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ADHD Hyperfocus: Superpower, Curse, or Myth?

Know the difference between healthy and unhealthy ADHD hyperfocus, and the difference between hyperfocus and ‘flow.’

Many of us ADHD adults believe that hyperfocus is an ADHD superpower. That’s because we generally define it as “the ability to focus intensely on an interesting project or activity for hours at a time.” In other words, the opposite of distraction. And that’s a good thing, right?

Also, some feel hyperfocus is the same as ‘flow’ – that mental state in which, when performing an activity, we’re immersed in energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the very process of it — resulting in an altered sense of time.

So it’s easy to get these two mixed up.

But they’re different. Mainly in that there’s no unhealthy version of flow, but there’s definitely unhealthy hyperfocus, as you’ve probably experienced. (More about hyperfocus vs. flow in a moment.)

So, Is ADHD Hyperfocus a “Superpower”?

In hyperfocusing, our attention is so focused and can last such a long time, such that we lose track of everything else going on around us. Hence, it can be a  “superpower,” but one with built-in kryptonite.

Because when we “lose track of everything around us,” it’s not just time we lose track of (missing appointments and deadlines): we lose track of priorities, goals, and potentially our own safety…

A respected ADHD authority, Dr. Kathleen Nadeau, described a client who “was so focused on a project that she failed to notice that her house had caught fire. It was only when firemen came through the house, searching for anyone left inside, that she looked up and realized what was going on!”

Additionally, in my view, ADHD hyperfocus is much too often an escape into BS activities disguised as focused work: We’ll focus on something that’s not the thing we should be focusing on, but because we’re “focused”, we just go with it, thinking, “Hey, I’m focused! That’s a good thing!”

But it’s not, when we’re focused down a rabbit hole on YouTube or scrolling Instagram or TikTok for long stretches of time. Or even when we’re doing actual work, but it’s low-value stuff I call pseudoproductivity.

Dr. Russell Barkley, a top authority on the ADHD brain, holds a similar view, and has gone so far as to describe the ADHD hyperfocus ‘superpower’ as, “a myth.”

“Hyperfocusing is actually perseveration [NOT to be confused with perseverance]. You are unable to interrupt what you’re doing when you should have shifted to something else. You should have stopped what you were doing, and you didn’t. There were other, more important goals to have been accomplished. And you ignored them. This is no gift. It is in fact a symptom of this disorder.”  – Dr. Russell Barkley

Indeed, we too often engage in unhealthy hyperfocus – going down “research” rabbit holes, burning hours upon hours on video games, TV or social media, or just doing low-value work that’s not really moving us forward at all.

That said, it is of course possible to hyperfocus on a worthy, productive activity, and such healthy hyperfocus should be encouraged.

All the more, because healthy hyperfocus is a close cousin to flow.

Are ADHD Hyperfocus and Flow the Same Thing?

First, let’s set out some examples of the flow state to provide context for comparison.

  • You’re immersed in an aspect of your job in which you’re super-competent, such that it doesn’t feel at all like work – and you work straight through your lunch hour.
  • You’re walking or hiking in a place of such inspiring beauty you forget all your worries for a spell.
  • You’re engaged in a sporting activity where the challenge and enjoyment merge to create bliss. (This is what I get when I’m on a racetrack with my motorcycle at high speeds.)

While flow shares some characteristics with hyperfocus, it’s a different animal. Mainly, as I mentioned earlier, flow doesn’t have an unhealthy version! But also…

How Flow Differs from Even Healthy ADHD Hyperfocus

First of all, flow is a choice; it’s intentional and typically involves a planned activity. Too often we get into a hyperfocusing session without even realizing it. Additionally…

  • Flow provides a sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity. Compare this to the burning house example of ADHD hyperfocus above! Or to a hyperfocusing session that lasted way longer than you intended.
  • Flow is intrinsically rewarding. You never regret your time spent in flow. Not always true of even healthy hyperfocus.
  • Flow can be experienced with other people or even a group. Not so much with hyperfocus, where we typically prefer to just be left alone!

Clear differences, yes. But as I mentioned, healthy ADHD hyperfocus has much in common with flow. They both…

  • Eliminate distraction.
  • Put you in an “altered state” beyond the reach of your worries and anxieties.
  • Help you improve skills in an activity.
  • Help you get things done!

So, notwithstanding my stated skepticism about ADHD hyperfocus as an unqualified ‘superpower’, I invite you to…

  1. Identify healthy, purposeful activities where you can experience either. But…
  2. Catch yourself when you’re headed toward an unhealthy hyperfocus session!

And I wouldn’t worry about the distinction between healthy hyperfocus and flow — if you find yourself in either state — ride that tiger!

So…When are YOU in flow? What do YOU tend to hyperfocus on? What are some of YOUR healthy vs unhealthy hyperfocus activities?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

In the meantime, remember: Whatever’s in your way is yours to CRUSH!



Stop Making Your Adult ADHD WorseP.S. Unhealthy ADHD hyperfocus is one of the many things we do that make our ADHD worse. If you’d like to know a few more (and yes, you’re probably doing them all – most of us are), grab my free eBook, 5 Things You’re Doing Every Day that Make Your ADHD Worse

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Emotional Dysregulation, Part 2: No-BS Solutions

How to Avoid and Reduce Intense Negative Emotional Episodes

Next time you’re paralyzed by super-intense negative emotion, here’s all you have to do…

  1. Delay the time between stimulus (what freaked you out) and response (your emotion)
  2. Breathe in to the count of three; then out to the count of six.
  3. Replace irrational thoughts with rational ones.

I’m kidding. This advice is practically useless. Yet each of these came from very reputable sources.

The problem, as I discussed in a previous blog, is that when we’re in the throes of an intense emotional episode – whether debilitating shame, anger, frustration, or grief – that emotion displaces all other thinking – including the rational thinking that would help us dig out of the emotional hole!

This is known as Emotional Dysregulation, which 70% of all ADHD adults say they struggle with. And for which useful solutions are hard to come by, based on my review of what’s out there.

Because most emotional dysfunction solutions are prescribed for when you’re in the middle of that dysfunction! When we can’t access the very solution that’s been prescribed!

For instance, while Brendon Burchard (right) offers some solid emotional dysregulation solutions, this isn’t one of them. And he’s not alone among well-respected people sharing unpractical ‘solutions.’

Hence the need for what I call ‘no-BS emotional dysregulation solutions.’

What Are No-BS Emotional Dysregulation Solutions?

To apply any solution to a problem, we must first recognize that we’re in that problem! Yet when we’re freaked out, we don’t really realize that we’re freaked out – cuz we’re too busy being freaked out.

As such, no-BS emotional dysregulation solutions don’t ask that we access our rational brain when we’re seeing red! They are to be found either before or upon realization of the episode. (The closest we can ever get to applying a solution “during” an episode of emotional dysregulation is once we realize we’re in it.)

Another aspect of a no-BS solution is that it’s truly actionable. So for each of the solutions on offer below, I provide a way to “Go No-BS” —  to do a brief mental exercise that will help make that solution a real thing in your life, rather than just another “solution” you read in a blog and soon forgot about…

No-BS Emotional Dysregulation Solutions: Before

Here are some proactive things you can do to dull the sharp edge of your emotional dysfunction. Incorporate some of these “before” habits into your life and your episodes will be fewer and farther between as well as less severe.

