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.

Learn More About the Focus to Freedom Blueprint Mastery program

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.

The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Inattentive and for Overwhelmed Adults with ADHD

adult adhd,productivity and adhd, work and adhd

The dates of this program have changed. The start date of the program is Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 11 am ET and sessions take place every 2nd Saturday mornings to accommodate more people. For more information check out The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Adults with ADHD Group Coaching Program Web page.

Be Productive : Take a Break

Entrepreneurs, ADHD adults and other Creative Geniuses often seek my services because they fail to be very productive. That’s why they’re surprised when in my Maximum Productivity Makeover I tell them that to be more productive, they may need to take a break.

Don’t confuse productivity with busy-ness

You confuse productivity with busy-ness. We all do. In fact in North American culture, working hard means you’re moving up in the world, you’re successful. As I was writing my first ebook, Grow With the Flow, I thought of how proud I used to be to tell people how busy I was; I wore it like a medal or a badge of honor. Not anymore.

I realized that being productive is doing what you need to do or get done in order to progress toward what you want to achieve.

As an avid gardener, I liken busy-ness to working hard at pulling whatever sprouts up, without considering if it’s the right thing to do; in the end, I have a garden overrun by weeds. If I had been productive I would have taken fewer but very focused steps and ended with a garden full of flowers.

Respecting the lulls of energy can actually make you more productive

ADHD adults feel especially guilty taking a break because they think they have to work more to get more done. Nothing could be further from the truth.

When you feel mentally and physically wiped, pushing through to get more done is the worst thing you can do.

We all have cycles throughout the day where at times you have a lot of energy and at other times you have virtually none left. But for ADHD adults and other Creative Geniuses the peaks are very high and the dips look more like crashes.

Consider the athlete who trains hard for an important competition. Did you know that before a competition, the same hard-working athlete rests to conserve energy and recharge for peak performance?

This strategy is not only good for athletes, it can also benefit you. Taking the time to recharge when you feel wiped allows you to regain your energy; whereas, working through this period in your day, actually never allows you to recover.

So now, how can you use this today?

First, become aware of periods in your day when you feel wiped.

Then, instead of pushing through, take a break that will give you energy.

In my next article, I’ll provide ideas for rejuvenating breaks.

The Best New Year’s Resolution? No More Running Away

Most people run away from New Year’s resolutions. That’s because typically, New Year’s resolutions don’t work very well. They last an average of 17 days… for adults with ADHD it’s likely closer to 5 days! Ever wonder why New Year’s resolutions haven’t worked for you? Maybe you need to stop running away.

As an ADHDer, you receive plenty of suggestions for resolutions you need to make, from your spouse, parents, colleagues, boss and friends, about your tardiness, disorganization, poor productivity, impulsiveness… need I go on? Always the people-pleaser, you impulsively (Oops! One down already!) resolve to be on time, better organized, and more productive this year. A few days later, you throw up your hands in surrender… nothing works.

These types of resolutions come ready-made with two problems: 1) you’re running away from something you don’t want instead of towards something you do want, and because of that, 2) your motivation quickly disappears and you must rely on willpower.

There’s nothing exciting about working on your weaknesses. You don’t dream of being less weak; you dream of being stronger. Since your resolution doesn’t excite and energize you, each day you will yourself to be “less weak.” Unfortunately, willpower is a finite resource. Relying on willpower to change an ingrained habit is like dog sledding across the Sahara with a team of Chihuahuas!

2010 could be the year you achieve great things

2010 could be the year you achieve great things (they’re great because they’re things that you actually want!) and overcome some of your weaknesses in the process. Find goals that ROCK you and compel you to change. Choose resolutions that fuel your resolve in the face of difficulty, that move you toward something YOU want and that allow you to work in your areas of strengths.

Move toward your strengths, not away from your weaknesses

Don’t resolve “not be tardy.” Instead, resolve to live a calmer, more harmonious and Zen life. If you really want to live a calmer life, you’ll quickly realize that scrambling to get to appointments on time is stressing you out. You realize that if you plan your time, organize your things so you know where your keys are when it’s time to go and leave early, you’ll arrive calm, in control and totally Zen (and as a bonus, you won’t be late!)

Instead of resolving to manage your time better, resolve to take on a new hobby or spend time each week developing a new skill that takes advantage of one of your strengths. To free up the time to do something you really want to do, you’ll be motivated to organize your things so you won’t waste 45 minutes a day looking for them.

