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How to Feed Your Brain to Beat ADHD Brain Fog

“Garbage in. Garbage out.” True for computers, for your brain — and for your ADHD brain fog.

They say, “You are what you eat.” To the extent that’s true, you’d want to eat lots of “brain foods” and steer clear of “stupid foods,” right? Right. So if you want to beat the frustrating ADHD brain fog so many of us ADHD adults (and teens and kids) experience, we need to sort out the brainy from the stupid.

Because there’s a lot of stupid on the food shopping list of the average American — and Canadian, and Brit and everybody else.

In this blog, I’ll dive into the importance of feeding your brain for maximum focus and productivity, and to fight your “ADHD brain fog.”

Healthy Food Helps ADHD Brain Fog

ADHD brain fog is in part a function of…your diet!

I don’t know about you, but growing up, most of my food came out of a cardboard box. Ah, the ’70s. Breakfast was toaster pizzas. Or, if I was lucky, a Carnation Instant Breakfast (artificial eggnog flavor was my favorite).

And lunch? Peanut butter and mayonnaise on white Wonder Bread. Yum!

And it’s not that my family was poor. We just had very poor knowledge about how simple carbs and processed foods can sabotage academic success. My diet meant I had little fuel for my brain. And sadly, the idea that a donut or a croissant (again, all simple carbs) was a meal, lingered until well into my 30s, where I struggled as an ad executive with undiagnosed adult ADHD.

Then I learned the difference between brain foods and stupid foods, and that you can hack your brain with your diet choices to beat the ADHD brain fog and increase your productivity.

To do so effectively, it’s important to…

Stop Eating the Foods of the Past

Two food categories, in particular, are fast losing traction in the marketplace — and for good reason.

Sugar Makes ADHD Brain Fog WorseFirst is refined sugar, or sugars that have been stripped of their fiber. Our brains and bodies are not set up to deal with refined sugar, including and especially high fructose corn syrup. Refined sugar is a toxin. The liver cannot deal with it. Yet, the average American consumes 130 pounds of sugar a year. That’s why one-third of Americans have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. (Most who do don’t realize it.)

Indications that refined sugar is on its way to becoming a food of the past: per capita soda sales are down 25% since 1998. Orange juice, once “part of a healthy breakfast!” but now seen as the unhealthy carrier of fiber-less sugar that it is, is down 45% in the same period. Sales of packaged cereals, just boxes of sugar and carbs, are down more than 25% since 2000.

And here’s why your brain should be happy to say bye-bye to sugary foods: Fructose targets the reward center in the brain, so you jones for more junk food like, well, a junkie. And you get no sustained mental stamina from it.

Shelf-Stable Foods Make ADHD Brain Fog WorseThe second group likely to be relegated to the dustbin of dietary history is those foods in the center of the supermarket. The biggest food marketers, from Kraft to Nestle to General Mills, who make boxed, canned and jarred food products, are getting their butts kicked by the store perimeter. The marketers have profited for generations on cheap, shelf-stable foods that make up most the typical supermarket’s square footage, but the consumer is now avoiding these fake food aisles and sticking to the refrigerated perimeter where the real food is.

Here’s why your brain should be happy to say bye-bye to the store’s center: Most shelf-stable foods are loaded with simple carbs, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives and a fraction of fresh foods’ nutrient quality. Here’s a good rule of thumb from a top researcher in this field: “If you see a food advertised on TV, don’t eat it. If you wanted it or needed it, they wouldn’t have to advertise it.”

 

“If it’s advertised on TV, don’t eat it. If you wanted it or needed it, they wouldn’t have to advertise it.”  – Dr. Robert Lustig, UCSF   TWEET THIS

 

Some Simple Diet Solutions to Beat ADHD Brain Fog

In my award-winning Crusher™ virtual-coach videos, I teach 10 strategies for busy-brained people to escape the overwhelm. And the very first strategy I teach I call “Feed Your Brain.”

Diet Tips to Beat ADHD Brain Fog

Why is this taught first? Because so many of us are eating poop that turns our brains into poop, and we can’t learn new productivity strategies with poop-for-brains. You can’t learn new productivity strategies when your brain is bogged down with stupid food.

And it doesn’t take a lot of effort to get the crap out of your diet and let the good stuff in. Here are four, easy-to-remember diet principles essential to the brain.

●  SUGAR SUCKS
●  CARBS KILL
●  PROTEIN IS POWER
●  OMEGAS ARE MEGA

Sugar Sucks
FACT: Sugar and junk foods create a quick blast of energy but then metabolize away, leaving you with an energy crash. And guess what happens after that crash? You look for another energy blast, and grab another piece of sugary crap, never getting any sustained mental energy. So, if you’re eating a glazed donut for breakfast, you are kicking your own ass down the street.

Carbs Kill
FACT: Simple carbs are much like sugar in that they create a burst of energy that’s short-lived and then leave you in the mental gutter. Now, carbs don’t really kill — in fact, you can’t live without them. But stay away from simple carbs, easily remembered as “white foods:” white bread and pasta, white rice, white potatoes. Hunt down complex carbs instead: whole-grain breads and cereals, brown rice, yams.

Protein is Power
FACT: The brain makes a variety of chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, to regulate, among other things, alertness. Protein triggers alertness-inducing neurotransmitters that help you focus. You get quality proteins from fish, lean meat, beans, eggs, dairy and protein drinks or powders. And if you use protein drinks or powders, make sure they’re not loaded with sugar, because sugar sucks.

Omegas are Mega
FACT: Certain fatty acids, like the omega-3s and omega-6s found in cold-water fish, can improve brain function and memory. So, get more essential omega fatty acids. To get these and protein, snack on walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts and sardines. Then chow down on salmon, tuna, avocados.

And here’s a bonus: ZIMBY-6. (Z, I, M, B6) Zinc, iron, magnesium and vitamin B6. These are all shown to enhance brain function. Their food sources are many, but keep it simple and just buy some high-quality supplements.

So, all you need to know about diet for right now is: Sugar sucks. Carbs kill. Protein is power. Omegas are mega. And ZIMBY-6.

Take This Action Step to Start Beating ADHD Brain Fog

I feel strongly about this, and so should you — strongly enough to take some action on behalf of your starving, food-abused brain.

On a clean sheet of paper, write across the top, headings for the following five columns:

Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner – Snacks – Indulgences

List under each one the foods you most often eat. Then take a step back, scan the whole sheet and circle those foods that violate our principles of Sugar Sucks, Carbs Kill, Protein is Power and Omegas are Mega.

Now, picture each one you’ve circled in your mind with a big red X through it. Then, stab it, run it over with your car, get out of the car and stab it again. Repeat this exercise with all poisons.

In Closing…

Now that you know the basics of how to keep your brain properly fed for optimal function and overall wellness, perhaps this old adage will have new meaning: Garbage in, garbage out.

Keep that brain fed right, and whatever’s in your way will be yours to crush.

Bless!

