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Top 3 Strategies to Conquer Overwhelm

“I was running around, jumping from one task to another… as soon as I started something, I’d realize I was forgetting another task, so I’d jump on it. I was frazzled and then I realized I was getting nowhere!”

This was how my client, Chris described the moments leading to his near-breakdown. He was suffering a massive case of overwhelm.

“I lost it. I completely zoned out, paralyzed by this overwhelming feeling that everything was out of control. The phone was ringing, emails kept coming in, proposals needed my attention and I just couldn’t move, I couldn’t think. I felt this sense of doom.

“What’s worse,” he continued, “is that I have been having more of these episodes lately and I have no idea what to do.”

What Chris was describing is known as overwhelm. It happens to many of my clients, and as Chris discovered, unless things change, it’ll keep happening. If you tackle your work and your life the same way, you’ll get the same results, day after day… after day.

In this video, discover the 3 top strategies for stopping the cycle of overwhelm, strategies you can implement right now.

Facebook Live Event: Top 3 Strategies for Stopping Overwhelm

What: Facebook Live Event

When: Tuesday, April 4th, 2017 at 8 pm EST (New York time).

Where: on Facebook Live Click here to get notification

“I was running around, jumping from one task to another… as soon as I started something, I’d realize I was forgetting another task, so I’d jump on it. I was frazzled and then I realized I was getting nowhere!”

This was how my client, Chris described the moments leading to his near-breakdown. He was suffering a massive case of overwhelm.

“I lost it. I completely zoned out, paralyzed by this overwhelming feeling that everything was out of control. The phone was ringing, emails kept coming in, proposals needed my attention and I just couldn’t move, I couldn’t think. I felt this sense of doom.

“What’s worse,” he continued, “is that I have been having more of these episodes lately and I have no idea what to do.”

What Chris was describing is known as overwhelm. It happens to many of my clients, and as Chris discovered, unless things change, it’ll keep happening. If you tackle your work and your life the same way, you’ll get the same results, day after day… after day.

In this Facebook Live session, discover the 3 top strategies for stopping the cycle of overwhelm, strategies you can implement right now.

Like the Event and the following Page: CreativeGeniusCoach Page

Goal Setting for Creative Geniuses: Taking Action

 

In the first part of this lesson, Goal Setting for Creative Geniuses: The Big Why, we looked at how important it is to have a good reason you want to accomplish whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish. It doesn’t matter if you call it a goal, an objective a desire or a New Year’s Resolution. Regardless of how important the objective is to the people around you, and that includes everyone from your boss to your children, you’re unlikely to achieve it unless you have a compelling “why” that will keep you motivated when you just feel like giving up.

Today, we’ll learn about a strategy that will make reaching your goals much more likely and more predictable.

Achieving most worthwhile goals require some repeated actions on a consistent basis. Achieving a goal that doesn’t require a continued effort and repeated action is usually not a challenge for creative geniuses. You’re here at your desk and you want to go to the fridge for a drink. This is a goal that will require a small effort over a relatively short period of time. On top of that, the motivation is built in. That drink is going to taste great!

No, the goals that challenge creative geniuses are those that require you to sustain your effort for a long period of time, and that effort includes doing things you’ll find difficult or worse, boring! For example, if you’re trying to increase sales in your business, you can’t just pick the next name on the list and go sell them something. Not every person you talk to is a prospect, and not every prospect becomes a customer. In order to increase sales, you must increase the number of people you speak with. Some of those people will become prospects. If you speak to more people, you’ll have more prospects. Then, you need to pitch to more prospects. Some of those prospects will become customers. If you pitch to more prospects, more prospects will become clients. Only a sustained, consistent effort will result in more sales.

Let’s look at another example. If you want to be and feel healthy, you must consistently sleep better, you must exercise more and you must eat more nutritious meals. You will not have a healthy lifestyle if you stay up all night every night and then sleep 50 hours on the weekend. You cannot eat junk food every day for lunch and hope to recuperate by eating nothing but vegetables on the weekend. (Besides, you’re supposed to be catching up on your sleep, remember!)

