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.

Read more of this post

Time, Stress and Denial


You CAN change your relationship to time
(or just about anything else)
But, of course, that means you have to CHANGE

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


“The adrenal system reacts to stress
by releasing hormones
that make us alert and reactive.

The problem is
that the adrenal system
cannot tell what’s a regular case of nerves
and what’s an impending disaster.

The body doesn’t know the difference
between nerves and excitement
— between panic and doubt . . .”

~ Grey’s Anatomy, Season 9, Episode 8

WHY ARE YOU LATE?!!

If you have any flavor of Attentional Struggles – or Executive Functioning challenges for any other reason — I don’t have to tell you how tough it is to work with t-i-m-e!

If you are anything like me (or some of my former clients and students), finding out that many ADDers lack an internal sense of time— or a reliable one, anyway — was a huge relief.

At last!

An explanation for why others can set a time
and show up promptly and we can’t.

Whoa!  BACK UP JACK!

There are two potential problems with that “at last” momentary relief:

  1. Can’t” refers ONLY to attempting to deal with time internally
  2. An explanation is NOT a get out of jail free forevermore card

SO, if you have always struggled with something specific, (like time-management, in this example) and you want to leave that behind forevermore, you absolutely must begin to set new “time-management” systems in place if you EVER want anything to be different.

That, ladies and gents, is where things begin to fall apart in brand new ways . . .

Read more of this post

Getting off the couch & getting going – Part 1


Worry, Worry, Worry!
. . . The agony of agonizing

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

Let’s Get GUI!
Looking at Good, Urgent, and Important

When I first began to blog on the topic of organization and task completion, I was initially daunted.

It seemed to me that productivity, accomplishment, follow-through and planning were such HUGE topics for anything less than entire books — difficult to handle briefly, even in an entire Series of posts on each topic!

While most of what I read on the inter-webs focuses on Tips and Techniques, I wanted to explore underlying principles, and I wanted to share them from a brain-based perspective.

QUITE the challenge — especially since I knew that most readers wouldn’t have my background of information, so I had to include an explanation of terms before I could move on even to underlying principles, much less sharing techniques that many have found helpful.

Don’t miss: Getting Things Done-101

The extent of the challenge stopped me for a while, I must admit, and it took me some time to begin to figure out how best to do it without wearing people out.  Long-time readers may have noted that my earlier articles are much longer than the ones I have been posting lately.

Whittling things down remains a challenge, but I don’t let that keep me from trying to be helpful in as brief a manner as I believe can get the job done for most people.

Moving along anyway

I am inspired by the malaise that seems to waft in with the summer heat, and I want to explore more about Getting Things Done. I plan to continue to whittle things down to a size we can manage in two ways:

  1. Dividing this topic and this article into parts, and
  2. Using language and examples that will relate primarily to those attempting to Get Things Done at home, whether the tasks are personal or professional in nature.

Let’s start by thinking about how to tackle a number of different kinds of tasks by throwing them into a few metaphorical “task bins.”

Getting GUI

Take a look at your task list every day (which implies that you make one, right?)  Separate the tasks that would be good to get done from the tasks that are URGENT and IMPORTANT.

Good to get done tasks

Good to get done tasks help you move your life forward – without the not-so-subtle pressure that normally accompanies a To-DO! List.  This category is for the “treadmill tasks” of life: the recurring chores that really don’t need to be done at a specific time or day, as long as they are done fairly regularly.

These are the tasks I keep encouraging you to put on autopilot:

  • Figure out a reasonably effective way to do them
  • Do them the same way every time so that they can become habitual.
  • Put them on auto-pilot. “Auto-pilot” habits don’t debit cognitive resources!  No deciding, no agonizing, and your conscious mind is freed for more important work.

Urgent Tasks

Urgent Tasks are two-fold, both of which you are going to work toward eliminating from your life as you learn more about what you need to be intentional about getting things done.

Type 1 Urgents are those items that carry a monetary, legal or emotional penalty for remaining undone — many of which are the result of not getting out in front of them earlier.

Taxes, license renewals, bills, birthday cakes, presents and cards all fall into the Type 1 Urgent category at the beginning.

Don’t beat yourself up about your struggles with this category — or ruminate over the fact that you “should” have taken care of whatever it is before it became a problem that had to be handled immediately (or else!)

Simply identify the items that belong here to make sure you don’t drop those balls in the future.

