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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Change, Growth and Decision Dilemmas


Decision Anxiety
Another glitch in the Change Management process

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Edited reblog from an earlier post, Choices & Decisions

Chocolate, vanilla or tutti-frutti? Early Monday or late Thursday?
This drawer or that one?  Move away or stay put?
Have a baby, adopt a baby or remain a dual-income-no-kids couple?

Avoiding the Agony of Deciding

We each must make a great many decisions every single day.  A few of them we think about consciously and carefully, and some we make quickly and unconsciously – sometimes even really big and important ones.

Since our mental processes are subconsciously influenced by our emotions and memories, more frequently than not we remain oblivious to what really drives those decisions we make.

Then there are the many times we’re thrown into the agony of indecision – even between choices that are actually too small to, ultimately, make much of a difference in our lives.

Change, Growth & Decisions

There is no doubt that the process of change and growth would be easier if it were as predetermined and automatic as the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly.

However, I can’t help but wonder if, were we humans relieved of the task of having to decide what comes next, we would be more comfortable with life’s changes or more frustrated by them.

As difficult as most of us find the process, it seems we are practically “hard-wired” with some kind of drive to exercise our free will.

  • Since early childhood, few of us have been especially happy when someone else tells us what we must do.
  • More than a few of us absolutely refuse to acquiesce. (Why else do you think we describe that particularly early transitional stage characterized by the single word NO! as “The Terrible Twos?”)

So how come so many of us AGONIZE when it comes time to decide?

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Don’t Drink the Kool-ade


Choice vs. Fear-mongered Reaction

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another Reflections post

 

“Ritalin, like all medications,
can be useful when used properly
and dangerous when used improperly. 

Why is it so difficult for so many people
to hold to that middle ground?”

~ Dr. Edward Hallowell

As I wrote in a prior article, in response to one of the far too many opinion pieces made popular by the soundbite press:

  • You don’t have to believe in medication.
  • You don’t have to take it.
  • You don’t have to give it to your kids.

You don’t EVEN have to do unbiased research before you ring in with an opinion on medication or anything else having to do with ADD/ADHD/EFD.

HOWEVER, when you’re writing a piece to be published in a widely-read paper of some stature, or a book that presents itself as containing credible expertise, it is simply unprofessional — of the writer, the editors, and the publications themselves — to publish personal OPINION in a manner that will lead many to conclude that the pieces quote the sum total of scientific fact

It is also incredibly harmful.

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The Backwards To-Do List


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

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

Expanding on a helpful concept

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

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

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

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

As I told you in Monday’s article:

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

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

We need to do it another way

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

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Starting early – making it easier to decide & do


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

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

Reviewing a Planning Concept using Christmas as a model

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

As I told you in several earlier articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Planning Lessons

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas still up? Even better!

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

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

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Choices and Decisions


Navigating the Forks in the Road
Carefully Anticipated
– or –

Suddenly Forced Upon Us

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

Describing Decision Anxiety

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost*

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

*Published in 1916,
the first poem in the Mountain Interval collection.

Decision Anxiety?

Speaker_-_ScaredAlong with other sources exploring this poem, Wikipedia informs us that renowned poet Robert Frost (3/26/1874 – 1/29/1963) wrote The Road Not Taken as a gentle mockery of the agonizing that frequently accompanies indecision (in particular, the process of indecision that his good friend, writer Edward Thomas, displayed on their many walks together).

Although we are told that Frost later expressed his irritation that most readers took the poem more seriously than he had intended, we continue to do so because it so perfectly illustrates our experience of decision anxiety.

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

Change, Growth and Decision Dilemmas

There is no doubt that the process of growth would certainly be easier if it were as predetermined and automatic as the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly.

However, I can’t help but wonder if, were we humans relieved of the task of having to decide what comes next, we would be more comfortable with life’s changes or more frustrated by them.

As difficult as most of us find the process, it seems we are practically “hard-wired” with some kind of drive to exercise our free will.

  • Since early childhood, few of us have been especially happy when someone else tells us what we must do.
  • More than a few of us absolutely refuse to acquiesce. (Why else do you think we describe that particularly early transitional stage characterized by the single word NO! as “The Terrible Twos?”)

So how come so many of us AGONIZE when it comes time to decide?

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How do you want to die?


The End of Life
CAN be comfortable and enlivening

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

Why do we prefer to wait with hope, faith and fear?

