Routines and Habits: Yes You Can

Baby Steps and ADHDIn my article, “Decisions, One of the Hardest Things You Do,” I described the amazing power of routines, habits and systems to reduce the decisions you make.  Making decisions is hard work, and adults with ADHD struggle to make decisions more than most.  Replacing decisions with routines gives you more energy.  But, I often hear new clients (or people who’d love to be my clients, if they only believed it would work for them) say they can’t develop routines, systems or habits.

If You Think You Can’t

I choose my clients carefully.  If you can’t imagine at least a tiny light at the end of a long tunnel, even the best coach in the world can’t help.  You don’t need to believe in your unfailing ability to make your dreams come true.  As an adult with ADHD, you’ve faced too many setbacks and fruitless struggles to have absolute faith, either in yourself, or in anyone who says they can help you achieve what you haven’t been able to on your own.

When I first meet a client, I often hear a familiar story.  Imagine Stan calls to inquire about coaching for his ADHD.  Even though he’s not happy, Stan works in the same job he’s had for years (or if he’s lost his job, probably not for the first time, he works in the same career) and he doesn’t like it.  It takes all his time and energy.  He leaves the office late, so tired he can only collapse in front of the TV, lacking energy to engage with friends or family, and he crawls out of bed the next morning to do it again.

When I tell Stan I work with Creative Geniuses, adults with ADHD who are bright, creative and ambitious, I hear Stan snort and I know he’s checking if he dialed the right number.  Stan remembers being like that, but no longer.  I want to encourage Stan, but encouragement isn’t enough unless he can find at least a nugget of self-confidence, a belief in the possibility that things could get better.

What does this have to do with routines, habits and systems?

Duane, my husband, an adult with ADHD (and my guinea pig), felt trapped in his life too.  He believed he couldn’t develop routines or change his habits.  But our lives are controlled almost entirely by routines and habits.  Duane wanted to be an artist, but he didn’t have time to draw or paint.  His job took all his time and energy, condemning him to an unfulfilling life.

And although Stan is unhappy, he’ll stick to his routine.  If he loses his job, he’ll find a similar job.  He watches TV out of habit.  Though he’s convinced he cannot develop routines and habits, routines and habits (that he created!) gave him the life he wants to escape!

Ironically, routines and habits provide the fastest route to create the life you want.  Duane’s poor impulse control and attempts to self-medicate (common in ADHD adults) led to an unhealthy lifestyle.  Duane was more than 100 lbs. overweight, smoked two packs a day and never exercised on purpose!  Every attempt to change his life (quitting smoking, crash diets, joining a gym) ended in failure.

You create your new life, whether you change your health, your career, your relationships, or all of the above, by developing routines and habits that guide you gently in a new direction.  When you give your life a drastic makeover, you lose your existing routines and habits.  But since you actually do want to get rid of them, who’d suspect there’s anything wrong with that?  The problem is that without existing routine and habits, you have nowhere to anchor new ones.

Baby Steps Will Get You There

Rather than changing his lifestyle all at once, Duane took baby steps, anchoring new routines and habits to the existing ones.  True story; to begin exercising, Duane decided to walk around the block each time he went outside for a cigarette!  It’s far easier to develop a new habit by anchoring it to an existing one, even if you know the anchor habit will eventually disappear.  Today, Duane no longer smokes; he exercises regularly, and has lost over 100 lbs. (and has kept it off for more than 10 years.)

This approach is guaranteed to work, but when Duane goes from morbidly obese and smoking two packs a day to a healthy lifestyle within one paragraph, you might think the changes took as long to make as they do to describe.  It didn’t, and you can’t instantaneously duplicate those results in your own life.

You can take the first step, but it’s the beginning.  Beginning is fantastic, amazing, beautiful, even magical, but no matter how your beginning turns out, you need courage to take the next step once that first step works (or doesn’t.)  Some steps will fail.  Perseverance matters more than any one event.

I am picky choosing my clients because beginning is not a magic ticket to freedom.  That first step is the tip of the iceberg.  And unless you can imagine that light at the end of the tunnel, you probably won’t try.  And if you do try and it doesn’t work (and by “work,” I mean getting you 100% of the way there) you’ll quit.

