of us can say that we are “good in a crisis”)

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Getting to “Good ENOUGH”


Discovering YOUR Perfect Balance

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
From the Activation Series

click image for source

click image for source

Lowering your standards

“Don’t think of ‘good enough’ as settling for something inferior or imperfect, think of it as striking a perfect balance.”  ~ Dylan Reeve

In the previous article, The Virtues of Lowering your Standards, I refuted the idea that any “job worth doing” was worth doing WELL.

As I said, “It’s always seemed to me that if the job’s worth doing at all, any forward progress is good forward progress.

I also made the point that any shade of completion beats chronic indecision andprocrastination– hands down!

While both of the above are certainly true, I also wanted to encourage you to embrace good enough for the tactical advantages that a more BALANCED approach to life offers – along with positive results for your struggles with activation.

In an interview from the blog good experience, the author of “The Paradox of Choice” insists that only on rare occasions is it worth struggling to find the best — that it makes life simpler if you settle with good enough.

“You don’t have to make an exhaustive search – just until you find something that meets your standards, which could be high.

But the only way to find the absolute best is to look at
ALL the possibilities.

And in that case you’ll either give up, or if you choose one, you’ll be nagged by the possibility that you may have found something better.” ~ author Barry Schwartz – Paradox of Choice
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The Virtues of Lowering your Standards


 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 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. It suggests a lack of care or investment. I think good enough [needs to be] be embraced.

Knowing what is good enough for the work you’re doing allows you to invest [your resources] in the places that will benefit the most.”

The last line of his article is perfect:

“Don’t think of ‘good enough’ as settling for something inferior or imperfect, think of it as striking a perfect balance.”  ~ Dylan Reeve

NOW, let me fill in the middle

. . . from a slightly different vantage point, for a different life-application, speaking to a completely different “audience.”

Chinese finger-trapA Chinese Finger Trap

EVEN THOUGH doing the very BEST one can may seem laudable to a great many productivity gurus, that desire often creates time management problems for practically everyone, and frequently leads to rumination and inaction for many of us.

While the neurodiverse among us are noodling the very best way to tackle something, we’re generally doing nothing much at all otherwise — nothing much that will keep our lives from falling apart, that is — nevermind much of anything that will move us forward.

In an unconscious attempt to calm our rising task anxiety we tend to seek out what I call “avoidance activities” – internet browsing, FaceBook updating, LinkedIn discussing, friending, tweeting, texting, twiddling.  Puttering.

The harder we try to free ourselves from lack-of-activation, the tighter we’re stuck in rumination and awfulizing.

Any shade of completion beats chronic indecision and “procrastination” – hands down!

 

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Supercharge To-Do List Functionality


Gettin’ UP and Gettin’ Going – Part IV

The last two of my TEN “Practices” that beat back
ACTIVATION struggles

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

click image for source

click image for source

The Trouble with Lists

How many lists have YOU made in your lifetime?

If you’re like many of us, the answer would probably be in the hundreds: grocery lists, Christmas lists, packing lists, clothing lists, book lists, homework lists – and a bazillion more, I’m sure.

There are as many different kinds of lists as there are reasons for list-making.

Expanding on the concept of Tip #3 – Write it down, write it down, write it down – this last part of Top Ten Tips to Combat “Laziness” is going to concentrate on the dreaded to-do list – and how to make it work better for you.

Let’s begin with four questions.  Take a moment to think about them.  We’ll handle them at the end of this article — after a couple more foundational concepts.

1. Why did you make a to-do list in the first place?
(If you answered with any version of “To get things done,” keep reading.)

By the way, did many of your to-do lists actually do what you wanted them to in that regard?

2. Did you accomplish every single item on most of your to-do lists?
(If you answered with any version of “Are you kidding?!” keep reading – we’ll handle this concept at the end of the article.)

3. Where are those lists now?
(If you answered “Somewhere” or “Who knows?!” keep reading.  You may find some new explanations for keeping your lists in a datebook or paper-based calendar.)

4. Do you begin or end almost every day by making or checking your to-list?
(No matter what you answered to this one, keep reading)

BUT FIRST lets do a quick review of the first eight tips before we go on to number nine.

