“I really need to get that [x] project done today! What was that resource I saw earlier that I thought would help? I think It was on Pinterest… Let me just check my feed for it….. OH MY GOD – what an adorable dog! What kind of dog is that? I wonder what it would look like mixed with a Poodle? *googles it* wait – what’s this? An adorable video of a dog on a skateboard? I need to send this to [so and so!] *opens Facebook feed and starts to type in name* wait – [such and such] had a BABY?? I didn’t even know she was pregnant! *proceeds to creep through previous photos of such and such* Man, why are all my friends getting married and having babies, and I’m still sitting here in my pyjamas eating…..um…that reminds me! I’m hungry! What should I make for dinner? *Flips back to Pinterest to look up recipes, sees previous search open* OH RIGHT! I was going to work on [x] project! Well, now I’m not inspired anymore! Let me just look through Etsy for other pretty ideas! *browsing the front page of Etsy* What’s that? ……Nail polish? I didn’t even know you could BUY nail polish on Etsy! *expands store* Holy smokes, look at all these! And they’re SO PRETTY! I want them all! Wait – I can’t afford these! I wish I knew how to make my own! I wish I had my OWN nail polish line! What do I need to start one? *opens google* WAIT- Whats that??…..” (Repeat ad nauseam.)
You just heard an excerpt from my brain on a day which I’ve “devoted” to being productive/working from home….does that train of thought sound at all familiar to you? If so, you may be one of the members of society suffering from the effects of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, better known as ADHD. It is estimated that about 7% of adults are affected by the disorder, however, I would speculate that there are a WHOLE bunch more, who have simply gone under the radar and been left undiagnosed, simply attributing their struggles to things like anxiety or depression (however, ADHD can actually be the CAUSE of anxiety and depression in adults, making it even more important to get checked out if you are looking for the root cause of your symptoms!) This seems to be the case with a lot of mental illnesses/disorders (read about my experience with that in THIS post!).
What exactly is ADHD? When most people think of it, they tend to picture a young boy, usually around 5 or 6 years old, bouncing off the walls of his classroom, causing his teacher’s hair to turn grey by the minute! However there’s a lot more to it than that, and that little boy is not to be blamed for his misguided surplus of creative energy!
There are actually several types of ADHD which have been diagnosed, some easier to spot than others, typically making them more commonly diagnosed. The two most common forms of the disorder are inattentive ADHD, and hyperactive/over-impulsive ADHD. Some people even experience aspects of both forms.
Like me, you may have gone through life sweeping your issues under the rug, thinking “Oh, I probably don’t have ADHD! I’m not hyper all the time!” Well, not everyone with ADHD is always “hyper.” Not even people on the hyperactivity side of the spectrum are always hyper! There is actually a LOT more to this disorder than simply hyperactivity, short attention spans, and forgetfulness!
I was always a very quiet student in school, afraid to take part in lessons vocally, preferring to just sit back and listen to other people’s ideas and expand on them in my head. However, sometimes I would expand on these ideas a little *too* much, and end up on a train of thought on a COMPLETELY different subject. Once I would “resurface,” I would have missed a large chunk of the lesson! I have a distinct memory of my high school French teacher making a comment along the lines of “If you can keep Alex’s attention during your presentation, you KNOW it’s a good one!” From then on I was widely known as the token “space case” in that class!
I have also had a HUGE problem with procrastinating for my entire life. These issues combined have made it exceedingly hard to stay productive. As a student, my grades suffered because of it. As an adult with a self-employed/self-managed blogging schedule, I have to work incredibly hard to make sure I stay on top of things!
I’m sure MANY of you have similar issues, which is why I’ve compiled a list of my favourite ways to maintain productivity, that I have found to be the most ADHD-proof!!
1. Write EVERYTHING down. E. VER. Y. THING.
If I had a dollar for every time in my life I’ve either said or thought “I don’t need to write that down – I’ll remember it!” well, I’d be a very rich lady!
I’m still working on remembering to always do this, but I’ve definitely learned the hard way several times too many that I need to write ALL of my ideas/things I need to remember down, otherwise, there’s no telling when they will resurface in my memory!
For example, every time I come up with an idea for a new blog post, I write it down in the notes app on my phone. I do this even if it is a VERY rough idea that is still not totally formulated. I can always go back and develop it later on, as long as it’s there! This way, on a day when I am struggling to find inspiration on what to blog about, I can just pull up my list of ideas, and pick one that strikes me! One of the hardest parts about running a lifestyle/multi-niche blog is coming up with post ideas, so this helps a lot!
Another thing that helps is to try to consolidate all your notes as much as possible. Whether that is on your phone, your computer, in a journal/planner, or on a series of sticky notes, it will be a LOT easier to stay organized/keep track of all your notes and ideas if they are all in one place! Of course, sometimes, this isn’t always possible. I know from personal experience, that if I come up with an idea at a time when my phone is not within reach, sometimes even the act of walking into a new room to get it can be enough for me to forget what I wanted to write down in the first place! So I WILL write things down in other places if absolutely necessary, and then make sure to consolidate them later. PRO TIP: A great way to do this is by using an app like Evernote, which syncs all notes and documents between all your devices!
2. Set Reminders for Important Dates/Appointments/Time Sensitive Projects.
If you’re like me, even after writing down important things, you still need another actual reminder to remember to take action later on! I use the Calendar app on my iPhone to keep track of important dates, appointments, and other time sensitive things that need to get done. You can set the date and time of the appointment, and also opt to have your phone send you a reminder notification closer to the actual date/time. Reminders can be sent anywhere from several days to several hours/minutes before! I usually set at least a 2 hour reminder before all my appointments, so that I know I will have enough time to get ready, and get there on time.