Instead, you’ll keep your job (until you can’t anymore), you won’t have time and you won’t enjoy your life… but you’ll accept it because you everyone says you should be grateful for what you have.  You fall for, “You need to face reality.”  But “reality” is a lie.  If you don’t get what you want, it’s because you believe it’s impossible, and if you get what you want, it’s because you start, even though you know it’s impossible, and you keep at it even though you know it won’t work, until one day you look around and realize, you did it.  When I choose a client, it’s someone who’s ready to start even knowing it’s impossible.  When we work together, you’ll be surprised just how far we can get.

Decisions, One of the Hardest Things You Do

One of the hardest activities you’ll undertake today is making decisions.  As our society becomes ever more crowded with options, and information about those options, the number of decisions we make, and complexity of the analysis required in making those decisions seems to grow daily.  Making decisions is hard work.  No wonder you’re tired at the end of the day.

Tim Ferriss, author of “The Four Hour Workweek,” theorizes that we all start the day with the ability to make a certain number of decisions, and that once you’ve reached your limit, whatever it is for you, the remaining decisions you make will be less than optimal.  You’ll be tired, less creative, cognitively impaired.  To use a modern metaphor, you have limited bandwidth, and each decision takes up some of that bandwidth.  Once it’s used up, you won’t have enough remaining bandwidth to pursue big dreams.

Some people have a greater-than-average capacity for decision making, just as some people have a natural advantage in certain sports.  Of course, others have a lower decision-making capacity.  Perhaps ADHD lowers your decision-limit.  You can still make decisions, but the more decisions you make, the more likely the quality of your decisions will suffer.

Save Your Decisions for Things That Are Important

If you have a limited number of decisions you can make easily and correctly each day, it makes sense to save your decisions for things that are important to you.  While eliminating frivolous decisions can benefit anyone, if you have ADHD, reducing the number of decisions you make unnecessarily gives a bigger pay-off.  This is why rituals, routines and systems are so powerful for adults with ADHD.

Develop Routines In Lieu of Decisions

Developing routines eliminates daily decisions by making them once rather than repeatedly.  Save your energy and your creative genius for decisions that count.  If each day you debate over going to the gym, you waste energy and some of those limited decisions you can make each day.  If instead, you decide (just once) you’ll go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you’ve eliminated three decisions per week.

Michael Phelps, the Olympic champion swimmer who happens to have ADHD, was born with bigger lungs than 99.9% of the population.  Some people are born better swimmers; perhaps some are born with more decision-making capacity.  But just as we are not all capable of Michael Phelps exploits in the water, we can’t all be gifted in decision making.

Systems Eliminate Unnecessary Decisions

Automating or systemizing activities to eliminate unnecessary decisions pays off big-time.  The rewards for adults with ADHD are extraordinary.  After all, if your goal was to cross the river but you could not swim, you would benefit far more from a canoe than Michael Phelps, who could dive in and be on the other side before you had your life jacket on!

If it can’t be automated, can you create a ritual or routine around it?  Do you decide each morning to brush your teeth?  Or do you do it automatically?  These are simple examples of an extremely powerful strategy, just one of the powerful strategies you’ll implement in your own life in the Maximum Productivity Makeover.

Eliminate Overwhelm

Many adults with ADHD overwhelmed by the decisions they need to make every day often despair because their efforts to create routines and systems have failed.  They tell me they’d love to become more productive by creating systems, routines and habits (and thus eliminating energy-draining decisions), but all their past efforts have come to naught.  In fact, they’re convinced this strategy can’t work for them.  Well, I have good news about that…

Stay tuned, because in my next article, “Routines and Habits: Yes You Can,” I’ll share some of the secrets adults with ADHD can use to establish routines and habits (even if you’re absolutely convinced it’s impossible for you!)

ADHD and Goals: Forest vs. Trees!

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You’ve heard the expression, “You can’t see the forest for the trees?”  Some people get bogged down in details, focusing on the “trees” and losing sight of the bigger picture, the “forest”.  But this is rarely an Creative Genius trait.