Alan

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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Self-Compassion as an ADHD Alternative Solution?

The Power of Self-Compassion and How to Use It

Think self-compassion is a lot of new-age hooey? Think again. I’ve seen the research, and it is powerful stuff. Self-compassion can mean a world of difference for your well-being and productivity. In this post I’ll show you a few quick ways to leverage it.

Indeed, an effective practice of self-compassion is not just feel-good pop-psychology; it’s a recipe to unleash productivity and happiness. A few quick facts:

  • The simplest of self-compassion interventions have been shown to decrease the odds of depression and increase general happiness.
  • Self-compassion training has been shown to help smokers quit, and to triple the success rate of obese dieters.
  • It’s proven to do your productivity good, too. (More about that in a moment.)

So, behold the power of self-compassion. Hmmm…Why do we not know more about this simple concept — especially as a potential ADHD alternative solution? Two reasons…

 

Self-Compassion ADHD Alternative Solution

Show yourself some love. Self-compassion has proven benefits for you and your ADHD brain!

First, few of us know what “self compassion” really means. Dr. Kristin Neff defines it as “extending compassion to the self for one’s failings, inadequacies and experiences of suffering.” And let’s be clear on what self-compassion is not…

It is NOT: Self-indulgence or letting yourself off the hook.

It is NOT: Self-pity. It is definitely not narcissism. Nor is it defending your point of view.

Second, we tend to be wary of self-compassion because we fear we’ll lose our edge; we equate self-compassion with weakness. Particularly in Western cultures, we’re raised to be a toughie, not a fluffy.

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal, one of the top authorities in this area, reminds us that being compassionate toward others is part of human nature — you see a friend or child mess up, and you give an encouraging word. And yet, she says, most of us find it difficult to turn this compassion toward ourselves!

“Compassion toward others is part of human nature — see a friend mess up…you give an encouraging word. Yet we find it difficult to turn this compassion toward ourselves.”  – Kelly McGonigal TWEET THIS

So you should be more fluffy — at least toward yourself.

To build on some of the benefits noted above, according to McGonigal, those with more self-compassion are less likely to experience anxiety, self-criticism and unhealthy perfectionism. Those with more of it are more optimistic, more socially connected. They’re more open-minded and less prone to anger.

Not practical enough for you? Don’t get huffy, Fluffy: on the productivity front, self-compassion correlates with:

  • Less procrastination
  • The ability to re-engage after setbacks
  • More proactivity and personal accountability.
  • Reduced cortisol and increased release of oxytocin and opiates — putting us “in an optimal mind-state to do our best.”

…as McGonigal sums it up: “[These are] all things that help you achieve your goals.” How’s THAT for an ADHD alternative solution?!

Self-Compassion: How Can I Use It?

So how does one practice self-compassion to garner its veritable cornucopia of benefits? Here are three adjustments you can make to your thinking that’ll help set you on the path to more self-lovin’…

  1. Score your successes. As I wrote in a previous blog, we ADHDers tend to remember every single mess-up, and none of our successes. Take a minute right now and tally a few successes you had this past week. (Here’s mine: I buckled down and wrote this blog after putting it off for over a week; I went online and hired a freelance marketing consultant for a project — i.e., I DELEGATED! Woohoo!; I did my cardio yesterday even though I didn’t feel like it.)
  2. When you do screw up, be kind to yourself. It’s like the golden rule with a twist: treat yourself as you would treat others. Talk to yourself as if you were consoling a good friend — “Hey buddy, don’t sweat it. Let’s try again tomorrow.”
  3. Mindfulness. Bring awareness to the bad feelings and emotions arising from whatever you’re judging yourself about. Let yourself experience those feelings — don’t ignore them.

The more you can make these into habitual mindsets, the less you’ll burn time, energy and spirit on self-defeating BS. And the more you’ll be proactive and powerfully ready to crush whatever’s in your way.

So…Self-compassion has some impressive benefits, and there you have three great ways to start showing yourself some love.

Want to Learn 3 Simple Self-Compassion Interventions?

I dedicated an episode of Crusher™TV to The Power of Self-Compassion, and below is the preview of that episode, where I take those three mindset tweaks and build them out into “intervention exercises” that make them more powerful and help with habit-formation. Plus, I share how you can access a self-assessment to see just how self-compassionate you are (or aren’t).

What’s Crusher™TV? It’s not just a weekly online TV show that teaches ways to have more control in your life. It’s a LIBRARY of over 95 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 57, The Power of Self-Compassion, 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.

Power of Self-Compassion Play

 

Episode Description: You think self-compassion is a bunch of “woo-woo” silliness? I’ve seen the research. It’s more like, “Holy cannoli, that’s POWERFUL STUFF!” It is – in terms of your well-being and your productivity. I’ll show you 3 Simple Self-Compassion “Interventions” you can leverage to improve your mood, energy and productivity. Also, my Guest Expert, ADHD coach DeShawn Wert, shares some great self-compassion hacks of her own.

 

 

Bless!

Alan

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 Say NO (So You Can Say YES to Yourself)

BEHOLD, THE POWER OF NO

Do you know how to say no? Saying no is a super power that can change your life. Fortunately for us, its not the kind of power you get from a radioactive spider bite or gamma rays. All you have to do is just say — No.

There are 1,440 minutes in every day. But only a small percentage of those are available for intense focus on the core of your job. And the more stuff you say “yes” to, the smaller that percentage will be.

Congratulations, you have 1,440 minutes available to you tomorrow. But you’ll want to use them carefully. Because when you take out minutes for sleep, eating, taking care of yourself, taking care of others, miscellaneous non-productive stuff at work, you’ll have less than 180 minutes of truly focused time to do your job’s core work.

If you read my previous blog post on Energy Vampires, you know how dangerous they can be. Well, one of those energy vampires is you. And one of the reasons you are an energy vampire is that you are saying “yes” to too many people. Every time you do, you give away a bunch of your precious time and energy. This is why you must learn how to say no.

There is a famous quote by Warren Buffett that says, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”

So stop giving away so many of your precious 1,440 — I’m sorry, your less than 180 minutes — by saying “yes!” to the Power of No.

How to Say No Get More Yes

Saying no can be difficult at first, but the power of the word can be life changing.

WHY IT’S SO HARD TO JUST SAY “NO”

Well, we are programmed for “yes” pretty much from the get-go, starting in childhood. Your job, from toddler to preschool, was to say “yes” to instructions. Saying “no” was bad, even grounds for punishment. Then, you got to school and that yes-is-good/no-is-bad thing was reinforced by your teachers and even your prospective friends. Then there was adolescence, where intense peer pressure had you yessing everything right up to petty crimes, depending on who your peers were. (Grand larceny in my case.)

Then you got your first job, and it was: “Yes, I can do that! Yes, that too!” Indeed, in our jobs and in society generally, we live in a Culture of Yes.

We want to be seen as “can do!” We want to help. We want to be a good employee, neighbor, charity committee member and so on.