Before long, you have a new hobby you love and you’re a calmer, happier person to boot! Getting better organized and improving your time management is just a means to an end, a happy coincidence. Spending more time doing what you like to do is the fuel that takes you there.

Take a new approach towards goal setting

Take a new approach to your New Year’s resolutions for 2010. Run toward your strengths instead of away from your weaknesses. Ask yourself:

  1. What are my greatest strengths, abilities and interests?
  2. If I knew I couldn’t fail, what outrageously compelling resolutions would I make this year?
  3. What parts of my life would I be willing, even eager to change if it was the only way to honor my outrageous and compelling resolutions?

And if you’d like to learn how to free up some time to pursue your resolutions and compelling goals with ten amazing strategies that improve your productivity by working with your strengths instead of against them, get your free (but amazingly valuable report!), Productivity Myths Busted now.

ADHD and Motivation Part 3: Find Your Real Fuel

full_tankIn the first article of the series I introduced the option to inject interest in anything you want to complete to help increase your motivation. The second article of the series introduced the possibility of using momentum to overcome your motivation issues when you have ADHD. This third article is sure to really rock your world.

Some people call the Maximum Productivity Makeover for ADHD Adults the ultimate time management program for ADHDers. Actually, this self-management system will teach you how to manage your time, energy and life. You learn amazingly powerful strategies proven effective by ADHDers just like you, who struggled just like you, but who’ve transformed their lives completely using these very strategies. You can use it to make your dreams come true too.

The Maximum Productivity Makeover is hard work though. I’m a firm believer in working smarter rather than harder, but it’s still hard work to learn how to work smarter (Annoying conundrum there, isn’t it? Seems there’s going to be hard work either way… so I highly recommend the approach with less work… learn to work smart!) Ok, so there’s work involved. But if it’s worth it, hard work doesn’t scare you, right? Especially when you can see the payoff. That payoff, what we call your “fuel,” is actually your key to success.

You’ll do the work, in fact, you won’t even notice that there’s hard work involved, if the reason driving you to do the work truly motivates you. All you need is a good reason. And there’s only one good reason for you to tackle any program, including The Maximum Productivity Makeover. What’s that reason? You’re the only one who knows what it is. But you may have buried it long ago.

You want to transform your life because the way you’re living now doesn’t match the amazing future you imagined for yourself before “life” started to beat you down. Before you struggled to sit still in school. Before all those report cards suggested you could do much better, if only you tried harder. Before your career so drastically failed to measure up to your aspirations. Before your spouse despaired of ever having help around the house instead of what seems like just another kid.

If you want a complete transformation so you can have a “normal” life, you need to keep digging. No child ever dreamed of having a “normal life,” unless a normal life includes slaying dragons! If you want an amazingly creative mind focused like a laser with the power to realize any dream you imagine just to impress your… wife, boss, mom, dad… you’re not there yet. Keep digging.

Keep digging until you find that old, buried, hidden and mistreated dream. Keep digging until you feel the passion you felt when you were younger and not as “realistic” as you’ve become.

You’ll know you’ve found that passion again, because your life will change… dramatically, drastically, amazingly! While programs like the Maximum Productivity Makeover for ADHD Adults provide the tools, it is YOU, your dreams, that provide the fuel! And the fuel determines the miles you travel, and the speed you move.

ADHD and Motivation Part 2: Using Momentum

The title probably gave it away, but this is the second part in a series of articles. In the first article of the series , we talked about injecting interest, novelty, challenge and sometimes urgency to make a boring task more enticing.

Today, we’ll look at a way to motivate you to do a task you find boring or difficult (and not in a fun, challenging way) and which you just can’t make interesting.

First, let’s stay away from guilt. You are not the problem, the task is. It’s boring, or worse. Guilt doesn’t work, and the negative feelings guilt leads to can throw you into a whirlpool of negativity.

You can recognize the dangerous slope to guilt when you start asking yourself, “Why?” Why can’t I do this? Why can’t I just focus? “Why” is not a productive question, and even if you had the answer, you’d be no closer to getting your task done.

There is, however, a guilt-free way of getting that challenging task done. In fact, this approach is so powerful I often refer to as an ADHDer’s “secret weapon.” There are two different ways of using momentum to tackle any task; we’ll look at one in this article, and the second in Part 3 of this series.

