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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EF Management Tips and Tricks


5 Tips for better Executive Functioning
Part II – Systems to Develop into Habits

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

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.

I explained how systems and habits help us conserve cognitive resources for when they are really needed.

I went on to add that despite my dislike of articles and books that offer seemingly fix-it-ALL tips and tricks, I still share online tips myself from time to time — and that I was about to share five of them, despite the fact that  I strongly prefer sharing underlying principles, so that anyone reading might be able to figure out how to tweak to fit. 

  • I appended the caveat that nothing works for everyone any more than one size fits all very well, despite what the merchants would like you to believe.
  • I’m sharing the “tips” for those of you who have the motivation (and time to dedicate) to figure out how to make an “off the rack” outfit fit you perfectly.

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

For the rest of you, I’m about to gift you some foundational principles I work on with my private clients, right along with whatever it is they came to “fix” – what I call my 5 System Basics.

I have to warn you again, however, that few of my clients have ever really embraced them the first couple dozen times I brought them up, so don’t be too surprised when the importance of some of these Basics float right past you a few times too.

The sooner you make friends with the concepts I’m about to share – and put some systems into place around them – the sooner life gets easier, less frustrating, and a LOT more fun!

 

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5 Tips for better Executive Functioning – Part 1


EF Management Tips and Tricks
Systems vs. Solutions

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

Introduced in an older article, ADD/ADHD and TIME: will ANYthing work?, this is what I remind my students and private clients:

Even though they are not exactly the same thing, most people with Executive Functioning challenges have quite a bit in common with people who have been diagnosed with ADD.

In addition to short-term memory glitches, the things that seem to negatively impact effectiveness most often are problems with activation and follow through.

When I work backwards to figure out what’s going on, I almost always discover foundational problems with time management and/or troubles with transitions.

Both of these struggles are exacerbated when few of life’s details are systematized, which means that very little can be put on auto-pilot.  Every action requires a conscious decision – which not only requires a greater number of transitions (that eat up time), it burns up cognitive resources.

  • “Processing space” in the conscious portion of our brains is not unlimited, at least not in the bottomless well meaning of unlimited. Consciousness is a resource-intensive process – your brain REALLY doesn’t want to burn up those resources making the same decisions over and over again.
  • DECISIONS are prefrontal cortex intensive – using the conscious pathways in your reaction/response mechanism – whether you are making a major decision or one as seemingly inconsequential as to what kind of ice cream you want in your cone.
  • The greater number of day-to-day to-dos you can relegate to unconscious processing, the more cognitive bandwidth you make available for tasks that truly require you to think about them consciously.
  • That means “standardizing” the timing and the steps – developing systems – so that they become HABITS.

Caveat: there are no one-size solutions

Despite my dislike of articles and books that offer seemingly fix-it-ALL tips and tricks, from time to time I still share online tips myself. 

  • I usually add the qualification that nothing works for everyone any more than one size really fits all – at least not very well.
  • I prefer to share the underlying principles, so that readers might be able to figure out how to tweak to fit – kinda’ like some of those fashion sites that tell you how to use a sewing machine to take a nip here and a tuck there.

But many people can’t sew, not everyone wants to take the time to learn, and most of us have trouble keeping up with what we are already trying to squeeze into our days.

That’s why some people make a living doing alterations –
or, in my case, coaching change.

 

HOWEVER, for those of you who have the time and motivation, I’m about to share again what many of my private clients hire me to help them put into place (no matter what “problem” we are working on at the time) – what I call my 5 System Basics.

I have to warn you, however, that few of my clients have ever really heard me the first few dozen times, so don’t be too surprised when the importance of some of these basics float right past you too.

Even when you’re desperate, change is flat-out HARD!

Try to remember as you read:

These aren’t merely a collection of five simple “suggestions.” If you have already noticed a few functioning struggles, try to hold them in your mind as practically absolutes – but lightly.

The five underlying concepts I’m about to share really do need to be accommodated in some fashion — with systems and work-arounds in place — before most of us are able to manage our energy toward follow through that doesn’t leave us endlessly chasing our own tails.

Lack of structure is really not the direction we want to travel if our goal is a life of ease and accomplishment.

Let ’em simmer in your brain’s slow-cooker.

As long as you don’t actively resist the ideas, (nit-picking the concepts or ruminating over the thoughts that yet another person simply doesn’t get it), you will be one step closer to having a handle on that follow-through thing, regardless of your current struggles with Executive Functioning.

Think of the underlying concepts, collectively, as a lever that will allow you to adjust your expectations appropriately, and to help you to figure out where you need to concentrate your time and effort ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible).