  • Saying “no” is selfish.
  • Saying “no” risks you not being liked or chosen for something.
  • Saying “no” is disrespectful. At times even confrontational.

Life coach Susan Lasky says, women may have particular difficulty saying “no” because: “We think we can, and should, be able to do everything — the strong, passionate Wonder Woman. We think we need to be everything to everyone in our lives.”

But whether you’re an aspiring Wonder Woman or a someday Superman, saying “yes” is easy. Because, as “Zen Habits” author Leo Babauta says, “Current self thinks that future self can handle it, no problem. But then future self becomes current self and suddenly has to pay up for all the obligations placed upon him by all the optimistic past selves.”

And so, all our yeses make it more difficult to do our job well and to get caught up, get promoted, get raises. Yet even a few simple nos across the course of the day can yield huge gains in your available time’s bottom line.

Tim Ferriss once said, “What you don’t do determines what you can do.” And he has a list he calls his not-to-do list, in other words, a say-no-to list.

SOME EASY NOs TO START WITH

Using a few of his not-to-dos and a few of my own mixed in, let’s see what one day of exercising even a tad of the Power of No might yield:

  • Say “no” to e-mailing first thing in the morning.
  • Say “no” to answering calls from people you don’t know.
  • Say “no” to letting talkative people babble on.
  • Say “no” to checking your email again.
  • Say “no” to that unhealthy snack.
  • Say “no” to a political argument.
  • Say “no” to checking the headlines or sports scores again.
  • Say “no” to notifications on your smartphone.
  • Say “no” to responding immediately to emails.
  • Say “no” to a negative chatter session.

Consider making your own not-to-do list. Take a minute to write down, say, five things you’re going to say “no” to tomorrow.

Those were some relatively easy nos. And they added multiple minutes to my available productive time! You may have noticed though, that most of these didn’t involve saying “no” to other people. With those nos, things get a little trickier. You can read more about some of those tough nos here on a CrusherTV blog that goes a bit deeper into this topic.

And always say yes to the firm belief that whatever’s in your way is yours to crush!

INTERESTED IN THREE EVEN MORE POWERFUL WAYS TO SAY NO? DON’T WORRY, YOU CAN SAY YES TO THIS ONE

I dedicated an episode of Crusher™TV to The Power of “No”, and below is the preview of that episode. Click the image below to check out the preview for more advice on how to say no.

What’s Crusher™TV? It’s not just a weekly online TV show that teaches ways to have more control in your life. It’s a LIBRARY of over 95 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 45, The Power of No, where I dig deeper into this particular topic. (To watch full episodes you can become a member for a buck and cancel any time ya like, but either way, you can preview that episode above.)

Bless!

Alan

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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Self-Talk Lets You Be Your Own ADHD Coach

Self-talk is a powerful tool for changing habits, destroying negative beliefs and just plain being happier.

So…Yes! Mumbling to yourself as you stumble down the street is a sign of intelligence and can make you more productive!

What If You Had a Great Coach with You All the Time?

Imagine if you had a great coach with you all the time, reminding you to, “Stay focused over here, this is your bread-and-butter!” Or providing a reality check, “Yeah, this whole thing you’re worried about? It’s total BS.” Or helping you recover from a setback: “OK, you screwed up. Now, what’s the next play?” Or providing a timely bit of encouragement, “Wait, you’re not sure you can? Why not you?” and “Here’s why you!” or “No ice cream for you!”

Well, you’ve got that coach.

It’s YOU.

You just need to let that coach step outside of yourself so he or she can start coaching you.

Be Your Own ADHD Coach with Self Talk

Can you coach your own ADHD? Yep. (But keep your real coach!)

Now, you might think you’re already coaching yourself: “All right, I gotta start this damn project soon or there’s gonna be hell to pay.” Or “Hmmmm, what if I did it this way instead of that way?”

That’ll help you get things done. But that’s not coaching. That’s just inner dialogue.

To coach yourself, so as to dramatically improve your outcomes, you really do have to step outside and you really do have to have a talk with yourself.

Specific types of self-talk have the power to self-persuade and self-motivate — to crystallize what you should be focused on, help you refocus when ruminations yank you off-course, help you see things more strategically, and make better decisions.

How Self-Talk Works

Think about it: How do you persuade or motivate another person? Ideally, you get face to face with them and you talk to them with a reasoned point of view and reiterate that point of view until they finally get it.

Talking to yourself face-to-face can indeed be a powerful tool for getting more done, changing habits and beliefs and just plain being happier.

Stuart Smalley Self-Talk

BUT! We’re not talking here about “rah-rah” positive thinking or Stuart Smalley-esque self-reassurances. Powerful self-talk is rational, fact-based self-coaching: providing yourself objective opinions and evaluations on what you’re doing and thinking as you’re doing and thinking it.

And when done right, it’s a proven power-tool: A recent paper in The British Medical Journal reports that cognitive behavioral therapy — a form of talk therapy that can be performed on oneself — is as effective as Prozac or Zoloft in treating major depression.

Research among athletes and students has shown that positive self-talk results in improved performance across a number of measures. For instance, a study of national champion figure skaters identified more than 150 mental strategies they used to become champions. The most common, used by over three quarters of them, was what’s called “rational thinking and self-talk,” which is objectively talking oneself through problems and stressors.

Just uttering the three words “I am excited” in a high-pressure situation is proven to relieve stress, improve self-confidence and lead to better performance, per research from Harvard Business School.

These are just a few examples. But you may be asking why you need self-talk. Why isn’t your normal internal dialogue good enough to get the job done?

Why We So Badly Need Self-Talk

Well, normal thought patterns tend to reinforce existing beliefs. And especially as ADHD adults, we are the products of huge amounts of negative programming. By the time we’re 18 years old, we’ve been told “no” about 148,000 times. One hundred forty-eight thousand times we were told: “No, you can’t do that. No, do not try that. No, that’s not for you.” And so on.

This contrasts with what is likely a fraction of that number of times we were told: “Yes, by all means, you can do that. Yes, go for it.”

As a result, according to behavioral researcher Shad Helmstetter, up to 77% of our thoughts are negative and counterproductive and work against us. And with about 70,000 thoughts a day on average, that’s a lot working against us.

So the biggest reason we need self-talk and not just more internal dialogue, is we have to deprogram that thinking — much like a coach or therapist does. Reversing some of the negative loops that are holding you back is just one — if not the most important — of the many ways you can use self-talk.

Self-Talk

“Why does this crap always happen to me?” “I’ll never quit smoking.” “No matter what I do, I can’t lose weight.” “I’m never gonna be able to do this job really well.” If you can get in the habit of catching yourself in these loops, you can use self-talk to reverse them.

Self-talk can help break and form habits. My grandfather smoked two packs of unfiltered Lucky Strikes a day for 60 years. Then one day, when he was 82, he just flat out quit. I was still smoking then, and I asked him, “How the hell did you do it?” He told me, “I took the smoking card out of my brain and swapped it for the non-smoking card.”