Many of us with Executive Functioning issues have developed the unfortunate habit of using the adrenaline rush that accompanies urgency to be ABLE to focus with intentionality.

Adrenaline is an endogenous psycho-stimulant (produced within).

It does work; we tend to get more done. But it comes with a high price tag.  There are healthier forms of energy that will help you get things done — more about those to come.

Bona fide Emergencies

Bona fide emergencies generally won’t make this list at all. They are the things that you rarely have time to put on a list in the first place, nor do you need to.

Fire, flood, illness, accidents and broken bones, necessary and well-maintained equipment that suddenly gives up the ghost  — things that it’s unlikely you could have predicted but MUST be dealt with immediately — ALL fall in the category of bona fide emergencies.

The only way to plan for bona fide emergencies is to leave a bit of ease in your schedule every single day so that you stand a shot at getting back on track when you have to stop to deal with them.

Type 2 Urgents are the things that you are going to practice saying no to: that means setting boundaries.

My favorite quote that describes this category perfectly is this one:
“Lack of planning in your life does not constitute an emergency for me.”

Many of the items in this category wouldn’t be on your plate to begin with if you would get the time and energy vampires off your neck.

Other items pop in here when you say yes because you can’t imagine how to say no.  You would not find yourself rushing to buy a hostess gift for a party with that couple you don’t enjoy, for example, if you hadn’t said yes in the first place!

We have a tendency to say yes to these items we really don’t want to do because it requires little of our decision-making power to respond in “emergency mode” — it feels like MORE to do to refuse to play, so we play.

It feels great to put out a fire — not so great to prevent one.

I’m not saying that setting boundaries is an easy fix, but it is a simple one, and the only one that will ever work to get Type 2 Urgents out of your life forever.

Unfortunately, until we learn to set and protect boundaries around what we allow others to push onto our plates, our behavior teaches those around us to do exactly what we do NOT want them to do.

To begin with, demote the Type 2 Urgents:
Don’t say no, say LATER.

Take a baby step toward teaching your family and friends that ONLY when you’ve accomplished what is IMPORTANT will you be able to focus time or attention on Type 2 Urgents.

They may never understand that you have more important things to do than pick up the pieces of somebody else’s dropped ball or help them handle their over-commitments or lack of boundaries, but it is essential that you understand that reality yourself.

When you say, “Not now,” show any whiners and complainers your list of what needs to be done first and tell them to get them workin’ on it if they want you to be finished faster.

You probably won’t be able to count to three before you hear (with attitude, no doubt), Oh, never mind!

[More about this in an earlier article: Priorities-101:Yes means No]

So what’s IMPORTANT?  

That’s a VERY good question.  What IS “important” to you?  I’ll give you a hint with another favorite saying:

Nobody ever said, at the end of life,
“Darn!  I wish I’d spent more time on my chores.”

Read more of this post

12 Tips to help you Take Back your TIME


Are you OVER feeling overwhelmed yet?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC
Reflections Post

Have you taken stock of the items that contribute to your “too much to do and not enough time” life?

If you are anything like my clients, my students – and me! – no matter what the list looks like in detail, it boils down to one single thing.

Unbalanced energy:
too much going out, not enough coming in.

BAD IDEA: Saying no to YOU to say yes to them.

There may well be folks who have figured out how to have it all –
but nobody has unlocked the secret of DOING it all!

It’s an easy trap to fall into – especially when you’re busy. Believe me, I know better than anybody what that fly-paper feels like! And the best way to start rebalancing the scales is simple (but not easy!): get the Time & Energy Vampires off your neck!

Getting over Overwhelm

When we’re overwhelmed, what goes first? Yep! The things that are important to US. We’ve all been well trained to make sure we handle our “responsibilities.”

But when did their to-dos and priorities become OUR responsibilities?

Here’s a reframe: If you don’t have time to do what’s important to YOU,
you certainly don’t have time to do what’s not important to you! ~ mgh

Whose life is it anyway?

Certainly not yours, if you are chronically overwhelmed. Probably theirs.

Wiki – Creative Commons

The most obvious offenders are frequently the people who claim to love us.

And because we love them, we think we always have to say yes: spouses, lovers, parents, children. Those guys.

The worst offenders are the emotional bullies: people who pull any of the following stunts, bullying us into saying yes, usually because we feel like it makes little sense to invoke their immature consequences for saying no.