A physics law states, “An object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rests tends to stay at rest.” If you can’t get started on a task, it’s very likely that situation is not going to change. If you can get moving, however, it’s much easier for you to keep moving.

Adults with ADHD often struggle with motivation because, unlike neurotypicals, when a task is boring, your brain doesn’t activate at all. While neurotypicals may find the task equally boring, they’ll still be able to activate their brains enough to focus and get it done.

ADHDers facing a boring task struggle to get their brains energized, and without that energy, you are unable to block out distractions so you can focus and get it done. Instead, you notice every stimulus and if anything is more enticing, before you know you’re doing anything but the boring task.

You can use momentum like a booster cable in a car. You can jumpstart your brain using a short, interesting or energizing task or activity. Do something you enjoy, like playing a musical instrument, drawing or taking a brisk walk outside. Once your brain is “in motion,” you can stop the activity you enjoy and move quickly to work on the boring task for as long as your brain can take it.

If you find yourself struggling again, move back to the short energizing task, a bit like putting your foot on the gas to keep a sputtering motor from dying.

Try it. I’m sure you’ll find it very effective. I’ll see you back here soon for part 3 of this series on ADHD and motivation, where we’ll look at another way you can use momentum to get more done.

In the meantime, please share your ideas for short, energizing or interesting activities you use to jumpstart your brain and activate your secret weapon, momentum.

ADHD and Motivation Part 1: Injecting Interest

Many of my clients have been dealing with the effect of ADHD on motivation lately. Of course, it is a common problem as ADHD and a lack of motivation often go hand in hand. It’s a challenging issue obviously important to many of you, but there’s good news; there are many strategies to help overcome your challenges. I’ll be devoting several posts to it. Be sure to join us.

Lack of motivation is a common but erroneous complaint among ADHDers. As an ADHDer, when you face a boring task, your brain just doesn’t activate, so it’s difficult to take action. You turn the key to start your turbo brain and nothing happens.

If you were a motorcycle, you wouldn’t blame a lack of motivation; you wouldn’t say a motorcycle is lazy. Unfortunately, however, you blame yourself for this problem. But like a motorcycle, the problem is either a lack of battery power, spark plugs that aren’t firing or not enough fuel in your tank. Of course, other issues might exist but we’ll discuss these at another time.

Let’s stick with the motorcycle analogy for a moment, and see how you might deal with this issue. If your battery is low on power, maybe you’re not recharging your battery. Sleep deprivation (or too much sleep), little or no exercise, poor nourishment, and your mood all contribute to insufficient power in your battery.

Proper self-care is your first line of defense against motivation problems. Solving these issues is simple but not always easy. To get enough sleep, exercise and to eat well requires that you be organized enough to do so. If you aren’t (or don’t feel) organized enough to take care of yourself, along with handling work, family and so on, consider seeking help to get organized.

If you’re well-rested, well-fed and getting enough exercise, then what appears as a lack of motivation is often the result of a lack of interest in the task or the results of the task. ADHDers are interest-based performers; without interest, someone may as well have put sugar in your tank. Your brain synapses won’t fire very well, making you feel sluggish instead of eager to move ahead.

If the task is truly boring, consider delegating or dropping it (more on delegating in future posts). If that is not possible and the task is essential, you will need to jumpstart your engine by injecting interest, novelty, challenge or urgency into the task.

This is really your chance to excel. I find most ADHDers are extremely creative, outside-the-box thinkers, so use that strength to make any task more interesting.

For example, you keep putting off paying your bills because it’s soooooo boring. Instead of sitting at your desk secluded in your office, bring your bills together along with your checkbook to a comfortable coffee shop – I love Second Cup, their Continental Black coffee reminds me of my vacation in Italy this past summer – and pay your bills as you leisurely sip your favorite blend of coffee or tea. You’ve just injected novelty into the task and greatly increased your chances of completing it.

I’d also like to encourage you to share your brilliant ideas with your fellow ADHDers. Share how you inject interest, novelty, challenge or urgency when dealing with boring tasks with me, either by posting it as a reply here on the blog, or contacting me directly (Linda at – replace at with @ – coachlindawalker.com) and I’ll gather everyone’s ideas and share them with all of you – for free.

Watch for my next post on ADHD and motivation where you’ll learn how to use momentum as a secret weapon to complete any task.