In other words, he changed his identity as a smoker to that of a non-smoker. He no longer used the inner dialogue of the smoker — “I need a smoke. Boy, a smoke would sure be nice right about now.” With the changing of that circuit board, that language was replaced by the self-talk of a non-smoker — “Smoking is disgusting. Smoking will kill me.”

If self-talk can help end powerful addictions, work as well as medications in treating depression and help athletes perform at the championship level, think of how you can apply it to things like…

  • Breaking through the wall of procrastination, perhaps with self-talk about the irrational reasons you’re avoiding the task.
  • Keeping yourself focused on primary 2 tasks with self-talk that resists the call of distractions. See Chapter 3: Decimate Your To-Do List, where I teach a powerful brain hack built on actively reminding yourself of what you’re doing now.
  • Recovering from major setbacks.
  • Creatively problem-solving rather than feeling stuck and powerless.

Really, anywhere there’s a gap between your current performance and your potential, self-talk can make a big difference.

A Key to Effective Self-Talk

Here’s a little more science on self-talk, which not only further supports its efficacy but specifically supports the way of self-talking many highly successful and influential people — LeBron James and Malala Yousafzai being just two examples — have in common…

Researchers led by Ethan Kross at the University of Michigan asked volunteers to give a speech — with just five minutes of mental preparation. They asked half the subjects to prepare by talking to themselves and to address themselves in the first person as “I.” The other half were directed to call themselves “you” or to use their own names while preparing.
Both groups noted the content of their internal dialogue as they were preparing the speech.
The results were striking in two ways. First, those who used “I” had a mental monologue along the lines of: “Oh my god, how am I going to do this? I can’t prepare a speech in five minutes without notes.”
But those who used “you” or their own names were more likely to give themselves support and advice, saying things like: “You can do this. You’ve given a ton of speeches before.” They sounded more rational and less emotional.

This phenomenon is called psychological distancing. Kross says, “It’s almost like you are duping yourself into thinking about you as though you were another person.” Using second- and third-person pronouns as opposed to “I,” you create psychological distance — a technique used in several psychological therapies that help manage anxiety and emotional distress.

But most importantly, in addition to these powerful self-regulatory effects, the second- and third-person group members were calmer and more confident and performed better on the task than those who referred to themselves using “I” or “me.”

So, when you use self-talk, refer to yourself in the third person — ideally using your name. (“Hey Alan, this is a pretty good blog post!” “Oh, thank you Alan!” “You’re welcome, Alan.”)

A CLOSING THOUGHT

In his bestselling book, “Keep Calm and Carry On,” Mark Reinecke, Ph.D., notes, “If we view a problem as intolerable and overwhelming, it will be. If we view the situation as a challenge but a manageable one, it will be. It’s all in the way we look at it.”

Which is to say, it’s all in the way we talk about it with ourselves.

Remember, whatever is in your way is yours to crush!

Want to Learn 3 Simple Ways to Use Self-Talk to Manage Your ADHD?

I dedicated an episode of Crusher™TV to The Power of Self-Talk, where I share several evidence-based ways to use self-talk to get more done and beat the overwhelm — and you can click the image below to watch the preview of the episode.

The Power of Self Talk

 

Bless!

Alan

P.S. You might get a lot out of watching that entire episode of Crusher™TV where I dig deeper into this topic. (You can become a member for a buck and cancel any time ya like.) You can PREVIEW recent episodes here

P.P.S. Also, if these distinctions and solutions resonated with you, you might want to check out my #1 Best Selling book, Zen and the Art of Productivity: 27 Easy Ways to Have More Time, Earn More Money and Live Happier

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A Simple Conceptual Trick for ADHD Time Management

Imagine if there were a handy tool that helped you stay focused on a given task; improved your ADHD time management; and generally boosted your productivity.

There is such a tool, and its many benefits are the reason it is one of the hot buzzwords in personal productivity: “Theming” your time and tasks. I’ll show why it works to help with ADHD time management challenges, and provide a couple of easy applications…

Trick for ADHD Time Management

Theming offers real benefits for ADHD time management challenges.

How Theming Helps with ADHD Time Management

Tool Benefits ADHD Time ManagmentTheming – conceptual ways to organize your time and tasks — creates significant efficiencies, reduces your stress level and frees up more time.

Yes, all these benefits accrue to those who theme. Whether you theme your days of the week, your months – or just theme a chunk of your daily schedule, you can really boost your output and preserve your sanity with this indispensable tool.

Our Brains Need External Structures for ADHD Time Management

We ADHDers, more than anyone, need external structure to compensate for the absence of structure in our brains. We typically create external structures with tangible tools like to-do lists, calendars, notes and apps.

But we can also use conceptual tools that interface with these tangible tools.

And that’s what theming is. A structuring of your calendar and workflows around concepts – or themes – that help you better manage your time, tasks, priorities and goals – throughout your day, across your week, for the month or even the coming year.

Let’s see, for instance, how theming your days could help with a couple of…

Classic Productivity and ADHD Time Management Situations

For many of us, it’s hard to stay on task. You’re working on an important task and you remember – Oh! I really should renew my auto insurance before the end of the month. And if you’re the least bit self-aware, you’ll worry that if you don’t do that right now, now that you’ve remembered it, you’ll forget about it. So you might interrupt that important task to go do that. Not efficient!

ADHD Time Management Admin

But what if one of the days of your week, say, every Tuesday, were themed as your administrative day? For stuff like expenses, paying bills, renewing things. All those somewhat important things that rarely have to get done RIGHT NOW, but that can turn into real headaches if NOT done at some point soon.

You could just put that in your calendar for next Tuesday, and for now, just forget about it! And stay on the important task you were working on. You shouldn’t have to have a mental wrestling match every time you remember something or something new pops up! Theme the days of your week, and these things will now have a home – a storage bin — in your workweek.

Another classic productivity problem: As you begin your workweek on Monday, you have so many to-do’s, it’s hard to sort through them all to identify what your priorities should be for today. Then you have the same problem on Tuesday. And on Wednesday. And just trying to get prioritized becomes a very taxing thing!

But what if, in addition to your Tuesdays being themed for all your administrative stuff, your Mondays were themed for another kind of work, Wednesdays for another, and so on?

ADHD Time Management Days

This would simplify your prioritization on any given day. You’d spend less time analyzing tasks and stressing over which to work on today.

As productivity strategist Mike Vardy says, “Knowing what the day ‘means,’ allows me to get to the things I need and want to accomplish. And as a result, I have less decision fatigue and even more energy when I spend time with my kids.”

[Importantly, we’re not saying that you can ONLY do those things on THAT day of the week — you’re just making sure there’s that “storage bin” for those tasks in your week, and that you’re tackling some of them on that day.]

If these examples have piqued your interest in the potential power of theming, here’s one more way to theme…

The Power of Monthly Theming

Monthly themes provide an overarching focus for a given month. This is great for major, mid- to long-term initiatives — those important tasks and projects that we ADHDers most often struggle to keep moving forward and finish.