Only SOME of the nasty tricks they pull to have their way with us include the following. They’ve learned we tend to give in when they:

  • sulk (or cry)
  • play “take-away” (the dreaded silent treatment)
  • get angry or rage all over us – especially when icily controlled
  • shame and should on us for not being able to handle more than we can
  • pitch a fit (retaliating in some overtly aggressive, passive aggressive, or publicly embarrassing fashion).

Even though beginning to set boundaries around bad behavior from people close to us is clearly needed, they are the toughest to retrain, so let’s save how to handle most of them for another article.

Balance other scales to take back your time!

Read more of this post

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!

Read more of this post

Sleeping with the Enemy: Mom’s N-24


How N-24 affects the rest of us
With a special take on the topic from Guest Blogger TinkerToy

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Comorbidities and Sleep & Sleep Disorders Series

“When you hear hoof-beats,
think horses not Zebras”

Most doctors are repeatedly exposed to that little ditty from their earliest days in Med School, encouraging them to always consider the simplest explanations first.

It’s not bad advice for many of the disorders and diseases they’ll come across in the patients who will walk through their office doors seeking diagnosis and treatment.

It just turns out to be exactly wrong when it comes to recognizing chronorhythm disorders – disorders of sleep TIMING.

November 24th is N24 Awareness Day

As explained in last weeks post, N-24 Awareness Day is almost upon us:

N24 Awareness Day was first organized in 2012 to help raise awareness of chronorhythm disorders – those affecting sleep TIMING – and particularly to increase awareness of one of its lesser known manifestations: Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Syndrome.

It is also known as hypernychthemeral syndrome, N24, N-24, or free-running sleep disorder.

It is a severe, chronic and disabling neurological disorder that causes an individual’s “brain clock” to be unable to stay in sync with “nature’s clock,” the 24-hour cycle of light and dark on our planet.

For many years it was believed to be rarer than those of us who live with it know it to be, and to affect only the blind – supposedly the only individuals unable to “rephase to light.” SIGHTED sufferers were excluded from the studies, and are still today.

How can medical science expect to find what they fail to seek?

N24 Awareness Day – or N24 Day – is now observed annually, gathering participants as increasingly more people become aware of sleep timing disorders, recognizing their own sleep-struggles when they read about the symptoms.

Many have been MIS-diagnosed with insomnia, narcolepsy, or “simple” sleep apnea, because MOST doctors, therapists and coaches remain shamefully unaware — unable to recognize clear symptoms of an entire class of sleep disorders: those that are the result of chronorhythm dysregulation.

Read more of this post

Almost here: Group Coaching


A Process Designed to Support Clients
with all kinds of minds!

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

Does anything below sound like YOU?

  • Have you ever felt that you are essentially alone in your struggles with time and time-management, focus and follow-through as the result of PTSD, TBI/ABI, ADD/EFD — or brain-based struggles as the result of chemo-therapy or medication side-effects or chronic pain — or even something considered “normal,” such as age-related cognitive decline?
  • Do the people you love fail to really understand your challenges, so their suggestions & nudges don’t really help (and sometimes make things more difficult)?
  • Is there a pet project languishing on a back burner for FAR too long, but you can’t seem to “make” yourself get to it – or can’t find the time to do it amid the distractions of life’s many competing to-dos?
  • Have you accepted the dumb idea that your real problem is chronic procrastination because you have heard it so often it simply must be true – as you continue to struggle on in some attempt to just-DO-it?
  • Do you LIVE with someone who constantly lets you down, despite their assertions that they never intend to do so? Would you LOVE to understand how to “motivate” them and keep them on task to completion – BEFORE you give in to your impulse to strangle them?
  • Is your home or office so cluttered you rarely have the motivation to clean and organize, as day slips into clutter-mounting day?

Do you need help
you don’t think you can afford?

Would you love to hire a Sherpa: a highly-experienced, systems-development professional at the TOP of the field, but can’t fit the fees for one-on-one private coaching into your budget?

IN OTHER WORDS:

Do you need a little brain-based coaching to get to the point where you can afford brain-based coaching?

Have I got a Group for YOU!

Read more of this post

N-24 Awareness Day is almost upon us


I wonder if I’ll be awake for it?
Don’t laugh – “days” are always a crapshoot

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Comorbidities and Sleep & Sleep Disorders Series

Even though I’m scurrying to finish everything I need to do to be able to announce Open Enrollment for the upcoming Group Coaching, I simply must take a bit of a break to let you know of something coming up in less than one week: N-24 Awareness Day.