Many of us rely on our belief in a heavenly father to partner us through our last days on earth.

Some of us put our faith in medical science.

And most of us prefer not to think about
the end of life at all.

As a result, when death comes we are unprepared to handle it in human terms – in our own lives or in the lives of those we love.  As a sad consequence, grief is prolonged and much more difficult to handle for everyone involved.

Thoughts about our own death

I must admit that, even as I age, I rarely think about the plot of my last chapter on earth — but I have recently listened to a couple of podcast interviews that have expanded my thoughts about end of life issues in a manner that has surprised me.

Both of them were inspiring in completely different ways, and both of them are supported by books that add depth to the conversation.

Grave Expectations: Planning the End Like There’s No Tomorrow
by Sue Bailey and Carmen Flowers

A Life Worth Living: A Doctor’s Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era
by Dr. Robert Martensen

I think these are both important books on a topic rarely discussed, so I wanted to let you know about them — as well as taking some time to turn you on to a couple of excellent interviews with the authors.

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

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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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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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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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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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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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Changing a habit to change your LIFE


Habit Formation Pragmatics
(Like, how LONG do we have to do something before it becomes a habit?)

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series:
Habits, Decisions & Attention-3

Out with the old, IN with the new . . .

ExerciseHabit

Source: smh.com.au

“Everybody knows” that, according to established learning theory, it takes approximately thirty days of daily practice for a new behavior to become a habit. Right?

WRONG!

Google will tell you that it takes somewhere between 21 and 28 days. Various blogs and websites will cite various numbers, somewhere between three weeks (21 days) and five weeks (35 days).

Did you know that, until 2009, there had been
NO scientific evidence for anybody’s numbers.

The 21-day myth that reputedly started the process of conjecture is frequently blamed on a plastic surgeon, Dr Maxwell Maltz.

Maltz noted that amputees took, on average, 21 days to adjust to the loss of a limb.  He proposed that his 21-day observation indicated that people would probably take 21 days to adjust to most major life changes.

In 1960, Maltz published that observation, his conjecture, and his other thoughts on behavior change in the blockbuster hit Psycho-Cybernetics.

That particular book, selling over 30 Million copies, greatly influenced most of the motivational speakers in the “self-help” field. Well known authors and gurus like Brian Tracy and Tony Robbins (even Zig Ziglar) have frequently made reference to content from Psycho-Cybernetics.

The reality that Maltz actually reported that it takes “a minimum of about 21 days” got lost as more and more people repeated content from his book, whether they’d actually read the book themselves or not.

Before long the relative became repeated as an absolute:
“It takes 21 days to form a new habit.”

  • Enter the age of the Internet and the popularity of blogs and blogging, and repetition was substituted for research.
  • Codicils to the process of habit formation were tacked on, and the time-frame was lengthened by a week.
  • Evidence to the contrary was dismissed, usually by saying that if the individual didn’t repeat the exact same action for thirty days without exception, it wouldn’t work unless s/he started over again – that it had to be thirty days in a row.

I’ve been guilty of passing that myth along myself – usually adding that “it takes those of us with Alphabet Disorders longer to get those thirty days IN!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.”

~ Anatole France
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Only in 2009 did anybody publish the results of a STUDY of habit formation — reinstating its relativity and disclosing an average almost three times higher than what was commonly reported.

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Brain-based Habit Formation


Habits and the Dopamine Pleasure/Reward Cycle
(change your habits, change your LIFE)

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series:
Habits, Decisions & Attention-2

The Power of HABIT

Charles Duhigg, in an award-winning book entitled The Power of Habit, published in 2012, reminds us that transforming a habit is rarely easy, quick, or simple — but it is POSSIBLE.

I’ll go him one further.

As long as you will follow a simple 4-step procedure as you set your habits in place according to what science has learned about how the brain works, it is PROBABLE!

Now that science understands more about how patterns and pattern-recognition impact the the human brain (a pattern-recognition “machine,” after all), it is possible for any one of us to transform our entire lives through the power of habit.

In other words, we now know why habits develop, how they change, and how to build and rebuild them to our exact specifications — and feel GREAT about doing it.

Yea verily – even those of us who are citizens of Alphabet City can take advantage of the power of habit to change our experience of living.

What’s Possible?

