I’m pretty annoying, but I’m also incredibly self-aware.
I annoy myself. Every time I inch forward and make progress in business, or you know, life, I do something to sabotage myself and everything comes crashing down.
I’ve always been this way. I used to just think I was a bit slow and resigned myself to getting by on my limited talents. I could waste hours just sitting like a switched off robot with barely anything resembling a cogent thought registering in my brain, 3rd eye permanently engaged.
Turns out I have a thing that makes my brain behave this way, and it’s called Attention Deficit Disorder (not the hyper one, I’m far from hyper). On top of this, I discovered through the same Educational Psychologist test that I am dyslexic and have poor auditory functioning, but, I also have a higher than average IQ.
This was quite the discovery and turned what I thought I knew about myself on its head. I was no longer ‘slow’, I had a thing that made my brain behave this way, which meant if I could find tools to help manage it, I could actually be quite smart. Suddenly I was excited at the possibilities and set out to harness the creativity that comes with my thing.
I discovered that by using a green overlay when reading a book, I could focus on the words and read chapters at a time, rather than 1 sentence over and over again until the words physically got up and walked off the page.
I started to use audio recording devices in my job so all the stuff I missed in meetings through my brain switching off and my ears healing over could be listened to again and I could stop filling in the gaps with what I thought might have been said.
I planned out work using mind mapping programs which allowed me to avoid the frustration of trying to get my ideas in some sort of order.
I was like a new person.
However, I am yet to discover a tool to manage the brain shut-down, other than medication, which I haven’t plumped for yet. You see when I’m in it, I know I’m in it, but it’s like I can’t shake it, it’s like I’m wading through thickening mud. An onlooker in my own life. I am currently enjoying a fog free few days, but I know it’s temporary and the fog will be back, so I must be as productive as I can be right now, and kind to myself when it returns.
Also, having realised my abilities, I now find myself trying to stem an outpouring of ideas and visions and plans that have been squashed under a boulder for near on 30 years. And like a computer with too many tabs open, I find it all a bit overwhelming sometimes, and then I revert back to old habits, put off doing jobs that I absolutely should be doing because the deadline is looming and I’m going to get grief if I don’t do it.
But I still don’t.
The killer combo of brain farts I deal with is more than just being distracted by shiny objects. It’s more than switching off in a meeting. It’s more than not liking to use the telephone. This impacts on everything, my work, my self-confidence and my relationships. I use practical tools to manage the productivity and focus, and I use being kind to myself for the rest.
I can’t help you be kind to yourself, but I can share some of the tools I use for getting productive and hopefully, limiting the distractions. If they work for me, they have to work for normal folk right?
Create an accountability group: a small group of people who are willing to keep you accountable for the jobs you need to get done. And keep it small because you don’t want the distraction of hundreds of WhatsApp messages coming through all day. I am currently in a group with 2 other people who have similar business goals to me. We check in first thing and simply state what one job we will complete that day, a job that will move us closer to our goals. The following day we check in to say we have completed that job, and what state what our next job is.
Use tools that work for you: I’ve tried all sorts of different productivity software and apps, but keep coming back to the same ones. I use Google Calendar, synced across devices. I use Notes to keep ideas and things jotted down, again synced across devices. I use Penzu, a journaling app that reminds me every day to write. I use Grammarly to make sure my dyslexia doesn’t sabotage my writing.
Use scheduling apps for social media and schedule time for social media, networking, responding to messages etc. If I am feeling particularly foggy or like I could be easily distracted, I’ll remove Facebook from my phone for a while. A lot of my business is on social media, but that doesn’t mean I have to respond to everything immediately. Block out social media time in your calendar or diary, and commit to only looking outside of those times if it’s necessary to your work.
I would love to know if any of these work for you. Feel free to share any apps, tools, software or practical advice you have on dealing with ADD and Dyslexia, and tools for managing focus and productivity.