By Alan Brown
We’ve all heard entrepreneurs are
disproportionately ADDers, many of the most famous declaring their ADHD or
other LD was in some way an asset in their success.
And indeed, many of us seem to gravitate toward
work situations where we can operate independently – the sole proprietor,
artist or designer, field salesperson, etc. – many of these in the antithesis
of the structured corporate environment, the home office. This can be both blessing and curse.
If you work in a corporate or group environment,
you can rely on your boss to “compensate” for your unstructured, unorganized,
un-prioritized brain – “I need that report today!” And our teammates and assistants, even our
subordinates – “Hey, aren’t we supposed to be on that conference call in three
minutes?!” They collectively help us get
to meetings on time, focus on the important stuff, and then to get that stuff
started and finished. If we didn’t have
them around, we’d sure be further behind than we are. More overwhelmed, certainly. Maybe even unemployed.
It’s no secret we ADDers LACK internal
structures. We lack linear, structured
thinking – the kind that allows lucid goal setting and crisply rationalized
prioritization. We lack a realistically
structured sense of time, resulting in horrendous time management. All of
which comes home to roost big time for those of us working from home or
Now, you can work to improve these mental
structures to mitigate some of the associated miseries, but the surest way to
compensate for our lack of internal structure and the structure afforded by a
corporate/group environment is to build your own external structures.
Let’s look at the first in a series of specific areas
we lack structure paired with ways to build your own structures. And even if you’re employed in an environment
with a boss who keeps you on your toes and support staff who keep you lookin’
good, these tips will boost your productivity…
Lacking Structure …in
Prioritization: In a corporate or team
environment, you can often fall back on others’ prioritizing FOR you – “Need
you to get this done by 4:30 today.” That
takes the onus off you having to figure out how to spend the bulk of your day. But when we’re working independently, you must
decide your priorities for yourself. And
that’s not an ADHD-friendly task, especially when your to-do list – or lists,
as is most often the case – is a mangle of indistinguishable “must-do’s.”
Build Your Own Structure: There are several ways you can
structure your to-do’s to help you prioritize and focus on one item at a time. The first is to simply ask yourself, “If I
could do only TWO things today, what would they be?” But even this simple method often defies your
overwhelmed mind’s ability to narrow things down to the most relevant
This even better way, I learned from a friend
who’s a successful retired entrepreneur. She calls it “3 Minutes. 3 Hours. 3 Days.” If you write this at the top of your To Do
list and always keep it there, you can easily structure your priorities based
on what needs attending to now, soon, and later.
You can also build structure around your own
personal principles, values or goals. ADHD
coach, Laura Rolands, teaches that if you write your core values at the top of
your to-do list, you can structure your priorities around those values. Similarly, if you identify broader goals for
the week, month or year (finish the so-and-so evaluation, get promoted, etc.),
you can use these as prompts for assigning your priorities.
Even if you’re happily ensconced in a
well-structured office environment, this tip (and those that will follow) can
help you take your game to a new level. So, start building!
Watch for the next installment in an upcoming
issue of ADDA eNews.
Alan Brown, creator of the acclaimed ADD Crusher™ videos, was undiagnosed until adulthood and coping with chronic
underachievement, substance abuse and worse. Upon diagnosis, he struggled to
learn coping strategies from books, so he developed his own strategies. He is also co-author of best-selling 365+1
Ways to Succeed with ADHD.