Trying to systematize a life without the basics
is like trying to start a car that’s out of gas.

  • Agonizing isn’t going to make a bit of difference.
  • Neither will “voting” – you may hate the idea, they may hate the idea. Sorry Charlie, it is simply what’s so
  • Hearing what a doofus you’ve been for not focusing on that little gas detail (especially hearing it internally) will shut you down and delay you further.
  • Go for the gas.

UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS WARNING!

The upcoming five concepts that will begin to put some gas in your car are simply that: FUEL.

Until you make sure your “car” has fuel, you can’t do much about checking to see if the starter is going bad. You may also learn you need to adjust the steering mechanism. Oh yeah, and you certainly won’t get very far on lousy tires.

  • You don’t expect your car to magically transform with a little gas, do you?
  • How about a whole tank full of gas?
  • How about gas and four new tires?

Yeah, right!

Try to remember that the next time the self-flagellation begins, as well as when you feel defensive and become offensive.

You can’t eat an elephant in a day —
EVEN if you take one tiny bite at a time.

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The Condo Concept of Time Management


A better way to structure
the TIME of your LIFE

© by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In the TaskMaster™ and Time Management Series

Lost in Time?

When we are driving around lost and our GPS seems to be stuck on, “RECALCULATING!” a map of the territory provides a quick hit of the structure we need to reorient, even if we’ve been driving in circles for some time.

Phillip Martin: artist/educator

Phillip Martin: artist/educator

We can still choose to take any of the roads on the map to get us where we are going from where we are NOW, but at least, with a map, we can tell the roads from the driveways!

Likewise, when life itself feels like it is spiraling out of control, nothing is more helpful than a quick glance at something with structure – like a TIME map.

Creating a TimeMap provides an organizational structure for your seemingly “impossible to schedule” life — reserving slots for broad categories representing the various activities that make up the tasks that, together, create each of the days of our lives.

It can be adapted to your very own personal style — even if you prefer spontaneity and variety. It even works for those of us who have less than complete control over our days, as well as for those of us who seem to have too much control and are overwhelmed deciding what to do when and what to do next.

A quick review

In an earlier article, Time Mapping Your Universe, I went into detail about how to set up a TimeMap (using my own, at the time, as an example of the concept). More importantly, in that earlier article I went into detail about the advantages of having and using a Time Map

WHY a Time Map?

  • Having a visible representation of how you believe the elements of your life would be best-scheduled reduces the number of decisions-in-the-moment.
  • That, in turn, increases cognitive bandwidth in the moment — so that you are able to actually accomplish something beyond planning, list-making and beating yourself up for getting off-task again.
  • In addition, it serves as a double-check to make sure that you aren’t saying yes to demands for your time and attention, when you really need to be saying NO or “Not right now.”
  • It also gives you somewhere to go to locate a quick answer for the inevitable question, “Well, when will you have time?”

In the absence of a schedule imposed by another (like work or school), it is waaaaay too easy to get caught in the flexibility trap.

© Phillip Martin, artist/educatorThe Flexibility Trap

Entrepreneurs and service-professionals in particular, frequently get caught in the flexibility trap, inadvertently flying stand-by in our own lives in service to our businesses and the needs of others.

Those of us with alphabet disorders are some of the worst offenders, since many of us struggle with time and transition management.  Before we realize what hit us, our lives are no longer OUR lives.

  • Just because a certain hour is not already taken by another client, or another client project, doesn’t mean it’s “free time” we can book on the fly any time someone wants to use our services (or needs a favor).  That’s a recipe for burnout!
  • A TimeMap is a reminder that certain hours are “booked solid” already – with other items that are necessary to keep YOUR life on track and worth living.
  • ESPECIALLY if you love what you do, you need to schedule non-work time or you’ll quickly notice that there isn’t any.  Even if your long hot soak or reading time can’t be accomplished without family interruptions, it’s still more “you” time than not.  MAP IT IN!
    (This is doubly important if you are a Mom or Dad who works his or her fingers to the bone inside the home rather than at a job at a different location.)

Creating a TimeMap provides an organizational structure for your “impossible to schedule” life — reserving slots for broad categories representing the various activities that make up the tasks that, together, create each of the days of our lives.

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Why you can’t and how you can – Part 1


PFC and EFDs

The PreFrontal Cortex and
Executive Functioning Disorders & Struggles

“The more you know about Executive Functions, their disorders,
and the mechanisms behind them,
the better you’ll be able to build – or rebuild – executive skills,
AS you work around them to manage challenges
and  overcome difficulties.”
~ Madelyn Griffith-Haynie

Cognitive Skills and Cognitive Challenges

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the Executive Functioning Series

Executive functioning processes include working memory, focused attention and attentional control, along with cognitive and behavioral flexibility.