An Explanation, not an excuse

In addition to my personal Challenges as THE ADD Poster Girl, anyone who knows me well at all knows about my life-long struggles as the result of a bodacious disorder of sleep TIMING.  (If you don’t you can read all about it in JetLagged for LIFE!)

If YOU or someone you love has been known to be “up all night,” sleeping away much of the day, put it on your must read list.

Depending on how closely you can relate, it just might change your life to learn what just might be going on.

Read more of this post

Beyond the Limitations of a Post-It Note™ Brain


 

TIME Perception is a factor of Awareness

The more conscious the process,
the longer it seems to take

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections post from the Time & Task Management Series
Part THREE (Part I HEREPart II HERE)

According to Dr. David Eagleman, we humans are more than passive observers where time is concerned. And he should know. The author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, has studied Time perception for well over a decade.

According to his research, we are not merely watching the river of time flow by as if time happened TO us, or we happened IN time. Science is learning that our brains are actively constructing time.

Re-engineering Brain Resources

In Eagleman’s words, It turns out that it has everything to do with novelty, and with how much energy your brain has to expend.

So, when you can predict something, not only does your consciousness not come online, but [the event] feels like it goes by very fast.

In other words, driving to work may seem relatively fast eventually. The first time you had to do it, however, it seemed to take longer because of the novelty, as well as the amount of brain-power you had to burn the first time you did it — before your brain was able to predict much of anything about the trip.

Essentially prediction means that if it’s something you’re doing repeatedly, you’re actually “rewiring” — reconfiguring the circuitry of the brain.

You’re actually moving things into your sub-conscious circuitry, which gives you speed and efficiency, albeit at the cost of conscious access.

So you have to pay a lot of conscious attention if you’re learning to do something new, like playing golf or driving a car.

After a while it’s not necessary, because you’ve changed the circuitry of your brain — no longer at the effect of the conscious awareness of what you’re doing.

Read more of this post

Sherlocking for Task Completion


Looking at the details
of any problem with follow-through

How do YOU need to proceed?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections post from the Time & Task Management Series
Part TWO (Part I HERE)

Follow my process as you Sherlock your own

As I continue to remind you: ONLY when we take the time to Sherlock the details of how and why we get stuck are we able to figure out what might work to help us get UNstuck!

And I promise you that it is RARELY as simple or straightforward as the self-help books might lead you to believe, neurotypical or otherwise.  Everything depends on how any particular task intersects with your particular Challenges Profile™.

As you examine some of the details of my own particular problem example below, think about some of the areas in your life that might look like one type of problem but are actually the result of something else entirely. 

The Leaning Tower of Crockery

Creative Commons, Wikipedia

Creative Commons, Wikipedia

There is no room for a dishwasher in my current apartment. I’m stuck with the task of washing everything by hand.  As much as I hate it, it’s nothing compared with the struggles I faced in my last apartment.

During a hateful period of several weeks there was a faucet drip, compounded by a sink-drainage problem for at least two.

During this particular period, it could take hours for the sink to drain completely. Increasingly powerful drain cleaners did little to clear the clog effectively. Water backed up in my kitchen sink and my dishes piled up unwashed while I waited for my landlady’s follow-through skills to kick in.

Since water in that particular first-floor dwelling always took several minutes of running before it approached a temperature anyone might consider warmish, the sink filled with cold water before I had a shot at getting water delivery hot enough to clean anything.

It made me increasingly furious to have to boil water like a pioneer before I could wash my dishes, so I stopped.  Cold.

Calming myself down

Getting my shorts in a knot about the drainage problem wasn’t going to make it go away. Emotional upset would only increase the difficulty of getting anything ELSE accomplished.  It made sense to stay busy elsewhere so I wasn’t constantly aware of the problem building in the kitchen.  Some distractions are actually helpful!

Except for nightly applications of drain cleaner and cleaning out the goop in the sink – a process that seemed to be undone by morning – I tried to avoid using the kitchen sink at all. I waited for my landlady to find and fix the problem, calling her every day or so with a reminder message. Day turned into day after day.

Even though the resulting mess was beyond hateful in many ways, and even though I could not FORCE myself to handle it “in real time,” waiting was more of a choice than a problem with procrastination.

Read more of this post

Predicting Time to Manage Tasks


Beating Back Task Anxiety

by understanding your relationship to TIME

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

What’s YOUR Tendency?