“Forest” Thinkers

I’ve long remarked that most Creative Geniuses are “forest”, or “big picture” thinkers.  You are visionary, with an ability to clearly see your dreams and what they’ll look like and what it’ll be like when you experience your dreams realized.  (Some of you may have lost this ability, or rather, you’ve lost the desire to indulge in your ability to imagine a fantastic future because repeated failure has beaten down your motivation and your belief in the possibility of a better future, but you likely still have that ability, and you can recover.)

A clear vision is very powerful for staying motivated, even against great odds and obstacles.  It’s also essential when leading others.  A clear and exciting vision and the passion and talent to share that with others is powerful for motivating others to join you in achieving your dream.  That’s why many Creative Geniuses with ADHD become successful entrepreneurs.

One of the frequent challenges faced by visionaries, however, is that you might never make progress toward realizing your vision.  It’s not much help to have a great dream if you never make it out of the starting gate.  Goals must be set and steps must be taken.  (It’s a lovely forest, but you’ve still got to deal with those trees!)

“Tree” Thinkers

If you’re not a big picture thinker, you usually think of goals in concrete steps.  When you have a dream, you think, not of the big picture, but of the goals or steps you’ll need to take to realize your dream.  “Tree” or concrete step thinkers are more likely to take action than big picture thinkers, especially when something is new, difficult or complicated.  However, if (or should I say when, since you surely will face challenges when you have big dreams and ambitious goals), you hit a snag, you are more likely to lose your motivation.

If every time you deal with a tree, you’re faced with another tree, it’s easy to forget, not only about the forest, but about the beautiful cabin by the pristine lake waiting for you on the other side of that forest.

The Best Approach

The best approach to reaching ambitious goals according to research is a combined approach of the big picture view to motivate you and others with a step-by-step process to getting there. When I read about this research recently, it confirmed what we have been preaching for six years in Succeed in a FLASH, one of the six modules of The Maximum Productivity Makeover. Of course, we don’t just recommend it, we coach you into adopting both approaches.

Adults with ADHD often struggle to shift back and forth between the two approaches.  Many prefer the “forest” approach, while others, having experienced numerous failures, get stuck in the “trees”, constantly analyzing each step and ruminating over everything that could possibly go wrong.  Neither makes much progress.  How can you, an adult with ADHD successfully combine the two?

What Can You Do?

If you’re a tree thinker, sit down and imagine what things will be like when your dream is realized.  What will you see? How will you feel? Engage all your senses… If it’s relevant, imagine even what you will smell.  How will your life be different once you’ve achieved this goal?  In other words, why is this important to you?  Once you’ve created a clear picture in your mind’s eye of the successful outcome, create a way to revisit this regularly.  You can create a vision board, find a song that represents for you the way you feel when you’ve reached your goal and play that song to recreate the feeling of success or write a newspaper article announcing your success as if it had already happened.

If you’re lost in the forest, you’re motivated, but not making any progress toward your goals.  Determine a few steps, or even just one, that will allow you to make progress toward the realization of your dream.  Notice that I did not say, “the next step” because often, the order in which you do things is less important than just making progress.  Make a regular appointment with yourself to plan another step.  What’s another step you could take?

Taking Charge Creates Ripples

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Recently, I met someone for the first time, and as usual, I explained that I was a coach working with adults with ADHD. As happens so often (far more often that simple coincidence would account for, I’m convinced, but that’s another story!), he declared that he’d been diagnosed with ADHD. His biggest issue, he mentioned, was that he found it impossible to stick with any routine. He felt he simply didn’t have the necessary self-control.

Take Charge With Self-Control

I smiled, although somewhat sadly. His response, and his evaluation of his own abilities, is one I hear frequently. It can be hard for anyone to set and achieve goals, but one of the ways to make it easier is to create a structure using habits and routines that help you achieve goals almost on autopilot. If you’re convinced you don’t have the self-control necessary to create habits or to stick to routines, it becomes far more difficult to achieve your goals and realize your dreams.