[Photo of phone screen calendar]
3. Keep A To Do List
One of my worst habits when it comes to working, is sitting down to do something productive, such as write a blog post, work on a piece of art, or do my daily promo work, and then being distracted by something else I suddenly remember I need/want to do, then coming back to life (so to speak) and wondering what I was doing in the first place! This is probably the number one way I fail at being productive!
In order to overcome that, I’ve started keeping regular to-do lists. This is a habit that I’m still struggling with keeping up, but I’m working on it! Every day/week (or both!) write down all things that need to get done in a to do list! Write them down in order of priority so that you can start form the top of the list and work your way down. Check things off as you go (NOTHING is more satisfying!) and at the end of the day, move any tasks that did not get completed over to the next day! If you keep this up on a regular basis, it is sure to multiply your productivity by at least a bazillion percent! Trust me, it’s science!
4. Have a Place for Everything
I’m often known for getting up to grab something I need, using it, then just throwing it aside when I’m finished with it, and then having no idea where it’s gone the next time I need it! If this happens to you too, maybe you need to up the ante a bit on the organization front! Make sure EVERYTHING in your house has its own place! Have a catch-all/caddy at your front door for keys and mail, a container on your desk for your most used pens/pencils/other items, a drawer/box/shelf in your closet or dresser for all electronics and their chargers, and everything else you can think of! Try to organize all items by category, for example, by function, so you know and remember where to find them when you need them!
The other week, I misplaced my camera charger, and my battery decided to die on me right when I had planned to shoot all the photos for my DIY Jewelry blog post! I have a box in my closet with all my electronic chargers, and it wasn’t in there! I practically TORE my apartment apart looking for it, with no luck! Do you know how much replacement chargers for my camera battery cost? 70 dollars, MINIMUM. Thankfully, I found it, hidden underneath some other objects in my dresser drawer, because that would have been a very expensive mistake!
5. Keep Your Workspace Clean
It’s been proven that having a clean and organized workspace will make you feel SUPER warm and fuzzy inside every time you sit down to get work done! Okay, maybe that’s not what the actual reports said, but it’s what they meant! Have you ever sat down to work on something, and just felt so completely dejected by the state of your desk/office/workspace? I know I have! Set aside a chunk of time each month to deep clean/organize your workspace, as well as some time every day you use it to maintain that organizational method, and clean up everything you’ve used once you are finished. You will REALLY notice an improvement in your motivation levels!
6. Find Out What Motivates You to be Organized.
However, if you’re anything like me, cleaning and organizing, as well as STAYING clean and organized is the last thing you ever want to be doing, except for maybe once in a blue moon when the inspiration strikes! This is when you need to figure out what MOTIVATES you to stay organized. For me, its making sure all of my planning/organizing tools and devices are really pleasing to my eyes! I am a total sucker for a pretty looking notepad/planner! Use colourful markers/pens, stickers, Washi tape, or highlighters in your journal/planner if that will help you coordinate all your appointments! Go to town and buy those cute organizing containers you’ve been eyeing, if they will help you organize your life/space better! Make sure your workspace is not only clean, but also a space that you feel comfortable in. A space where you can take a break from your screen, have a look around the room, and feel comforted!
This is what motivates me, but it’s all about finding what helps YOU be most efficient and increase your productivity!
7. Get Rid of Any Distracting External Stimuli
I’ve been known to have so many tabs open in my browser that I can’t even read what they all are anymore! At that point, what’s the point of having them open in the first place? They are just adding even more unnecessary “compartments” into your brain! Close all social media apps like Facebook and Twitter. Turn off your phone, or put it in airplane mode so any incoming notifications won’t distract you. Lock any “unruly” pets out of the room, and if you have kids, make sure that they have enough activities or projects to keep them sufficiently entertained!
8. Put on some White Noise, Music, or Audio that won’t Distract You.
I used to love to watch Netflix while I worked, however, recently I’ve found that I can’t devote my attention to following the plot of a tv show or movie, and also whatever else I’m working on at the same time. So I stopped using Netflix as my “background noise,” and started using *actual* background noise. You can search YouTube for many relaxing, energizing, or inspiring audios that you can play while you work. You can also opt to have music on in the background. Just make sure it’s not something you are going to want to get up and dance or sing along to too much, as you’ll lose productivity this way!
9. Schedule Regular Breaks.
Sometimes, working for TOO long can decrease productivity as well. This is an especially big problem for people who work in office jobs/environments where they feel they don’t have the time to take so many breaks, and have to work consecutively straight through the entire day! Well, guess what? You’re likely wasting MORE time this way, by decreasing your brain’s efficiency, and allowing yourself to be distracted by other things like social media! Try to take at least 10 minutes every hour to get up, stretch, walk around, grab a snack or some water, and then get back to work! You will decrease the strain on your mind this way, while also increasing energy, efficiency, and productivity!
10. When Inspiration Strikes, Don’t be Afraid to Drop Everything and Follow It!
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory, no?
There you go! Those are some of my favourite tips! This was really rambly – sorry!
I’m willing to bet that you may not have even made it this far, but if you did, I’ll reward you with another awesome statistic!
It has been reported that there is a BIG correlation between ADHD, and creative traits. In fact, a large percentage of people who are effected by the disorder are artists in some respect! I know I’ve met a HUGE handful of them in my lifetime! So get out there and share your creative ideas with the world, now that you know how to be productive!
What are some of your favourite ways to maintain productivity?