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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

How to Succeed Without Willpower

Have you ever wondered if you were one of the few who doesn’t have any discipline or willpower? If so, how can you succeed when most goals worth accessing require a certain amount of persistence?

  • 27% of stressed out people state that a lack of willpower stopped a change they wanted to achieve
  • Studies show that people with more self-control, or willpower, do better in life
  • Creative Geniuses appear to have less willpower than most because of different brain wiring
  • The more you have to use willpower in the day, the more your “bank of willpower” gets depleted and you have less willpower – it leads to more decision fatigue
  • You deplete your willpower far less if you are in a positive mood, have a strong belief that persistence will lead to success and have a good overall attitude
  • Willpower can be strengthened through practice and using strategies such as avoiding
  • Use implementation intention if / then statements to manage persistence and obstacles to persistence,
    • for example, if you chose to write every morning at 6 am you can state and make arrangements to, as Mary did, “if it’s 6 am, then I’ll be writing”.
    • If you can anticipate obstacles you can state something like, “if my friends call when I had planned to write, then I will let them know I can’t talk to them right now, but will quickly schedule a time for me to call/ or I won’t answer the call”
  • Steady blood glucose increases motivation – avoid sugar rushes or starving yourself
  • Start with one small goal – break down a large goal into smaller tasks that can be done in the time you’ve set aside

Best Strategy to Avoid Having to Deal with Willpower: Create Habits

  • They reduce decisions so they keep decision fatigue at bay
  • They free up limited brain energy for more important and creative tasks
  • Start with the one-pound (or half-kilogram) habit and build your habit muscle to avoid having to rely solely on willpower

Help! I Have no Willpower! How to Survive Without It.

willpower“I just don’t seem to have enough discipline, she exclaimed face in her hands. Every week I try to set aside time so I can write but it never happens. I end up checking emails even though I vow never to check them when it’s writing time. My husband now rolls his eyes every time I talk about writing my book and it hurts that he doesn’t believe me, but I don’t blame him. I don’t believe ME. Is it my ADHD that’s stopping me or do I simply lack willpower?”

Mary, a creative genius I was coaching to help her tap into her creativity and overcome her ADHD, had been trying to write a book she had floating around in her head for five years, but was getting nowhere. Yes, her ADHD made her more impulsive than most but it wasn’t the whole story. Willpower is a finite resource and to achieve a dream, you’ve got to go beyond the “buckle down and just do it approach.”

In this Facebook Live session, I’ll share the strategies Mary used to finally get her book written, and how you can use those same strategies to accomplish anything you want!

Monday, March 13th at 12:15 pm EST

Like my page or confirm interest in this event.

Goal Setting for Creative Geniuses: Reaching Goals Without Willpower

This is the third part of my three-part series on Goal Setting for Creative Geniuses. In the first lesson of the series, we discussed the importance of the big WHY, your reason for wanting to achieve this goal. In the second lesson, we looked at how you can improve your chances of making progress by taking consistent actions that lead to results. In this lesson, I’ll share a model you can use to turn results-driven routines into habits so powerful you’ll practically be able to achieve your goals in your sleep! (Well, almost.)

As we’ve seen, it’s much easier to reach goals using small consistent actions than it is to try to do everything at once. If you were able to make those small consistent actions without thinking about them, you wouldn’t need willpower to reach your goal. The way to do this is to turn those routines, the small consistent actions that move you toward your goal into a habit.

Let’s look at how to do that. Turning those actions into a habit requires three components: a trigger, a routine and a reward. Let’s dive into each of these elements. A trigger is an event that occurs in your environment that tells you it’s time to start the routine. A routine is simply a series of steps that when completed in the same order allow you to reach a consistent result. The reward, of course, is a motivator – it can be external to the routine or integral to it.

So let’s look at an example of the “habit loop.” When you are hungry, your stomach growls (the trigger), you raid your pantry or the staffroom refrigerator for food, heat it up and eat it (all these steps are the routine) and your hunger is abated (the reward).

