Putting things on autopilot gets more DONE


Systems Development puts things on Autopilot
and supercharges your Executive Functioning

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
From the Brain-based Coaching Series

My usual Friday post is posting a day early this week, to give you time to read it before Tinkertoy‘s post on National Dog Day – this Saturday, August 26, 2017

Don’t strain your brain!

Some things take a lot of “cognitive bandwidth” — which is a fancy way to say that your brain needs to work especially hard to do them.

Other things are so “automatic” we often say we can do them in our sleep.

The more things you can do without conscious thought, the more brain cells you make available for the areas where they are really needed.

  • Almost everything takes a lot of cognitive bandwidth at first introduction.  Nothing is automatic when we’re beginners — every piece of the puzzle takes concentration.
  • There are multiple decisions to be made – or recalled – at every step along the path of learning anything.  That’s HARD work for a brain. It’s an expensive process, in brain currency.
  • However, once a task becomes familiar it’s sometimes difficult to recall why we ever struggled with it to begin with. It’s become automatic – a habit – a system.
  • BUT systems development will never happen unless you follow its rules.  And that’s where systems development coaching is pure gold.

Let’s start at the very beginning with a bit of review . . .

What IS systems development coaching?

Systems Development Coaching is a way of working that focuses on helping a client discover the underlying concepts that will help them develop systems targeted to what works best for them. I’m about to share some of the ways we go about it for those of you taking the Lone Ranger approach.

But FIRST, let’s define our terms

system is a set or arrangement of things
so related as to form an organic whole.

Whenever you activate a system you are freed from having to burn up cognitive resources remembering each individual step — less likely to get distracted in the middle of a task, or stopped cold by the need to make one of those “expensive” pre-frontal cortex intensive decisions in the moment.

Most people are a little fuzzy about systems, probably because the last systems development training most of us received was potty-training.

How many of you have to actively remember what-comes-next when you’re going to the bathroom? (Except for putting down the toilet seat of course!) I’m sure you rarely think about it at all.

Unless the toilet paper is missing or the toilet overflows, or the doorknob comes off in your hand, I’ll bet you barely recall the trip once you get back to what you were doing.

Have you ever looked “everywhere” for a pen or something until you finally find it in the bathroom – yet you didn’t remember going INTO the bathroom?  (Hey, here’s that little notepad too!)

Exactly!

Systems vs Solutions

When we focus on solutions, we are generally focused on “fixing” – because we hope to come up with something that will solve a particular problem.

When we focus on systems, we develop templates that can be picked apart
to solve all sorts of problems —
some of which we are then able to avoid altogether from that point on.

While solutions tend to be more specific, templates are modular. We can port pieces of working systems to new situations to propagate new systems.

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Chunking TIME to get you going


Getting Started
Getting the GUI Things Done – Part 2

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

Getting back to GUI!
Looking at Good, Urgent, and Important

In Part 1 of this article, Getting off the couch & getting going, I began by suggesting a down-and-dirty way to tackle a number of different kinds of tasks by throwing them into a few metaphorical “task bins.”

In this way of moving through malaise to activation, I suggested that you separate your tasks into 3 metaphorical piles, and I began to explore the distinction between them:

  1. Tasks that would be Good to get done
  2. Tasks that are Urgent
  3. Tasks that are Important

In the way I look at productivity, any forward motion is good forward motion!

Making a dent in a task sure works better than giving in to those “mood fixers” we employ attempting to recenter from a serious bout of task anxiety — those bouts of back and forth texting or endless games of Words with Friends™ — and all sorts of things that actually take us in the opposite direction from the one we really want to travel.

Dent Making-101

Anyone who is struggling with activation can make behavior changes and kick themselves into getting into action by breaking down the task until it feels DO-able in any number of ways, such as:

  1. Picking something tiny to begin with, like putting away only the clean forks in the dishwasher – or just the glasses, or just the plates – or hanging up the outfit you tossed on a chair when you changed into pajamas and fell into bed last night, or picking out only one type of clothing from the laundry basket to fold and put away;
  2. Focusing on a smaller portion of a task, as in the closet example in the prior post;
  3. Chunking Time — setting a specific time limit and allowing yourself to STOP when the time is up.