Know that Your ADHD Affects Your Emotions: Just being more aware of the fact that we ADHD adults are more vulnerable to intense emotions can help us catch ourselves when tipping toward an episode.

Go No-BS and Do This Now: Take a moment to simply acknowledge that your brain is wired a bit differently than the average Joe or Jane as relates to the neurochemistry of emotions – results in some negatives as well as some positives (true – a topic for another day).

Take Better Care of Yourself: One of my Group Coaching clients recently shared that he’d been paralyzed by rumination over the previous week. As we explored this, it quickly became clear that in that hectic week: he’d fallen off his exercise regimen, defaulted to some unhealthy food choices, and was late getting to bed most nights. Bingo!

We are more “reactive” when lacking sleep, when hungry or fueling our brain with crappy foods, and when too sedentary. I’ve written a lot about “Feeding Your ADHD Brain”, and here’s a past post with some basics.

I know ‘diet-sleep-exercise’ ain’t sexy – but these fundamentals of self-care are the absolute best ways to manage stress and our emotional wellness.

Go No-BS and Do This Now: Pause and take a moment to rate yourself from 1-10 on your diet, sleep and exercise regimens. If you’re at six or below on any, red-flag it and see if you can make one small change in the next few days to boost that rating.

Know Your Triggers: What are the most common situations that freak you out?  A particular thing your partner or child does that sets you off? A persistent negative thought that pops and gets you into a tizzy (e.g., politics, a strained relationship, etc.)?

Go No-BS and Do This Now: You probably have many triggers. Identify just one right now and set a ‘boundary rule’ around it, e.g., “When I catch myself thinking about [stress-inducing person or topic], I’ll remind myself that this is ‘off-limits’ when I’m trying to get stuff done.”

Get with the Gratitude: Research shows that a daily practice of identifying three things for which you’re grateful reduces stress and helps us see problems as opportunities. Such a ‘gratitude practice’ takes less than 60 seconds. I do it every day.

Go No-BS and Do This Now: Create a calendar reminder that pops up every morning at around the time you have your coffee/tea that says simply, “3 Gratitudes.” When it pops up, jot down ANY three things for which you’re grateful. Push yourself to think of three new ones every day, as repeating the same things is less effective.

The more you practice such “before” solutions, not only will your episodes be less frequent and less deep, but your ability to recognize when you’re in one will be enhanced, giving you a better shot at employing the following “upon realization” strategies…

No-BS Emotional Dysregulation Solutions: Upon Realization

Again, “during” solutions ain’t likely to happen. So we must look to the moment you realize we’re in the episode…

Listen to Your Body: When negative thoughts turn into strong emotions, we feel something change in our body (i.e., our neurochemistry). ‘Listening’ for those changes is a powerful form of self-awareness.

Go No-BS and Do This Now: Think about where in your body you feel emotional tension. For me, it’s in the shoulders/neck and my gut. So when I feel either of those ‘lighting up,’ I can pause and ask, “OK, what’s freaking me out?” – and nip the episode in the bud.

“Emotion is your body’s reaction to your mind.” – Eckhart Tolle

Get Outta the Situation: When I catch myself engulfed in a bunch of emotion-driven rumination, I go out and weed the garden for a few minutes. Or walk around the block. Or go beat up my punching bag. Physically removing yourself cuts off the negative train of thought.

Go No-BS and Do This Now: Jot down on a sticky a few “healthy escapes” (i.e., NOT your phone or YouTube or the TV) you can go to when you catch yourself in a bout of dysreg. Stick that sticky in your workspace.

Express Yourself: I had the honor of sharing the TEDx stage with Dr. Edith Eger, a psychologist and Holocaust survivor who, in an interview with Oprah said, ““There is no grieving without feeling,”

One of the ways I coach my clients on worry and rumination is to write out your feelings and then “just be with them” for a spell.  The same advice applies to when you catch yourself in an intense emotional moment, allowing us to look more objectively at and process our emotions.

Go No-BS and Do This Now: Think about an especially emotionally charged topic and take a coupla minutes to: write out your sadness; talk aloud to yourself about your worries; and/or list your frustrations with that something or someone.

“The opposite of depression is expression.” – Edith Eger 

My offering of solutions here doesn’t mean I view any of this as easy. This stuff is among the most wrenching, debilitating, and frustrating things about our uniquely wired brains.

But please highlight just one or two of these no-BS emotional dysregulation solutions and try to put them into practice soon.

Keeping in mind that…Whatever’s in your way…is yours to crush!



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Emotional Dysregulation, Part 1: The Pain and the Possibilities

Intense, sometimes debilitating emotions may be due to Emotional Dysregulation. Learn why this occurs and how to take back control.

It’s been coming up a lot in my Group Coaching sessions: Emotional dysregulation.

More specifically, issues around debilitating shame, anger, frustration — even grieving (not about lost love ones, but profound feelings of loss around our own constant foibles).

Such intense emotions contributed to my own self-medication for many years (a story for another day) and are affecting most of us on a fairly regular basis.

In fact, 70% of all ADHD adults say they have problems with emotional dysregulation. So let’s get busy understanding it better and then I’ll talk about no-BS* solutions. [*I’ll explain ‘no-BS’ in a moment.]

What Is Emotional Dysregulation, Exactly?

Well, the name says a lot, doesn’t it? But whether we’re firmly in that 70% or not, we of the ADHD Tribe are likely to have more intense thoughts and emotions than our neurotypical friends – with higher highs and lower lows.

So, as Lisa Kaufman, LCSW and founder of MindFuel Counseling in Denver, says, “You may experience happiness and criticism more powerfully than your peers and loved ones do. You can become frustrated and angry quickly, and it is hard to deal with everyday challenges when your responses are always extreme.”

More formally, some helpful background from ADDitude Magazine:

A critical aspect to consider…is ADHD’s nature as a disorder of self-regulation across behavior, attention, and emotion: any difficulties in regulating our thoughts, emotions, and actions [think impulsivity] – as is common with ADHD – may explain the irritability, tantrums, and anger regulation issues these individuals experience.

(By the way, there’s also a lot of talk about Rejection-Sensitive Dysphoria, which is an extreme symptom under the Emotional Dysregulation umbrella. I’m sticking with the broader topic here.)

Dr. Thomas Brown, writing in ADDitude, says, “Challenges with processing emotions start in the brain itself. Sometimes the working memory impairments of ADHD allow a momentary emotion to become too strong, flooding the brain with one intense emotion.”

That word, flooding, is an apt descriptor for our more extreme episodes, where a single emotion can overtake us, displacing all other thinking – especially and importantly, our rational thinking – which might otherwise help us dig out of an emotional hole.

How Emotional Dysregulation Is Triggered

The triggers for such episodes vary widely: From interpreting a coworker’s words as criticism, to getting legitimate criticism from a boss or feeling slighted by a family member or friend; from relatively minor mess-ups to bona fide crises that make us feel helpless or incompetent; to a bursting dam resulting from a build-up of “frustrations, failures, negative feedback, and stresses of life,” as Thomas puts it.

The result of these triggers are…

  1. An emotional reaction that is disproportionate to the situation.
  2. An inability to deal rationally with the situation.
  3. Inordinate amounts of time ruminating after the fact.

…all leading to a kind of paralysis that further defies solution and constructive forward movement. (And from a pure productivity perspective, huge losses of time, energy, and spirit.)

Solutions, Please?

For starters, Kaufman says, “A multi-modal treatment plan including ADHD medication and behavior therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), has proven effective in helping people understand how situations and thought patterns affect their emotions.”