Think about classic examples like, “Ya, I’m gonna finish writing that book/paper/presentation!” or, “I’m gonna finish painting the dining room/cleaning the garage/doing my taxes (on time)!”

Well, yours truly, a champion ADHDer, has been using monthly theming with great success. For example, this year January was my Finish Writing the Book month (Done!). February was Market the Book (Done! #1 Best Seller! Yay!). March was Revamp the Crusher™TV Website (Victory!). All big projects. All helped along with monthly theming.

And how exactly did monthly theming aid my ADHD time management along the path to these multiple victories? With these themes kept top-of-mind every day throughout each month (by way of sticky notes, automatic alerts popping up in my iPhone calendar, etc.), I gave myself a prioritization compass each time I sat down to plan my day. Add to that a strong, nagging desire to succeed and some other fundamental adult ADHD-crushing strategies I use and teach, and voilà! Very powerful.

I LOVE theming, and you will, too, if you give it a chance.

Which Way to Theme Is Best for You?

There are a bunch more ways to use theming to remedy your ADHD time management challenges. I devoted a full episode of Crusher™TV to this topic, and I shared details of how I use daily theming, and how the co-founder of Twitter uses it. I also share how to use Yearly Theming and a powerful tool called Horizontal Theming. You can preview Crusher™TV Episode 84 to 5 Ways to Theme Your Time and Tasks by clicking the image below.

Bless!

Alan

P.S. You can watch that entire episode of Crusher™TV along with over 80 others on topics like procrastination, getting prioritized, quieting your mind, and more. Become a trial member for a buck and cancel any time you like. Again, it’s Episode 84 , and you can preview that episode here:

The Power of Theming

 

 

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How NOT to Boost Your Willpower

Know and Avoid Everyday Willpower-Killing Behaviors!

Willpower helps you tackle the tough stuff. The critical stuff. The stuff that makes a big difference in your career and home life. But there are things you’re doing across your day that undercut it. Seriously. I’ll share how you’re hampering your own willpower and what you can do to avoid these traps — and even boost willpower.

Let’s First Define Willpower

The dictionary definition is something like: self-control deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one’s impulses.

As such, it’s not just willpower (“I will do the harder-but-more-noble thing”), it’s also “won’t-power” (“I won’t do this tempting thing that’s against my long-term interest”).

The more willpower — and won’t-power — you’re able to muster, the better you can keep your ADHD brain out of trouble, and your actions pointing in a positive direction.

But another thing about willpower is that it’s depletable, like gas in your car’s fuel tank. And there are things you’re doing throughout your day that are needlessly burning it. That’s right — you’re undermining your own willpower every day. We all are.

How Not to Boost Willpower

I can control my available willpower? Yep.

How NOT to Boost Willpower

Willpower allows you to resist temptations, make hard decisions, manage emotions and steer your behavior. But from the moment you wake up, your willpower fuel tank heads toward empty throughout the day. Ironically, a few things that accelerate that fuel burn are resisting temptations, making tough decisions, managing your emotions and regulating your behavior. All positive things! So doing the right thing burns willpower!

But there are other things you’re doing that further burn your willpower fuel. Not-so-right things. Let’s look at the range of these (bolded) in the context of a hypothetical work day.

Let’s say that your supply of willpower for the day fits in a gas tank. You start your day by giving 20 minutes of your attention to emails before you even leave for the office. Oops, that burned some willpower. OK, you’ve got plenty left, no worries.

Off to work! First thing at your desk, you tap into this tank of willpower to dive into that big project you’ve been putting off. Yep, that eats up some, too, but that’s what it’s there for — doing the tough stuff.

Oh geez, now you’re interrupted by a phone call — your boss insists that you attend an unscheduled meeting, right now. Your stress response fires up because you did not plan on this and do not want to be there, but you have to. You can smell the fuel burning off.

OK, so you get to the meeting. You’re still carrying those negative vibes, which make it even tougher to give your full attention to the meeting so you impatiently start multitasking — listening to the meeting, taking notes, checking and responding to emails and texting with a client.

OK, meeting’s over. Now back to work. But now it’s lunch time. You’re A) famished, B) a little stressed about getting back on that project and C) having a tough time deciding where to get lunch. The hunger, stress and decision-making each eat up some willpower.

Fast Food Willpower

Thinking that time is at a premium today, you dart out to Mickey D’s and after debating which menu item is the least evil, you opt for a Big Mac combo. You multitask through lunch but manage to squeeze in a half-decent single tasking session on your tough project until you hit the three o’clock wall, at which time you escape into 10 minutes of rampant rumination about this and that. Your fuel tank takes a triple hit from the crappy food, more work and then a round of worrying.

Then you partake in some pseudo-productivity — emails, texts, emails, paper shuffling, emails, Facebooking, emails — until it’s finally 5:30 p.m. and you’re happy to get out of the office before 6 p.m. because you’ll have time to stop at the gym.

But your tank is now so low on willpower fuel that you can’t muster the firm decision to just do it. So, you rationalize skipping the gym because you’re beat and today didn’t flow like you thought it would.

And I could go on about your evening TV habits, cracking open a bottle of beer or wine, staring at your smartphone before bed — all of which further weaken you for tonight and for tomorrow.

So let’s review…

  • Your very exertion of willpower leaves less of it available, for instance, every time you resist a temptation or buckle down on a tough task.
  • But there are also things you’ve done throughout your day that needlessly drained your tank — multitasking, stressing, ruminating, junk food, pseudo-productive busywork — to name just five.
  • And as a result, at the end of the day, the things that don’t get attended to as they should were things like working on tough, priority tasks, working out and getting to sleep earlier.

Good News: Manage a Few of These and You’ll CONSERVE Willpower

Let’s start with a few of the more obvious ones…

Boost Willpower

  • Cut your weekly beer/wine intake and you’ll sleep better and wake with a fuller willpower tank.
  • Ditto for your media intake — especially right before bed.
  • Low-quality foods are poor brain fuel and will leave you hungry and grumpy more quickly than quality, high-protein/high-nutrient foods.

I know, those solutions aren’t very sexy and you’ve heard them before in one context or another. But they make a big difference. And here are a few of the trickier — but even more immediately impactful — ways to stop burning up willpower…

  • Watch out for pseudo-productivity: those activities you slip into because you’re avoiding tougher tasks (like that big project), and which you justify by thinking, “Hey, I hafta do this stuff anyway.” Things like excessive email checking, robotic email deleting, administrative stuff that’s not really important right now, etc.
  • Try to catch yourself in bouts of worry and rumination. These stinkin’-thinkin’ sessions may feel “necessary” in the moment, but they’re eating up energy and willpower. If you’re able to catch yourself, the quickest way out is a simple gratitude prayer, e.g., “Today I am thankful for ______.”
  • Listen to your body for signals of stress. When, for instance, you feel your shoulders tense up as you struggle with a task, or a colleague or on a phone call, hear that siren and answer it with some deep breathing.