Let’s apply this same model to a goal you might want to reach: Getting in shape.

As we mentioned earlier, it’s much easier to reach this goal through a series of consistent actions, such as exercising every day, than it is to do it all at once. You can’t get to the Olympics by being a couch potato for three years and then working non-stop for the last year!

Step 1: Consider the routine first. When you apply this strategy to reach goals such as getting in shape by exercising every day, you’ll always want to look at the routine first. In this case, let’s say you decide you want to run for 30 minutes every morning before work. If you haven’t run in a while, you might need to start with running 5 minutes a day.

Step 2: Identify a trigger that will remind you it’s time to put on your runners and pound the pavement. Triggers can be auditory cues such as reminders or alerts on your phone, visual cues such as keeping your runners next to your bed so your feet hit your shoes first when you wake up. A trigger can also be an event such as waking up or eating breakfast. Choose one or more triggers to see what works best for you. You decide to set your alarm an hour before you usually wake up and to put your shoes next to your bed.

Step 3: Determine how you will stay motivated to continue. ”Ideally the reward comes naturally as a result of the routine. In this case, feeling healthy is its own reward, but you may need to spice things up, at least until you start feeling the health benefits of running. You may decide to reward yourself with a small piece of dark chocolate (my favorite!), read a magazine you enjoy, watch a couple of cat videos on YouTube, spend time with friends, etc. The key is that the reward must be motivating for you. Eventually, these three elements will be linked in your mind so that the trigger will not only remind you of the routine but also of the promise of the reward you’ll get from completing the routine.

One client who works in real estate wanted to increase his listings. He decided to use the Habit Loop to help make it happen. He chose his trigger as an appointment he had twice a week with a junior real estate agent he wanted to mentor to make calls.

The routine that would lead to more listings was to call more prospects, among other things. However, he struggled to get this done, so he looked at a reward that might help motivate him.
His reward initially was to have several prospective listings to visit. His ultimate reward was to increase his standing in the real estate brokerage firm he was associated with.

The Habit Loop works for everyone, but as a creative genius, just remember that your rewards need to occur relatively quickly after completion of the routine.

How You Can Use This

So now your it’s your turn. What results are you looking for?

Step 1: What is a routine that will help you progress toward that result?

Step 2: What trigger can you use to set the routine in motion?

Step 3: What reward will you get?
Will it be intrinsic to the routine or will you create an artificial one while you wait for your desired results? (To play it safe, use both!)

Once you’ve established a strong Habit Loop, you can count on reaching your goal automatically. You won’t need to think about it, and it really will feel like you could succeed in your sleep! Master the power of the Habit Loop and you’ll be able to easily achieve goals you once thought were out of your reach.

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.

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

Solving your ADHD Problems at the Source

In my recent article entitled “I Have ADHD, Help me!”, I explained the importance of identifying which ADHD challenges to work on first. In the follow up article, “If You’ve Got ADHD, Missing this Step Practically Guarantees Failure,” I discussed the importance of building awareness of ADHD in your life to determine what’s causing the problem.

In this article, the third in this series, I explain the best way to solve the problem you’ve identified once you’re aware of its source (or sources).

You know the cause of your problem, what’s next?

So you have a pretty good idea of what’s causing your most vexing problem, what should you do next? Most of us think, “Well, stop whatever’s causing the problem!” Ah, if only it were that easy.

The good news is, there are almost certainly several ways to solve the problem, just as there may be many sources at the root of it. Remember, though, it’s very likely that solving your most vexing problem may take a few more steps and a little more effort than, say, turning off a light. However, while this may sound counterintuitive, if you want to make progress quickly, start by asking yourself this question: What is the smallest significant step I can take towards solving the problem? Don’t try to change or fix everything at once; pick one small, but meaningful, thing, and change that.

When our financial awareness-building exercise revealed we were overspending on small purchases – we were both shocked to discover Duane was spending $200 per month on soft drinks alone and I was spending the same amount on coffee – we looked at ways to cut only on those purchases. We didn’t try to refinance the mortgage, get another job or begin growing our own food. Those might also be good ideas, but when you try to fix everything at once, you often sabotage your own efforts.

