Thinking on the Margin


Decision tactics
to Beat Back Black and White Thinking and decision anxiety
so you can move forward

 

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

Balancing our Books by Thinking on the Margin

Most frequently associated with economic theory, “thinking on the margin” is also a handy concept that can help break the back of black and white thinking for those of us with Executive Functioning Disorders.

It’s an interesting theory of how we make decisions that relates to increasing personal productivity, avoiding an increase of the time we spend on task. It is worth taking the time to understand.

So let’s check it out!

Costs and benefits

Most of us have probably been exposed to the concept of performing a cost/benefit analyses to help us determine whether something is worth doing.

That technique can be simply described as one where we tally up the costs and downsides to an endeavor and compare them to a tally of the benefits and upsides that might be derived if we went forward with something we have been considering.

That’s not exactly what “thinking on the margin” advocates.  Once some basic data has been gathered, this second concept asks us to compare the cost and benefit of any additional action.

It means to think about your next step forward, not ALL possible steps forward.

Lemonade Economics:

Let’s pretend you are an unusually economically savvy kid operating a lemonade stand at the end of an especially HOT summer day.

You’ve done the math and determined that, based on the traffic in your neighborhood and how many cups you expect to sell, you need to get no less than 25 cents each to cover the cost of cups, ice, lemons and sugar – and pay yourself enough for your time to make it worth doing at all.

So you make your sign:
Ice Cold Home Made Delicious Lemonade,
only a quarter a cup!

But once you’ve recouped your costs, the equation changes.  Everything from that point on is profit, right?  So when you are offered a measly dime from the kid next door, you have a different decision to make.

  • Based on the traffic today, how much longer are you likely to have to tend your stand to sell the rest of your lemonade at full price?
  • How much longer before your ice melts?
  • How eager are you to sell it all and get into the air conditioning?
  • Even, how much do you like the neighbor-kid with the dime?

The optimum benefit for you would be where the marginal benefit (what you receive as a result of your decision) equals the marginal cost — which, in this case, is settling for less than what you’d hoped you would receive for every cup of lemonade.

Were you this young entrepreneur, economists who advocate “thinking on the margin” would advise you to accept less than 25 cents a cup exactly when the marginal benefit of selling an additional cup of lemonade at your original cost equaled the point where staying out in the sun much longer was no longer worth it to you — regardless of what the average benefit from your work had been to that point.

They say that, to work smart, we always need to work at the margin.
I say, it’s a good concept to keep in mind for some decisions.

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Moving Past Task Anxiety to stop “procrastinating”


Procrastination vs. Task Anxiety
Executive Functioning struggles redux

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

Poor Organization & Task Completion

Most of us with Executive Functioning struggles have difficulty “putting it all together.”

Our cognitive deck of cards gets shuffled in the process of recording “awarenesses” into short term memory and consolidating for long-term storage.

That makes it harder to figure out which cards to pull when it comes time to play the game — making it difficult to respond appropriately, or to correctly evaluate consequences, outcomes and timing.

As a result, projects tend to be abandoned unfinished in our dissatisfaction with our lack of ability to play at a level that makes the game interesting rather than an exercise in frustration.  Before we know it, we’ve labeled ourselves chronic procrastinators — and so have most of our associates and loved ones.

It certainly may look like chronic procrastination to anyone looking on. And boy howdy do those onlookers love to sling that label around — as if they believed that merely pointing it out would launch us into activation!

I would like to suggest that what’s really going on here is Task Anxiety.

Task anxiety, just what it sounds like, is what science used to call a “limbic system” activator — where your brain and body are primed to fight, flight or freeze, NOT to get things done!

EVEN those who push through and force themselves to tackle the tasks on their To-Do lists are, according to the latest studies, up to 50% less effective than they would be if they handled the task anxiety FIRST.

  • According to scientific studies conducted in the past few years by Dr. David Rock and his team, and Emotional Regulation Research founder, Stanford’s Dr. James J. Gross:

The degree to which your “limbic system” is aroused is
the degree to which your PFC [prefrontal cortex] is deactivated.

  • Task completion is decision-dependent — and deciding depends on prefrontal cortex activation.
  • The PFC of “the ADD/EFD brain-style,” which includes all of us with Executive Functioning struggles, is already under-performing, relative to the neurotypical population — and the research above was NOT carried out using the ADD/EFD population!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Madelyn’s 3-point Procrastination Primer

1. The greater the number of items to accomplish on the way to completing any particular task, the higher the likelihood of so-called “procrastination.

2. The higher the number of decisions to be made on the way to completing any particular task, the lower the probability that it will begin or end in a timely manner.