And there are many coping skills listed in articles on the web that might be helpful in-the-moment, such as…

  • Identify irrational thoughts and replace with rational ones
  • Take a time-out, “walk away”, etc.
  • Administer some self-compassion

But my problem with most such “coping skills” was best described by Danny Reade, co-founder of Asperger Experts, in a newsletter relating an analogous episode of “flooding” – a mild panic attack:

I really don’t like that a lot of therapists focus on coping skills, and I know that sounds weird to say, but here’s why:

I once was on an airplane and had a panic attack in the middle of the flight. For some reason, my body thought I was going to fall THROUGH the airplane and then plummet to my death. As if I was a special snowflake and the laws of physics worked differently for just me. Naturally, this was A) Never going to happen and B) Completely ridiculous to my logical self. The problem is though, I couldn’t access my rational mind enough to convince me that this wasn’t real.

See, when you are in the middle of an emotionally intense event (like a panic attack) it is very hard to access the part of your brain that deals with logical, rational thought – the area that deals with things people have taught you, like doing deep breathing and counting to 5.

So, one of the hardest things to do when you are in an emotionally intense moment (whether a panic attack or an episode of emotional dysregulation) is to “remember your coping skills!”

The trick to making coping skills work for you, says Reade, is to “A) Use them BEFORE things get too bad; and B) do enough self-care so that things rarely get that bad.”

Great advice, Danny. But there’s much more, and in my next post, I’ll share some “No-BS” solutions for Emotional Dysregulation – i.e., things that have a shot at really working — which depend much less on being able to “switch on” your rational/composed brain while in the throes of an emotional car wreck, or that might have a better chance of working “in-the-moment.” Stay tuned!



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How to Conquer Criticism and Unleash Your Potential

This is a guest post from my former client, and now colleague, Aron Croft. Despite getting into Harvard, 15 years later he was broke, divorced, and earning minimum wage. He then turned his life around (all thanks to me I’m sure!) and now helps others do the same. Read up!  -APB

We ADDers get criticized more — it’s a fact. Researchers have actually documented this. 

ADDers then live our lives in fear of criticism and, as a result, we:

  • Don’t pursue our dreams
  • Live far below our potential
  • Don’t start our businesses, change our careers, or create our desired relationships

But what if you could change that? In this article, you’ll learn how to conquer criticism so you can unleash your greatness.

It’s all about perspective

I grew up with a critical Jewish mother, who I’m pretty sure criticized while she slept.

As a struggling ADDer, I took the constant criticism hard, and became extremely defensive. I avoided criticism at every turn. I procrastinated on my homework till the last minute so my mom wouldn’t comment on it. And I became a people pleaser to avoid social criticism. At 32, broke, divorced, and earning just above minimum wage, I decided to stop avoiding criticism. 

Fast forward seven years, I have a senior manager position in a Fortune 500 company, am happily remarried, and even launched a YouTube channel with 40+ videos. Facing your fear of criticism will change your life. 

In this article, I’ll show you how to slay the criticism demon and conquer criticism with four simple perspective shifts.

#1: If you’re NOT being criticized, you should be worried 

“If you haven’t pissed someone off by noon, then you probably aren’t making much money.”  –– Dan Kennedy

It turns out that we can’t stand on the fence in any area that we want success. Have you ever been in a conversation where someone just agrees with everything you say? Pretty boring, right. As soon as you try to create a deep relationship or achieve greater success, you will expose yourself to criticism.

As Aristotle said, “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” 

If you’re NOT being criticized, it is a guaranteed sign you are living below your potential. So when you do receive criticism, celebrate! It means you’re not on the sidelines in that area. You’re in the game!

#2: Criticism contains gold under the surface

If you have spinach in your teeth, would you like to know? If a customer has a bad meal at your restaurant, would you like to know — or just have them never return? The reality is that we can’t see the world fully through our own eyes. So how do we find out we have spinach in our teeth (or a bad recipe)?

Through what-sounds-like-criticism…

Dozens of people warned me about the flaws in my relationship and my businesses. But I never considered their feedback because I was so defensive with anything that sounds-like-criticism. The perspective shift is to see it as “feedback” or “data.” You may decide to do nothing with the feedback or data, but the more data you have, the better decisions you can make. What-feels-like-criticism is just data to sift through — and occasionally, you’ll sift out some gold.

#3: You don’t hear the majority of criticisms 

That is a truth bomb, so I want that to sink in. You only hear a small percentage of the criticisms people think about you. The reason is that criticism is scary to give. You know what happens to messengers, right? 

It’s much easier to criticize you behind your back. So… the majority of the crap people believe about you is thought or said behind your back. This means that there’s something precious about the tiny fraction that makes its way through! That person risked being attacked. That person didn’t take the easy way out. So, when a person overcomes this concern and gives you criticism directly, take a moment to appreciate that.

#4: There is an underlying shared interest

Criticism is not only scary to give, but it also takes effort! (Now, I’m not talking about criticism from internet trolls and random malicious people.) I’m talking about criticism from someone you have a relationship with. When someone invests the time to criticize, it is because they want you to succeed on a shared interest. 

Let me give you an example.

Recently, I shared a draft presentation with my boss that I would present to the senior leadership team. She tore into it! “Why did you use this word?” “Slide 3 and slide 6 contradict each other!” “I can’t follow along. This presentation is unclear!” Sure, this wasn’t fun to hear. 

However, people in relationships don’t invest the time to criticize unless there is a shared interest. In this case, my boss wanted my presentation to go well so that she wouldn’t look bad. Great, because I wanted my presentation to go well too! Yes, we have different motivations — but we have a shared interest nonetheless. Given that, her intent was not to cut me down or make me feel bad, but simply to do well on our shared interest. 

So, find the underlying shared interest. Why is this person bothering to “criticize” you directly when it’s easier not to? If you look hard enough, you’ll find it.


Getting criticized can be gut-wrenching, but it doesn’t have to be. To conquer criticism, try on these perspective shifts:

  • Criticism is the primary source of “data” about where you may be off course
  • It takes effort and courage to give someone criticism, so appreciate that
  • The other person wants you to succeed on a shared interest (not random trolls)
  • Criticism goes hand-in-hand with achieving bigger things in life

When I changed my view of criticism, my success skyrocketed. I recovered from being broke, divorced, and earning minimum wage to having a successful Fortune 500 career and a growing YouTube channel — where I can be criticized anytime. 

With these simple shifts, you too can conquer criticism! Here’s to your success.

ABOUT ARON CROFT: After getting into Harvard, Aron failed for 15 years until he was broke, divorced, and earning minimum wage. He rebuilt his life and career, and a big part of that was his ADD diagnosis as an adult. As a result, he’s committed to helping fellow ADDers realize their own potential. For more, download his free guide “10 Productivity Mistakes All ADDers Make.”

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How You Are Self-Medicating Your ADHD

I’m not just talking about self-medicating ADHD with booze and drugs…

I’m talking about self-medicating our ADHD with any of a number of things we’re eating, drinking, smoking, watching — and even thinking — that are giving us a sense of “relief” from our pain and frustration.

We ADHDers tend to have low levels of neuro-chemicals that are key in regulating our focus, emotions and moods. And just as prescription ADHD meds can boost our levels of these key brain chemicals, other substances (and activities) can do the same.

Which is why we are prone to gravitate toward various forms of “self-medication.”