These areas are products of a great many brain-based skills we rarely realize our brain has taught itself to do – unless it hasn’t. 

For example:

In other words, the brain’s Executive Functions consist of a collection of mental abilities that help our brains organize information of many types in a manner that we can act on it.

Executive functioning challenges can produce a wide range of symptoms in wide variety of individuals – as well as in the same individual in various environments, at various times, or as they age.

  • Once sufficient motivation is identified, STRONG executive functioning skills enable us to pay attention, plan, organize, remember things, prioritize, get started on tasks, locate items we’ve misplaced (and ourselves within our world) relatively quickly and easily.
  • With WEAK executive functioning skills – without dedicated focus on developing strategies and work-arounds – handling even the simplest of tasks can become life stoppers.

Recalling a specific term, name or birthday, for example, could be as big a challenge as completing an assignment, finding something important you’ve misplaced or adhering to a schedule!

As I reminded you in the last EF article, Executive Functioning Disorders – not just kid stuff, more than a few scientists position the cognitive and attentional struggles experienced by those with ADD/ADHD/TBI etc. AS a condition of impaired Executive Functions (especially ADD experts who have spent their entire careers studying EFDs like ADD/ADHD).

One of my favorite sources is Dr. Thomas E. Brown from Yale, who has a particularly cogent explanation of EF challenges.  [SEE: A New Understanding of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)]

image source: addwithease.com

For the most part, as I have said many times, the executive functions are mediated through a particular region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex [PFC].

WHICH MEANS THAT 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.  It also includes individuals with cognitive and learning challenges since birth.

That includes individuals OF ANY AGE 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.

Everything is fuzzy when the PFC is doing a sub-par job!

However, thanks to the miracle of neuroplasticity, appropriate intervention can be helpful at any age, allowing your brain to create new pathways it can access more quickly and easily. 

Things can change, even into adulthood – but only once you become aware of the reasons behind the need for change, take new actions, and develop the habit of using them long enough for new “roads” to be constructed between your ears.

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TimeKiss™ – Tips for Time Mapping


KISS: Keep It as Simple as you sCAN

© by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another in the TaskMaster™ Series
TimeMapping Part 2

© Phillip Martin – artist/educator

Finding Your Way

As I said in Part I of this article — when we’re lost, if we’re smart, we check the map.  A road map provides the structure we need to reorient, even if we’ve been driving in circles for some time.

When life itself feels like it is spiraling out of control, nothing is more helpful than structure  – a MAP of the territory.

A TIME Map

In Part I of this article, I explained the basic principles of TimeMapping, and gave you an example of the TimeMap I’m using currently – Down & Dirty style, which is what I recommend for you.

Like any map you might pick up at your local gas station, one that shows the major roads but not every house on the block, a TimeMap is an overview — something you can SCAN quickly to get your bearings.

Your TimeMap provides an organizational structure for your “impossible to schedule” life — reserving slots for broad categories representing the various activities that make it up.

It NEEDS to be adapted to your very own personal style —  and, designed appropriately, it even works for those of us who have less than complete control over our days.

Everything old is new again

TimeMapping is not a new technique, by the way. It was extremely popular with the Time Gurus in the ’80s.  With the increasing popularity of electronic devices, it fell into disfavor.

I think it’s past time to bring it back!  Never underestimate the power of paper.

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TIME Mapping Your Universe


Structuring the Time of your Life Part 1

© by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In the TaskMaster™ and Time Management Series

Lost in Time?

Phillip Martin: artist/educator

Phillip Martin: artist/educator

When we’re lost, if we’re smart, we check the map.  A map of the territory provides the structure we need to reorient, even if we’ve been driving in circles for some time.

When life itself feels like it is spiraling out of control, nothing is more helpful than structure.

NO, not the hateful kind of structure imposed from the outside — an inside look at how you want to be spending your time that you can hold up as a shield against life’s slings and arrows: a TimeMap.

Creating a TimeMap provides an organizational structure for your “impossible to schedule” life — reserving slots for broad categories representing the various activities that make up the tasks that together create each of the days of our lives.

It can be adapted to your very own personal style — even if you prefer spontaneity and variety — and it even works for those of us who have less than complete control over our days.

Time Mapping

In Time Management from the Inside Out, author Julie Morgenstern explains the time mapping concept beautifully:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“The Time Map is simply a visual diagram of your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule

. . . as well as . . .

a powerful tool for helping you be proactive amid the swirl of demands that come your way.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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ADD/ADHD and TIME: 5 Systems Basics


Exercises in Systematizing

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part 2 of ADD/ADHD and Time: will ANYthing work?