You Think You Have No Self-Control

Recently, I had two participants in my group coaching program, each of whom swore they had never been successful reaching goals because they had no self-control. They both felt powerless, resigned and completely at the mercy of their adult ADHD. If you have no self-control, how can you take charge of your life? Without self-control, you must be at the mercy of some outside controlling force, and in this case, they were turning that power over to their ADHD.

However, just as people have varying degrees of strength, there’s no one who doesn’t have any muscles. Some people have a naturally larger body frame and so are stronger initially, but regardless of your size, you have muscles, and a lack of strength does not mean you’re destined to always be weak. No matter how strong you are when you start, you can train and exercise your muscles and grow stronger. With the proper training, you can grow to be immensely strong.

There’s Some Good News

There’s some very good news about self-control. Research shows that self-control can be exercised and strengthened. Regardless of how much (or little) self-control you feel you have, you can train yourself to have better self-control. Some people may wonder why they would want to improve their self-control through training and exercises, but your level of self-control affects your level of success in your career, your relationships, your finances and your environment (would you like to live in a clutter-free home). Working out will build your muscles, but not everyone is interested in becoming a bodybuilder. However, building your strength will also let you lift your child in your arms, load your luggage in your car to head off on an adventure or move the couch to find the TV remote! So if you want to take charge of your life, you WILL need to develop your self-control.

And There’s Even Better News

The even better news about self-control is that just as working out in the gym to improve your strength has positive repercussions throughout your life, develop self-control in one area of your life and it will spill over into other areas. If you choose, for example, to abstain from eating sweets for a period of time, you’ll soon find you’ll begin to exercise more self-control in other aspects of your life as well. In his research on the effect of self-control training on overall self-control performance, psychologist Mark Muraven discovered that after two weeks of strengthening willpower (by abstaining from eating sweets or performing a challenging hand exercise), participants also tested higher in a difficult concentration task that required a large amount of self-control. Other studies show that starting and sticking with an exercise routine can help you improve your finances, your focus, control your temper, reduce clutter and more.

Look for Opportunities Instead of Problems

So, rather than focusing on the areas of your life where you lack self-control, consider where you do have self-control. We all have habits and routines (and they’re not all bad!), just as we all have muscles. Take charge of any aspect of your life that you can. Practicing self-control will build those muscles and you’ll soon be able to apply your new-found strength to other areas of your life, areas where, in the past, you may have felt completely out of control. You might just be surprised where the ripples spread.

Enjoy the Ripples!

Remember those two Maximum Productivity Makeover participants who swore they would never be able to get into a routine? Though they started small, as they worked through the program, they were able to successfully introduce routines in their lives. Building on that success, it wasn’t long before they also noticed that they were able to greatly improve their time management skills and have a significant positive impact on their performance at work. They’re enjoying the ripple-effect of taking charge of their lives, and you can too!

What You Can Do:
1. Work your self-control muscle by taking on a challenge that requires you to do something you’d rather not do. For example, cut out sweets, sit up straight, take the stairs, or whatever you choose that’s a little outside your comfort zone.

2. Plan for how you’ll deal with those times when you feel you want to give in, give up or just not bother. When Duane quit smoking, every time he felt like having a cigarette, he kissed me instead. I always made sure to comment on how nice it was to kiss him without his breath smelling like an ashtray.

3. Give yourself a self-control break. After challenging yourself, you sometimes feel depleted, so don’t try to do too much at once. Give yourself a chance to bounce back.

4. So now, go ahead and take charge!

Parenting Your Young ADHD Adult to Success

As a parent of a young adult with ADHD, I know just how much most parents must be involved in their ADHDer’s life to help them succeed. Throughout childhood and adolescence, your ADHD son or daughter has had to lean on you to make decisions, get organized and manage life’s complications.  As a result, when your child has ADHD, you continue to exercise a lot of influence in her life much longer than most parents, often far beyond her teen years.

Then They Pull Away

And then one day, she begins to pull away, wanting more autonomy.  Normal, yes, but this can be a very distressing time for you.  Every parent feels a twinge of rejection, but it may be worse when your child has ADHD.  Most parents worry about the decisions their adult child will make, and since your ADHDer has needed your involvement more than most, you worry even more.  How is she going to manage college or university on her own?

