Have you ever felt confused by conflicting advice from productivity experts?
I read one article that talks about how Richard Branson recommends getting up at 5:00 AM to exercise and organize the day, and another that said Apple’s Tim Cook proudly claims that he gets up at 3:45 AM to get on top of his email. (Yikes! I definitely didn’t get THAT gene.) I also read that Tesla CEO and billionaire Elon Musk reportedly pulls all-nighters and sleeps on the floor in front of his desk to maximize productivity. But… I also read that the world’s wealthiest man, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, advocates a good night’s sleep and a leisurely start to the morning doing what he calls, “puttering” until he’s fully up to speed around 10:00 AM.
How do you know what works best?
In his Getting Things Done© (GTD) system, David Allen professes the need for organizing your to-dos by context, or the environment where you will execute them. It makes perfect, logical sense, right?! So, you follow his steps and implement his system, and at first you’re inspired! But after weeks of struggle and good intentions, it falls apart.
You feel like you’re back to square one.
Overwhelmed by the growing volume of unfinished projects and incomplete to-dos, and another system you can’t seem to maintain.
So, you search YouTube© for productivity help and stumble upon a great video that explains how to use a bullet journal. It’s creative, it’s flexible, and it looks like the answer to your prayers! But a month later, and that perfect bullet journal you created is MIA and you’re not back at square one, you’re even further behind than you were to start! (Is there such a thing as negative square one? I say that there is, because I know I’ve been there!)
If that’s not a winner, the solution must be to go electronic, right? Surely that will be the ticket! You take a trip to your favorite office supply store and stock up on desk organizers to control the paper clutter, a new scanner, and maybe drop a chunk of money (and time and energy) on an electronic system with Evernote© (or OneNote © or ToDoist© or…) and a Digital Calendar at the center.
At first, that new system is exciting and interesting and you’re all in! You’re committed to making this one work. You really, truly believe that things are going to be different his time! Your commitment and your enthusiasm and your intentions are unwavering. This is it! This is “THE ONE”! You’re finally getting “it” together once and for all. You’re finally going to take control of your calendar, manage your time effectively, and make your to-do list your servant like you know you can.
But you know how this movie ends. You’ve seen it before, and it’s a tearjerker. Heart-breaking, really!
One thing is for sure…
You’re not alone in your quest for the “best” system, tools and strategies!
For more than 15 years, I’ve helped countless professionals who struggle with procrastination, disorganization and poor time-management learn to accomplish what they intend and take control of their time so that they can consistently perform at the level of the abilities AND have even more time, energy and money for what matters most to them.
But my clients don’t get there by plugging themselves into someone else’s system. Yes, there are people who find that “right out-of-the-box” system, plug themselves into it, and they’re good to go indefinitely. Some people get lucky and stumble into something that works for them. (You know that expression, “Even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while”?)
But so far, you feel like a nutless, blind squirrel!
We all need effective systems, tools and strategies to support us, like Scaffolding, so that we can fulfill our potential. Everyone does. The human brain wasn’t designed to manage the complexities of modern life.
But… When you have ADHD or Executive Function Challenges, that scaffolding is even more essential to your success.
The truth is that very few of us are consistently successful by simply plugging ourselves into someone else’s system or way of doing things. Yes, we may find something that works for a little while, but not for the long haul. And…
So what do we do?
We blame ourselves.
We call ourselves undisciplined.
And, We believe we lack the willpower and determination it takes to be consistent. So, then…
We feel ashamed.
But here’s the cold, hard truth…
It’s not you. It’s the system!
If your productivity and performance at work or at home isn’t at the level of your abilities, it’s because you haven’t created YOUR system.
Your systems need to be custom-built to work FOR YOU!
Your “scaffolding” needs to be built based don your natural strengths, your natural tendencies, your natural rhythms of focus and energy, how you process and organize information and the things around you naturally. You haven’t created a system that falls in your “sweet spot” of structure—enough structure to support you, but not so much that it stifles your or makes you feel resentful. These are the things I call your Unique Operating SystemTM, your “UOS”TM.
Trying to make someone else’s system work for you is like trying to run a program that’s designed for an Apple Mac on a Windows PC. It doesn’t work!
Your Unique Operating SystemTM comprises your own, individual keys to success!
You were born with what you need to be successful already inside you. Deep down, you know it (or you used to). You know your potential far exceeds the way you show up every day, and what you do (and don’t do). When you’re in tune with your natural strengths and tendencies, it all gets easier. When you’re in tune with how you work best and what you need to have in place to support you instead of focusing on how you or other people think you should work best, it all gets easier.
Your systems, tools and strategies need to fit you, and Work For You, not the other way around.
You really can become the master of your time, accomplish what you intend, perform according to your abilities AND have a life with the time and energy for you value most: Your family; Your friends; Your community; Your faith; Your interests. And Your Self.
It really doesn’t have to be so hard!
For starters, look around and take an objective look at what’s working and also what’s not. What’s working is the key to overcoming what’s not!
Then, take a closer look at the scaffolding, systems and habits you already have, and ask yourself…
What am I doing that’s already working?
What am I doing that feels easy and natural?
Because, What’s natural is always what’s easiest.
What’s easiest is always what’s sustainable and most effective!
That’s where you’ll find what you can build upon to create your own scaffolding. Those are the early indicators of your own, personal Keys to Success!
I hope I’ve given you food for thought.
Stop trying to figure it all out for yourself, by yourself.
You don’t have to go it alone. I’m here to help if you need it!
Lynne Edris, ACG
Productivity & ADHD Coach
P.S. If you’d like some help and expert guidance in setting up your systems, tools and strategies and custom-fitting them to you and your actual, real life, check out my Unleashed!© 90-Day productivity and Time-Management Mentoring group . You’ll maximize your potential AND free up hours and energy for the things that matter most to you!