One of the hardest things for a person with ADD to do is to “get” and “stay” productive.
Remember the ADD brain is on overload. It doesn’t always know how to filter important stimuli from all of the rest distractions. The result? You can’t pay appropriate attention to anything!
Understanding that concept gives you further insight into why productivity is often very difficult for a person with ADD to achieve and maintain.
But is it entirely possible for you to be overwhelmed with your “TO DO” list and still get things done in an efficient manner.
How do you do that? In his book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, author David Allen, says that we stress ourselves out to the extent that everything seems like an urgent matter, and in the wake of fretting about all o fit, we end up getting very little done!
Add to that our ADD organizational weaknesses, and you have a fine mess on your hands!
David Allen maintains that even those of us with the worst organizational abilities can find new ways of getting things done. In fact, he believes that it is possible for us to be productive and relaxed at the same time.
Sounds to good to be true, doesn’t it?
Allen first suggests that you take an inventory of your life.
What do you value most? Time with your family? A job well done? Free time?
Whatever it is, he says that this will give you an edge to deciding how to go about getting your life organized.
In other words, when you realize what is the most important to you, you begin to see tasks differently.
You are better able to determine what is keeping you from doing what you value most and you can find a way to change.
He has devised the “five stages of mastering workflow” to help you get started:
For this article, let’s talk about the first stage.
What are all of the things that demand our attention?
For most of us, the list seems to never end. But it is important to know how to collect those things in order to process them and begin to get some sort of hold on them.
First, try to define what items on your “To Do” list require some sort of action – i.e., emails, letters, etc.
These are “incomplete” items that take up a lot of worry space in your brain and can actually keep you from moving ahead because you are too overwhelmed to do anything!
In order to manage what he calls “incompletes,” you will need a collection process.
A collection process is merely a way to organize these items into a system that resides outside of your brain. This includes both low- and high-tech tools such as:
Paper Calendars: to put items that require attention by a certain time
Paper and Pads: notebooks, pads, spiral notebooks, etc. to help you keep “To Do” lists, random ideas, shopping lists
In-Baskets: easy and basic way to “sort” your items into a system that makes sense to you (i.e., a basket or tray for bills, letters that need a response, phone calls, etc.)
Electronic Note-Taking: the computer, PDA, your phone
Auditory Capture: perhaps by using a voice recorder on your phone or a handheld microcassette recorder
E-mail: to send yourself a reminder, organize your emails for responding, etc.
Whatever you use, the most important thing to remember is that you MUST get all of this information out of your head and somewhere externally.
And don’t let your system become so elaborate that it is nonfunctional. Too many in-baskets, for example, will tend to cause you to become even slower in your productivity.
The other factor in collecting is to make sure you empty your “buckets” of items on a regular basis.
You need not finish everything to “empty” it, but you do need to look at an item, decide what needs to be done, and then either do it or decide what action needs to be taken.