As my friend, Rick Green (of TotallyADD fame) says, “We ingest or inhale or sign up for something that wakes up the brain. We treat ourselves. With substances or behaviors. Or misbehaviors.”  Let’s take a look at the range of these…

First, the Worst Kinds of Self-Medication

Self-Medicating ADHD TEDxIn my TED Talk, I shared the sad statistics around undiagnosed ADHD adults and teens, and their significantly greater use of drugs and alcohol. But even if we’re diagnosed — and properly treated — we are at risk for medicating ourselves in the unhealthiest of ways. For instance…

Cocaine & Speed: According to WebMD, “Children with ADHD are twice as likely to abuse or become dependent on cocaine as those without the condition.” I, for instance, unwittingly self-medicated with cocaine throughout college — and ended up a stone cold junkie.

Alcohol: Up to one half ADHD adults abuse alcohol or are outright dependent on it. We think booze helps “settle down our mind,” but in reality it’s a depressant, impairs our ability to focus and think — and over time, “can damage your heart, brain, and liver, and makes you more likely to get cancer,” per WebMD.

Tobacco: While nicotine, a stimulant, can boost short-term focus, research shows that it can backfire and make us more hyper and your ADHD symptoms harder to manage.

Cannabis: Smoking weed, you might argue, is relatively mild stuff, and many ADHDers say it helps them quiet their mind and reduce anxiety. But while many believe it can ease ADHD symptoms, according to WebMD, “…research has found almost no proof of this. In fact, cannabis can actually worsen your attention, impulse control, focus, and organization.”

Keep reading to the end to find not-really-healthy and truly healthy ways we can “self-medicate” our ADHD symptoms…

Self-Medicating ADHD with “Healthier” Stimulants

Yes, the following are probably better than cocaine or even cigarettes, but they all represent a slippery slope that we ADHD adults are at risk of sliding to the bottom of.

Caffeine: Sure, coffee, tea and caffeine-packed soda pop and energy drinks are relatively harmless. Relatively. Caffeine is generally a mild stimulant, but when over-consumed can affect sleep and even mood. Oh, and it’s addictive, resulting in painful withdrawal headaches when discontinued.

Sugar: Countless ADHDers are walking around much of the day with a sugary beverage in hand. Every sip sends a tiny burst of glucose (our brain’s primary fuel) to the brain, providing a brief bit of mental energy. But a minute later they crash. And then must sip again. And again. And…  Sugar — whether in drinks, snacks or breakfast cereal — is a lousy source of mental fuel.

Adrenaline: Extreme sports and other risky behaviors can give us a charge and elevate us out of our ADD restlessness. I, for instance, race motorcycles, which I insist “flushes my brain toilet.” However, as I write this I’m in my third month of recovering from no fewer that 14 bone fractures, a collapsed lung and other internal and external injuries, thanks to my cherished hobby. A price I’m willing to pay — I’ll be racing again in two months — but it could cost me much more one day, and so could your risky driving, clowning around or other on-the-edge behaviors.

A few more activities that self-medicate us with adrenaline and other yummy neurochemicals are: Shopping, Gambling and Games. All of which are addictive and not only can cost us lots of money, but also burn tons of precious time and energy. And speaking of wasting time and energy…

Self-Medicating ADHD with Social Media

As I noted in Crusher™TV Episode 15: Get More Done with Less @#$!, according to GlobalWebIndex, the average user logs 1.72 hours per day on social platforms. And it’s increasing every year. Why? Because it gives us dopamine hits, which our ADHD brains can never get enough of.

That’s why it’s so easy to be working on some important thing and then, “Juuusssst for a minute I’m gonna check my Instagram feed” or flitter off into some other social time-burner. We think this is resting our brain. It is not. It’s burning out our dopamine receptors and it’s burning mental energy.  Ditto for YouTube.

And as Tristan Harris, former Google designer and now Silicon Valley ethicist says: As you scroll your social media or click on one YouTube video after another, know that behind your screen are a thousand skillful engineers whose only job it is to make you scroll or click one more time. And then again. And again.

Yes, they KNOW it’s addictive and they’re perfecting that addictiveness every day.

CrusherTip: Calendar your social media or web-surfing sessions. Use them as rewards for completing work, NOT as a “rest” that interrupts that work.

Self-Medicating ADHD with Pseudoproductivity

Just as with social media, we get mini-dopamine hits from doing low-impact and even meaningless, totally unimportant tasks. A few examples:

Checking email more frequently than needed. Deleting emails. Looking at and re-writing our to-do list. Excessive office chat. Working on certain tasks because they are easier than the tough, important task we’re avoiding.

CrusherTip: Make a note of how many things you’re doing RIGHT NOW. Do you have more than a few browser windows/tabs open? Is your email open? Is your phone in your hand or right in front of you? Have you texted or emailed or checked social media in the last 15 minutes? Are you “escaping” into easy work knowing a big project needs your focus? If you’ve answered yes to all or most of these, consider if any of theme are actually making you more productive. Most likely, they’re just giving you teeny bits of ‘medication.’

Another form of pseudoproductivity is rumination. Yes, our thinking can be self-medication. When we ruminate on past mistakes, anxieties about the future, generally feeling bad about this or that, we are altering our brain chemistry. And that “altered state” can be addictive.

Now for the REAL Healthy Ways of Self-Medicating ADHD

Exercise: Dr. John Ratey famously said, “Exercise produces a brain chemical that acts like Miracle-Gro® for your brain.” It also produces all the ADD-crushing neurochemicals we so desperately need. Which can make any consistent exercise regimen a wonderful addiction.

Meditation: I won’t dive into all the research around the benefits of even modest meditation, but there’s a reason so many people who’ve adopted a daily practice of it tend to find it indispensable for their ADHD management: it feels goooooood!

Passion: Hopefully, you’ve got a hobby or side-hustle and/or a loved one you’re passionate about. Go be with that more often. And be more present when you’re are. You’ll get more of the feel-goods that make less-noble feel-goods less appealing in contrast!

Connection: One of the world’s most famous long-term studies has been examining what factors lead to a longer, happier life since the 1930’s. The #1 factor is social connection. And I’m not talking clicking Like on your friend’s travel photo. Reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to recently!

Coaching: Want the most impactful “treatment” for ADHD that doesn’t come in a bottle? Try an ADHD coach or a coaching group. The right coach/group will have you addicted to progress toward living to your potential!

A Closing  Thought

If you’d like to learn more about my own dark journey into self-medication (i.e., drug addiction and alcohol abuse) and how I climbed out of that hole, download the article I wrote for Attention magazine.

And remember, whatever’s in your way…is yours to crush!

P.S.: Want to know more ways to beat back your ADHD symptoms? Tricks to beat procrastination? How to get prioritized and manage your time? Have you heard about my award-winning video/audio program ADD Crusher™? Learn more HERE.

ADD Crusher Program



Alan P Brown CrusherTVAlan P. Brown, an internationally recognized Productivity Coach, TEDx Speaker and #1 Best Selling Author of Zen and the Art of Productivity: 27 Easy Ways to Have More Time, Earn More Money and Live Happier is the host of Crusher™TV, where he and his Guest Experts share simple ways to get more done in less time with less stress. Follow Alan on Twitter and on Facebook.