Normal, Not Easy

First, let me reassure you.  Your son or daughter’s desire for autonomy is normal and healthy; it’s not a reflection of their feelings for you.  They are not rejecting you, they are embracing their own independence, albeit sometimes awkwardly.  Of course, you struggle with your desire to protect them from that big bad world out there, while at the same time, wanting desperately for them to spread their wings and fly on their own.

Life Lessons by Any Other Name

However, despite your ADHDer’s desire to make her own decisions, she is not transformed into a good decision-maker, organizer or time manager overnight.  You fear she’ll make mistakes (News flash! She will!) as she learns to think for herself, or worse, rather than thinking for herself, she’ll seek “help” with her decisions, so that rather than thinking for herself, she’ll resort to the wrong help and potentially jeopardize her chances of success at school, at work, in life.

This is especially true if your child is pursuing higher education.  As they prepare to begin their post-secondary education, this is often the first time young adults face decisions that can significantly alter their life path.  Here are seven strategies to help your ADHD adult child on the road to independence.

Seven Strategies to Help Your ADHD Child Succeed

Strategy #1:  Keep the lines of communication open.  Make her understand she can discuss anything with you, and the best way you can make sure they understand this is by demonstrating that you are a good listener (not a lecturer!)  Ask non-leading, non-judgmental questions that help her clarify her decision.

Strategy #2: Declare (and demonstrate) your intent to encourage and respect her independence. Be available to discuss things with her if she needs to, and when you are discussing things, also understand that you are NOT always right.  Your beliefs may not be her beliefs.

Strategy #3: Treat her like the adult she is becoming. Have adult conversations with her, ask her opinion about current events or other topics she is interested in, and engage in activities together as two adults rather than parent and child.  Children with ADHD often lag behind their peers in maturity and suffer rejection because of it.  However, this often leaves them with fewer mature roles models whose behavior they can emulate.  You can provide that example.

Strategy #4: Help her make decisions without trying to influence them. When she does come to you for help making decisions, don’t step in to make the decision for them, don’t even try to influence their decision.  Ask questions that allow her to notice blind spots she may have in her thinking.  And unless the object of the decision is illegal, unethical, immoral, support it.  If it is a decision where you KNOW the outcome will have a HUGE impact on her life, ask if you can present your views, and then, with permission, make your case and then support her, regardless of the decision she makes.

Strategy # 5: Seek out specialized ADHD help and training. ADHDers usually need a different approach to things like managing time and getting organized.  ADHD coaches are trained to help ADHDers effectively plan their lives, get organized, manage their finances, use effective study skills and learning strategies, become better at self-advocacy and make better decisions.  Unlike you, a coach is not emotionally attached to the results and so won’t force a decision one way or the other. Coaching is meant to empower your ADHD son or daughter, not make them more dependent.

Strategy #6: Help your ADHD adult become their own advocate. Speaking of empowerment, give your ADHD adult the information she needs and encourage her to make her own calls for appointments, make her own requests for accommodations and so on.  Yes, you may need to sit beside her on her first call, but with practice, she’ll be able to make it on her own.

Strategy #7: Celebrate every success! Celebrate each step toward independence, each happy result, each effort made toward her goals.  Be on the lookout for and notice anything she does well.  Helping your ADHD son or daughter make it on his or her own is an important part of your role as a parent.  When a decision does not provide the desired results, help her see the lessons learned.

Challenges… and Rewards

Being a parent has its challenges, but being the parent of an adult with ADHD can make it even more challenging. Remember that regardless the direction she takes in life, you want to come out the other side of this period of transition with your relationship intact, changed, yes, but strong and loving.

If your relationship is strained because you don’t see eye to eye, it may be time to bring in an ADHD-trained neutral third party, leaving you to play a (perhaps more comfortable) supportive role in her quest for autonomy.  The reward, and your ultimate objective (the objective of every parent), is for your child to have a happy life doing something they love.

Make Like a GPS… Recalculating!