Now let’s take a look at that last one.
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Time management tips for better Executive Functioning


EF Management Tips and Tricks – Part IV
Time Management Systems to Develop into Habits

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
PART FOUR: In support of The Executive Functioning Series

Quick Review:

In the introduction to this part of the article, I went over some of the concepts underlying the systems approach and why it works.

Basically, systems and habits help us conserve cognitive resources for when they are really needed. I added the caveat that nothing works for everyone any more than one size fits ALL very well.

For those of you who have the motivation and time to figure out how to make an “off the rack” outfit fit you perfectly, be sure to read for the sense of the underlying principles and tweak from there to fit your very own life.

If you can’t “sew” and are disinclined to take the time to learn (since most of us have trouble keeping up with what we are already trying to squeeze into our days), remember that I offer systems development coaching, and would love to turn my attention to your life.

I am going to warn everyone one last time that few of my clients ever really hear me the first dozen times, so don’t be too surprised when the importance of some of these Basics float right past you too.

The sooner you make friends with the basic concepts – and put them into place – the sooner life gets a lot easier, more intentional, and a whole lot more fun.

FIVE Underlying System Basics

Found in Part-2
1.
Feed Your Head
2. Structure is your FRIEND
3. Nothing takes a minute

Found in Part-3
4. Write it down (any “it”)

In this section:
5. PAD your schedule
PAD-ing: Planning Aware of Details™

Don’t forget, as you read the final principle:

Each of you will, most likely, need to tweak to fit.  However, some version of all five underlying concepts need to be incorporated into your life (with systems and work-arounds in place and habitual) before challenges recede and strengths have more room to present themselves in your lives.

No pressure — let ’em simmer in your brain’s slow-cooker.

As long as you don’t actively resist you will be one step closer to getting a handle on that systematizing to follow-through thing.

So let’s get TO it!

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Executive Functioning Systems


EF Management Tips and Tricks – Part III
Time, Memory & Organization Systems
to Develop into Habits

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
PART THREE: In support of The Executive Functioning Series

The Quick Review:

In the introduction to this 4-part article, I went over some of the concepts underlying the systems approach and why it works.

Essentially, systems and habits help us conserve cognitive resources for when they are really needed.

I added the caveat that nothing works for everyone any more than ONE SIZE FITS ALL very well.  For those of you who have the motivation and time to figure out how to make an “off the rack” outfit fit you perfectly, be sure to skip past the literal interpretation to read for the sense of the underlying principles.

For the REST of you: if you can’t “sew” and are disinclined to take the time to learn (since most of us have trouble keeping up with what we are already trying to squeeze into our days), remember that I offer systems development coaching, and would love to put my shoulder to your wheel.

The quick warning:

I want to warn everyone yet again that few of my clients ever really hear me the first dozen times, so don’t be too surprised when the importance of some of these Basics float past you a time or two as well.

The sooner you make friends with the concepts I’m sharing – and put them into place in a way that works for you – the sooner life gets easier, more intentional, and a lot more fun.

FIVE Underlying System Basics

Found in Part-2:
1.
Feed Your Head
2. Structure is your FRIEND
3. Nothing takes a minute

In this section:
4. Write it down (any “it”)

Concluding in Part-4 with:
5. PAD your schedule
PAD-ing: Planning Aware of Details™

Remember to remember as you read the principles to come:

MOST of you will probably need to tweak to fit as you incorporate the principles into your life (and/or take a second look at systems and work-arounds you already have in place that have now become habitual). If you really want to begin to experience the level of personal effectiveness you say you want, take a close and open-minded look at principles that have a 25-year track record of helping.

If you start to feel resistance,
let ’em simmer in your brain’s slow-cooker for a while.