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Declutter Your Workspace to Declutter Your Mind

There are Many Reasons to Declutter Your Workspace (and Living Space)

There’s a lot of noise going on in our ADHD brains. And that noise is made worse by the visual noise around us. We are our brain’s own worst enemy when we maintain a home and/or office that is full of energy-draining stuff. So if you can declutter your workspace — and your living space — you can create more mental spaciousness.

Research shows that any excess items in our surroundings can negatively impact our focus and information processing.

  • Clutter competes for our attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.
  • Visual clutter draws our attention away from what our focus should be on.
  • Clutter and piles constantly signal to our brains that our work is never done.
  • It inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the otherwise open spaces that allow us to think, brainstorm, and problem solve.

And lastly, clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.

Do You Have a Mental “Place of Peace”

So, clutter isn’t just a problem for hoarders on TV. Most of us have stuff that is not adding value to our lives and could probably add significantly to someone else’s (i.e., You could donate it and get a tax receipt!). But charitable giving aside, there is great mental power to be had in a decluttered “Place of Peace.”

Do you have one? A fortress of solitude where there is no visual noise to interfere with your budding big-@ss ideas and potent problem-solving? In this post, I’ll share more about why “peace of mind requires peace of place,” and a few simple solutions to help you declutter your workspace.

Declutter Your Workspace Title

Declutter your workspace and you can turbocharge your work? (Read on!)

Brief Words About Feng Shui (Pro and Con)

I don’t go for “woo-woo” solutions that aren’t backed by research (or at least, common sense).  I like facts, data and science because that’s the stuff that helps us get real results.

For example, feng shui is borderline “woo-woo.” I’m not saying it doesn’t have some practical applications and benefits for productivity and peace of mind. But when someone contends that hanging my bamboo flute in a specific place can have an impact on my luck, well…I haven’t seen any double-blind random studies on that yet.

That said, I do believe in the energy flowing from spaces — meaning, the mental energy that results from a given living space or workspace.

To wit: In which bedroom do you think you’d fall asleep faster and get a better night’s sleep? One that looks like a hungover De-Clutter Your Workspace Bedcollege kid’s dorm? Or one Martha Stewart recently dusted and decorated? Which would you rather begin your day in?

Which closet would you rather poke your head into when deciding just how dressed-to-kill you want to dress? The one with the door you’re afraid to open for fear of that bowling ball falling out? Or the one maintained by a professional organizer with OCD?

Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions.  – Barbara Hemphill  TWEET THIS

In which living room would you be more likely to feel alive or be more rested at the end of a long day?

De-Clutter Your Workspace Living1The one displaying every tchotchke ever collected by an obsessed Beanie Babies® collector? Or the living room featured in this month’s Architectural Digest?

Now, few of us live in homes featured in Architectural Digest, but the point is that uncluttered spaces preserve positive energy, De-Clutter Your Workspace Living2and clutter drains it. Whether you live in a Mc Mansion, a mobile home or a micro-home, you can create an environment that breeds more mental power and clarity.

All the more important therefore that your place of work be a place of visual peace. And to help you get crap out of your way so you can focus better and think bigger, let me share a little…

Brain Science: It’s Hard to Declutter Your Workspace

Here’s why it’s so hard to declutter your workspace: Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine recruited both non-hoarders and hoarders, and tracked their brain activity while they sorted through various items and decided what to keep and what to discard.

The subjects sorted through items like junk mail and old newspapers, some of which were their own, others of which were added to the mix by the researchers. When confronted with the prospect of discarding their own junk, many showed increased activity in two regions of the brain associated with conflict and pain.

The upshot: Letting go of junk can be literally painful to us. But it’s only painful when it’s…OUR junk.

Another part of the brain that’s activated, particularly in hoarders, is the vmPFC. It’s associated with emotions, identity, and personal meaning. Some call it our sense of “me-ness.” It’s the reason that hoarders look at something as simple as an old shopping bag, and feel it is connected to who they are. Making it all the more painful for them to get rid of it.

Hoarding Isn’t Just for Hoarders

Declutter Your Workspace Condo

But you don’t have to be a hoarder to recognize when your vmPFC is kicking in: The wedding dress. Your varsity jacket. The watch you never wear. The earrings you wouldn’t be caught dead in. But…they’re yours, and they have meaning and “me-ness” attached to them.

Confronting my vmPFC was tremendously liberating, and, in terms of productivity, a major turning point in my life.

The photo on the left (and the big one above) is of my Brooklyn condo after I donated almost all physical objects I’d collected over the years to the Salvation Army — furniture included — and then re-imagined and re-furnished it as a “Place of Peace.”

And from this clarity-inducing, brain-powering perch I call “The Cloud,” I created two start-ups — in my spare time while working as a New York City advertising executive.

Because I could think — BIG and CLEARLY — in this space!

Four Simple Steps to Help You Declutter Your Workspace

  1. Scan your working area and identify the things that give you energy or, as Marie Kondo puts it, things that “spark joy.” Try to keep these in your line of sight — these are like battery jumper cables, so don’t take them lightly.
  2. Take a couple of photos of your work area from different angles. By seeing your space from fresh perspectives you can better spot the most cluttered areas — which is where to start discarding.
  3. Look for anything that doesn’t do anything. If you haven’t used it in six months, and it doesn’t spark a joyful feeling, trash it or donate it.
  4. Keep only what you need for a given day’s work at arm’s length. Everything else goes in a drawer or on a shelf.

*At the end of your de-cluttering, there’s a good chance there’ll be some items that you’re on the fence about. You feel some attachment, you think you might need it. There’s a hack for that: Put them in a box, stick the box in the corner and a week later, try to remember what’s in the box. Anything you don’t remember — it’s probably OK to ditch-or-donate.

A Closing  Thought

Think about the relative mental peace you have when you are visually confronted by nothing more than a blue sky or the surface of a lake. Make the surfaces you work with more like that! Peace, baby!

And remember, whatever’s in your way is yours to crush!

P.S.: Want to know how to beat more than just clutter? Tricks to beat procrastination? How to get prioritized and manage your time? Have you heard about my award-winning video/audio program ADD Crusher™? Learn more HERE.

ADD Crusher Program



Alan P Brown CrusherTVAlan P. Brown, an internationally recognized Productivity Coach, TEDx Speaker and #1 Best Selling Author of Zen and the Art of Productivity: 27 Easy Ways to Have More Time, Earn More Money and Live Happier is the host of Crusher™TV, where he and his Guest Experts share simple ways to get more done in less time with less stress. Follow Alan on Twitter and on Facebook.


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How to Delegate Work (So YOU Can Work LESS)

How to Delegate Work? Start by Knowing The Barriers to Delegating

If you’re overwhelmed at work, at home, or both, there’s a really good chance you’re not delegating enough. You need to know some of the secrets of how to delegate work.

Delegating is a critical survival skill in the corporate world – but also in our own small businesses and even in running our households. It allows us to focus on the tasks and projects that really power us forward and upward. Yet delegation is a tricky skill nobody ever really teaches you. Not in school, or even on the job.

No wonder so many of us fail to delegate — or delegate enough. For most folks, it’s a combination of…

  1. Not knowing what to delegate.
  2. Not knowing whom to delegate to.
  3. Not knowing how to delegate smoothly.
  4. Not having calculated the massive benefits of delegation.

But for us ADHD adults, it’s even more difficult.

