“I spent a lot of time wearing training wheels before I learned these habits.” That’s how my friend Frances Strassman introduces these new habits for a new year, below. She was 75 when she wrote this piece.
Frances was a well-known professional organizer and executive coach in the Bay Area. Yet, she described her pre-ADHD-diagnosis life as “walking on a mine field.”
Though we lost this dear woman last year, her wisdom lives on. Happy 2016!
New Habits For A New Year:
Dealing with Distractibility
There are many things that are a major help in focusing, but we are very willing to overlook them.
- Daily exercise can make a huge difference.
- Diet has a big effect, especially sugar.
- A meditative practice has a large impact, like Tai Chi, a moving medication.
To excess, however, activity causes stress, making our brains blip out. Hard as it feels, reducing activity is a real aid to focusing on the task at hand.
We tend to confuse
impulsive with spontaneous.
There is a
very big difference.
Doing less is not standing still. Choose selectively, stay conscious of each step, and then derive full satisfaction, like savoring a delicious meal. It also results in far fewer mistakes and lost time.
We tend to confuse impulsive with spontaneous. There is a very big difference.
- Design rituals as the framework for your activities.
Design what you need to do before you go to bed to bring closure to each day. Design what you need to do to be ready for the next day. Find a way to do these things that is pleasurable. Design how you want to start your work. Design how you want your life to be and then methodically go about creating it.
- Once you have a ritual that works, that serves you well, make exceptions only in emergencies.
The keys go there, when not at home the keys go here, the wallet goes here, the glasses go here, etc. We tend to make a decision about these things and then make constant exceptions. We can change.
- When you are working on some activity and get ideas about something else you want to do, write them down on an appropriate size sticky-note instead of random pieces of paper.
Write only one idea per note. Then continue your task. When done with the first task, past the notes in the appropriate place in your time-management system, if it is a paper system. (If you use an electronic device, enter the information there.) Or create a spiral book or binder in which you past all ideas and random thoughts. The point is not to have little pieces of paper flying around, but to gather them in one spot.
- Consider that the end of things is as important as the beginning.
Ignoring the end or trying to quickly get it out of the way is not doing justice to our creative ideas. It’s like always getting pregnant without giving birth. We need to value completion, and slow down enough to see what can happen. The full circle is beautiful.
A time-planning/calendar system is a tremendous aid if you are a busy person.
- The key is our commitment to mastering it.
- Whether we consider software, paper-based planners, or some inventive new system, we cannot simply go out and buy it and think we are ready. These are sophisticated tools that require learning and customizing—but are supremely worth the effort.
- One of the main features of having a system is that we have set up one place where we can collect all types of information (if we really learn the system) and then be able to find that information.
- Have sections in your time-management system where you collect information, with a page for each category (e.g. grocery list, errands, ideas for a new book, etc.).
- Without one of these systems, our brain has to put all its energy into trying to hang onto these random bits of information, and to the brain stays in an overworked mode.
- More benefits: No more little pieces of paper, a “portable memory” in good working order, a system for continuously de-cluttering the brain (by downloading our ideas, etc.), so that our creativity can arise. In other words, we gain a focusing device.
- To the extent that we master a time-management system, to the same extent we are likely to reduce crises. Pressure will begin to diminish.
- Having a system allows us to plan a life that is what we want it to be.
Have you adopted any of these techniques?
Did they improve your life quality?
Wishing you a Happy New Year free of “resolution pressure”! 🙂