In the first part of this article, subtitled Time Management Tips and Tricks, I promised to share Five Underlying Systems Principles.

Remember: These five underlying concepts really do need to be accepted — with systems and work-arounds in place — before you stand a prayer of a chance of managing your energy within time’s boundaries.

Working effectively within the boundaries of time is an exercise in systematizing.

As I said at the beginning of Part 1 . . .

  • There are a lot of pieces to that systematizing concept.
  • “Pieces” require juggling, cognitively.
  • Cognitive juggling is highly PFC intensive [prefrontal cortex]
  • Guess where the ADD/EFD/TBI brain is most impaired?
    YOU GOT IT – the PFC.
  • Don’t make it harder than it is already – make friends with the concepts below.

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ADD/ADHD and TIME: will ANYthing work?


Time Management Tips and Tricks

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
PART ONE of two: In support of The Challenges Inventory™ Series

Like I said in an older article, “Listening for Time Troubles – struggles with time and follow through,” a great many ADDers have trouble with T-I-M-E.

• We run out of it
• We are continually surprised by it, and
• More than a few times we seem to be completely unaware of it.

All ADD Coaches worthy of the term must remain aware that Listening For and Languaging to your clients’ awareness of time, and their relationship to time (oh yes, my friends, they most certainly DO have one) almost always involves some serious sleuthing on the part of the coach!

However . . .

Lest I be accused of keeping all the good stuff for the carriage trade (remaining mindful of the need to avoid joining the “Ten Time Tips that will Pay your Mortgage and put hair on your grandfather’s chest” crowd), I’m going to share five underlying principles that I listen for and try to language to my clients and students.

I’ll even tell YOU what I tell them 5 System Basics – but few clients ever really hear me the first couple dozen times, so don’t be too surprised when some of these basics float right past you too.

Let ’em simmer in your brain’s slow-cooker — as long as you don’t actively resist, 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 this time thing.

Even when you’re desperate, change is just flat-out HARD!

ADD

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

ADD/EFD ain’t EASY!

If you read more than a few articles here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com, you will begin suspect that I’m not particularly fond of tips and tricks — and you’ll be absolutely right about that.

Why not?

For the most part, they don’t work.

The neurotypical advice almost always scratches where it doesn’t itch. The reasons they don’t do things are seldom the reasons we don’t.

And then they fire the “resistance” salvo our way — and we fight the urge to do something that will send us to prison for life as they sing another rousing chorus of the “you’re-not-really-trying” hymn of the republic.

Even most of the ADD/EFD-flavored tips and tricks miss as many flavors of ADD/EFD as they catch. It is simply impossible for anybody to write a book that handles all situations for all people – at least not a book anyone could lift. I know. I’ve tried. (Why do you think my articles are so darned long, linked to so many others to cover each individual point in yet another long post?)

So, for the most part, most of the tips and tricks books don’t really work for a great many of us.

WHEN they don’t work, it shuts us down.

We self-flagellate (then ruminate endlessly)

  • Didn’t I do this right, or am I missing a key point — AGAIN?
  • Everybody thinks I just don’t want to succeed, and that’s just not true!
  • Will I ever get a clue?
  • What’s wrong with me?
  • NOW what am I going to do?

We get defensive (then go on the offensive)

  • This book got great reviews, how was I supposed to know it was crap?
  • I work a full-time job and have primary responsibility for 3 kids: meals, laundry, school activities, sick days — how am I supposed to squeeze all these lists and things into my day? Who is this written for – ladies who lunch?
  • Yada, yada, yada, YADA!

Ultimately, we come back to where we started, concluding that “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” management is the most we can ever hope for – until the next time, that is, that things get SO unmanageable that we fall prey to yet another tips and tricks ploy.

Can you tell I’ve been there?

I finally figured out WHY all those tips and tricks didn’t work for me: they weren’t written for ME,
they were a
compilation of items that worked for the author (who was, very likely, NOTHING like me!).  [See Why Tips and Tricks Fail for more]

Once I learned that the root of my chronic disorganization had a NAME, and began to look at everything through The ADD Lens things began, ever so slowly, to come under my control. Simply having a diagnosis shifted my shifted my expectations.

As I said in an earlier article: until we believe we can, we can’t!! 

“How many times can we keep trying until we decide it’s impossible?

It’s a coach’s job to avoid sending their ADD/EFDers off to tilt at windmills. That means, you absolutely must DETERMINE THE CAUSE before you begin to work on solutions.

How much sense does THAT make!!”