Even Better News: Ways to BOOST Willpower on Demand

There are things you can do to improve willpower fuel economy and even refill your tank throughout your day. A few of my favorites…

Ultradian Rhythm Willpower

1) Know and Obey Your Ultradian Clock: Not to be confused with your circadian clock, that inborn system that tells you when it’s time to sleep and time to wake, your ultradian clock controls your exertion and recovery cycles throughout the day. And we tend to operate in 90-minute cycles.

Of course, everybody’s different. The key thing is to know your optimal sprint/rest cycle and also your strong and weak times of the day. This way you’re attacking your toughest willpower-burning tasks during your strong times and not expecting too much of yourself in your weak times.

2) Pride & Shaming
Psychologist David Desteno says social emotions like pride and shame have a quicker and more direct influence over our actions than rational arguments about long-term costs and benefits. He calls it “hot self-control.”

Examples here are thinking about your 9-year-old child before lighting up a smoke or visualizing the pride you’ll feel by nailing that presentation a week early.

3) Goal Contagion
This is where we see others pursuing a goal and get swept up into pursuing that same goal. For instance, the more you read about successful business people’s pursuit of their goals, the more effortlessly focused you will be on yours. This is one reason why inspiring figures are powerful, as is spending more time with your goal-oriented friends.

A powerful way to fuel goal contagion? Get an accountability partner or sign up for some group coaching. When you share your goals — and your proclivities to procrastinate, prevaricate or escapinate — it effectively doubles your willpower.

4) Practice
In Crusher™TV Episode 45: The Power of No, I talked about how practicing the easy nos helps you build your “no” muscle. And like the willpower muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Practice self-control on the easy ones — not checking your email constantly, not having that sugary snack.

As uber-coach Beth Main says, “Any time you don’t feel like doing something, look at it as an opportunity to practice your self-discipline. Catch yourself in the act of blowing something off and say to yourself, ‘I really don’t feel like doing this. But because I’m working on self-discipline, I’m gonna to do it anyway.’ Then do it.”

Then either share your victory with someone or journal it, which will help motivate you next time your willpower is called upon.

Stanford’s Carol Dweck says that, “[Willpower is] not unlimited — but it’s a much larger resource than previously thought.” TWEET THIS  …and those who believe they have abundant willpower are able to push on.

Want to Learn More Ways to Boost Willpower?

There are a bunch more ways to boost willpower on demand. The 4-7-8 Technique, the Progress Principle (scoring successes), the 5 Whys, Tasks vs Systems, and more (yes, I LOVE this stuff!).

I dedicated Crusher™TV Episode 54 to 8 Ways to Boost Your Willpower, and you can click the image below to preview that episode.

Bless!

Alan

P.S. You might also get a lot out of watching that entire episode of Crusher™TV where I dig deep into this topic. (You can become a member for a buck and cancel any time you like.) Again, it’s Episode 54 , and you can preview that episode here:

8 Ways to Boost Willpower

 

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How to Flip Anger Into Productivity

 Imagine if you could flip anger into fuel for a procrastination-busting work session!

There’s no question emotions have an impact on your productivity. They affect your energy, focus, willpower levels, etc. For instance, when you’re happy, you get more done, right? Better working relationships, more stamina, etc.

But what about negative emotions? Most of the time, they make us overreact, make bad decisions, have a tough time focusing.

But there’s a mechanism in every emotion — particularly negative emotions — that can be leveraged to fuel your productivity and quality-of-life.

So, in a society that tells us to guard our emotions, to not show them, to “stuff them back in,” we should actually welcome them. Because we can flip them to our advantage. And I’ll share the mechanism for doing that, and the simple secret to flipping the most common negative emotion — anger — into a natural ADHD remedy.

How Emotions Become Destructive — or Productive — Behaviors

Our strongest emotions are usually triggered when we sense that something important to our welfare is afoot: our safety, self-esteem, or sense of fairness. When our welfare is enhanced, we get positive emotions: happiness, joy. But when our welfare is threatened, negative emotions are triggered — along with behaviors in response to the threat.

The question that arises in the context of our ADHD and productivity is: Given our emotional response, What will be our behavioral response? Will it be destructive or productive? We do have a choice.

There are three ways to respond to an emotion:

  1. Suppressing: We think that by avoiding how we feel, we’ll…feel better;
  2. Fixating: Doing so gives us an identity as a victim, in which we can find some comfort); and…
  3. Acceptance and Problem-Solving: Needless to say, the most likely to be a productive strategy.

Let’s look at these in the context of one of your most powerful emotions, anger: when our primitive lizard brain is screaming, This is not right! Something needs to change! This cannot stand!

Maybe a difficult situation you’ve been put in, or an unmet expectation or betrayal of some sort. A somewhat extreme example, but perfect for our exercise here, would be road rage…

Let’s say you’re on the freeway driving your family to grandma’s birthday party when suddenly a young hothead zooms past you, cursing and flipping you the bird, then cuts in front of you so close you have to hit your brakes to avoid his rear quarter panel. You’re furious – not just because this guy put your family’s safety at risk, but because you’ve just been psychologically assaulted. Both of which cannot stand!

Now, you can suppress this anger — pretending everything’s just fine while your subconscious seethes. You can fixate on the emotion — let it have its way with you — with a retaliatory hand gesture, or by loudly venting in the car to your family members.

Either of which may make you feel different in the moment, but neither will actually make you feel better. (Research going back to 1959 shows that fixating on anger does little more than put the public at risk!)

That brings us to the third strategy to deal with this anger: Acceptance and problem-solving…

“OK, that guy’s a jerk. I’m understandably angry. Now, how do I solve my most pressing problem, that being the risk to my family’s safety?” And you don’t have to be Gandhi to know there are several smarter, more peaceful solutions than suppressing or fixating.

I know. It’s easier said than done.

But here’s the good news: All emotions have “adaptive value” — meaning they can be adapted to help us cope and respond to difficult situations.

And here’s even better news: Negative emotions in particular — anger, sadness, resentment, etc. — have massive adaptive value – because at the heart of every negative emotion is that underlying sense that somethingmust change! This cannot stand!

Flip Your Anger Into Action

Your anger is a potential natural ADHD remedy? Yep.

This is the mechanism that helps you flip your emotions into productivity gold. As Peter Diamandis said, “A problem is a terrible thing to waste. I think of problems as gold mines.” And you can think of negative emotions in the same way.   

How to Flip Anger Into Productivity

Since anger is – as with all negative emotions – grounded in a feeling that something needs to change, that feeling creates energy. Sometimes, massively destructive energy that we just blast out into the world. But author Soleira Green suggests, rather than blasting the energy out…

“Put the anger and its energy in front of you…What’s triggering me – what’s underneath it…What do I CARE about that’s making me angry?”

“Now, what could I do to use that energy to move forward on this thing that’s making me angry?”

With these simple questions, she’s describing the creation of what I call a Negative Nag. Dimensionalizing that which ticks you off in order to fuel motivation and problem-solving.