If you want an organized home, you’ll be much more successful if you determine a place for each item and get in the habit of putting things away where they go right after you’re finished with them than you will if you do a “spring cleaning” every other week. Clutter is impossible to stay ahead of any way but with small, consistent actions.

une-petite-etapeTo achieve the goals that preoccupy most creative geniuses, the key to success is a series of small actions that move you in the right direction repeated routinely. Alone, these small steps look easy, and they are easy! Anyone can eat one healthy, balanced meal. It’s easy to get to bed on time once. The challenge is to do it again, and again. The thing is, it really isn’t any more difficult to eat balanced meal every day than it is to do it once. A healthy meal is the result of a series of identifiable, repeatable steps. Every time you follow those steps, the result is predictably a healthy, balanced meal. We call those series of repeatable steps that give a consistent result a routine. How then do you ensure you repeat those same series of steps over and over until you achieve you ultimate goal: good health? The best way to consistently get the same results is to turn that routine into a habit.

A habit is simply a routine that you’ve repeated so many times that it has become mechanical. You’ve followed that same series of steps so many times that the new pathways you created in your brain to allow you to prepare a healthy, nutritious meal have become four-lane highways. Your automatic reaction to hunger is to prepare a healthy meal. No thought is required.

Habits become so ingrained they become the easiest way for you to act. This reduces the amount of energy you use to accomplish those repeated steps. The human brain is bombarded daily, with stimuli it must react to, with choices it must make decisions about and problems it must solve, that it welcomes, and even encourages you, to use routines and habits. In fact, without routines and habits, you’d find it very difficult to get out of bed – the decisions you’d need to make before you even left that house would leave you exhausted!

You can reach any goal that’s important to you, break it down into a series of repeatable steps or routines, and turn those routines into habits. Creating those routines and adopting habits that help you progress toward your objectives reduces the energy you must expend. In fact, this is the easiest way to achieving almost anything.

So, given the goal you’ve set for yourself, what routine could you create that would move you in the right direction? Once you have a routine that delivers consistent results, repeat that routine again and again until it becomes a habit. Once you’ve created that habit, success is inevitable!

In the next part of this series, I’ll share a model you can use to help you turn those routines into habits more effectively.

Goal Setting for Creative Geniuses: the Big WHY

By Linda Walker
This is the time of the year, after indulging during the holidays, when many of us decide to buckle down and set new goals or targets for ourselves in the coming year. Creative geniuses often set big goals. Big goals have the power to energize and inspire, especially when the going gets tough; however, big goals are usually long term goals and that can often spell trouble for you.

You see, Creative Geniuses, a term I use to describe people with out-of-the-box thinking such as entrepreneurs and people with ADHD, are interest-based performers who need the quick payoff of shorter goals to stay motivated. In addition, many ambitious creative geniuses think big but, faced with then taking action, don’t know where to start. Add to that a sometimes limited level of belief in your ability to reach your goal, and your stick-to-it-iveness will be tested many times. If your goal seems too “pie-in-the-sky” or feels too out of reach, only a strong belief in your ability to eventually succeed will keep you going, or not. You’ve heard the old adage: “if you think you can or you can’t, you’re right”.

On the other hand, many who’ve tried and failed too many times limit themselves by only setting small goals. The problem with this approach is that when you choose goals that don’t move you out of your comfort zone, even if you manage to reach your goal, it doesn’t feed your need for accomplishment. You know you didn’t have to stretch so you don’t respect the achievement. Of course, small goals aren’t very exciting and so don’t have the same power to motivate. So what should you do?

If you’re a creative genius who wants to aim higher and accomplish more, the first thing you need to do is to think about the change you want to make happen in your life and get clear on why it’s important to you. Keep digging deeper. Once you have found a first reason it’s important to you, ask why that’s important to you. Then ask why THAT is important to you and so on. Keep digging deeper until you reach a reason that really resonates emotionally with you.

Here’s an example: many people want to be wealthy and set a big financial goal for themselves. The problem is that, oddly enough, even if it’s a big number, the dream of being wealthy is not a compelling one. As soon as you hit some bumps along the way, you’re very likely to resign yourself to your current lifestyle. But go a step further and ask why it is important to be wealthy? “I want to be able to quit my job”, you answer. Then ask, why is quitting your job important? “I hate that my job takes me away from home”. Why is it important not to be away from home? “Because I want to spend more time with my spouse and kids”. And why is that important to you? “Because I want to be a bigger part of their lives”. And why is that important? “Because I love them and I cherish every moment I can be with them and I want to guide my kids through all the experiences life has to offer them.” Ah ha! Now we’re talking!

Once you have a reason that really resonates with you emotionally, when you face setbacks, and you will face setbacks if you’re reaching high, which is more likely to keep you going? The thought of having a lot of money? Or the dream of being present in your children’s lives and being able to share all sorts of wonderful experiences with them? So the real goal is to have more time and more freedom so you can be a bigger part of your family’s life. Your goal is really not be wealthy. The great thing is, there are ways to break that goal down into smaller steps with the possibility of spending more time with your family showing up as a reward much sooner than the time required for you to achieve sufficient wealth to quit your job.