But what do you do if you don’t HAVE a coach?

Do whatever you can to remedy that sad situation.  You simply must.

Dr. Edward Hallowell has been quoted many times saying that, “[ADD] Coaching is the single most effective tool for ADD self-management” FOR A REASON!

Coaching may well be “optional” for many, but those of us with “alphabet disorders” (ADD, EFT, TBI, PTSD, OCD, etc.) need the externalization of our prefrontal cortex activities as much as a sailboat needs ballast to keep it from tipping over in the first substantial gust of wind.

And not just any coach – a comprehensively trained, brain-based ADD coach — a coach who has been trained to listen for EFD issues, and understands how to coach them!

Don’t “cheap out” on yourSelf
(and don’t let money be a stopper)

  • If you can’t afford the fees that professional coaches charge, ask about the possibility of a reduced rate. Many of us maintain a few sliding-scale slots, simply because we KNOW how important that external PFC support can be.
  • If you can’t afford even the low rates that many of us slide to, apply for coaching with a student, mentored through an coaching intern program — or go for Group Coaching.
  • If even that is beyond your budget, check out, sign up or get on the waiting list for my next really-low-fee PEER Coaching Basic Training. (click here for information)  Start looking around for a buddy who’s in the same situation — the two of you can trade accountability coaching forevermore. (You don’t even need to take the class, by the way, but it does help increase the effectiveness of what you do together quite a bit).

MEANWHILE . . .

Coming up are some essential concepts that need to be in place before you stand a prayer of a chance — really!  

Don’t beat yourself up about that reality, use it as a lever to adjust your expectations appropriately, and to help you to figure out where you need to concentrate your
time and effort ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible).

Trying to systematize a life without the basics is like trying to
to start a car that’s out of gas.

  • Agonizing isn’t going to make a bit of difference.
  • Neither will “voting” – you may not like the idea, they may not like the idea. Sorry Charlie, it is simply what’s so
  • Hearing what a doofus you’ve been for not focusing on that little gas detail (especially hearing it internally) will shut you down and delay you further.
  • Go for the gas.

Like a mantra: essential concepts need to be accepted – with systems and work-arounds in place – before you stand a prayer of a chance.

Working effectively within the boundaries of time is an exercise in systematizing.

  • There are a lot of pieces to that systematizing concept.
  • “Pieces” require juggling, cognitively.
  • Cognitive juggling is highly PFC intensive [prefrontal cortex]
  • Guess where the ADD/EFD/TBI/PTSD
  • brain is most impaired?  YOU GOT IT – the PFC.
  • Don’t make it harder than it is already – make friends with the upcoming concepts.

UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS WARNING:

The upcoming five concepts that will begin to put some gas in your car are simply that: FUEL.

Until you make sure your “car” has fuel, you can’t do much about checking to see if the starter needs fixing.  You may also learn you need to adjust the steering mechanism.  Oh yeah, and you certainly won’t get very far on lousy tires.

  • You don’t expect your car to magically transform with a little gas, do you?
  • How about a whole tank full of gas?
  • How about gas and four new tires?

Yeah, right!

Try to remember that the next time the beatings begin, as well as when you feel defensive and become offensive.

You can’t eat an elephant in a day — EVEN if you take tiny bites.

In Part Two of this article, we’ll talk details about those Five Systems Basics.  Scroll down for other related articles here and elsewhere.

——-
Graphics gratitude:  Stopwatch Guy & Gas Pump from free-clipart.net
 ADD Coach Success Systems: Marty Crouch: Webvalance Internet Partners
Convertable/bad exhaust from webweaver

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If you’d like some one-on-one (or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this article (either for your own life, that of a loved one, or as coaching skills development), click the E-me link  <—here (or on the menubar at the top of every page) and I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Related Content on ADDandSoMuchMore.com

You might also be interested in some of the following Coaching Skills and Practical Application articles

For links to still more: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links (subtle, so they don’t distract you) will turn dark red; AND check out the links to Related Content in each of the articles below

Related articles around the ‘net

TaskMaster: Ordering Your Deck


Getting Things Done – 101 Part 3
Another article in the Taskmaster™ Series
© by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

The last two of Ten Tips for Focus & Intentionality:
Prep-Time for Time Mapping

We LOVE Phillip Martin’s artword!

Lets begin by reviewing steps 1-8.

You need to have those firmly in mind to be able to go forward with what we’re going to do next.

1. House the Homeless
2. Name the Game
3. Mise en Plasse
4. Plant and Stake
5. Remember the Cookie
6. Stop and Drop (thanks Maria!)
7. Survey the terrain
8. Boundary the space hogs

If you’re not ready to ride after reading the following few memory joggers, go back to read (or reread) Parts 1 & 2 of the “Getting Things Done-101” section of the TaskMaster articles.