As regular readers already know, I tend to put my faith in what science crowd refers to as “anecdotal evidence”  — learning from what I have observed in my clients, myself, and what I have heard from thousands of ADDers who have attended conferences and participated in my support groups and workshops in the twenty five years I have been in the field.

As I expanded my evidence collection to include the experiences of the other citizens of Alphabet City (TBI, PTSD, OCD, EFD, AS, etc.), I began to mentally record their experiences as well, and factor them in to my techniques and theories.

When the science supports what I see in the population, I quote it.  When it doesn’t, I ignore it or argue with it. It makes no difference if 98 out of 100 people studied tend to do xyz if my client and I happen to be among the 2% who do abc.

It doesn’t matter.  Your job is the same either way: check your gut to see what makes the most sense to you and try it on.  Tweak from there. Check out another tool when something doesn’t work for you.

But hang on to the first!!  Just because you need a hammer NOW doesn’t mean you won’t need a lug-wrench later!

My take on Anecdotal

  • For years I struggled valiantly attempting to adopt “majority rules” norms — with little to no success and a lot of wasted life.
  • It took a long time for me to develop even a rudimentary feeling of entitlement to my own process, learning to close my ears to the words of the “experts” and neurotypical Doubting Thomases who kept telling me that I was only kidding myself or making excuses.

I coach, train and share here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com hoping to help others avoid some of the wilderness-wandering that has characterized much of my own life. And to remind myself of what I’ve learned.

Trying something different

I want to encourage you to find what works, not what is supposed to work

So, in the first part of this multi-part article, let’s take a look together at how people relate to time and tasks, and how that affects our ability to plan our schedules and run our lives.

Let’s examine the real stoppers to OUR forward progress to see if we can figure out how to work around them, independent of the “standard” assumptions and techniques – a process I refer to as Sherlocking.


Read more of this post

TIME to think about Group Coaching


Time Troubles and Coaching
For people who are “ALWAYS” running late and rushing around
— and the people who love them —
(who would like to understand how to change that sad fact)

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

BEFORE  I tell you about the upcoming start of an affordable new Coaching opportunity designed to help you with A-WHOLE-LOT-MORE than time-management, let’s take a moment to chat about time itself.

Time can be MANAGED?

For over a quarter of a century now, I have been fascinated with anything related to the topic of the awareness of the passage of time. It has always been a mystery to me – and I now know that I’m not the only one with that peculiar problem.

Personally, I can’t recall a time when time made sense, except in the context of NOW and not-now.

Even when I explain it to someone who thinks they understand, it seems that nobody gets the implications. I am frustrated beyond belief when they continue to ask me time-based questions.

My secret fascination with the mechanics of time’s awareness began long before I first learned that I seem to be one who was born without that internal tic-tic-tock with which most people DO seem to have been equipped, part of the standard package.

I’ve been told I can’t get one now, even as an after-market upgrade.

Oddly, I have a great sense of rhythm – which is time-based – so I can change time-ING, but predicting how long something will take or how long ago a life landmark occurred is always beyond me.

Back in my acting days, when I had to do a 30-second spot and I was over or under by a few seconds, I understood how to tweak the cadence to end “on time.” But I never could stay tracked attempting to “time” much of anything for much longer than a minute (or “time” a dance number — I simply stayed in step with the music until it stopped).

Are YOU one of the time challenged?

None of us know what we don’t know . . . so how can we frame a question another will understand? It seems like magic when others are able to manage something in arenas where we are totally at sea.

The best analogy I’ve been able to come up with for a lack of time-sense is that it’s like trying to teach the tone-deaf to sing.

Friends who aren’t able to sing on pitch can’t tell when they wander away from the tune, and I have never been able to help them learn to do so.  They simply can’t hear it.

Unlike those who can’t match a pitch, however, I always knew there was some “secret” that others knew and I didn’t (and therapists have had a field day with this, by the way – “Madelyn, I don’t have answers for you!”)

I simply couldn’t imagine how to frame a question beyond, “How do you DO that?” or “What am I missing?” – which, I suppose, seemed more like feigned ignorance or an unwillingness to take personal responsibility to others. So I stopped asking. I hated the look on their faces, even when their responses weren’t cruel, and even though I understood they didn’t MEAN to be cruel.

Making sense of a lack of sense

I found out that there was such a thing as “a sense of time” in the same article I found out about adult ADD, published years ago in the New York Times magazine section – Frank Wolkenberg’s now landmark, “Out of a Darkness.”  I was 38.

