Autopilot: My Productivity Secret Weapon!

This is an extremely busy time of year for my business, and my personal life is no less full right now. Some days, I feel like my calendar is bursting at the seams! Everybody can relate to that feeling. Each of us has more to do than can realistically be done some days. That’s how life is, right? But if we don’t stay on top of the things we need to do consistently, these periods where life throws extra busy-ness at us can be a nightmare! 

Honestly, if things didn’t run pretty smoothly around here the rest of the time, I’d be pretty close to losing my mind right now. If my house were a mess, my laundry out of control, my refrigerator empty, and my counter covered in paper, I’d feel like I was stuck in the bottom of a pretty big hole right now. If my office were a shambles, my business bookkeeping behind, and my email inbox overflowing, I’d be feeling pretty discouraged with myself and about my life right now.

And I know this first hand! I have ADHD, and I spent a lot of years with a messy house, a mountain of laundry, an empty refrigerator and counter tops covered in bills and mail and other papers. And there was no way in those days that I really could have dreamed of running my own business, let alone everything else I do, and maintained any degree of sanity!

I’m not tooting my own horn! I know, without a shadow of a doubt that I’m not any smarter than you. I’m not a harder worker than you are. And I know I don’t have any more self-discipline than you have! (I hate that phrase—self-discipline! It’s so judgy and laced with shame and judgement.)

I don’t do anything you can’t learn to do yourself.

For me, the cornerstone of how I keep it together (most of the time, cause I’m sure not perfect!) is my routine, really my routineS–plural! For me, it’s all about rhythm and habit—it’s about putting my life on auto-pilot in every way I can!

One of the most effective ways to start to improve your ability to get stuff done is by using “The Power of Auto-Pilot.” It’s a rather simple concept, and sort of intuitive once you get the hang of it, but it can be HUGE in payback—both from a productivity perspective and an energy perspective. Think of it like putting your life on cruise control, and the benefit can be immeasurable!

First, we know that things that happen repeatedly as a matter of habit are processed in a different part of the brain—the part that is used for instinct and reflex—and it is much less evolved than the parts of the brain that handle our Executive Functions. Also, we know that sort of “lower” part of the brain uses much less energy, much less glucose, than those higher-order mental processes. And mental energy equals physical energy, so we really want to take advantage of that when we can to free up energy for the more important things in our lives, right?! Your interests, your hobbies, the people and things you care about most, and even yourself!

Simply creating a sort of natural rhythm to your life so enables you to use less energy to get done what you need to do! When you harness the power of routines and put these things on auto-pilot, you completely take your own mind and its struggles with activation, procrastination, prioritization, and overwhelm OUT OF THE EQUATION! When you can get your head out of the equation, life can be a lot easier!

So, give it a try! Start to pay attention to what happens repeatedly—daily, weekly, or monthly—and take a look at how you can create a rhythm or routine that you can put on autopilot for yourself.

And start slowly! Research has shown that focusing on changing fewer behaviors one time makes it easier to solidify those behaviors. So, for starters, pick 1-3 things that happen each day and focus on finding ways to turn them into a routine. Add one or two more when those things become no-brainers and are on full autopilot for you.

Please share your thoughts, successes and challenges. I’m here to help!

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