Scroll to the bottom of this article for links to the rest of the TaskMaster series – and don’t forget that inside-the-article links to concepts mentioned are dark grey, to lower their distraction potential.  They turn red on mouse-over; hovering for a moment before you click will pop up a bit more info for many of them.

This article will continue to help you put your “deck” together.

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Mapping Your Universe


Getting Things Done – 101 Part 2
Another article in the Taskmaster™ Series
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Moving through the Ten Tips for Focus & Intentionality:
Prep-Time for Time Mapping

We LOVE Phillip Martin’s artword!

Lets begin by reviewing steps 1-6.

You need to have those firmly in mind to be able to go forward with what we’re going to do next.

1. House the Homeless
2. Name the Game
3. Mise en Plasse
4. Plant and Stake
5. Remember the Cookie
6. Stop and Drop (thanks Maria!)

Go back to read (or reread) Part 1 if you’re not ready to ride after reading those reminders.

As I said in the first part of Getting Things Done – 101:

The use of a Time Map – setting a regular and recurring time in your calendar or datebook where you plan to work on the same task each time – reduces the prefrontal cortex resource depletion that happens every darn time you try to DECIDE what to do.

Interestingly enough, shuffling the deck
– assuming you HAVE a deck to shuffle –

takes far fewer cognitive resources.

Think of it like a commune in your calendar. Every task has a tent, but the community members kind of float from one tent to the other, making sure all of the activities of the commune are attended to daily, weekly and monthly – just not always in the same tent.

This article begins to help you put that “deck” together.

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Boggle Bait


Phillip Martin artwork – THANKS!

Panoramic

Excerpted from my upcoming Boggle Book ©Madelyn Grifith-Haynie-all rights reserved.

Understanding Boggle Build-up

In the last section, Anticipating Boggle, you began to pay attention to the unique way that YOU build to the Boggle point, and you began to capture your personal triggers in real time.

Continue what you’ve been doing for the rest of the month, with the addition of a few more lists that will give you the perspective of specialized cycles.

That Time of the Month

Every one of us has regular dips in functioning, male or female, ADD or non. Your biological rhythms are not constant. They are, however, predictable, given close enough attention.

Have you ever taken the time to observe those times of the month when things go well, as well as those times of the month when they do not?

  • Do your eating patterns change during this period?
  • How about your sleep habits?
  • What ELSE is different?
  • How does that affect your functioning?

Write down anything you can recall from memory, and begin to pay attention to the changes through the cycle of a month as you continue to track your day-to-day Boggle triggers.

Anticipating Boggle


Jaws Music

Excerpted from my upcoming Boggle Book ©Madelyn Grifith-Haynie-all rights reserved.

All artwork on this page: courtesy of Phillip Martin

Remember the movie about the great hunt for the killer shark that turned a formerly peaceful resort town a living nightmare?

Remember the gradually building staccato music that warned the audience that something terrible was about to happen?

Not only did that musical build-up fail to make it any less startling when those great jaws suddenly loomed into view, it actually heightened the sense of anxiety and impending doom, making the appearance of that shark all the more frightening.

By the midpoint of the movie, people were squirming in their seats and holding their hands up ready to cover their faces with nothing more than the music itself, even when the visual was seemingly placid.

That Jaws music meant something dreadful was just about to happen.  The viewers had become sensitized to expect the worst from the first few notes of the theme.

Guess what? You have your own internal version of Jaws music sensitizing you to expect the worst as well.

You probably don’t consciously realize that you are poised for Boggle from the first moment that one of your early Boggle triggers is activated, but you certainly do experience a mounting sense of anxiety and dread in your body.

Just like our cave-forefather Og’s body was preparing to run like the wind from the moment he saw that first sabre tooth tiger on the horizon, you are now on high alert, fearful of what is likely to happen next unless that “Jaws music” STOPS.

Read more of this post

Boggle: Cooperation & Support


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

Dealing with Others

Excerpted from my upcoming Boggle Book ©Madelyn Grifith-Haynie-all rights reserved.

Reasonable Accommodations

Whether you have been doing the work or not, simply by reading the articles in the Boggle series, you have begun the process of taking responsibility for your ADD in some brand new ways.

Congratulations.

A major tool is the Boggle Space. Are you ready to add it to your toolchest?

My partner will have a fit if I try to claim a space all my own.

Let’s face it — in order to set up a Boggle Space that will work for us, we will be asking for some accommodations from our loved ones.

But aren’t we already? 