My reaction to that particular aha! was, “Well, NO WONDER every one else can get places on time — they’re cheating!” (as if “a sense of time” was like having an exam crib sheet stuffed up their sleeves.)

Once I understood that some inner chronometer allowed others to somehow feel that time was passing (and how much time was passing, for most of them), I understood immediately that I had to stop attempting to “figure it out” and focus on easy-to-set alarms (one to STOP, to get ready for the next thing, another to begin walking out the door — etc.) That’s how I did it — and how I have to do it still.

I found it fascinating to hear that some people LOST their sense of time following a head injury. I know it must be frustrating for them, but at least they know how to explain what’s missing — not that it helps others to understand what they’re talking about or the extent of the resulting struggle one whit better.

Related Post: Lessons from the TBI Community

Read more of this post

Attentional struggles? Not ME!


WANNA BET?
Check out a few of the Symptoms of Attentional Struggles

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from an article published June, 2011

NOT just for ADD

MANY people – not just those diagnosed with ADD/EFD (or anything else) – report challenges with procrastination, follow-through, time and transition management, recalling directions, names or what they said they would do, keeping the bills paid on time, beating back the clutter, keeping on top of the laundry or the filing or the mail — or effectively handling any number of pile-ups of house, garage and lawn chores.

More than a few struggle to have much of a life beyond the all-too-familiar “mess it up, clean it up” cycle — in any one of a host of arenas.

DID YOU KNOW that fluctuations in your ability to manage the Attending system are at the root of every single one of them?

Not necessarily diagnostic

If YOU have even more than a few of the characteristics listed in this article, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have diagnostic ADD – or any of the bona-fide Executive Functioning disorders.

It DOES indicate that you’re juggling more balls than you can manage at one time, and one or more of the The Dynamics of Attending is suffering for it.

Room at my Table

I’d like to invite the rest of you to allow yourselves to benefit from the coping techniques I developed for the ADD community over the past 25+ years.

Whichever camp you belong to, ADD/EFD, “Senior Moment” tripsters, or CrazyBusy, I’m fairly certain you will find that employing a few ADD Coaching techniques will help you become more intentional with your attending, life will become a whole lot easier to manage, and your friends and loved ones will be much happier with the way you relate to THEM.

Looking through The ADD Lens™

I have found the idea of looking at things through The ADD Lens™ extremely helpful. In other words, looking at your functioning challenges as if they were a result of Attention Deficit Disorder.

If Challenges like any of those below (or their kissing cousins) keep you from getting things done, pretend you do have ADD/EFD and start to utilize a few of the techniques that have been found to work with people who have been diagnosed with ADD:

See if looking at yourself through The ADD Lens™as if you had full-blown, diagnostic ADD/EFD – gives you a way to approach areas of prior difficulty in a way that you can handle them successfully.

In The Journey toward Optimal Functioning™, we must give ourselves permission to utilize any trick, tool or technique that will help us to achieve it.
Read more of this post

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!

Read more of this post

Are Internet Marketers Today’s Smarmy Used-Car Salesmen?


I used to LOVE “Related Content”
(but SELDOM when a link took me to a Internet Marketer!)

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

Community building on the internet

I am one of those rare readers who actually investigates Related Content links on the articles of the blogs I follow, time permitting.

I also spend a great deal of my time looking for posts that I can link as Related Content to the ones I write myself.  I like to imagine that readers who have the time and inclination might be interested in delving deeper into a particular subject than even my general preference for long-form articles can provide.

I am aware that only a very small number will actually click the links I provide at the bottom of most of my posts, but the readers who do have let me know that they find them interesting and valuable.  In addition to catching up with older content they missed on ADDandSoMuchMORE.com, many have found new blogs and bloggers to follow. Others have developed new bloggy friendships as a result.  I know I have. The sharing is one of the things I love about the blogging community.

HOWEVER, the rapid proliferation of Internet Marketing and over-emphasis on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has not only made it increasingly difficult to locate content I am willing to pass along, it is starting to make me wary of clicking the links I stumble across on my journeys ’round the ‘net.

Like misbehaving toddlers, more and more bloggers seem willing to attempt whatever they think will work to FORCE our attention to what they have to sell to us any time the faintest opportunity enters their SEO increase-sales-obsessed “brains.”  They make me crazy(er), and just might chase me off the internet eventually.