In the first three sections of this article we covered the following eight of my Top Ten Tips to Combat “Laziness:”

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
4. Distinguish Task Anxiety and begin there
5. Feed your head
6. Go like Glenda
7. Stay off the Slide
8. Best breathing for best focus

If you haven’t read part one, read it HERE.
Read part two HERE and
part three HERE

NOW we’re going to take a look at #9 and #10:

9.  Cross it off, cross it off, cross it off

10. 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 right back to it!

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Lead us Not into Temptation


Gettin’ UP and Gettin’ Going – Part III

Two more of my TEN “Practices” that beat back
ACTIVATION struggles

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

click images for source

click images for sources

FREE CHEESE!
always available
in mousetraps.

We humans are a funny lot.  We’ll do practically anything to run away from the feeling of task anxiety — except the task itself, of course.

There are always consequences.

The following portion of this article will increase your task anxiety awareness as it illuminates what you need to pay attention to whenever you note that task anxiety is a significant contributor to your lack-of-activation struggles.

But lets do a quick review of the first six tips before we go on to number seven.

In Parts 1 and 2 of this article we covered the following six of my Top Ten Tips to Combat “Laziness:”

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
4. Distinguish Task Anxiety and begin there
5. Feed your head
6. Go like Glenda

If you haven’t read part one, read it HERE.
Read part two HERE

NOW we’re going to take a look at #7 and #8:

7. Stay off the Slide
8. Best breathing for best focus

Before we conclude with:
* 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 right back to it!

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“Laziness” Vaccinations


Gettin’ UP and Gettin’ Going – Part II

Three more of my TEN “Practices” that beat back
ACTIVATION struggles

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

click image for source

click images for sources

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:

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!

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Top Ten Tips to Combat “Laziness”


Gettin’ UP and Gettin’ Going – Part I

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

Terminal Laziness Disorder?

couch_slouch

© Phillip Martin

Thankfully, there’s no such thing as Laziness Disorder – at least not to the extent that it will kill you.

Those of us who struggle with ACTIVATION might beg to differ, however.

It’s regrettable that there is so little help for us out there, but there you have it!

I believe that a big part of the reason why is that so little is understood about the marked contrast between two types of human behavior:

  1. our “automated” behaviors  – which are scarcely available to consciousness, and
  2. our highly conscious, “volitional” behavior.

To make things even tougher, ACTIVATION seems to occupy some netherworld between the two states — and I promise you that it is NOT simply a matter of “wanting to badly enough.”

Therapists, doctors (and coaches) who work with ADD and EFD (Executive Functioning Disorders, broader in scope) could probably retire if they had a dollar for every time they’ve heard the following words:

“I just can’t seem to MAKE myself . . .”

Volitional control

Volitional control seems to be a result of a decision-making process of some sort —  but there’s a huge gap between deciding to do something and actually DOING it. Unfortunately, there seems to be very little understanding of that sad fact, and even less help.

Troll the internet and you will see hundreds of articles from the “Just DO it” camp, and practically none that really help those of us who struggle with activation to DO.

Oh sure, there are a bazillian tips and tricks for motivation, for dealing with so-called “procrastination,” for setting and reaching goals, staying in action, building the getting it done habit, and for a great many other related flavors of behavior coming from similar paradigms — each of which is PART of the picture, of course.

But don’t kid yourself that they’re all there is to it!

How Come?

If you want the rationale and background, click the [dark grey] links to the articles above before you go any further.

Don’t believe some of the otherwise excellent “doing” blogs when they insist that the idea that we all work differently is a myth.  NOT SO.

  • Yes, “cars” drive in a similar fashion, but nobody expects to drive an old automatic with a teeny engine the same way they’d drive a just-off-the-showroom-floor 6-speed stick-shifter, right?
  • I always say that we each need to “learn to drive the very brain we were born with – even if it’s taken a few hits in the meantime.”™
  • If you want to understand how YOU work, you have to take an unvarnished look at what happens when you don’t.
    (I can help with that one-on-one, by the way)

EVEN if you think you already “get it” where activation struggles are concerned, if you are still struggling with getting up and getting going, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. But don’t let “procrastination” continue to ruin your life, either.