Delegation is an executive function, so, along with prioritization, time management and planning, our weak executive functioning chops make these kinds of tasks doubly difficult. In my award-winning ADD Crusher™ instructional videos, I talk more specifically about why delegation is so hard for us ADHDers, and I share a couple solutions. Here’s a short clip…

The High Costs of Not Delegating

How to Delegate Work - Unhappy EmployeesOne of the reasons I floundered in my first six years as a corporate executive, despite hard work and long hours, was that I didn’t know how to delegate work. Every year I’d get a positive review — but not the promotion. Because, as my bosses would say, “Alan, we can’t put more people under you, because the ones that are, don’t have anything to do! You’re doing it ALL!” Needless to say, my team was miserable. And my career trajectory was bleak.

The costs of not delegating are indeed steep: Beyond the handicapping of our careers, we continue to do more work than we need to be doing, keeping track of tasks we shouldn’t be worrying about. Plus, for entrepreneurs and managers at any level, we’re holding our businesses and our employees back by not letting go of work. And then there’s the stress: We’re working hard, but instead of enjoying our achievements, we’re stressed and overwhelmed with too many responsibilities.

And the upsides of delegating are many and massive — in a nutshell, you get to work less and focus more on the things you do best!

How to Delegate Work So You Can Work LESS

But back to why we aren’t delegating — or delegating more. It’s mostly psychological. The verb delegate means to entrust or to assign responsibility or authority. And being able to trust, give up responsibility and hand over authority are not things we humans do easily. It goes against our basic psychological set-up!

The Psychological Barriers to Delegation

Digging a little deeper, here are the Top 10 Reasons We’re Not Delegating (a.k.a., the Psychological Barriers). Think about each one and whether you may be handcuffed by it…

ONE.  “No one can do it as well as me…” Which may be true at the moment, but you had to learn it at some point, so others can indeed master the task just as you did.

TWO. “My approach is the only one.” That’s crazy just on the face of it, but it’s a belief we often hold under the surface.

THREE. “I don’t want to be dependent on others.” Dependency can make us feel weak and vulnerable. But only if — we’re weak and vulnerable.

FOUR. “I’m afraid my team (or subordinate or virtual assistant) won’t be able to handle the increased responsibility.” You won’t know ’til you try!

FIVE. “I don’t want to increase my team’s (or sub subordinate’s or virtual assistant’s) already burdensome workload.” Have the conversation with them, then decide.

SIX. “I’m afraid they’ll say no.” Nobody likes rejection, but research suggests a) you have more influence than you think, and b) you’ll actually gain their respect for asking.

SEVEN. “I don’t want to let go of tasks I enjoy doing.” Great. You wanna to keep doing tasks you enjoy, while more important tasks that ONLY YOU can do aren’t getting done?

EIGHT. “I’m a people pleaser. It’s hard for me to say ‘no’ to people who ask for something – and even harder …to ask for help.” (See Six, above.)

NINE. “I’m just too busy to delegate — it’s quicker and more efficient for me to just do it myself.” You’re too busy because you’re NOT delegating, and it’s NOT more efficient. Period. And…

TEN. And this is the big kahuna — “I don’t know how to delegate work, especially complex tasks or projects.” More about this at the end of the post.

Hopefully you see a little of yourself in one or more of these barriers to delegation. This is a great starting point for developing your delegation muscle.

But there’s more to successful (and effortless) delegation of work, all of which I eventually mastered, helping me dramatically alter the trajectory of my corporate career — and then launch multiple successful start-ups. If you’re interested in a peek at the next level, read on!

Want More Simple-Yet-Powerful Secrets of How to Delegate Work?

In addition to the above Psychological Barriers-to-Delegation, there are still the matters of how to identify WHAT to delegate, and knowing WHOM to delegate to. I delve into both of these in Crusher™TV Episode 111 — where I also serve up 5 Secrets to HOW to Delegate Work(To watch full episodes you can become a member of Crusher™TV for a buck and cancel any time you like, but either way, you can preview that Episode by clicking the image below.)

Crusher™TV Episode 111

What’s Crusher™TV? It’s not just an online TV show that teaches ways to have more control in your life. It’s a LIBRARY of over 100 20-minute videos teaching ways to beat procrastination, get prioritized, get organized, manage your time, and more. You might get a lot out of watching the entire Episode 111: 5 Secrets to Delegating Work, where I dig a lot deeper into this topic. Click the image to watch the Preview.




Alan P Brown CrusherTVAlan P. Brown, an internationally recognized ADHD/Productivity Coach, TEDx Speaker and #1 Best Selling Author of Zen and the Art of Productivity: 27 Easy Ways to Have More Time, Earn More Money and Live Happier is the host of Crusher™TV, where he and his Guest Experts share simple ways to get more done in less time with less stress. Follow Alan on Twitter and on Facebook.

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Why It’s So Hard to Get Started on a Big Project or Idea

Know the Barriers to Get Started on a Big Project, and You Can Start to Break them Down

So, you’ve had this Big Idea for a while and you still find it brilliant every time you think about it. Or you’ve been assigned a major project and you’re stoked about it cuz it could yield some good results for your career. But it hasn’t gone beyond that. You haven’t started it. Why IS it so hard to get started on a big project or idea?!

Why won’t our engines fire up on that major project, even as the deadline nears?

In a recent Episode of CrusherTV™, I introduced what I call the Roadmap for Any Big Thing – whether an idea or a major project.

It consists of 4 Phases…


Roadmap for Any Big Project

The Roadmap for Any “Big Thing”: Each Phase has unique barriers to action.

And I talked about the importance of understanding which of the 4 Phases of a Big Thing you’re stuck in. Because each Phase has its own unique barriers and solutions – and once you identify that Phase, you can choose the right mental tools for breaking through to the next level – and onward to completion.

In this post, I’ll illuminate the main barriers to getting started (Phase II), and ways to mitigate those barriers, so you’ll be more likely to finally…start!

(By the way, perhaps you’ve noticed in your struggles with procrastination on big projects/ideas…)

“The bigger the idea, the bigger and hairier the project, the more likely we are to either procrastinate on starting it, or never start it. Even if we know it would be a great thing!” – Alan P. Brown TWEET THIS

 Why It’s So Hard to Get Started on a Big Project

How to Start Your Big ProjectPhase II – The Start, is where so many of us get stuck. It’s that place between “OK, this is a clearly defined thing that I can and will do,” …and actually taking that first concrete action of starting it. There are three key barriers here that get in our way:

An obvious barrier is plain old procrastination in the form of Temporal Discounting: “No worries, dude – there’s plenty of time on this!”

Or as is often the case with Big Ideas like our first book or our idea for our side-hustle, there is no firm deadline for completing them. So there’s never any fire lit under your butt!

This is of course classic ADHD behavior, right? We conveniently remain blind to the encroaching deadline — or wait until next year to think about our book/app/start-up again — until either it becomes a massive inconvenience requiring our action, or we just give up on it.

How to Mitigate This Barrier and Get Started on a Big Project: One way to fight back is to have a talk with our Future Self. What do I mean? This quote sets it up nicely:

“Future selves are considered to be strangers, to whom one can pass the buck and impose a heavy and uncompensated burden.” – Christine Tappolet, PhD  TWEET THIS

See, procrastination is our Present Self screwing our Future Self, because our Present Self lacks the energy, willpower or incentive, or procrastinates in exchange for some unimportant pleasure or relief or avoidance.

Barriers to Starting Temporal DiscountingSo we must listen to our Future Self when he/she says, “Please don’t burden me by leaving this until the last minute!” — and create an unpleasant deadline for our Present Self to at least get started. One that’s way sooner than the actual deadline (or desired finish, if there’s no formal deadline).