As long as you don’t actively resist (as if YOU are the exception, fighting the ideas or ruminating over the thoughts that yet another person simply doesn’t get it), you will be one step closer to getting a handle on that systematizing to follow-through thing.

So let’s get right back to it!

 

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10 Organizing Principles for the Organizationally Impaired


NOT Your Mama’s Organization

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

If at first you don’t succeed . . .

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

Give it up!

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

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

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

How DO you work?

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

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

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

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

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

So much for helpful hints and tidy lists!  

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

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

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Accountability & Systems on Auto-Pilot


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

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

Treadmill Deja Vu

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hang on – help’s coming!

But wait – there’s MORE!

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Repair Deficit


Domino Problems Redux?
When you can’t seem to FIX faster than things fall apart!

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series
Predicting Time to Manage Tasks – Part-III

300px-Domino_effectHOW can I catch-up before it’s all too late?

Domino problems are what I have named that frustrating but all too familiar situation where it seems that no matter what you do – or how long you agonize over what you CAN do – one thing after another goes wrong anyway.

In my own life and the lives of my neurodiverse clients and and students, there are periods of time when it seems like one little oversight or problem “suddenly” creates a host of others — as we watch in horror as our lives falls apart, each new problem created by the one before it.

“I drop out one little thing and there I am,” one client said tearfully,back in the hole again, with no idea how I’ll get out this time.”

“Everything seems to fall apart around me, and I shut down with the stress of it all,” said another.

Still another said, “My family is tired of bailing me out, and I’m tired of hearing them yell at me about it. I feel like such a loser.”

That’s the Domino Problem Dynamic in a Nutshell

And when something NOT so little drops out – our doing or Murphy’s – HEAVEN HELP US!

Why the name “domino problem”? Because the domino dynamic is similar to that activity where you set a row of dominoes on end, then tap the first one to watch them ALL fall, one at a time, as the domino falling before it knocks it down.

Domino Problems are a major contributor to so-called procrastination: we reach a point where we are afraid to move because we are afraid we won’t be able to handle one more thing going wrong!

I keep searching for a way to explain the dynamic, on the way to suggesting some ways to work around it before everything is in shambles at your feet. “Repair deficit” is my latest attempt.

Repair Deficit

The term may seem oddly familiar to those of you who “attended” the world’s first virtual Gluten Summit in November 2013.

Dr. Liz Lipski used the term as a way of explaining “increased intestinal permeability,” in answer to a couple of recurring questions:

  1. Why is it, if gluten is supposed to be so bad for us, that everyone who eats it doesn’t develop what is euphemistically called “a leaky gut” and/or other conditions which supposedly have gluten intolerance at the root of the problem?
  2. How come people can be healthy for years on the standard high-gluten diet then suddenly, in late life, be diagnosed with celiac disorder or something else attributed to gluten intolerance?

Lipski’s explanation of the repair deficit dynamic in the physical health venue ALSO provides a handy metaphor for the explanation of why some of us are able to swim to shore after our life-boat capsizes, while others go down with the ship — or why some of us “leap tall buildings in a single bound,” only to be stopped cold by something that looks relatively minor.

So stay with me as we learn (or review) a bit about digestive health, on the way to taking a look at how repair deficit situations operate in the non-food areas of our lives.

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Keeping up with the Treadmill Tasks


Didn’t I just DO that???
It CAN’T be time to do it again!

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series
Predicting Time to Manage Tasks – Part-II

treadmill_GreenSuitOver and over and OVER

Treadmill Tasks are those things that are never really done. No sooner do we put the task behind us than its evil twin materializes in front.

If we expect to eat every day, somebody has to fix the food. Then somebody has to clean up once each meal is over.

And then there is the grocery shopping, laundry, dusting and general digging out, taking out the garbage, making the beds, policing the bedrooms, and the bathrooms, and the living rooms, and the kitchens . . .

SOME-body has to attend to all that or everybody must live with the consequences of the mounting disorder and disarray.