This week while coaching one of my Maximum Productivity Makeover groups, one participant mentioned that she felt ashamed that she had not completed something she had committed to the previous session.  It is common for adults with ADHD to feel this way.  After all, they have been punished, embarrassed, and put down for making mistakes all their lives.  They’ve been subjected to this for so long that they’ve now taken over the job and beat up on themselves!

I would like to propose a different option: pretend you’re a GPS, just say, “Recalculating!”  When you’ve made a commitment and have tried your absolute best (and remember that your best is “everything possible given what you knew at the time”) but you just weren’t able to pull it off, there is no shame in failing.  Instead of putting yourself down, consider what you have to learn.  Examine what went wrong; maybe you need a new system or you tried to tackle more than you could handle.  Whatever it is, you gain nothing from throwing your hands up in defeat, hanging your head in shame, or resorting to blame and finger-pointing.

If instead, when you get lost you react like your GPS does, and “recalculate”, that is, allow your “mistake” or missed goal to become an opportunity to learn and to readjust how you do things, you need never feel that shame again.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t keep your promises and honor your commitments.  Instead, adopt a new “learning approach” to making mistakes.  Ask yourself, “What have I learned from this experience?”, “How can I make this work next time?”, “What do I need to do before I attempt this?” and “Do I need some help?”

And then simply recalculate… uh, recommit.

Finally! More Help for European Adults with ADHD

In response to much demand, European adults with ADHD will finally be able to enjoy the benefits of The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Creative Geniuses, a program tailor-made for adults with ADHD.

This is a program that has shown amazing results for ADHD adults in many parts of the world, but has always been particularly challenging for people in Europe because of the inconveniences of time zones. The group programs have proven so popular, this has become the preferred approach for people to take the Maximum Productivity Makeover, but my European clients and subscribers were left out in the cold.

Previously, group sessions took place at 7 pm EST, which for most Europeans, meant attending sessions in the middle of the night. The program is very rewarding, offering many benefits, but it is also challenging. The Maximum Productivity Makeover is not a program you want to take when you’re half asleep! Well, we now have some amazing news for all our European friends!

We are offering a Maximum Productivity Makeover group session at an hour that is entirely reasonable for almost everyone in Europe! We’ve set it to start at 6 pm GMT, so it will run in the early evening for most Europeans, as it commonly does for North Americans. The next group is expected to start on Wednesday, March 7th at 6 pm GMT (1 pm EST for any North Americans who’ve been hoping for an afternoon program.)

We knew it was time to offer more options for more people everywhere when the last group we launched completely sold out. The word is spreading like wildfire: this program has a dramatic and positive impact on the lives of adults with ADHD.

The program combines training and self-awareness building exercises with the accountability and planning the makes coaching so effective for adults with ADHD. Each new session, participants report breakthroughs that helped them, and will help you, define what you need to adjust in your life to become more productive.

Group coaching for ADHDers has the added, and really amazing benefit (one of the best of all, many participants swear) of letting you connect with people who totally get you! It can be difficult to talk about ADHD to your friends and family; you don’t feel understood, you may even feel judged. In this group setting, it’s quite different because everyone on the call has Attention Deficit Disorder; many participants have formed lasting friendships.

For more information, visit http://www.maximumproductivitymakeover.com.

Learn to Manage Your ADD; Enrich Your Relationship

ADHD Relationship TroubleIf you’re in a relationship and you have ADHD, Saint Valentine’s Day may not always be a fun day.  In fact, romance can be hard to come by any day of the year.  Your ADHD might be getting in the way of both of you thriving in the relationship.

My husband, Duane and I have always been very open about how his ADHD almost destroyed our marriage.  Today, we have an amazing relationship, but Duane and I used to have many fights.  I often felt I had three children instead of two; and that first child was very temperamental.

What was the most difficult wasn’t what he did, but the fact that I couldn’t rely on him to help me with anything life threw at us: financial problems, car accidents, illness, demotions, professional problems, and worst, relationship issues.  I felt exhausted most of the time because of everything I had to do: managing the budget, taking care of paperwork, dealing with the children’s schoolwork and day care, meal planning, school planning, car and home repairs and the list goes on.

