Five ways I get things done with ADD

I live my life in bursts: work and play, schedule and spontaneity.  With a simple framework, I am at my best in this variety. It engages my heart and intellect in every way. Colors are vibrant. Neurons fire. Things connect. I am productive. I am in the zone. 

I have a few major themes I attack with focus, but good luck trying to crack the code of my rhythm. Because, it changes. For better. And worse. Some days, I feel on top of the world, other times, I feel crushed by it. And, that's where the reality of my "variety wiring" (or ADD depending on how you look at it) works against me. 

Let me be honest. Even though I'm passionate, fulfilled and "successful," my personal mode of operation isn't the easiest to embrace with confidence. Many days I feel "less than" because I'm not writing every day, working out every morning, doing laundry every Tuesday, waking at 6AM to journal, returning emails between 2 and 4, eating only in season fruits and vegetables of the earth and nothing out of a box ... well, you get the idea. 

As I look for examples how to manage my work, relationships, commitments and health in my own personal reality, popular advice from successful experts and people I look up to regularly point me to ongoing disciplined regimens. I am jealous of people who can function like that. They're machines! I get discouraged because. I. Can. Not. Function. Like. That. It's like asking a monkey to be a android. 

It's refreshing to read about successful habits from a different perspective

"The longer I made my chain, the more pressure I put on myself not to break it. That’s the idea right? And it worked. But I needed to break the chain eventually. And the mounting pressure not to break the chain was causing stress." Nathan Barry

So, yes. You've got to stick with something long enough to get something done. But, it does not have to be exact and unchanging. It can be agile and fluid. 

Even if I never unlock "machine" status, I can still slay. Monkeys can get stuff done, too. 

  1. DAY. Creating, organizing, curating and absorbing are different tasks that require different types of focus and energy. I time block my day to give them the undivided attention they deserve for my best work - even if it's only for 30 minutes at a time.
  2. WEEK. I time block my week depending on travel schedule, family commitments, project deadlines and even my mood. Some weeks, I'll have four days of work and three days of play and other weeks I'll have five days of play and two days of work. I may pull an all nighter and I may put in a two-hour workday. At a glance, it may look haphazard. But, look at how I spend my time over the course of a month, and you'll see my time is distributed between work, rest, relationships and play. 
  3. QUARTER. I look ahead to big goals, events or challenges four times a year. It keeps me tethered to primary values by making space for things that take time to plan and achieve (e.g., fitness goal, learn a new skill, find a new place to volunteer in my community, organize a unique family experience, write a new work, etc.). I keep these goals in front of me where I can see them. 
  4. YEAR. I believe in reviewing my game films (especially the health, work and relationship episodes). I time block at least two spots a year to go to a new coffee shop and evaluate all my activity. If something isn't yielding the results I'm aiming for (internally or externally), I'll address it. Sometimes, what's "off" may require a radical change. Other times, it may only require a small adjustment. And, what if things are working the way they're supposed to? Well, that just calls for celebration. When I AM on track, I need to own that, too! 
  5. LIFE. In all of this, the most important thing I've learned overall is to give myself permission to change my mind. I'm not a fan of abusing the freedom to "reset" or "eject" on a whim, but I do believe in pursuing new routes with new information. When I say yes to a new thing, it doesn't mean  I'm failing the old thing.  
“Commit to your goal with everything you have—for a season.”  - Nathan Barry