When YOU are that somebody – especially if you are one of the citizens of Alphabet City – I’ll bet you frequently feel like your life is just one gigantic Groundhog Day to-do list.

I know that I do — far too many more days than I’d like to!!

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Easy Expense Tracking


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

free-clipart.net

free-clipart.net

Keeping Track of Your Expenses
(even if you have ADD)

Madelyn Griffith-Haynie introduces
Guest Blogger Ros Lederman

It Takes a Village

One of the things I love about blogging is access to the blogging community. 

I really appreciate meeting new members of The Tribe and learning something from THEM — no matter which streets of Alphabet City they consider their home turf: ADD, TBI, EFD, OCD, BPII, MDD – or any other disorder or dysregulation that impacts what I call The Attentional Spectrum.

Even if the things they write about are those I sort-of already knew, it lands differently when I read it in their words.

Like feasting on a dinner prepared by someone else, it tastes better when I don’t have to cook it myself. 

I’ll bet some of you feel the same way about some of my articles here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com.

HOWEVER, the sheer SIZE of WebUniverse makes it difficult to find new voices and to stay connected.  So, from time to time, I invite a fresh voice to write something for me to share with you – since I’ll bet you’re as overwhelmed with the banquet of information as I am.

The only problem is follow-through — part and parcel of the Executive Functioning struggles we all have to wrestle down.  I have learned to think of the guest blogs like surprise gifts – I’m never sure when they are coming, but I’m always thrilled with their arrival.

SO, without much further ado, take a look at our most recent surprise gift from a blogger soon to have a Masters Degree in writing, whose most impressive credential is that she is ALSO a member of Team ADD.

Take the time to check out her blogs – for a “relative newbie” to the ADD Tribe, she has been seriously focused on getting herself informed.  Take advantage of what she has learned. (Leave her feedback in the comments section to her GuestPost here to encourage her to do this AGAIN.  She has a lot to share with us.)

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STUFF – and Nonsense!


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover
Hover before clicking for more info
.

Content in the stuff series has been excerpted from the upcoming book: Stuff – and Nonsense: an organizing miracle cure that doesn’t start by making you throw out your stuff!
©
 Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, All rights reserved.

From Chapter 1

LET’s GET REAL about STUFF 

Nobody NEEDS all the stuff we collect.

IF they were brave enough to be perfectly honest, not even those who can barely walk through their houses because the sheer volume of all their stuff makes it tricky to maneuver would argue about that one.

HOWEVER, professional organizers and organizing systems that work from the premise of usefulness and need miss the point entirely.

Stuff is not about need, it’s about CHOICE.
And personal preference.  

Just because a large majority of professional organizers agree that life runs best from a base camp that looks to me like a vacant room in a Motel Six, that doesn’t make their paradigm, ipso facto, The Gold Standard for A Life Worth Living.

“If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it’s still a foolish thing.”
~Anatole France

DISTINCTION: Preference vs. Policy

While those who prefer the stuff-less lifestyle would never believe it, those of us who are what they might call “stuff junkies” find it just as difficult to function in their “stuff-free” environments as they claim is true for them whenever the house doesn’t echo.  (And they think we’re the weird ones?!)

We like our stuff

We find it cozy to be surrounded by our stuff. Homey. We decorate with stuff because we like to SEE our stuff.  And we think they are bug-nutty to tell us to throw out perfectly good stuff that we know we’re going to have to spend time and money replacing when we need it later.

The only things we don’t like about our stuff are:

  • Hunting for it when we need it
  • Tripping over it when we don’t
  • Listening to complaints about it the rest of the time, and
  • Trying to come up with logical reasons why we won’t throw it away!!

ARE YOU STILL READING?

Good!  Because, seriously, we still have to talk.

Somewhere between the black and white divide separating “so much stuff nobody can breathe for the clutter” and “throw out your stuff” is a nice, functional, gray zone that I promise you will like better. Hang with me here.

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