Once you’ve read to the bottom of this article, if you haven’t read them already  — or if you read them long enough ago you can’t remember much of anything about them — make it a point to go back for the introductory articles anyway.

You’ll find duplicates of the most relevant internal links under “Related Content” below (95% of the over 400 posts and pages on this blog are set up like that, btw)

In my [extensive] experience, until you understand “the WHY,” you are highly likely to decide that some of the techniques are too simplistic to try (because you will probably find it difficult-to-impossible to believe that they’re not just a bunch of coaching hooey – they’re THAT simple)

I promise you they work –
but NOTHING works until you try it! 

And nothing continues to work unless you try it repeatedly. You wouldn’t expect a headache remedy you took today to work for your next headache, would you?

Your brain needs your help to build action neuro-links — and that means being willing to take just a BIT of initial action, not simply trying it on mentally as you read the information for the first time (or even second or third!)

RELATED Post: Changing a Habit to change you LIFE!

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Lowering Activation Costs


More on the differences between Motivation & ACTIVATION

© 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

From my favorite illustrator, Phillip Martin

As I illuminated in earlier posts of this series of articles – ABOUT Activation, Is Activation “Seeking System” Dependent? and Procrastination: Activation vs. Motivation – struggles with activation are a common occurrence in the ADD/EFD/TBI population.

In our community (prevailing “wisdom” notwithstanding), glitches in the arena of activation are more likely to be behind what is often mistakenly assumed to be “procrastination”  than a need for motivation.

What’s the Difference?

Many (if not most) of the “get it done” gurus blithely assume that insufficient motivation is a primary source of the problem.

Ahem.

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” coupled with way too much heartbreaking agony over struggles with activation.

  • 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.

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

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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Conclusion: 10 Best Practices for Habit Creation


Creating New Habits
The final three of TEN “Best Practices”

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series:
Habits, Decisions & Attention-7

Let’s Keep Moving . . .

Habits3

This is the third and last of a three-part article
in the Habits Series:
The Top Ten
Best Practices for
Habit Creation.

In Part One we went over the first four of the Best Practices (listed below before we begin again).

In Part Two we went over the next three Best Practices — following a brief review of the relatively short introduction to Part One, where I reminded you not to get hung up on the word “best” in the term “Best Practices.”

The BEST “best practices” will be whatever works for YOU.

In Part One we covered the following practices:

  1. Identify the brush-fires and hose them down
  2. Identify what you already do
  3. Drive habits with Goals
  4. Work with sub-goals first

In Part Two we covered:

5.  Keep a record of some sort
6.  Grease the Slide
7.  Limit Your Options (not your life)

(You can read Part One HERE and Part Two HERE)

And NOW we’re going to take a look at:

  8.  Be Consistent
  9.  Think WHO, not what
10. KEEP getting back on the horse

(If on-screen reading is frustrating, take it ONE Practice at a time)

SO – lets get right back to it!
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More Best Practices for Habit Creation – Part 2


Creating New Habits
Three more of the TEN “Best Practices”

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series:
Habits, Decisions & Attention-6

Moving Right Along . . .

This is the second of a three-part article in the Habits Series: The Top Ten Best Practices for Habit Creation. In Part One we went over the first 4 Best Practices (listed shortly below).

The article began with a relatively short introduction where I reminded you not to get hung up on the word “best” in the term “Best Practices.”

It’s a business term that has been adopted by the self-help gurus.

The BEST “best practices” will be whatever works for YOU.

In the first part of this article we covered the following practices:

  1. Identify the brush-fires and hose them down
  2. Identify what you already do
  3. Drive habits with Goals
  4. Work with sub-goals first

(If you haven’t read Part one, you will find it HERE.)

NOW we’re going to take a look at:

5.  Keep a record of some sort
6.  Grease the Slide
7.  Limit Your Options (not your life)

Part-3 will conclude with an exploration of 8, 9 & 10:

*  Be Consistent
*  Think WHO, not what
*  KEEP getting back on the horse

If on-screen reading is frustrating for you, even with the article broken into parts,
try taking it ONE Practice at a time.