Managing Work-Related Stress for ADHD Adults

Most people are feeling stressed, and this is especially true of many ADHD adults.  The downturn in the economy, climbing employer and client expectations, and an ever growing To-Do list, keep us constantly trying to do more in less time.

More fearful for their jobs than ever, ADHD adults often stay late to do their work.  Arriving home mentally exhausted, you are more likely to suffer from anxiety and of course, long hours and low energy don’t help them create with a more balanced life as a way to cope with the anxiety.

This ADHD-friendly success tips will help you manage your work-related stress:

Create a more balanced life
You must connect with family, friends, your community and nature to counter the effect of work-related stress.  Take up a hobby that allows you to be creative and in the moment, yes, even if you don’t think you have enough time or energy.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised.  Even though I was launching two programs, I signed up for a pottery class recently and my stress level has dropped.

Keep a positive attitude
Worry, frustration and negative thoughts rob you of quality time and happiness.  Notice your thoughts and ask yourself, “Is this productive?”  Will you solve the problem by constantly thinking about it, especially if you’re thinking negatively?  No!  Instead, choose to think differently.

Here’s an example.  The common reaction to someone cutting you off in traffic is to get mad and stay mad all day; again, choose to think differently.  Often we get mad because that person cutting you off in traffic only reminds you other inconsiderate people or people you feel don’t respect you.  Instead of focusing on you, consider the other person’s point of view for a moment.  The person who cut you off probably woke up late and is frantically trying to get to work on time.  If you empathize with the person, thinking, “Poor guy, I know what that’s like”, it changes your attitude about the situation and diffuses negativity before it can ruin your day.

Learn to be more effective at work
Studies show that ADHD adults are less productive than non-ADHDers because the techniques they use to manage their productivity and their time aren’t compatible with their unique brain wiring.  ADHD-friendly strategies to manage your time and life can make you even more productive than your non-ADHD colleagues.

With improved productivity, you won’t need to work later, you’ll do more in less time using less energy and you’ll feel more satisfied and more confident.  You’ll come home at a reasonable hour and with enough energy to enjoy the rest of your life.  Your improved productivity will also reassure you that you’ve done everything possible to keep your job, which in turn will reduce stress.

Stressful situation will always exist, good economy or bad.  You determine your level of stress and anxiety by the way you respond to them.

If you’d like to learn how you can better manage work-related stress, check out The Maximum Productivity Makeover for ADHD Adults. The next session begins on November 3rd.

Work With Your ADHD, Not Against It

While you may think that ADHD creates a disadvantage for you in the business world, there are strategies you can employ to take advantage of the symptoms of ADHD. In doing so, you may find you’ll become just as productive (and maybe even slightly more productive) than your non-ADHD counterparts.

You, like non-ADHDers, have cycles of energy throughout your day. This, of course, means that at certain times your energy levels will be low and you will feel drained and sluggish. The difference between you and a non-ADHDer is that they can trudge their way through those periods of low energy to maintain adequate productivity levels, whereas you likely find it impossible to be creative, effective, or efficient during these times, and difficult to tackle even less challenging tasks. At other times you are full of energy and feel great, as if you can accomplish anything! In fact, at these times you may feel as though you’ve achieved a state of hyperfocus, and you may find it difficult to “unfocus” yourself.

The good news is that, contrary to common wisdom, there is no need to fight these cycles. Although your ADHD brain works differently than most, you can use these differences to your advantage. It’s simply a matter of working smarter, not harder. Since your peaks are higher than average, you can use your energy to accomplish far more than most people can. On the other hand, there are ADHD-friendly ways of maintaining your productivity even during low-energy periods, simply by selecting the right tasks, or molding the tasks to permit you to accomplish them even during down times.

Most people try to squeeze more actions into their day to increase their productivity. Since there are only 24 hours in a day, after a point, it’s simply not possible. You’ll fall behind. By learning to recognize these high and low energy cycles, and by using them to your benefit, you will be able to accomplish more throughout your day, using less time and less energy. Match the tasks that require the most energy output with the times when you have the greatest energy. Use your lower energy times to work on simpler, more habitual tasks; tasks that require very little energy.

It really is that simple. Don’t fight your brain’s natural inclinations. Listen to your body and learn to recognize your energy cycles. Soon, you will be using your time productively without fighting to accomplish tasks that don’t match your energy levels.