A few months ago my ADHD brain was overwhelmed. I was struggling to organize, or even remember, all the tasks I had to complete. This was not an unfamiliar feeling. In fact, it was something I have dealt with my entire life. But without a reliable system for transferring thoughts from my head to a place where I could see them, I was constantly spinning my wheels. Frustrated by my inability to remember conversations, solutions to problems, and useful ideas, the constant battle to stay on task reached its tipping point one day in the office. Teddy, sensing my vexation, walked over to the bookshelf and threw me the book Getting Things Done, by David Allen. He instructed me to hold all appointments, intros, and meetings until I had a handle on my workload.
I immediately headed home and ripped through the pages. After about an hour of reading, the embarrassingly simple solution leaped out from the pages and smacked me upside my hard head. It is critical for someone with a brain that functions like mine to develop a system for immediate transfer of thoughts from my head to a document or notebook where I can later revisit and organize them before they disappear into the abyss.
Now I carry a notebook in my back pocket at all times. My friends, busting my chops, have dubbed it my passport. But the notebook works. Its sole purpose is capturing information until I am ready to do something with it.
Gone are the days of pulling my hair out trying to remember something I’m supposed to do. I no longer have to rack my brain to call to mind a conversation I had with a client or search for the solution to a problem that came to me as I walked to the office. Creating a place for all the information I need to keep track of, whether it pertains to work, errands I need to run, or the weight of my front squat that day, allays the once persistent anxiety associated with my lack of recall, and sets me up for success.
Now, once I have written a task down, I take steps towards completing it. I think it through; talk through the necessary steps with Teddy, Peter, Hannah and Joe; break it into actionable segments; generate a list of supplies and resources to accomplish the task; establish a timeline; start the first segment; set calendar reminders for each segment through completion.
In today’s world, this system, coupled with a program like Remember The Milk, benefits people both with and without ADHD. It is increasingly easy to get lost in the incessant stream of information spewing from the internet, social networking sites, twenty-four-hour media and the like. Employing a simple, dare I say old school, method like keeping a notebook to write down the important information allows one to stay afloat in the daily deluge of data. By providing a means for processing and organizing it all, this system will not only help you maintain your sanity, but it will empower you stay on task and boost your productivity.
You can also use journaling to stay on track through the holidays. A journal is a great tool for accountability. Writing down what you eat, and documenting your workouts, will keep you focused and prevent you from losing sight of your goals.
What systems do you use to boost productivity?