Living with a loved one with ADD places a lot of demands on the rest of the family.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you don’t want to ask for one more thing. What you are requesting is an accommodation that will lessen the other demands your ADD will place upon everyone in your life.

You do have to find a way to initiate the conversation, however, and that can be daunting, I know.

The steps of the following communication technique have been useful for some of my clients.  Adapt the language to your personal style.  Combine steps, if it makes more sense to you, but make sure you don’t skip any of the steps in the process.

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Boggle: To Design is to Decide


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

Onward and Upward

Excerpted from my upcoming Boggle Book ©Madelyn Grifith-Haynie-all rights reserved.

Now you are ready to design
your Boggle Space.

Re-read through the lists you have created (in that notebook I hope you took the time to create).

We want to work with externally stored information that will allow you to work with minimal decision anxiety.  

Remind yourself what is soothing to you and what you definitely do not want around.

Don’t wait to decide at the moment you are faced with the objects in the space.

  • Deciding is one of those pre-frontal cortex stressers.
  • The farther away from the actual experience, the easier the decision.

Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to pack for a trip with a list?  That’s because you separated the process of deciding from the actual handling of clothing.  If you try to decide on the spot, ad hoc, you will have a much tougher time.  The further the decision from the action, the easier the action.

Prelude to disaster – clearing cobwebs

As I said at the end of the last article, before you go back to designing your Boggle Space, we need to clear away possible mental roadblocks to keep you from cheating yourself out of the success that you deserve.

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My favorite Boggle Room


An Example from my life

Excerpted from my upcoming Boggle Book ©Madelyn Grifith-Haynie-all rights reserved
Part 2   – CLICK HERE for Part 1 of this particular post- see below for links to  entire series 

My favorite Boggle Room —
because it was the most effective

When I was living in New York City, a high stress place if there ever was one, my Boggle Room was my bedroom.

It is one of the things I miss most about New York, now that I have relocated myself and The Optimal Functioning Institute’s “executive offices” elsewhere.

I lived in a large apartment in a pre-war elevator building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I designed my New York bedroom, a space that was much longer than wide, so that my queen-sized bed was practically in the middle of the room.  At the end of the room toward the foot of the bed I built in an entire wall of mirrored closets.

Read more of this post

Boggle: Driving “Miss Crazy”


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

Defensive Driving!

Excerpted from my upcoming Boggle Book ©Madelyn Grifith-Haynie-all rights reserved.

Driving the very car you HAVE

Anyone who has driven an old car with a lag time between stepping on the accelerator and the acceleration of the car itself learns rather quickly that there are certain things that are invitations to disaster – trying to pass on a blind curve or a hill, for example.

We learn to work with the car by thinking ahead and including that lag time in our driving strategies.

We can learn to work with our ADD brains in the same way.

The remainder of these articles from The Boggle Book are going to teach you how to “drive” your ADD brain in a way that allows you to manage the events of your life  — before you end up in a situation that is as much an invitation to disaster as trying to pass on a blind curve in an old car.

Read more of this post

Boggle Background


What’s Going On Here?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Excerpted from Chapter Five of my upcoming Boggle Book ©-all rights reserved.

A Little Background

I work with ADD (my own included) as I would work with *physical* rehabilitation — even though, with ADD’s “hidden” nature, it is more difficult to see what’s working effectively, what’s not, and in what combinations.

No one would insist that rehabilitation strategies be the same for two accident victims, even if the accidents were identical and the “body damage” similar, and even if both were “textbook” cases.

You would have to START with the individuals themselves: their general fitness level, weight, complicating realities, and many other considerations.  An easy task for one patient might be well beyond the other: overt when dealing with physical realities, subtler with neurological ones.  You have to be attentive to the clues.

The most dramatic reactions are the clearest indicators because they are easiest to identify. Just as patient feedback (ouch!) leads the physical therapist, client reports of Boggle responses are dramatic starting places that suggest ways to turn “can’t” into “can” in the neurological arena.

So Let’s Start with YOU

What have you been doing to date?  When you are about to Boggle – what have you been doing so far?

Before we go into the ways to deal with Boggle effectively,
think about how you have been attempting to deal with it already.

If you are anything like my clients (and like I was myself before I figured out what would work) you are doing exactly the wrong thing when you sense oncoming Boggle.

You are trying harder.

It won’t work.

In fact, it will make things worse.

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Boggle Considerations


Five Elements of Boggle Technique

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

As I mentioned in prior Boggle articles (see list at end of this article), if you live your life anywhere on the Attentional Spectrum, there will be times when you get so distracted, so overwhelmed, SO un-focused that you simply, literally cannot function at all!