Eventually I stopped fighting about it and became resigned that life with Duane was always going to be a burden. I’m glad things have changed and that our relationship has become one of love (which it always was) and support where both of us thrive.

When One is Hurting, Both Are Hurting

Whether it’s ADHD causing the struggle in your relationship or not, one thing is certain, when one of you is suffering, the other is suffering too.  My father is deaf, so when he watches TV, it’s loud, so loud that when we visit, we can hear the TV blaring from the corner of their street (their house is about 10 houses in!)  My father’s loud TV was making my mother, who’s a calm person who enjoys peace and quiet, absolutely miserable.

Finding a Solution for One Spouse, is a Gift for the Other

One Christmas, Duane and I gave my Dad a headset that connects to the television.  As a result, my father could control the volume of the TV through his earphones and suddenly, the household became quiet again; both Mom and Dad were happy.  My father’s deafness made my mother miserable until we found a solution for him.  She often tells me that it was one of the best gifts she ever received; and it wasn’t even her gift!

The same is true of ADHD, whether you’re an adult with ADHD or the spouse of an ADHDer, if you are struggling, both of you are hurting.  And when the spouse with ADHD learns how to manage life better, both of you (and your children, family, friends and co-workers) live a better life.

When Duane spoke to me about hiring a coach, I admit I was sceptical.  After all, we had spent a lot of money on numerous well-known Time Management Programs and even special programs for Goal Setting and even Financial Planning, but nothing worked.  What finally made me take a leap of faith was the belief that if we didn’t do anything, nothing would ever change and we would both be doomed, along with our children, to a mediocre (at best) life.  That may seem harsh, but we were in “survival mode,” and when you’re focused on simply surviving, it’s impossible to reach any level of self-realization.

It was only when Duane sought help with an ADHD coach that I stopped hurting.  As he learned new skills such planning, time management, focusing etc., he became a better partner for me and our relationship flourished.

If you have ADHD and you are struggling because of it, forget the flowers and the candy and consider getting help to manage your ADHD.  It’s not selfish… it will be a gift for your spouse as well.  And if your spouse has ADHD, make getting help your gift to them and your spouse will return the gift to you many times over.

New Book for Adults with ADHD Now Available!

“With Time to Spare”

By Linda Walker

With Time to Spare: the Ultimate Guide to Peak Performance for Entrepreneurs, Adults with ADHD and other Creative GeniusesYes, you heard that right! There’s a new book out for adults with ADHD, and it’s been getting rave reviews! Linda Anderson, a Master Certified ADHD Coach and the Past-President of ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association) loved it! David Giwerc, President of ADDCA (ADD Coach Academy), an ADHDer himself, and a leader in the field of adults with ADHD and one of the founders of ADHD Awareness Week in the U.S. raves about it! Why, even Canadians like it! 😉

Our own Rick Green, writer, comedian, actor and star of the hit documentary, “ADHD and Loving It!?” liked it so much, he’s enrolled in the The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Creative Geniuses Group Coaching program that the book is based on. Dr. Annick Vincent, one of the foremost recognized ADHD experts in Quebec, who appeared with me last week on the Montreal television talk show, “Les Kiwis et les Hommes” told me she couldn’t stop talking about it at last month’s CHADD (Children with Attention Deficit Disorders) conference (because, of course, children with ADHD have parents with ADHD!)

This new book, With Time to Spare: the Ultimate Guide to Peak Performance for Entrepreneurs, Adults with ADHD and other Creative Geniuses, is now available on Amazon.com.

Oh, did you notice something else? Did you notice the author’s name? That’s right! I wrote this! I sat down in January 2010 and began to write the book that had been waiting to be written. I’ve been working on it for over a year, and I packed it full of valuable, practical, difference-making advice for adults with ADHD taken right from the trenches of my own life with a husband and adult daughter with ADHD, and proven time after time in real life with my ADHD clients.

I was committed to writing a book that would both inspire and guide my readers, and after months of writing and countless edits, I had it tested by several readers with ADHD or entrepreneurial ADD. I was thrilled when the verdict came back with a resounding “YES!”