The next time we talk, I’ll show you how to set yourself up to take action toward whatever change you want in your life.

Mastering Productivity with ADHD Through Focus

Available for a limited time only (December 18, 2016 at 11:59 pm EST)

I launched a workshop for ADHD adults, entrepreneurs and other creative geniuses with challenges with their productivity earlier in the week. This 3-part workshop offers a key strategy for managing your productivity through improved focus.

Many people who’ve come to attend the video workshop found it very helpful. Here are a few comments:

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If you want to find out more, visit the Focus to Freedom Workshop.

Rick Green of TotallyADD Talks About His Challenges with Focus

Rick Green, creator of the TotallyADD.com Website and of several documentaries, including the notable, ADD and Loving It, talks about his struggles with inattention, how it affected his productivity, how he improved his ability to focus, and a surprising outcome.

Interview with Rick Green on the Focus to Freedom Blueprint Mastery program from Linda Walker on Vimeo.

Attention, Not Time, Leads to Productivity

Ever notice how so many of us work longer hours, cutting into our lunch breaks and home life, in a quest to get more done, yet our inbox pile keeps getting higher, our unanswered emails keep stacking up, and our to-do lists verge on becoming a to-do book?

We proudly wear the “busy” label as a badge of honor that means we’re dedicated and going places, when in reality all we’re doing is spinning our wheels. What are we really dedicated to? Achieving better results? Or squandering our personal time doing “busy work” (and doing it ineffectively and inefficiently on top of that!) This is especially true of adults with ADHD, except your “busy” badge is rooted more in shame than in pride.

I’m not implying that you’re doing this on purpose. In fact, you’re working exactly the way you’ve been taught. The problem, of course, is that you’ve been taught wrong. People with ADHD often don’t know there’s a better way to work, a way that makes you more productive but with less work. So what’s the secret? The one no one ever told you because they were too busy telling you to work harder, put your nose to the grind stone and work, work, work.

Productive Vs. Busy

Truly productive people work smarter not harder. While “busy” people focus on the hours they spend on something, productive people have learned to value attention. But you’re thinking “Hey wait a minute, Linda! I have ADHD, if attention is required to be productive and work less, I’m doomed! That’s what “Attention Deficit” means”.

Well, that’s a common myth, but like all myths, it’s dead wrong. You are capable of paying attention for longer periods of time than you ever imagined, longer even than those people who started the myth that you can’t focus! I’m talking about hours, not minutes of additional focus at a time. And under the right conditions, you can even do it consistently every day.

There’s a Pattern

Your periods of focus-ability tend to occur following approximately the same schedule each day. Yes, you can almost set your watch by it because, under the right conditions, you can have two periods each day when you have sufficient mental energy to tackle long tasks that require you to be focused. And with the right approach, those periods of attention are pure gold, no platinum, in terms of increased productivity! So how do you discover when your productivity platinum mind appears?

You start by paying attention to how you’re paying attention. Monitor how you are able to pay attention at different times throughout your day. Do it over a few days, and you will see a pattern begin to emerge. Keep watching and before long, you’ll realize that your pattern is so consistent, it’s actually predictable, and once it becomes predictable, you’re in charge!

Facebook Live Event: ADHD, Forget Anything?

On Tuesday, October 18th at 8 pm EST (5 pm PST), I’ll be holding a Facebook Live Event on my Facebook page.

ADHDers struggle with remembering information they received moments before, this is a little-known fact but a major issue

ADHDers struggle with remembering information they received moments before, this is a little-known fact but a major issue

During this 45- to 60-minute live Facebook session, I will explain the root causes of the challenges ADHDers face with their memory, the negative impacts it has on your life and I’ll provide 5 strategies to overcome it and its frustrating impacts.

I’ll even let you in on what completely changed my view of ADHD in my husband and my personal experience with ADHD.

When: Tuesday, October 18th at 8 pm EST (5 pm PST)

Where: My Facebook Page

Join me if you or someone you love struggles with ADHD by responding to the Facebook event ADHD, Forget Anything?

 

When Organizing Sparks Joy (Through the ADHD Lens)

Some of you may not know this but my youngest daughter moved out on her own last year. Kyrie struggles with ADHD and severe learning disabilities. To make matters worse, like many ADHDers, she has very low motivation from low levels of dopamine in her brain.