Instead, we asked, “What’s one small, but significant, change we can make to help solve our problem?” Duane began to purchase his soft drinks at the supermarket instead of from the soda machine, saving a whopping $1.50 per drink (75%) and I started making some coffee at home; I’d drink my first coffee of the day at home, and then fill a travel mug for my second. Only buying one coffee per day instead of three saved 67%.

Starting one small step at a time

Nick, who was on the verge of a burnout, realized several behaviors were reducing his productivity. He wasted a lot of time on emails each morning, said “yes” way too often and jumped from one task to another because he didn’t plan his priorities each day. He knew he’d go a long way to solving his productivity issues if he had a clear plan of what he wanted to do with his time throughout the day. He decided his small but significant step would be to start planning. He didn’t start planning his whole week right away, because that would have been too big a step and he would have been overwhelmed. Instead, at the end of each work day, he identified his top three priorities for the next day and wrote them on a post-it note in front of his computer. Seeing those first things reminded him what his priorities were. He committed to only checking his emails in the afternoon, once the three priority tasks were completed.

The only approach that guarantees success

If you want to “fix” the problems ADHD is causing in your life, the only approach that guarantees success is to start with a small step and work your way up. Changing everything at once doesn’t work. Even changing multiple things at once doesn’t work. When you make too many changes in your life, you get too far out of your comfort zone. No one can sustain changes that are too uncomfortable.

You can also help yourself succeed in maintaining your changes by developing small support systems. For Nick, his system was as simple as having a post-it on his computer monitor that said “Check Your Calendar”. For Duane, it was writing a note to himself to include soft drinks on the grocery list.

Your mission should you choose to accept it…

  • Identify the first small step you can take that will make a significant difference. Implement it.
  • Devise a simple system to remind yourself of your plan.
  • Leave a comment in the box below to let us know what small step you’re planning to take.

 

If You’ve Got ADHD, Missing this Step Practically Guarantees Failure

In my last article, I Have ADHD, Help Me! I wrote how difficult I found it to respond to ADHDers who write simply, “Help me!” As I mentioned as well, it’s no easier to respond to those who write their life story and everything that’s ever gone wrong as a result of their ADHD in the hopes that I can give them THE answer. Of course, ADHD is much too complex for a single clichéd answer. Instead, I thought it would be best for me to provide you with a step-by-step approach to defining the problems and then finding solutions to your unique ADHD challenges.

In the first article, I assigned you a “mission.” You were to choose the first ADHD issue you would want to manage better based on your unique needs. I even described an approach for going about deciding which challenge to start with. Today, I’ll tell you what you need to do next to be able to proceed toward improving your ADHD.

By the way, the reason you need to choose only one thing to work on is that change is difficult and trying to change too much at the same time always backfires. It’s always better to take one step at a time. When Mary-Jo decided she wanted to improve her health, she didn’t start exercising, begin going to sleep earlier and start eating right all at once. Actually, she didn’t do that this time, because she HAD tried that before and sure enough, it backfired! So this time, she started with one thing, working on exercise first. She started with 5-minute walks around the block, eventually moving to longer walks then starting Zumba classes. Soon she was “addicted” to exercise, and this provided the catalyst for her to desire to begin eating better. As an added bonus, she found that because she was keeping a consistent routine of exercise, she was soon sleeping better and it was almost effortless for her to improve her sleep hygiene. Improving her health one step at a time made the changes manageable and not too uncomfortable.

If you accepted your mission in the last article, you’ve determine what problem you want to solve. Now what? Most people think the next step is obvious, “FIX THE PROBLEM!” But no, there is one more step that is essential, in fact, it’s a step ADHDers usually miss, and when they do, it practically guarantees failure! Before you can fix the problem, you must build awareness.