Then populate your calendar with reminders galore that will pop up daily at the very least. The constant reminders will also help mitigate that temporal discounting.

Another barrier, particularly on big, important things, is Fear of Failure: As productivity guru Peter Bregman says, “We procrastinate on that big project precisely because it’s important. So important, in fact, that we’re too scared to work on it. ‘I’m afraid. Afraid that I’ll fail. That I’ll spend a lot of time on it — while other more immediate things don’t get done — and it’ll be terrible, anyway.’”

Got Fear? Call It Out!

How to Mitigate This Barrier: The key first step in de-fanging any fear is to name your fear.

That’s right, all you need do is describe what it is you fear whenever that fear has you stuck. Doing so is scientifically proven to begin shrinking that fear.

Kristy Dalrymple, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University, says, “The more you try to suppress fear, either by ignoring it or doing something else to displace it, [like escaping into some other, easier activity] the more you will actually experience that fear.”

Naming your fear allows you to accept that you are feeling fearful which lets you examine the causes of your fear – and in doing so, you are shifting your processing away from your lizard brain and into your frontal lobe – where reason and problem-solving begin to shrink it!

The Biggest Reason We Procrastinate on Big Projects

Barrier to Starting is Not Knowing Where to StartAnd the third classic (and biggest) barrier is Not Knowing Where to Start. “When I just THINK about starting it, I get frustrated because I can’t figure out where or how to start it.” And this should be no surprise, because a common characteristic of all “Big Things” is that their structure is big, complex and therefore, often unclear before we start.

How to Mitigate This Barrier: I elaborated on this in CrusherTV™ Episode 108 (see more on that, below) and in a CrusherTV™  blog, but in a nutshell the mental trick is to not worry about how or where to start. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.”

Huh? Yes, just start. Start before you know where to start, by starting anywhere. Because once you take that first step, you can now see more of the staircase! Then take one more step. Then another.

That’s how you get out of this trap!

Now that you understand these three barriers to get started on a big project or your big idea, you’re in a much better position to fight back and beat them down.

Want 3 Powerful Solutions to Get Started on a Big Project?

In addition to the three above “mitigators” to start breaking down those barriers-to-action, there are also three powerful solutions to totally crush those barriers. One’s a brain hack, one’s a powerful tool you’ve probably heard of, and the other is a no-brainer physical hack.

I’ve served up the powerful brain hack in this CrusherTV™ Blog, but if you want to dine on all three evidence-based strategies that can help you get energized, and aggressively, intentionally, FINALLY start your big thing, watch the Preview of Episode 108 and consider joining as a Member so you can watch the entire Episode, which also features veteran ADHD coach Lynne Edris.

What’s Crusher™TV? It’s not just an online TV show that teaches ways to have more control in your life. It’s a LIBRARY of over 100 20-minute videos teaching ways to beat procrastination, get prioritized, get organized, manage your time, and more. You might get a lot out of watching the entire Episode 108, How to Finally Start Your Big Idea/Project, where I dig deeper into this topic. (To watch full episodes you can become a member for a buck and cancel any time you like, but either way, you can preview that Episode by clicking the image below.)



Episode Description: We all have at least one big idea or project we want or need to start. But too often, they languish, un-started. I’ll show why you’re stuck and evidence-based ways to get going on your biggest, scariest idea/project. Plus, coach Lynne Edris shares keys to your Unique Operating System.






Alan P Brown CrusherTVAlan P. Brown, an internationally recognized Productivity Coach, TEDx Speaker and #1 Best Selling Author of Zen and the Art of Productivity: 27 Easy Ways to Have More Time, Earn More Money and Live Happier is the host of Crusher™TV, where he and his Guest Experts share simple ways to get more done in less time with less stress. Follow Alan on Twitter and on Facebook.

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How to Meditate Without Meditating

What if you could get all the benefits of meditation…without learning how to meditate?

You’ve heard about the benefits of learning how to meditate – less stress, more clarity and focus. It’s a proven, powerful alternative ADHD solution.

But there’s no way you could meditate regularly, right?

Well, what if you didn’t have to learn how to meditate? I’ll share three evidence-based ways to meditate – that can de-stress and sharpen your mind – without having to “meditate!

We, More than Others, Need to Know How to Meditate!

Now, if everybody in the world could do with a little more Zen, then we ADHDers could use a triple scoop, no? Just think about frustrations that drive us bonkers daily:


“I’m in a constant state of overwhelm!”

“I never have enough time…always feel it’s running out!”

“I can’t get motivated to start, let alone finish, projects!”

“My to-do list is a monster…and I can’t prioritize!”

Add to that our emotional impulsiveness, impatience, overreacting, quick temper, etc. Yes, we need more Zen!

And yet all these challenges share one thing in common: they’re driven in part by our mind’s – or inner voice’s – interpretation of things around us. And therefore, can be reduced by managing that voice. (This, by the way, is what mindfulness and meditation are, at their core.)

Mindfulness strategies are among the most powerful ADHD alternative solutions in successfully managing my own brain. And I regularly use a toolbox of what I call “Practical Zen Brain Hacks” — simple, super ADD-friendly mental tricks that can be put to work immediately for more peace of mind – and productivity.

For instance, you can flip from a negative mental stance to a positive one by simply mindfully throwing the correct switch in your brain — and change your inner voice, along with your physiology. (Negative thoughts and emotions create a destructive “physiological cascade” of harmful neurotransmitters. Switching to alternative positive thoughts negates that negativity!)

Hence, instead of buying a book to learn how to meditate, do some Practical Zen Brain Hacks. Here are three of my favorites…

How to Meditate without Meditating

You can “meditate” without having to learn how to meditate!

Witness Your Thoughts

Our inner voice is blabbing all the time: “I have no time right now”; “My to-do’s are ALL so important! Oh my goodness!” — and even, “Yeesh, look at those tacky shoes!”

How to Meditate by Listening to Your ThoughtsIt’s rare, however, that we actually observe it. Which is too bad. Because when we do, we have the chance to step “outside ourselves” to witness that cacophony for what it is: typically, a lot of ego-based chatter, pointless worry about past and future, negative self-talk, petty judgments, etc.

The very act of witnessing our internal dialogue is a form of higher consciousness. And the more you witness it, the more conscious you are, the more present you are, and the more powerfully you can employ these and other life-improving strategies. Indeed, witnessing your mind’s voice is just Step One in shutting it up


You really don’t need to know how to meditate to get your mind quiet.

Here’s a simple way to quiet your mind…and power it up. It takes as little as 10 seconds and results in a refreshed mindset with which to push forward into a demanding task.

Quieting Your Mind is How to Meditate

I use this trick whenever my mind’s fatigued or just before sitting down in front of a tough engagement – a complicated memo, speech writing or business call.

I just relax my mind for a couple minutes. Which means, I just stop listening to the chatter flying around in my head and listen instead to my breathing…or visualize a lake…or just stare out the window.

Seriously, a minute or two of that and it’s almost like I’ve taken a power nap. I’m not talking about transcendental meditation here. Anyone can do this, though you do get better at it with practice. Try it next time you sit down at work, before you begin a tough task.

The third Practical Zen Brain Hack is what I call…

Meditate in Motion

You don’t have to be sitting in the lotus position to quiet your mind and reap the benefits. Many daily routines and activities are opportunities for mental peace and/or creative problem-solving.