As a result, her apartment looks like a tornado just went through it. She doesn’t like to stay in her apartment when she’s not at work because it distracts her; she’s unable to relax and it’s far from a calming environment, so she goes out and spends money she doesn’t have just to stay away from that demoralising environment.

I’ve offered to help her get organized, but she has never been interested because she knows it won’t be all that enjoyable. Recently, I came across an interesting approach to organizing proposed by Marie Kondo, a Japanese woman who has written a couple books on the subject based on her work helping organize people’s homes in Japan.  I read her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, in hopes that her method could help my readers with ADHD. While some of the strategies are far from being ADHD friendly, there are some strategies that, I believe, are promising.

It’s a Two Step Process

Step 1: Discard then Step 2: decide where to store: The first strategy is to discard. I believe that the fewer items you have, the less you have to manage.  (This is why businesses hold big sales BEFORE they do inventory- fewer things to count!)

Tackle one category of things at a time: Kondo advocates gathering all items in one category in the same place before you begin and she means everything (but, remember, only in one category at a time) – this gives you a better idea of what you own.  She recommends you:

  • Start with clothes – that includes accessories, socks, shoes, belts and outdoor apparel such as mitts and scarves
  • Then move to books
  • Documents and various papers
  • Miscellaneous
  • And finish with mementos (the things you keep that have no purpose except to remind of you something) – they’re the hardest to deal with because of the sentimental value.

This doesn’t sound much different than other approaches so far, but when I spoke to Kyrie about the part I loved the most about this method, she was intrigued and eager to try it out.

Finding the Joy

Kondo insists her clients take each item in their hands and ask themselves: “Does this spark joy?” If it does not, thank it for either giving you joy when you bought it or for teaching you what doesn’t suit you, and then discard it for good. So last Sunday afternoon, Kyrie and I gathered every article of clothing in her apartment, put them on her made bed, and divided them into sub-categories such as:

  • Tops
  • Bottoms (including shorts, pants and skirts)
  • Dresses
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Purses
  • Accessories
  • Shoes
  • Outerwear

Then, starting with tops, Kyrie picked up each item and asked the question “Does this spark joy?” Anything that didn’t, we put in a bag to give to Goodwill or, if it was damaged, into the garbage it went.

It was amazingly easy for her to make the decision because the contrast in her mood when she picked up an item that sparked joy compared to when it didn’t was so great. She’d exclaim “Mom, I just feel so beautiful when I wear this” or “I just love, LOVE this color on me”.  She didn’t have to convince me that she should keep it. I could see the joy on her face.

Some Items Are Heavy

Some items didn’t spark joy; they sparked guilt. These were often items she kept because they had been gifts from me or her sister. They had served their purpose, but she kept them because they came from people she loves and she didn’t want to disappoint or hurt us. I encouraged her to thank those items for the love they represented and then let them go.

In no time, we plowed through all her clothing. As we completed each category of clothing, Kyrie decided where to store that category and we folded each item.

Folding For the ADHD Brain

folded

folded

Out of sight, out of mind; ADHDers quickly forget about things they don’t see. So if you know that if you don’t see something, you forget about it, why on Earth would you fold your clothes and store them one on top of the other in a drawer, or, as many of you do, shove them, unfolded, in your dresser?

If an item sparks joy, you want to be able to see it when you open your dresser. So Kondo recommends that you fold all your items so they are stored vertically in a way that allows you to see every piece when you open the drawer.

Rolled

Rolled

You don’t want everything to get wrinkled – who has time to iron everything before you put it on – but rolling the clothes keeps them visible and prevents them from getting wrinkled. Kyrie and I folded the clothes two or three times lengthwise, then, being careful to remove the creases, we rolled them up and placed them in the drawer.

Within two hours (and we took a break to go shopping for a few supplies in the middle), we were done.  I was so inspired by this approach, I started to implement it with my own clothes. I’ve included pictures of my drawers so you can see what it looks like.

Is This Sustainable?

Kyrie brings her laundry to my house once a week to save on laundromat fees, so a new habit she will start implementing (and I’ll help her by doing it too), is that as we are passing time together, she’ll roll up her clothes before she leaves and then put them away as soon as she gets home.

I’ve tried both rolling and folding and I like the effects of the folding better and it didn’t take much more time. Marie Kondo explains in one of her Youtube videos how to fold.

What About You?

Do all your clothes spark joy? If not, thank them and get rid of them. If you haven’t worn something for a long time, is it because you’ve forgotten about it? Or is there guilt associated with it? Get rid of it and allow it to spark joy in someone else.

Want To Give It A Try?