As Green puts it, “Anger is the tip of passion. You wouldn’t get upset if you didn’t care so much about something! Anger is your own body telling you, ‘Hey, here’s something that matters…and here’s some energy to deal with it!’”

So, next time you’re angry about something (even at yourself), observe that energy and ask that series of questions. This is a powerful natural ADHD remedy!

Oh — and you don’t have to get run off the road to benefit from negative emotions…

Want to Learn How to Flip Sadness and Anxiety Into Positive Action?

So much of what you do every day — whether answering a client email, negotiating with a supplier, or wrangling your teen — generates emotions: anger, joy, frustration, worry.

All of which have huge potential for our productivity because they can all be flipped. But the three most common negative emotions are the most readily flippable into a gold mine of performance or productivity: anger, sadness, and anxiety.

I dedicated an episode of Crusher™TV to these three. I show how flipping sadness (no stranger to us ADHDers) can result in powerful analysis and fresh perspectives/solutions. And flipping anxiety (another frequent visitor to our tribe) is as easy as saying three words. I kid you not. Research from Harvard Business School has demonstrated its efficacy!

Preview the episode below…

Bless!

Alan

P.S. You might get a lot out of watching that entire episode of Crusher™TV where I dig deeper into this topic. (You can become a member for a buck and cancel any time ya like.) It’s Episode 81, and you can preview that episode at either link or by clicking the image below.

How to Flip Negative Emotions

 

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4 Ways Journaling Is an ADHD Natural Remedy

“The #1 productivity tool you aren’t using,” is what Forbes called the practice of journaling. 

Research from Harvard Business School says it can boost your performance and impact your career success. Sir Richard Branson calls it, “my secret life hack.” And I call it an ADHD natural remedy. Yep. Just…writing stuff down!

But before we get to how it can be an ADHD natural remedy, check out some of these eye-openers:

Research: How Journaling Supports Your Health

  • A study among breast cancer patients found journaling improved several health metrics, as well as stress levels and overall quality of life.
  • 25 years of research among prison inmates indicates that, “Writing about what distresses and dismays us decreases the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improves our sleep patterns,” according to author and writing facilitator Ann Reynolds.
  • It’s been shown to decrease the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis!
  • One study showed effectiveness in reducing severity of irritable bowel syndrome!

A key in much of this mind-blowing research is that the benefits accrued from writing just 20 minutes a day; in some cases, for just a few days.

But you can get huge benefits from just a few minutes of journaling each day (more on that in a moment). Journaling is NOT about keeping a detailed diary. As I define it, journaling is just a brief daily practice of recording by hand reflections on your experiences, thoughts, feelings and/or priorities.

[Note that I emphasize writing by hand, vs typing. Studies support this: A study at Princeton and UCLA found that students who take longhand notes rather than with a laptop, gain a better grasp of a subject. This is because of what’s called the “encoding hypothesis,” which says that the processing required of writing notes improves learning and retention — processing that doesn’t happen when typing.]

So there’s some science on why writing by hand is where it’s at. And here’s why journaling is where it’s at for ADHD adults and teens…

4 Ways Journaling Can Be a Natural ADHD Remedy

  1. Writing about stressful events helps us come to terms with them, and stop ruminating on them; reducing their impact on our physical health and mental stamina. (And we ADHers are champion ruminators, no?)
  2. Journaling clarifies our thoughts, feelings and priorities. By “getting them out”, we process and synthesize them much better. Who out there would like some clarified thought today? Anyone?
  3. Similarly, journaling helps us problem-solve, by pulling our thought process out of our short-term memory, where it’s difficult for us to organize and project sequential steps toward a solution — and putting them in an external workspace where we can more effectively sort, filter and analyze them.
  4. It boosts self-confidence. “When people have the opportunity to reflect, they experience a boost in self-efficacy, and they feel more confident that they can achieve things,” says Harvard Business School’s Francesca Gino.

How Journaling is a Natural ADHD Remedy

Journaling is a powerful natural ADHD remedy? Yep.

So, a daily journaling practice has tons of evidence-based benefits for your ADHD, your productivity and even your health.

But I know, you’re worried that to get these benefits you have to go out and buy a leather-bound diary with the little key, and then somehow sit down for an hour a day documenting your entire day and every thought that crossed your mind. What a pain in the butt! But no…

You don’t need to do much writing to get many of those benefits…..

Intrigued About the Potential for Journaling as an ADHD Natural Remedy?

Think about this: You’re already writing or word processing every single day! And all I’m talking about here is devoting a fraction of your daily writing energy to a journaling session of as little as two minutes a day.

I dedicated an episode of Crusher™TV to The Power of Journaling, in which I’ve assembled 3 Ways to Journal That Are Not a Pain in the Butt…The first takes just two minutes. Another one takes just five minutes. Plus, I share 6 Foolproof Tips for Building an Effective Journaling Ritual. You can preview it below.

Bless!

Alan

P.S. You might get a lot out of watching that entire episode of Crusher™TV where I dig deeper into this topic. (You can become a member for a buck and cancel any time ya like.) It’s Episode 78 , and you can preview that episode at either link.

3 Ways to Journal

 

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2 Mental Performance Secrets I Wish I Knew as a Struggling Executive

“If I only knew then what I know now (about mental performance hacks!).”

As a “mess-to-success entrepreneur,” I’ve seen both the deep end of drug addiction and the pinnacle of corporate success, as well as entrepreneurial glory with multiple start-ups. But in between were several years where I really struggled as an executive.

Worked my butt of…but couldn’t make my mark.

Nose to the grindstone every day…but constantly overwhelmed.

It took me a while, but eventually I learned some mental performance secrets that helped me go, in the space of just two years, from struggling, underachieving, lowly account executive, to vice president and employee of the year at the largest ad agency in the U.S.; while in my spare time co-founding a start-up that was later sold for 8 figures. Not bad for a classic ADHDer with a sordid history of booze/drugs/crime.

But what does that have to do with you?

There’s a good chance you’re not taking advantage of these mental performance secrets – so I’ll share the before-and-after impact of a couple of these principles and maybe they’ll help your mess-to-success story. (Um, I’m not saying you’re a mess…I should’ve said, “Your good-to-great story.”)

Mental Performance Secrets

Can some simple mental performance hacks help your ADHD? Yep.

Lots of Input. Not Much Output.

I worked HARD throughout my career as an executive. Long hours, weekends were the norm. My input was stellar. But early on, my output was in the gutter.

And there’s a good chance you’re operating at a high level of input, but not getting your full potential of output and accomplishment. And you may not be savvy to some of the performance secrets that I’m about to share. Principles I wish I’d known when I was a struggling executive.

Mental Performance Secret #1

I wish I knew… that My Brain is My Engine. Might sound obvious. But few of us truly understand that our brain has its own life – and its own needs that are distinct from those of our body.

Think about your car’s engine: You treat it differently than you do the fenders and leather seats…which you care for from the outside with buffing and polishing. You care for your engine from the inside…the right amounts of high quality fluids, lubricants and of course, high-octane fuel.