You just lose it!

Some of us scream and yell, some of us throw things, some stomp around slamming doors and cursing, some cry . . .

Boggle can look a million different ways – practically any way at all besides behaviorally appropriate!

This state is what some of the ADD experts refer to as “cognitive shutdown in response to stress.”  It’s what I call Boggle.

Let’s begin by reviewing what I have come to believe are the five key elements you need to understand and address before you can count on changing your reputation from “emotionally volatile” to “calm under pressure.”  This article will explain what I mean by the terms below.  Following articles in the Boggle series will explain what I call “Boggle Technique” in greater detail.

Boggle Technique: Five Key Areas for Focus

1.  Time Out
2.  Education
3.  Communication
4.  Sherlocking
5.  Systematizing

Read more of this post

ABOUT Boggle


The Boggle Book: How to STOP 
screaming at your spouse, kicking the dog,
and losing your cool, 
finally and forever!

© by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
© all rights reserved

Sacks on Shutdown

Oliver Sacks, a scientist fascinated with neurological differences who was brought to public attention when Robin Williams portrayed him in the screenplay Awakenings, has noted that:

“Brain systems in all animals may respond to overwhelming stimulation, or stimulation past a critical point, with a sudden shutdown.  Such reactions have nothing to do with the individual or his motives.  They are purely local and physiological and can occur even in isolated slices of [the] cerebral cortex: they are a biological defense [against] neural overload.”

p. 136, An Anthropologist on Mars, Oliver Sacks, Knopf, 1995

Overload

Anyone who has ever been labeled “emotionally volatile” experiences times when they get so distracted, so overwhelmed, so UN-focused that they simply, literally, cannot get it together to function at all!  This is what some of the experts working with the Attention Deficit Disorder population refer to as “pre-frontal cortex shutdown in response to stress.”

It’s what I call Boggle.

Although ADDers tend to experience it a lot more often, Boggle is not confined to the ADD population.

You are probably already familiar with Boggle.  I’ll bet you’ve been there: those times when you t-totally lose it!

Some of us scream and yell, some of us throw things, some stomp around slamming doors and cursing, some cry, some say terribly mean things even if we know at the time we will be mortified once we come back to ourselves, and some seem to be OK from the outside  — OK, that is, for a person who just landed on a brand new planet!

The focus of my book is to explain why it happens, and to teach you how to set it up so you never need to go there again.

The techniques I developed to work with the term I coined will work for anyone.  They work for me.  They work for my clients and students.  They will also work for you, ADD or not.

Don’t miss this series.

Until publication, I will edit foundational excerpts to get you started, right here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com.  Depending on the rules of the eventual publishing format, I may have to take them down, so get ’em while you can.

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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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Distinguishing Can’t from Won’t


CAN’T vs WON’T

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

A fundamental concept underlying the manner in which I coach individuals with attentional spectrum deficits is a result of the distinction between “can’t” and “won’t.”

Distinguishing articulates the differences between words as they apply functionally

When we distinguish one word from another, we bring to conscious awareness the reality that, while the denotation of two words – the surface, dictionary meaning – might be effectively equivalent, the connotations are quite different.

Connotation – subtext and common usage within sub-groups – always rides along with the denotative (dictionary) meaning of a word, whether or not we intend the emotional “spin,” or whether or not we are aware of it consciously.

A Distinction, as it applies to the coaching relationship,  is a psycho-spiritual subtlety of language, used consciously for the express purpose of facilitating psychological and spiritual growth.

Distinguishing hones functioning as well as thinking.

  • It sharpens listening, language and coaching skills.
  • It helps to form vital neurological connections, ” brain-links” in a way that expands your knowledge base exponentially — rather than in the linear fashion in which we are accustomed to learning.
  • It’s a brain-game that helps build positive-minded neural-net — weakening the bonds of “old tapes” so that we can shape new futures.

My goal, whenever I select a distinction and let my brain loose to blog about it, is “to seed a shift in come-from” — to illuminate cherished opinions and unconscious habits of thought, hoping to inspire a reframing of underlying assumptions. 

Can’t vs. Won’t

I want to shine a light on the necessity of accepting the behavioral characteristics of ADD/EFDers as part of the ADD/EFD diagnosis.  

For far too long, neurological ADD/EFD challenges have been assigned to the provinces of behavior or psycho-analysis. The distinction between can’t and won’t lies totally within the province of volition.

Accepting the idea that a person could sincerely try and fail due to dynamics completely divorced from underlying psychological conflicts is fundamental: as long as we look for blocks or conflicts, our view of behavior is indelibly skewed in a way that predisposes us to find them.

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

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