  1. Make your bed
  2. Gather all your articles of clothing and place them on your bed (and I mean everything!)
  3. Divide them into categories as I mentioned (see the list above)
  4. Then tackle one pile at a time; hold each item in your hand and ask “Does this spark joy?”
  5. After each type of clothing (tops for example) is sorted, roll up the ones you’re keeping (blouses and dresses should probably be hung up) and put them away where you’ve chosen to store them.

 

Here’s how to fold like Marie Kondo: https://youtu.be/Lpc5_1896ro

Feeling Burnt Out? I’m Not Surprised, and You Shouldn’t Be Either

lack-of-focus-300x249A few years ago, I had a large influx of clients. Within a month and a half, I welcomed seven new clients. Of the seven, six confided that they were on leave from work for burnout! One was on sick leave for burnout for the third time and, believing there must be some underlying cause, did his own research and discovered he’d been suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) all along.

I was intrigued by this seeming coincidence. I began reviewing my files to determine the number of clients, past and current, who had mentioned suffering from burnout at some point in their lives. I was shocked to discover that over half, 54%, of my clients had been on sick leave for burnout, depression or stress-related health problems at least once in their professional lives. Some had had several periods of stress-related sick leave.

I began digging deep into the literature and found one study that had been conducted on a group of people who were on long-term disability for burnout or stress-related health issues. What they found astounded me. Within that pool of 62 people, they found 24% suffered from ADHD and up to 56% met the criteria for ADHD but testing results were inconclusive because of other confounding issues.

When you consider that the incidence of adult ADHD in the general population is 4 to 8%, this indicates that there’s an increased risk for adults with ADHD; they are three to six times more likely to suffer from burnout or stress-related health problems.

Seeking to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms of burnout, I began to research in earnest. While there is no diagnosis of “burnout”, we understand it to be extreme exhaustion brought on by prolonged periods of stress. As I learned more, I realized ADHD-related burnout was quite different from neurotypical or “textbook” cases of burnout.

ADHD-Related Burnout vs. “Textbook” Burnout

The underlying cause or reason that people burn out differs between the two groups. Neurotypicals (people without ADHD) who burn out often do so because they are trying to prove themselves. They (or others, such as their parents) face high expectations and are trying to “over-perform” as a way of getting noticed. People with ADHD burn out because of the stress brought on by a fear of losing their jobs.  They work harder and put in longer hours trying to catch up because they don’t feel productive. They try to make up for their poor productivity and to hide the shame they feel about their inability to meet their workload.

Neglecting your own needs can exacerbate burnout. These two groups (neurotypicals vs. adults with ADHD) neglect their needs for different reasons; whereas ADHDers skimp on sleep, abandon exercise routines and work through their lunch hour and late into the night in an effort to keep up with what they see as the “normal” demands of their job, neurotypicals do the same but because they choose to use that time to fit in more projects that will give them more visibility.

Another difference between the two groups is that while in both “textbook” and ADHD-related burnout, employees suffer from cognitive impairment such as lack of focus, poor short-term memory and challenges with managing their emotions, for neurotypicals, the impairment is due to their prolonged stress and will abate after a period of rest. For adults with ADHD, the cognitive impairment is typically symptomatic of their ADHD (made worse by the stress to be sure) and is at the source of the burnout. Those symptoms remain even after long periods of rest, so a second or even a third bout of burnout is inevitable unless changes are made beyond simple rest, because the source of the burnout has not been addressed.

Recognizing the Source of Burnout is a Prerequisite to the Right Treatment

It’s true that in all burnout cases, rest is needed to reduce the effects of prolonged stress. However, for ADHDers, the treatment must also include an “attack” on the underlying source of the burnout, by managing the ADHD symptoms. The objective is to reduce the level of impairment resulting from the ADHD, and so allow the ADHDer to improve his or her work performance. One of the most dramatic ways to optimize focus improve productivity is for the ADHD-burnout sufferer to learn ADHD-friendly energy and time management strategies as well as organizational strategies. Helping the ADHD employee build awareness of the signs of overwhelming stress and helping them prepare a plan of action to enable them to respond to it effectively is essential to prevent future burnouts.

Finally, beyond simple rest, burnout victims benefit enormously from “recovery activities” such as improving health hygiene (sleep, exercise and nutrition), connecting with family and friends and engaging in creative activities. These help reduce the effects of stress and cut the level of stress to a manageable level.

In today’s society, it’s unlikely we’ll be able to eliminate stress that could lead to burnout.  However, we can learn to effectively manage that stress by recognizing the true underlying causes of ADHD-related burnout and treating the problem at the source.

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