I do NOT heart email fishing forms

This is not the first post in which I have ranted about how terribly rude and distracting I find pop-ups, slide-overs, and those hyperactive-three-year-old wiggling-jiggling “look here” means of advertising to me.

Yes, I understand that bloggers want to – as the “gurus” say – insert a call-to-action that might allow them a bit of remuneration for the immense amount of time they spend on the content they share.  That seems fair.

I get it that a great many authors write blogs to entice people into buying their books, or that off-site storage companies, for example, might host “organize your stuff” blogs.  That’s okay by me too.

I have no problem with the concept, and I have found some of those blogs to be filled with information that is useful or intellectually compelling. I’ve even been motivated to fork over a few hard-earned shekels on some of those sites.

My quarrel is with the methods of the others.

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

Read more of this post

How to STOP chasing your tail


Changing your approach to
Productivity
Help for Activation, Hyperfocus & Scattered Energy

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An article in the Org&Task Series

The Problem with Planning

We’d be nuts to believe that we could carefully plan every minute of every day and that life would line right up with the plan.

For one thing, activities always seem to take longer than we mean for them to take. In addition, a great many other items intrude – including some that cannot be put off.

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

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

We need to do it another way

Coming back from my difficulties of the past two years, I am working diligently to [re]teach myself that listing 1 to 3 things in most of the currently active/important areas of my life – not thinking of them as things “to-do” but more “to keep in mind” – is extremely helpful to jumpstart my overall productivity.

My [no more than] 3 Item Overview has always helped me keep these items at the front of my mind – even if they aren’t addressed and accomplished every single day (or week!)

In addition, I always handle more than I anticipated doing on any particular day – every single day. I find it useful to write those items in my datebook and cross them off (as if they’d been there all along and I am the master of intentionality and productivity!)

It’s what I refer to as my backwards to-do list.

Seriously, that little trick helps to remind me, when I beat myself up about delaying the start of certain projects, that I’m not sitting around doing nothing all day – eating bon-bons or worse.  It also lets me become conscious about the areas where I spend the most time.

I highly recommend it.  You certainly don’t think you’re likely to remember what you’ve done if you do NOT write it down, do you?  Besides, it’s incredibly motivating.

Yet if you don’t write these things IN your datebook you are not very likely to be able to find the scraps of paper where you did write them down at the time you need some additional motivation.

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

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

ADDing to Subtract


How much change can you tolerate
before you STOP trying to cope?

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Intentionality Series

We HATE to give things up

Have you ever tried to convince a kid to give away a toy – even a toy s/he no longer plays with and, truth to tell, never cared much for in the first place?

Most kids will take quite a bit of convincing, and some will throw a fit and refuse.

Truly clever Moms and Dads replace the toy with something new – putting the emphasis on what their kids are getting rather than what they are giving up.

And most parents who follow the “one-in/one-out” rule figure out very quickly that the swap needs to be agreed upon UP FRONT.

If they can get the child to fork over the old toy before they receive the new one, so much the better.

An Overwhelmed Brain says NO!

Have you ever allowed yourself to get in over your head?  In your home, for example, have things ever gotten so messy that you begin to doubt your ability to ever clean it up?

I refer to it as being “over my limit.”  Finding myself over my limit happens to me regularly.

  • It happens every single time I move to a new home, for example, or the times I’ve been too sick to have the energy to do much beyond making it to the kitchen or the bathroom and back to bed.
  • It also happens during (and following) any period where the serious illness of a close friend or family member shifts my priorities.
  • Things seem to get worse every day.

Suddenly – or so it seems – I can’t cope any more.  EVERYTHING seems to be everywhere.  I can’t see the items for the clutter, and life becomes a scavenger hunt of epic proportions.

The professional organizers would probably tell me to start pitching things left and right to “clear out the clutter” – but which things?

What the neurotypical never seem to understand is that overwhelm shuts down our capacity to make effective decisions.

  • I don’t know about you, but the few times I’ve allowed myself to be pushed to toss against my better judgment have ended badly.
  • In a couple of cases, it took me months to jump through the hoops to replace something I’d tossed that I actually needed – and that’s after I’d spent a great deal of time looking for it.
  • As I grow older, I am less and less willing to throw those months under the neatness bus!  Especially since I’ve learned the hard way that “neat” and “organized” are two completely different things.  I’ll bet you have too.

Fear of Tossing?

No, I haven’t developed “fear of tossing” as a result, like some of my clients, but I HAVE learned not to jump in pitching when I’m overwhelmed.