Click the words UNDER the book jacket above to read a brief excerpt on the NPR site that tells the story of an small-town army major, a self-described “hick from Georgia” who almost single-handedly stopped a pattern of escalating riots in an Iraqi village, simply by analyzing the patterns that produced “the riot habit” and making ONE fundamental tweak.

“Understanding habits is the most important thing I’ve learned in the army,” the major in the excerpt linked above discloses. “It’s changed everything about how I see the world.”

  • What might be possible in YOUR life if you understood what the major knows about the neurology and psychology of habits and the way patterns work within our lives, businesses, and social groups?
  • What if you understood how to apply what you’ve read here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com about the needs of neurodiversity to the neurotypical advice about motivation and habit formation — so that you could tweak the “standard” information that dominates the info-market to make it all work for YOU?

Take a moment to really think about THIS:

What might your life look like one short year from now if you actually applied what you learned here, step by step?

  • Would you be healthier?  Wealthier?  Happier with your marriage and family life?
  • Would you finally find the time to write that novel, or start that new business, or to take the necessary steps to move into that lakeside house you’ve always dreamed about?
  • What WOULD you do, tweaking the old expression slightly, if you understood how to set it up so that you could not fail?

That’s exactly what this Series is offering you — right here and at no charge what-so-ever until the time when it becomes available only in a paid format by eBook subscription.

For those of you who want to add velocity to your progress (or who need the structure of a little nudging along the way), I will soon be announcing a TeleClass that will expand on the principles offered for free, and serve as a MasterMind Group to keep you going — but I’m getting WAY ahead of myself here.

For right now, keep reading — and do the exercises that will be included as we move through the articles that explain the dynamics and outline the process.  Take advantage of this opportunity while its still free for the taking.

I’ll be working right along with you as I recover from the mugging incident last December, and redesign my own life.

So let’s get to work.  What’s going on in that brain of ours that keeps rotten habits in place, and how can we use that understanding to transform our lives?

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Habits, Decisions and Attention


Why Crazy/Busy People NEED Habits
. . . Making friends with setting them in place to serve you

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series:
Habits, Decisions & Attention-1

Another adorable Phillip Martin graphic

Another adorable Phillip Martin graphic

Say hello to the HABIT habit!

It seems to me that every March tends to be “habits” month around the blog-o-sphere. Good habits, rotten habits, lapsed habits; developing new habits, tweaking old habits, breaking bad habits — I always seem to run into a bunch of “habit” posts every March.

Why is that?

I’m guessing it’s because there’s been just enough time since New Years for practically everyone to have fallen off the Resolutions Wagon — except, that is, for the few disciplined and rare individuals who made it a point to develop new HABITS as structures to support their new goals.

Or maybe its just me. In any case, let’s jump on the bandwagon and explore the topic for a bit – starting with taking a stab at defining the term.

So how come we resist developing them?

Let’s face it – doing something repeatedly (and regularly) eventually activates our “I don’t wanna’-s.”  We like to think we prefer to hang looser with life — even though we’re not crazy about reeling from the chaotic state that living structure-free usually creates.

  • Putting things off until they reach some sort of crises point isn’t really a great system for grown-ups.  But deciding when and how to work everything we need and want to do into our crazy/busy lives is tough — especially for those of us with activation or transition troubles.
  • Having to negotiate timing, self-to-self, is annoying, yet do-it-now is seldom convenient.
  • Until the habit is in place, we have to decide to “make” ourselves do things, day after day after . . . I’m really not in the mood right now day!

Then there’s the parent trap. Since many of what could be excellent habits NOW were foisted upon us as children, some of us have not treated those habits with the appreciation they deserve as a result.

  • Those of us who didn’t have the good sense to hang on to many of the habits our parents tried to instill in us have been making life harder than it needs to be.
  • Trust me – it took me YEARS to get over my “nobody tells me what to do now that I’m on my own” unconscious teenaged rebellion.  When I finally wised up, it took me a few years more to put those habits back in place.

False Economy

SOURCE: memegenerator.net

Let me clue you in on something I learned
the hard way:

The neurodiverse can’t afford
NOT to put habits in place.

  • There’s not enough time in anybody’s life to DECIDE about every little detail of life here on this strangely ordered planet the neurotypicals have set up where all of us are forced to live.
  • Especially not the way the ADD-brainstyle goes about deciding — agonizing for days as our brains search the known universe to make sure we consider every possible parameter of possibility first!!
  • If you’re a member of team ADD/EFD – or seem to get stuck (or simply worn down and worn out) by having to make too many decisions – it makes sense to try to expend as little effort as possible getting through your day by making a few choices “ONCE and for all” – which is where habits are golden.