3. The more each item or decision depends on the completion of a prior step, the more likely it is to result in shut-down — and the greater the likelihood that the project will be tabled for another time.

Related Post: Procrastination — Activation vs. Motivation

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

Here’s the GOOD news:

Simply identifying what’s going on, whether you actually DO anything about it or not, helps to bring the PFC back online somewhat.  And there is SO much more you can do!

Identifying these areas and naming the steps involved will go a long way toward intentionality.

Awareness is always the first step, and “naming” it is the second.

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Procrastination’s link to kludgy Executive Functioning


Getting a Round Tuit
CUTE — but not very helpful

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from posts in the Challenges Series

Oh those clever seminar leaders!

We all love the little gifties that are passed out at a great many seminars we have attended, seminars designed to help us fashion lives that are more productive and enlivening.

Most of us have a list of things we intend to do when “we get around to it” — but I can’t imagine how being gifted with a little round reminder that we need to STOP “procrastinating” and “just DO it” is going to make one whit of difference.

In most cases it’s shaming, actually, regardless of how positive the humorous intent – and shame rarely works well as a motivational technique.

Related Post: The Top Ten Reasons to Reframe Procrastination

We need to look clearly at what’s going on

Follow through to completion is a linear process modulated by the prefrontal cortex [PFC], the brain’s “conductor” that keeps us on track and in action, step after step.

Our vanilla-flavored friends rarely appreciate the fact that they have an unconscious advantage in the linear processing department – what is frequently referred to as “declarative memory.”  That makes certain kinds of information retrieval, organization and task completion, and – well, just about everything else – a heck of a lot easier for them.

With the ADD/EFD brain-style (and others with attentional spectrum dysregulations – all of us with Executive Functioning glitches), we seem to process sequential information in a fairly disjointed manner — the pieces somehow jumbled together — sometimes not recorded at all, even when we do our very best to keep our attention on matters at hand.

Too many guests at the EFD Table

Because the brain is soft and sloshes around in fluid inside a hard skull with bony protrusions – especially in the front area where the PFC is most vulnerable – any appreciable hit on the head is likely to result in a few problems with Executive Functioning.

Because the PFC is connected to almost every other part of the brain, it’s not much of a stretch to believe that strokes or medications that affect one one part of the brain are likely to have an effect on PFC connectivity as well.

Implication: any individual with a disorder, stroke or other brain damage affecting the prefrontal cortex is highly likely to experience brain-based executive functioning challenges of one sort or another.

In a nutshell, “Executive Function” is the mental ability to organize, prioritize, and accomplish tasks. It is figuring out what to do first, second, third, and so on, to see a task through to completion. Executive function involves things like being able to realistically determine, in advance, how long and how difficult a particular task will be to accomplish.
~ from a great 1st person article by PTSD advocate Linda Lee/LadyQuixote, Impaired Executive Function, My Invisible Disability

Connectivity challenges are experienced by individuals with mood disorders, autistic spectrum disorders, TBI/ABI, and more than a few neurological conditions such as sensory integration disorders, Parkinson’s, dyslexia — in fact, almost all of what I refer to as the alphabet disorders.

Due to the way the brain ages, even individuals who were born with the neurotypical brain style will begin to notice increasingly more Executive Functioning struggles as they get older.

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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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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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I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!


Getting back on the horse
(never as simple as Neurotypicals seem to believe!)

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

Source: CLICK HERE

Time & performance pressure

I didn’t get nearly as much done as I expected to this past weekend – and what I did accomplish were NOT the most important items on my to-do list!

(Oh, let’s be honest: I’ve been struggling for over two years now to recover from the cascade of unfortunate events of 2014!)

  • Every night I go to bed praying that tomorrow will be the day when my former Energizer Bunny level of activity will resume.
  • Every morning, for quite some time now, I have awakened in a mood that could best be described as panic or overwhelming dread.

I hear the tick-tick-tick of time’s passage louder and louder every month.

Can anybody else relate?

Shhh! – you can’t tell people that

Truly, I appreciate the intent of those who have advised me that helping professionals are expected to be far beyond all those nattering little human-being problems and pressures.

HOWEVER, in this particular period of my life, advice from that fear-based paradigm is beyond annoying to hear or read – on this particular Monday especially!

I understand that you believe that it is important for me to keep up “professional” appearances if I expect to make a living, BUT THAT’S NOT THE WAY I ROLL!