The First Step to Any Change Is Awareness

Unless you do this step, and it’s a step most ADHDers miss, nothing else works. The first step to changing your circumstances is always to build awareness. Ask yourself, what are you currently doing that’s contributing to your problem? You need to do this in a non-judgmental way; name-calling, especially calling yourself names, is not productive.

Building awareness is not an easy thing for an adult with ADHD to do because you’re often not paying attention to what’s going on. However, when you create the intention to get to the bottom of what behaviors are causing your problem, you are already half-way to a solution.

When Duane and I realized we had 17 creditors and were getting into a bigger hole each year (each month!), we could point to the fact that we were spending more than we were making and so were getting into debt faster than we could get out, but we still didn’t know how it kept happening. And when we fought but were focused on trying to win the argument, we didn’t understand why the same fights happened over and over with nothing ever getting resolved.

When my clients tell me, “I get to work early and leave late, and I don’t take breaks, plus I eat at my desk and take work home”, it’s obvious they’re expending a great deal of effort trying to solve a problem without really knowing what behaviors are causing the problem in the first place. There is no end to examples of how we can expend a great deal of effort to solve a problem without achieving results unless we first build awareness of the specific behaviors causing the problem.

How Do I Build Awareness?

So, how do you build awareness of your behaviors when you can’t pay attention? Let’s pretend there’s been a series of crimes perpetrated and your team of detectives are here to solve the case. I liken awareness-building to playing the role of Crime Scene Investigator. The CSI mantra is to study the evidence without judgment or bias.

Set the intention to become aware by creating systems that will help you pay attention to what you’re doing and will capture your behavior as you’re doing it. ADHDers can pay attention – in fact, you are distractible because you often notice things before others do – but unless you create an intention to note your behaviors and give yourself a way to capture the information, you’re not likely to pay attention and if you do, you’ll forget what you noticed before you have a chance to take note of it. Here are some examples of systems to build awareness.

To determine why our finances were a problem, Duane and I decided to track our spending, all our spending big or small. At the time, smart phones didn’t quite exist so we wrote every expense in small notebooks we carried everywhere. For one month, we tracked what we spent, where we spent it and how much, from the 32 cent stamp (yeah, I told you it was a while ago), to the $1.50 coffee and big ticket items, like furniture. This exercise allowed us to see where the money was going.

When my clients go on a mission to improve their ability to focus so that they can really improve their productivity in my Thrive! Program, I ask them to track their levels of mental and physical energy throughout each day to determine their energy patterns. Armed with this and other information they need to build awareness around, such as lifestyle behaviors that enhance or reduce their mental focus, my clients are then able to plan to make better choices that vastly increase their productivity.

Create a system to track your behavior. When tracking my finances, I put my notebook in my purse with my wallet so that I was always reminded to track. Nowadays, there are apps that can help with that.

Duane and I recently joined Weight Watchers. An important step to Weight Watchers is to track your food intake and to become more aware of the nutritional characteristics of the food we eat. Just this simple step makes a world of difference and often leads to weight loss without necessarily following a diet, simply because you become more mindful of what you put in your mouth.

Your agenda can be used as a tracking tool to determine how you spend your time each day. Clients who struggle, because they seem to leave at the end of the day with an in-basket that’s piled higher than when they arrived at work, use their agenda to track how they spend their time. There are also tools like the ADDA Storylines mobile app, which is specifically designed to help ADHDers track their ADHD symptoms.

If you’re struggling with an issue, the first step is to determine the source of the problem by creating the intention to build awareness, then devising a system for capturing the information you need to become aware.

Your Mission on Your Way to Finding a Solution to Your ADHD

So this week,

  1. Set your intention to become aware of the behaviors that are causing the challenge you’ve chosen to work on.
  2. Devise a system to help you collect the information you need to create that awareness.
  3. Collect the information. (Yes, you’ll miss some things, but you’ll still have far more information to work with than you do right now.)

In the next article, I’ll tell you what to do with the information you’ve collected.

Share in the comments box below the problem you’re struggling with and describe the system you’ll use to build awareness of the source of the problem.

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