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The Procrastination Puzzle & the ADD Brain-style


from deviantart – by ~F3LiPaO

Organizing Oopses

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC
About Procrastination — Part 2
part of the Intentionality Series, with links
to Organization and Task Completion

Review Part I first: Procrastination and Task Anxiety – or the “Mr. Amygdalla” comments & “certainty and cognitive dissonance” info will be half as effective as they could be.

Jigsaw Juggernauts

People with the ADD brain-style (EFDs) seem to have difficulty “putting it all together” – which tends to lead to disorganization and what the rest of the world labels “procrastination.”

In a youthful “neurotypical” brain, inputs from the outer world (i.e., through our senses) seem to be recorded with some kind of tagging for sequence, in some fashion science doesn’t exactly understand yet.

Metaphorically only, what was observed first gets position #1, while an incoming data bite some 90 seconds later might be “tagged” with something like #321 (and all of the bits and bytes seem to be able to hang on to their little tags until called on to perform!)

That makes it fairly easy for them to call all the bits back and line them up at showtime — for example, when attempting to stay tracked on the threads of a conversation, facilitating dialogue in ways that “make sense” in terms of what is said in response to what, as well as when various pearls of wisdom get dropped onto the conversational ping pong table.

For those of us with Executive Functioning challeges – not so much!

When our attention wanders, our brain’s do what all brains do with incomplete pictures: they fill in the holes with what they expect to find there, based on what’s in its “files” of past experience.

The human brain is nothing so much as a pattern recognition machine – a puzzle put-together champ of the highest order.

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The Link between Procrastination & Task Anxiety


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover.

Part 1 about Procrastination —
part of the Intentionality Series, supporting
Organization and Task Completion

The terror of tiered tasks

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

farm3.staticflickr.com

farm3.staticflickr.com

I’ve developed a new philosophy…
I only dread one day at a time.
~
Charlie Brown
(Charles Schulz
 

A tiered task is one where you need to “insert tab A into slot B”, but first you need to insert some other tab into some other slot — which you can’t do until you insert still another tab into still another slot.

That’s it! Most people with attentional challenges can stay tracked for about three “tiers” before they begin to hear the warning signals of impending Boggle and run screaming to avoid it!

I know I do.

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Domino Problems


 

Domino problems?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
From the Stuff series: Part 4

Yeah. Domino problems!

You know that game where you set a row of dominoes on end, then tap the first one to watch them fall, one at a time, as the domino before it knocks it down?

As hinted at in Part-2 of this series, for many of us (especially those of us with ADD/EFD Brain-wiring), DECIDING is journey fraught with domino problem land-mines!

Like I said, even the most disorganized of us has
no problem putting trash in the trash can, books
on a shelf, and beer in the ‘fridge, right?

So what IS the problem?

  • Deciding whether something is trash, which shelf on which bookcase and where in the ‘fridge is the problem!
  • An even bigger problem is deciding what to do with the produce you removed to be able to appropriate the crisper drawer as a beer cooler!

Every decision to be made seems to be complicated by another decision that needs to be made first!

The terror of tiered tasks

As an example, let’s continue to use something considered relatively simple by many with neurotypical brains: putting away the groceries on return from the store.

We’ve got canned goods and boxes and bags, oh my!  But the really tricky stuff needs to go into the freezer or ‘fridge — before it reaches a state where it is unfit for any place but the garbage can!

Uh-oh.
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OHIO – OMG!


 Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover.

Part Two of the Stuff – and Nonsense Series
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie,
CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Repeat after me:
OHIO is a STATE, not a system for handling stuff!

You know the term, right?  OHIO.  Only Handle It Once.  Pick up the first piece of clutter and move it to its final resting place in one swift masterpiece of organizational wizardry.

Get a grip!  If we’d had it together enough to only handle it once we would never have been in need of clutter management to begin with!

———————————————————————————————————————————————–
Edited excerpt from: Stuff – and Nonsense: an organizing miracle cure that doesn’t start by making
you throw out your stuff!
   ©1998, 2002, 2011 – Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC; all rights reserved
———————————————————————————————————————————————–

Part 2 of the Stuff series – CLICK here to read Part 1 first

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