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When you feel like you can’t bounce back


Down for the Count?
– RESILIENCY: Bouncing back from Setbacks –
NOT the usual rah-rah post

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

What IS Resiliency?

of resiliency.com says:

“Resiliency is the ability to overcome challenges of all kinds – trauma, tragedy, personal crises, plain ‘ole’ life problems – and bounce back stronger, wiser, and more personally powerful.”

While I don’t disagree with her, exactly, I would label her definition positive resiliency.”  Over twenty-five years working with the ADD/EFD community have taught me that making the distinction between rising like a phoenix and getting back up AT ALL is IMPORTANT.

hang-in-there-baby-you-ll-get-through-thisThose of us here in Alphabet City need to feel like we have a shot at mastering STEP ONE — bouncing back at all — before we can keep the faith that we can move forward (with or without increased power).

More than simply TIMING

  • Attempts to motivate of the “stronger/wiser” variety may be what’s called for in the neurotypical community and with folks whose lives have remained relatively on-track (although I am inclined to wonder if perhaps they merely tolerate them better).

I’m fairly sure that point of view is not particularly encouraging or effective with people whose lives have consisted of setback after setback.

They strike me as insensitive when said TO those for whom life seems little more than crawling out of one hole after another.

Those are words for them to invent (or not) as they begin to bounce back, not a concept for others to wave in front of their shell-shocked eyes like a red flag in front of a bull.

  • Said TO us as we flounder, those stronger/wiser words tend to hit our ears as they might if we were prize fighters over-matched in the ring, barely making it to the corner in a daze — only to hear our managers tell us that we’ll be better fighters as the result of being beaten to a bloody pulp.

Few of us are particularly motivated by the thought of getting “stronger and wiser” about about the ability to tolerate a continuation of life’s abuses!

We want to somehow be able to keep the faith that we can get through them THIS time!

If we hamstring the resiliency process with “stronger, wiser, and more personally powerful,” many too many of us are likely to stay on the mat (or out of the ring)!

 

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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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Where is my Resilience?


VirtualBodyDbl Heading

Down for the Count
– as I keep hitting setbacks –

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

click for Pinterest Board

click for Pinterest Board

Activation for Organization

I have as much trouble activating as the next ADDer, especially when I run out of the medication I need to kick my butt into gear — which seems to happen quite a bit, despite my attention to that monthly detail.

The DEA couldn’t make it tougher to STAY medicated — essential for those of us who rely on these scheduled medications that help keep our Executive Functions on board

But hey, we certainly want to prioritize protecting potential drug addicts from themselves, right?  grrrrr!

Without meds on board, I seem to need an ACTUAL body double to jump through the tiered tasks that make up this hateful monthly process.  So I’m in trouble.

 

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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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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!

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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!

Read more of this post

“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!

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

Procrastination — Activation vs. Motivation


More than Motivation

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

EncourageYOU HEARD IT HERE:  Glitches in the activation arena are more likely to be behind what is often mistakenly assumed to be “procrastination” in the EFD/ADD community than insufficient motivation.

As I said in Part I of this series of articles – ABOUT Activation – struggles with activation are a common occurrence in the ADD population.

Closely related, but not the same thing as,
under-arousal and motivation deficit, insufficient 
activation is frequently misidentified, mislabeled, and totally misunderstood.

Read more of this post

Working with Impulsivity


Peeping at the gap between impulse & action

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of The Challenges Inventory™ Series

(from an upcoming book, The Impulsivity Rundown © – all rights reserved)

Peeps

The Marshmallow Study

No, he didn’t use Peeps, either like the ones in the photo above OR those in the Easter Basket that I couldn’t resist as I drafted this article, but the well-known longevity study of the relationship between self-control and life-success, initiated by Walter Mischel in the late 1960s, is often referred to asthe marshmallow experiment” or the marshmallow study.

Why? Because marshmallows were one of the treats that were used to test the ability of preschoolers to delay immediate gratification in anticipation of a greater reward.

Additional research with the original participants examined how well a preschool ability to delay gratification predicted the development of self-control over the life span.

It also examined how closely self-control related to successful outcomes in a variety of  the venues of life.

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ABOUT Activation


Activation — Inertia’s Handmaiden

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


Activation struggles
are a common occurrence in the ADD/EFD/TBI
(Alphabet City) population.

What’s going on when we wait until the last minute to begin something we’ve known about for months?

What is it about the last minute rush that busts a desperate case of  “I just can’t make myself” w-i-d-e open, uncovering a secret activator that we couldn’t, for the life of us, locate the day before?

Closely related both to motivation deficit and under-arousal, insufficient activation  is usually misidentified, mislabeled, and totally misunderstood.

Read more of this post

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