And I’ll bet you have too – whether it is the result of a conscious decision or merely what looks like intractability to anyone watching.

  • What’s the worst thing that could happen? they ask, in their ignorance.
  • Are you kidding?  I’m barely hanging on NOW – my goose is cooked if things get worse.

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

Read more of this post

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?

Read more of this post

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
Read more of this post

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!

 

Read more of this post

Supercharge To-Do List Functionality


Gettin’ UP and Gettin’ Going – Part IV

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

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

click image for source

click image for source

The Trouble with Lists

How many lists have YOU made in your lifetime?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Medication can help, but not by itself
2. Avoid shoulds and should-ers – and know why you must
3. Write it down, write it down, write it down
4. Distinguish Task Anxiety and begin there
5. Feed your head
6. Go like Glenda
7. Stay off the Slide
8. Best breathing for best focus

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

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

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

10. RATE IT – both before and after

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

Okay – lets get right back to it!

Read more of this post

Lead us Not into Temptation


Gettin’ UP and Gettin’ Going – Part III

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

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

click images for source

click images for sources

FREE CHEESE!
always available
in mousetraps.

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

There are always consequences.

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

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

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

1. Medication can help, but not by itself
2. Avoid shoulds and should-ers – and know why you must
3. Write it down, write it down, write it down
4. Distinguish Task Anxiety and begin there
5. Feed your head
6. Go like Glenda

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

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

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

Before we conclude with:
* Cross it off, cross it off, cross it off
* RATE IT – both before and after

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

Okay – lets get right back to it!

Read more of this post

“Laziness” Vaccinations


Gettin’ UP and Gettin’ Going – Part II

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

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

click image for source

click images for sources

Activation Tips #4, 5 and 6

Let’s begin with a very short review.

In Part I of this article, discussing the first three of Top Ten Tips to Combat “Laziness,” I began with gratitude that “Terminal Laziness Disorder” didn’t really exist . . .

. . . FOLLOWED IMMEDIATELY by mild dismay at the dearth of understanding about the impact of ACTIVATION struggles (vs. motivation), and consternation, actually, that there is even less practical advice to help those of us who struggle with activation to rise above it.

I enumerated ten relatively easy things I was going to share — ten things that I have discovered that, taken together, have made a BIG difference in my own ability to get up and get going (including the ones that have worked most effectively in the lives of my clients).

Before moving on to the first of those “tips,” I also urged everyone to read or review the earlier articles on Activation  (and still do).

If you can motivate your loved ones to read them too, so much the better. Their understanding and support will make a significant difference in helping you avoid the black and white thinking trap that will slow you down to a crawl.

I want you to be able to understand a bit about the source of Activation struggles so that it will make sense to you to TRY some of the tips (and because it will help your loved ones better support you in a manner that doesn’t inadvertently make things more difficult).

Click below to check out:

Seriously!  Whether anybody in your universe reads anything at all, if you don’t understand WHY you’re doing what you are doing (or NOT doing whatever it is you’re not doing), you will probably balk at trying any of these suggestions.

And that would be a crying shame.

Because if you’d take some time to read a bit (and try on a few of these suggestions), you would probably be surprised at how quickly these deceptively simple suggestions work and how much easier working through your to-do list becomes every day that you use them.

By this time next month your life-stopping struggles with activation could be largely a thing of the past, with just a little bit of fairly consistent attention to cultivating a couple of relatively easy habits. Whenever kludgy activation does threaten to trip you up again, you’ll know JUST what you need to do to start your own engines (and knowledgeable family members and loved ones will understand what NOT to do!)

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

1. Medication can help, but not by itself
2. Avoid shoulds and should-ers – and know why you must
3. Write it down, write it down, write it down

(If you’d like to read Part one, you will find it HERE.)

NOW we’re going to take a look at:

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

Before we move on to handle:

* Stay off the Slide
* Best breathing for best focus
* Cross it off, cross it off, cross it off
* RATE IT – both before and after

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

Okay – lets get back to it!

Read more of this post

Top Ten Tips to Combat “Laziness”


Gettin’ UP and Gettin’ Going – Part I

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

Terminal Laziness Disorder?

couch_slouch

© Phillip Martin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Volitional control

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

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

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

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

How Come?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RELATED Post: Changing a Habit to change you LIFE!

Read more of this post

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!
Read more of this post

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!
Read more of this post

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

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: