I don’t have ADHD or ADD, but I know a lot about it. That’s because I cover health news for a living. Although having this blog has taught me a lot about it too. Turns out a lot of the tips that I’ve given through the years are particularly useful to people with ADHD and other attention issues and they’ve reached out to me about it. It’s true — I struggle with distractions too and have systems to cope.
Recently I listened to Peter Shankman’s webinar on how to be productive when you have ADD. If you don’t know of him, Shankman is a public relations and marketing expert who has written three books including “Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over–and Collaboration Is In.” He also created HARO (Help a Reporter Out) which is a journalism tool I use daily. And he also has ADHD and travels all over the world regularly. So there are a lot of amazing sights that catch his eye throughout the day!
So I was pretty excited when I listen to his webinar and I discovered that he and I agreed on a lot of thing. Many of his top tips are things I’ve written about before on this blog.
Here’s a list of my top tips, now with the Shankman Seal of Approval:
Cut down on decisions – We often think that the more choices we have the better. But is that really what’s best for us? There’s a concept called decision fatigue – the central premise being that the more decisions we make the less likely we are to make good decisions. Shankman recommends following the same routine everyday. Waking up at the same time everyday, eating the same thing for breakfast — it becomes second nature and means you can focus on more important things.
Plan the night before – Every day, when I’m nearly finished with work I create a “roadmap” for the following day. I’ve stolen the idea from my time as a live news producer. We always have a rundown to keep us on track during a live show. Your work day should run the same way.
Having this roadmap means I can hit the ground running and everything goes so much smoother when I get in the following morning. Shankman also likes to plan the night before so he feels less pressured the following day.
Make a deadline for everything – I’m a huge procrastinator. The only way I actually get anything done at work is because television has really strict deadlines so I’ve learned to use that strategy in everything I do. Serious time constraints are the only thing that can pull me out of my procrastinator ways. Both Shankman and I agree that if you have a task with no deadline, make one! Otherwise you’ll never get it done.
Go for a walk – It’s one of my top productivity tips! I mention it at every chance I get, because just that little burst of exercise can do you so much good. Writing and walking use similar parts of our brain. When we walk, we are surveying the world around us and constructing a mental map. This mental exercise can help us to organize our thoughts and come up with a plan of action. Shankman also suggests taking a few deep breaths before you come in the door at home from a long day at work. It gives you a few minutes to reset and get into “home mode.”
Get an assistant – Not everyone can afford an assistant. But once you discover the miracle of outsourcing you can never go back! Try TaskRabbit.com, their assistants can do everything for you like making appointments, putting together Ikea furniture or picking up groceries and laundry. If you can afford an assistant, Shankman suggests getting someone who is great at everything you’re terrible at.