How to Meditate by Walking Your DogFor instance, be conscious when walking the dog, commuting to work, working out, hanging out with the kids – even doing the dishes or the laundry — which are all times when you don’t need to be stressing over past or future.

You can just be enjoying these things for what they are. And THAT is a quieting of the mind just as formal meditative silence is!

So, if, while walking the dog, you were being the witness to your thoughts, choosing to listen to your breathing or just the sound of the outdoors — you are meditating in motion! Without having to learn how to meditate sitting on a bed of nails!

I hope this all brings home the powerful message that you don’t have to “meditate” to get the ADD-crushing benefits of meditation. Try one or more of these, won’t you? And leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Are You Making Your ADHD Worse?

Stop Making Your Adult ADHD Worse

We ADDers can be at a disadvantage from the get-go, so we have no business adding more troubles to our plate. But we do. There are many things we do TO ourselves – or don’t do FOR ourselves – that make our ADHD worse, or just seem worse. This eBook details five things we must stop doing, and show how to correct course. Stop making your ADHD worse! Get my free eBook, 5 Things You’re Doing Every Day that Make Your ADHD Worse at




Alan P Brown CrusherTVAlan P. Brown, an internationally recognized Productivity Coach, TEDx Speaker and #1 Best Selling Author of Zen and the Art of Productivity: 27 Easy Ways to Have More Time, Earn More Money and Live Happier is the host of Crusher™TV, where he and his Guest Experts share simple ways to get more done in less time with less stress. Follow Alan on Twitter and on Facebook.

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ADHD and Happiness: They CAN Go Together More Often

Having ADHD Can Make It Harder to Be Happier. But…

ADHD and happiness are not always best buds. When we live a life of nearly constant overwhelm, daily frustrations, self-doubt, frequent inability to accomplish things we’re “supposed to be able to” accomplish…Well, that’s a tough place from which to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed every day.

It’s no wonder we ADHD adults and teens are statistically more likely to suffer from…

  • Pessimism
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression

ADHD and Happiness SadnessEven those of us considered to have an “up” personality are subject to all of the above — and don’t get me started on some of the even uglier statistics about ADHD and quality-of-life.

But here’s the “but.” We have a surprising amount of control over how happy we are, both in the moment (i.e., there are “happiness hacks” you can use to alter your mood on-demand), and for the longer haul (i.e., there are habits and rituals you can cultivate to have what I call a “happier emotional home”).

It all begins with kicking aside a few myths about ADHD and happiness, and accepting some actual truths about happiness…

Adult ADHD can be rough, but you can be a happier camper. 

ADHD and Happiness: The Top 3 Myths

Clichés and “inspirational” quotes about happiness, frankly, just make me sad. And there’s too much BS about happiness out there. For example, unhelpful myths like…

  1. People are hardwired to be either generally happy or unhappy, regardless of what happens in their lives. This has been demolished by research. Yes, as noted above, we ADHD adults and teens are more prone to emotional regulation issues — maybe you saw my recent cover story in ADDitude magazine about ADHD emotions — but we are not genetically destined to be happier or sadder than anyone else — provided we vigilantly know ourselves.
  2. Being happy means you never feel sad. Dr. David Spiegel, director of Stanford’s Center for Integrative Medicine says, “Happiness is not the absence of sadness.” In fact, suppressing sadness suppresses other, more positive emotions as well. Feeling down about a mess-up? It’s better to grieve a bit than to pretend everything’s OK. Just be sure you follow that up with some self-compassion.
  3. “If I just get that raise/win that lottery/etc. — THEN, I promise, I’ll be happy!” Money doesn’t affect happiness — for ADHD teens or adults, or anyone else. The research is stunning: Lottery winners are no happier than paraplegics! Big lottery winners are super happy after winning, but fall to baseline levels in about two months. People who become paralyzed from the waist down also return to baseline levels of happiness within a few months after their accident.

And anecdotally, as someone who’s experienced both being unemployed with $100,000 in credit card debt, and a few years later having over $1m in his checking account, I can tell you that everyday happiness has little to do with money.

Nor does it have much of anything to do with any, external factors. Fact is, it’s little things we can do every day – and try to make into habits and rituals – that can make us happier NOW, and for the long haul.

3 Science-Based Truths About Happiness and ADHD

ADHD Emotions NeutralAs you hopefully have noticed by now in this blog and all my writing, speaking and videos, I like science. Whether it’s about ADHD emotions or ADHD alternative solutions or ADHD and quality of life. So herewith: three science-based truths about ADHD and happiness:

One. Happiness is not a condition, but (mostly) a choice. Gratitude, self-compassion and self-forgiveness are just three examples simple choices you can make any time you’re feeling the negative ADHD emotions that come with your frustrations and foibles.

Two. Happiness is not about things you have, but about things you DO. We ADHDers are more prone to impulse purchases than neurotypicals — and it’s in part because we’re trying to feed a happiness need. We’d be better off hanging out with friends or family — or just hanging out with ourselves — than buying something we think will make us happy.

And Three. How you feel about your future… is determined by how you feel NOW. Underline this one, cuz this one is KEY!! If you feel so-so right now, your outlook for next week will be so-so. If you’re down or frustrated right now, your brain is forecasting more frustration for the coming month. And from this mental stance, you’re not gonna be motivated to do much, let alone be at your best.

“Happiness is not about things you have, but about things you DO.”  – Alan P. Brown TWEET THIS

ADHD and HappinessSo, what might you choose to DO today — maybe even right now, to switch from a so-so mood or even an ugly funk?  Remember: based on all the above, you can choose to flip a switch to be happier right NOW (e.g., a gratitude prayer, acknowledge a small victory you had today — and explore more examples at the links below), so that you can begin your work with a stronger feeling about the future: “Hey, this is gonna work out pretty well!”

I always say, “We ADHDers don’t have to accept chronic procrastination, disorganization and overwhelm as a ‘lifestyle.'” And neither do we have to resign ourselves to disappointment, regret and pessimism as a ‘lifestyle.’

Want to Learn Some Simple, Evidence-Based Happiness Hacks?

I dedicated an episode of Crusher™TV to Scientifically-Proven Ways to Be Happier NOW and below is the preview of that episode, where I provide a ton of simple ways to flip the happiness switch.

What’s Crusher™TV? It’s a LIBRARY of over 100 20-minute videos teaching ways to beat procrastination, get prioritized, get organized, manage your time, and more. You might get a lot out of watching the entire Episode 106: 5 Scientifically-Proven Ways to Be Happier NOW. (To watch full episodes you can become a member for a buck and cancel any time you like, but either way, you can preview that episode by clicking the image below.

Episode Description: Feeling happy right now? Or, if as is more likely, are you working hard, waiting until some happiness arrives? We’re mostly doing the latter. That’s what we humans do. But I’ll share 5 simple ways to be (genuinely) happy right here & now and any time. (Not including the four happiness mini-hacks I share just in the Episode Preview.) And I’m joined by guest expert Dan Fowler, The Imagination Engineer, who has a cool 6-step process for manifesting what you want.




Alan P Brown CrusherTVAlan P. Brown, an internationally recognized Productivity Coach, TEDx Speaker and #1 Best Selling Author of Zen and the Art of Productivity: 27 Easy Ways to Have More Time, Earn More Money and Live Happier is the host of Crusher™TV, where he and his Guest Experts share simple ways to accomplish more in less time with less drama. Follow Alan on Twitter and on Facebook.

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