Before I learned this principle, I was “buffing the outside” with nice suits, a few push-ups and sit-ups here and there, and fueling my body with whatever quenched my thirst and quelled my hunger – lots of sugar, carbs and coffee. But your body can get energy from any crap – your brain needs to be fed right.

After I understood this – I began tending to my body in one way, and to my brain in another…in two simple ways:

  1. I adhered to my brain-feeding mantra – sugar sucks, carbs kill, protein is power and omegas are mega. For instance, a 30-gram protein breakfast every day would fuel strong output all morning long – and guess what…fewer late nights at the office!
  2. As Dr. John Ratey says, “Exercise creates a brain chemical that acts like Miracle-Gro® for the brain.” That chemical is brain derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF. But occasional sit-ups and push-ups don’t make enough BDNF to make a difference in your performance.

The research tells us that “aerobic exercise for 40 min offers the greatest probability of significant BDNF elevation.” So line up some protein snacks (sugar sucks!! carbs kill!!) and push yourself a little harder on whatever your workout routine is. You WILL feel the results.

Mental Performance Secret #2

I wish I knew…when I was a struggling executive, that  My Energy is Not Linear. We don’t operate like machines – just flip on our brain and it  goes until we decide we’re done. We all kinda know that much. But neither is our energy linear in a FOOT steady declining fashion, where we just gradually lose mental clarity and stamina over the course of the workday. Our energy is FOOT cyclical.

Before I knew this, here’s what would happen: I’d set about working on a tough, important task and as soon as I’d begin to flag, I’d think, “Welp, that’s it for me!” …and I’d switch over to easier work – more often than not, into pseudo-productivity (meaningless tasks that make you feel productive). So the tough, important task’s completion gets delayed.

Plus, I’d get frustrated, and further reinforce the belief that “I just can’t work on tough stuff for very long” …or that I’m lazy.

After I understood that our energy is cyclical – I began using a timer for single-tasking sessions…then doing a simple recovery ritual when the timer goes off or when I feel the energy dip. To ride the energy cycle back into another powerful singletasking session: Re-fuel with protein — nuts and dried fruit is my magical mix. Or do a “powerpose” (stand for two minutes with hands-on-hips, just like Wonder Woman/Superman) or a quick 5-minute meditation. Mandatory is to get up and walk around. Or bang out 10 push-ups.

Then you’re ready to settle back into crushing it. Set that timer again…Work, recover, work, get a raise, work, recover, work, get promoted, work recover…

Easier said than done, I know. But productivity hacks and other mental performance tips like these made a massive difference for me — and they definitely can for you.

Intrigued About the Potential for Mental Performance Hacks Like These?

I dedicated an episode of Crusher™TV to 5 Mental Performance Secrets I Wish I Knew as a Struggling Executive, and below is the preview of that episode. My Guest Expert, Dr. Evan Hirsch, also shares insights on how toxins may be affecting your mental performance! Click the image below to check out the preview.

 

5 Mental Performance Secrets

You might get a lot out of watching that entire episode of Crusher™TV where I dig deeper into this topic. (You can become a member for a buck and cancel any time ya like.) It’s Episode 73 , and you can preview that episode above.

Bless!

Alan

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 Decision-Making: Why We Make Bad Decisions

“Your life is a product of your own choices. So if you don’t like your life, it’s time to make better choices.”   

OK, sure. But better decision-making is easier said than done.

If we always made the best decisions, we’d all be Richard Branson, right?

So many of the most consequential decisions in our lives are indeed tough to make, let alone make with 100% confidence. Which house to buy. Whether to change careers. Should I quit my job and start my own company? These, and even “easier,” everyday decisions, fall prey to a set of…

Common Decision-Making Mistakes

Such as…

Narrow Framing: We debate whether to do or buy something, and end up building an argument for it, rather than taking the time to consider arguments against it or coming up with alternatives.

Confirmation Bias: As Chip and Dan Heath write in their bestseller Decisive, “Our normal habit in life is to develop a quick belief about a situation and then seek out information that bolsters our belief.” NOT a good recipe for good decisions.

Overconfidence: We tend to think we know everything we need to know before making decisions. Rarely if ever the case.

On top of those, for us ADHDers in particular, the work required to formulate decisions is fatiguing…Postponing decisions (we’re the champions of this, are we not?) wastes precious time and creates stress...Making the wrong decisions can cost us time and, of course, money (we’re pretty good at that, too, it seems).

But wait!! There’s more!!!

Here’s Where We ADHDers Really Get Slammed in Decision-Making

Impulsivity: Our brains just want to Go! Act! Do! Who needs forethought? We don’t need no stinkin’ forethought!!

Non-Linear Thinking: On a more serious note, we’re not wired to “look ahead five moves”, as a good chess player or project manager is. We may try, but our weak working memory means we can’t “hold the picture” of multiple forward moves or contingencies in our mind’s eye. This makes for short-sighted decisions…and the regrets that go with them.

Emotionality: We are emotional Tilt-a-Whirls. So when we’re giddy, we get extra impulsive. When we’re moody, we might make equally impulsive choices that harm ourselves or others.

Good Ol’ ADHD Brain Fog: We just don’t have certain neurochemicals in sufficient supply to provide clarity of thought when we most need it.

Sorry if all these reminders of your lousy decision-making skills reminds you of a recent blunderous choice.

Don’t feel too bad:  According to the Harvard Business Review, business managers make about three billion decisions each year, and research says that most of them do so poorly. Even non-ADHDers fall prey to those classic  decision-making pitfalls, all of which unfortunately add to our own ADHD issues.

But there’s hope…

Why do ADHDers get slammed in decision-making? Let me count the ways!

First of all, continue to sharpen your awareness of your weaknesses. That’ll help you slow down next time a meaningful decision is before you.

And here’s a simple trick I use regularly: When you’re confronted with a tough medium-size decision — for instance, how to deal with a minor crisis at work; where to go for a weekend getaway; or what anniversary gift to get your spouse this year — don’t just make the decision “on-the-fly.” Set a timer for ten minutes and write down a few alternatives. Stare at them and write additional thoughts until the buzzer sounds.

I guarantee this will result in a clearer picture and smarter decisions every single time.

Do You Have a Smart Process for Decision-Making?

If you really want to get serious about making smarter decisions, there are proven, evidence-based ways to improve your everyday decision-making — which is key in both your job and in your life. I devoted an episode of Crusher™TV to sharing some tools to cut through the brain clutter: 6 Ways to Make Smarter Decisions, every day. My Guest Expert, global strategy consultant Michelle Doss, also shares a couple of deceivingly simple, yet powerful tricks for making better decisions, big and small. The preview of the episode is below…

Bless!

Alan

P.S. You might get a lot out of watching that entire episode of Crusher™TV where I dig deeper into this topic. (You can become a member for a buck and cancel any time ya like.) It’s Episode 72 , and you can preview that episode here:

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