SO – lets get right back to it!
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10 Best Practices for Habit Creation – Part 1


Creating New Habits
(Exploring the first four of TEN “best practices”)

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series:
Habits, Decisions & Attention-5

click image for source

click image for source

Chicken? (or Egg?)

The study of habits has long fascinated scientists in many different fields for a number of reasons. They’re just not sure what’s cause and what’s effect.

The allure of the possibility of discovering the mechanism of action of the almost involuntary control of habits on behavior is intoxicating and seductive.

Our “automated” behaviors are scarcely available to conscious awareness. Our “volitional” behavior, on the other hand, is highly conscious. The contrast between the two is particularly intriguing to a great many of men and women of science.

Volitional control seems to be a result of a decision-making process of some sort. How human beings decide and choose is an area of study for more than a few scientists and researchers.

Many are especially curious about the workings of below-the-radar behaviors that seem to accompany a number of various neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders and illnesses — particularly those scientists and researchers who work with addictive behaviors.

Bottom Line: science is just not sure how it all works, exactly.  Not yet anyway.

Blog ON, my pretties!

MEANWHILE, hundreds of bloggers and self-help professionals are more than willing to chime in on the topic.

Most of their musings seem to be promoted as if they were THE hard and fast way to Handle Habit Creation and “UNcreation” Once and For All!

Not that I really blame them. After all, they’re probably correct in their assumption that no one would buy a book or sign up for a seminar promoted as “A few things that maybe, might, sorta’ kinda’ work for YOU.”

  • As I continue to say, people are simply not that simple.
  • One man’s “best” can often be another’s “worst!”
  • So don’t quote anything you read as a “best” way as gospel  —
    especially not anything you read on ADDandSoMuchMore, please.

 

Then why Best Practices?

The term “best practices” has been used and well-known in business circles for some time, and has now been adopted by self-help gurus. A lot of people know pretty much what to expect when they see something entitled “Best Practices,” and I wanted to use a title that would catch a lot of eyes.

Don’t let that word “best” hang you up.
What’s REALLY “best” will turn out to be whatever works for YOU.

In this three-part article I am about to give you a list of ten actions and principles that seem to underlie the behaviors of some of the most successful habit creators, along with a few things I’ve used successfully with clients and in my own life.

In THIS part of the article, we’ll tackle the first four of the Best Practices listed below.  In Part-2 we’ll handle three more. Part-3 will take on the last three.

Keep an open mind as you read, but tweak appropriately for your own lives, with a realistic assessment of your own functional challenges.

So, without further explanation, let’s get right to them!

If reading longer articles is overwhelming for you,
even when it is chunked into parts,
take it ONE Practice per day

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Is Activation “Seeking System” Dependent?


“New” Ideas Illuminate Old Realities
I think I might be in love!

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In support of the ADD/EFD Basics Series

Swooning over Jaak Panksepp: ACTIVATION ideas
(from cruelty-free experiments exploring animal emotions)

panksepp_rat

Jaak Panksepp, the father of Affective Neuroscience, is a very interesting “pioneer” intrigued by the neuro-scientific underpinnings of both human and animal emotional responses.

He has written a fascinating book with a slightly daunting title, The Archaeology of Mind: 
Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotion.

Don’t let that stop you. It’s an “accessible to more of the general public” version of ideas he put forward in his considerably more “academic” offering entitled, Affective Neuroscience, published in 1998.

This long-awaited second publication is his updated attempt to share his life’s work – since the 1960s – the results of his cruelty-free animal experiments that led to identifying what he calls the seven networks of emotion in the brain: SEEKING, RAGE, FEAR, LUST, CARE, PANIC/GRIEF, and PLAY.

He says he uses all caps because these networks are “so fundamental that they have similar functions across species, from people to cats to rats.”

If the name sounds familiar

Those of you who are also regular readers of Discover Magazine may recognize Panksepp’s name from Pamela Weintraub’s feature article on “the rat tickler” entitled Humanity’s 7 Primal Emotions from the May 2012 issue.

Readers who were smart enough to start listening to The Brain Science Podcast when I first introduced it (or to download the pdf transcripts) might have been treated to three different samplings of Dr. Ginger Campbell’s excellent interviews of Panksepp (one a “replay” of an interview from her other podcast, Books and Ideas).

The rest of you – don’t feel left out – I’ve included links to these gems and others in the Related Content ’round the ‘net section below (a section found at the bottom of most of my articles.)

“Brothers under the skin”

You will learn that Panksepp decided, after mapping “brain firing” in laboratory animals for decades, that he could come to no conclusion other than the acceptance of the reality that humans and animals share a similar emotional make-up.

An idea not always embraced by some of his scientific colleagues, he believes that his work proves that his seven networks of emotion in the brain are common to ALL mammals, great and small.

Obviously, he’s convinced me! 

PupInSlipperKittyFriends

Those of us who have lived closely with our furry friends probably needed no convincing anyway.

You would never be able to convince most of us that our animals do NOT have emotions! But you know most of those science-types — skepticism is in their DNA. Until something is proven scientifically, journal-published and replicated, it’s merely an unsupported theory.

Panksepp is a rare and outspoken voice in the science field, I suspect only partly as a result of his many years of experience exploring the neuro-similarity between human and animal emotional responses. He calls for respect for the reality that animals DO feel, not only pain, but emotions like fear, anger, loneliness, caring, grief, excitement and joy.

He is a long-term ethics advocate as a result. He champions kindness, and urges the field to rethink the way that laboratory experiments are designed. He knows from experience that it is possible to develop methods that do not cause animals pain and undue distress, yet continue to get credible results from valuable and much needed animal research.

There’s a lot more to love about Panksepp’s work — click the links I have provided below to find out for yourselves.

THIS article, however, is going to give you just enough background to begin to explore the first of his seven primal emotions: SEEKING – because I think it provides a clue to our struggles with ACTIVATION.

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Goals drive habit formation


What is it that you really want?
(What habits need to be in place to obtain it?)

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series:
Habits, Decisions & Attention-5

This article walks you through the process of change with specific examples from my own life.  Yep, knowing what to do and DOING what you know are two completely different things!  I’m hoping reading about my own current process (and challenges) will better explain how you can work on your own. 

I believe you’ll find it worth the time it takes to read it — and if you can stay tracked well enough to click a few of the internal links and read those too (now or later), I believe you will be rewarded with a more than a few functional dividends.  Doing it in a vacuum is doing it the HARD way!

Good-bad_HabitsGood Habits are useful “in order to”-s

We don’t replace bad habits or set good habits in place for their own sake.  If we’re smart we work on habit management because good habits make it easier for us to take consistent action toward something important that is currently tough to actuate.

What is it you really want?  What’s the goal?
For me, that’s the ability to FOCUS intentionally. 

The biggest challenge for this ADD Poster Girl is distractibility. I juggle A LOT of what I callinvisible balls” – environmental stimulation that neurotypical brains filter out automatically.

Those of us with executive functioning disorders and dysregulations have impaired filters, so we expend unnecessary cognitive energy “juggling.”  That makes it harder to focus, prioritize and activate.

I’m big on what Andrea Kuszewski (self-described science nerd, Aspergers coach, and card-carrying member of Team-ADD) calls “attention allocation.” I call it Intentional Attending.

Neatness counts.  So does organization.

So habits that make those elements a no-brainer to keep in place are key — especially now, following almost three months with my dominant hand and forearm in a cast, when I wasn’t able to do even the simplest thing to clean up after myself.  I count on my systems to do what I do — and many of the systems I have come to count on suddenly disappeared when I was mugged and my hand was smashed.

So the woman who founded The Optimal Functioning Institute™ is back in the trenches with those of you have never really taken the time to develop your systems optimally – so that you can FUNCTION optimally.

It won’t help any of us to deny our challenges — but it really won’t help to agonize over what’s making things more difficult.  We need to dedicate as many brain cells as possible to making things easier.

Reflect & Recognize, Strategize – and move ON!

It won’t be easy, and when you first start the systems development process it may seem unnecessarily complicated, but it’s essential.  And it will certainly make life easier going forward. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life spinning your wheels, do you? Follow along as I walk you through the process.

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