So I am proud to announce that With Time to Spare is now available in paperback at Amazon.com and in Kindle version at Amazon.com, Amazon France, Amazon UK, and even in Italy and in Spain. (Sorry Canada! We’re struggling to make it available in my home country).

To your Focus, Action, Success,

Linda Walker

Preventive Medicine for ADHD

stressedSometimes, I feel like an ambulance driver; I seem to meet my clients for the first time in a crisis situation. Over the years, I’ve noticed, and recent scientific studies have confirmed my observations, that burnout occurs almost six times more often in adults with ADHD than in the general population. I can believe that, since many of my clients contact me because they’ve had a burnout in the past, they are on sick leave from a burnout or they feel they are on the verge of burning out. While it’s gratifying to be a “lifesaver,” (marriage saver, job saver or sanity saver, depending on the crisis!) I thought some preventive medicine might make a nice change!

Ever Wonder Why You Hear Sirens All the Time?
Considering how un-ADHD-friendly modern life can be, with the constant interruptions of cell phones, text messages, emails and less-than-monk-like cubicle farm neighbors, I’m not surprised most ADHD adults struggle to stay focused on one thing long enough to make any headway. A lack of proactive thinking in many organizations has people playing “fire fighter,” rushing from emergency to emergency, putting out fires that could have been prevented.

At the end of the day, despite working a full 8 hours (8 hours? Ha!), your To-Do list is longer than when you started and tasks you scheduled but never had a chance to complete because of the constant interruptions are now added to the pile of last-minute crises that will ensure this situation will repeat next week, next month and next year! What can you do but take work home or stay late trying to complete things at the last minute?

If It Happened Before, It’ll Probably Happen Again
If this is your reality, you are probably overwhelmed and dissatisfied with your work. If it continues like this for any length of time, statistically, you’re headed for a burnout! Many people throw up their hands and walk away, quitting, being fired or going on sick leave, but until they put preventive strategies in place, the typically situation repeats itself when they return to work!

Seven Burnout Prevention Strategies
These 7 strategies will improve your work satisfaction, reduce overwhelm and stress, prevent burnout and help you gain control of your life:

  1. Take extreme self-care – exercise every day, get 7 to 8 hours of shut-eye; you’ll need plenty of sleep to stay energized and focused.
  2. Strategically “schedule” your interruptions; protect your high-energy periods to ensure peak performance.
  3. Schedule the right types of tasks at the right time of the day to ensure you optimize your time and stay energized.
  4. Develop the habit of checking and answering emails during off-peak, less productive time.
  5. Create systems to deal with repetitive but complicated activities that tend to cause crises.
  6. Take a 20 to 30-minute rejuvenation break when it will do you the most good, when you are mentally and physically wiped. Soldiering on instead only makes it worse.
  7. Schedule activities or appointments to force you to get out of the office at the end of the work day.

The strategies are simple, but like most simple things, they aren’t always easy to implement. Starting an exercise program is always easier if you have an incentive and you can use some of the same effective techniques to implement your anti-burnout strategies; partner with a buddy, join a class or hire a personal trainer. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach.

The Buddy System
It’s fun to go to the gym with a buddy, so you’re more likely to show up, but you know they’ll let you off easy so you don’t always get the maximum benefit from your investment.

A Group Coaching Program
Group coaching combined with training allows you to get all the benefit of the buddy system, except on a bigger scale, because you work with a small group of people who share similar challenges, develop friendships that last long after the class ends, and who encourage each other, but you also have an expert who guides you every step of the way, and pushes you to do just a little bit extra so you get the maximum benefit from your investment.

Work With a Personal Trainer
And just like at the gym, one-on-one time with a coach is expensive but effective. You schedule appointments at your convenience, work as hard and fast (or slow and easy) as you want, you get exactly the help you need when you need it and the results can be amazing.

Of course, in all cases, the results depend entirely on the investment (time, effort and money) you’re willing to make, but if you’re tired of being tired, sick of living on the precipice looking into the abyss of a total loss of control in your life, make changes now. A little prevention goes a long way.

The Maximum Productivity Makeover is a highly effective group coaching and training program in one. For more information on how it can work for you, click here.