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This Is Your Brain on Computers! Part 3

Some Corrective Measures for Gadget Defense

In a recent blog post called “Your Brain On Computers”, I mentioned that I’d recently shared the stage with Dr. Ned Hallowell and others at the Screen Time Sanity Telesummit, where I listed some eye-opening facts about how it’s not just ADHD kids with media-abuse problems — but adults as well.

In a follow-on post I shared some of the costs of media mayhem – costs that directly hit your productivity’s bottom line. (And you thought your gadgets made you MORE productive?!)

Here in Part 3, I offer some tips for mitigating media-based miseries…

First: Take Stock…Get Aware…Recognize

TechnologyInYourHandDr. Ned Hallowell, who coined the phrase “screensucking” in his book, Crazy Busy, suggests the first thing we must do is recognize the problem. A few steps…

  1. Be the Witness: I teach about “being the witness” to your thoughts, which helps us save mental energy, fight negative thinking, and more. And as our gadgets become practically an appendage and we reach for them without much thought, see if you can become more observant of your gadgetorial behavior. See if you can catch yourself grabbing for it when you’re waiting in line, for example.
  2. Make note of when you’re using your gadgets for non-critical consumption. See if you can begin to quantify the amount of time you spend doing mindless things on your phone or tablet – checking and re- and re-re-checking your emails…gaming…social media marathons.
  3. Do a media audit, as I suggest in Video I, Way 4: Crush Time. Make a list of ALL your media behaviors, both benign and dubious. Identify ONE that you could reduce or eliminate – and then use that saved time for something more powerful!

Here’s an email I got recently from someone who clearly did a media audit and saw a cool change…

“I just want to pass on my thanks to you, and everyone involved in making your product. I don’t claim to have it all down just yet but I am working on it.

“I found I was spending a lot of ‘quality’ time with my 7 year old daughter in front of the TV. All we were learning was what we both like on TV.

“Now I cut an hour out of this time, go to the park at the end of our road, and play soccer instead. Now I learn a lot more about who she is as a person and how I can help her life in a positive way. You know…like helping her overcome things she feels she can’t do.”

It felt SO good to get this email. Imagine what you could do with a well-intentioned re-investment of an hour a day…or even an hour a week.

Next: Create Some Rules

In a recent study, two thirds of children said that their parents have no media rules for them. Hence, it’s not very likely many adults – parent or not – have rules for themselves. So the next thing we can do is…give ourselves a few rules!

Here are a few rules you can try out:

  1. Whenever you’re not engaged in a timebound, work-related task on your screen, then mentally label it as such. Separate the “needed” from the “escapes”.
  2. Cut the crap out of your diet – excessive sugar and simple carbs. Poor diet results in choosing media escapes more frequently.
  3. There should NOT be a TV screen in the bedroom – anyone’s bedroom.
  4. Get your butt outside. Exercise. Bring the kids. And you can even bring your phone.

In Sum…

We need to get present to the facts of our own media abuses, particularly our reflexive repeated checking of our devices, and spend more time just…being…still. As Eckart Tolle suggests, when you’re standing in line, just be “Enjoyin’ yourself….Enjoy in your self.”

A top researcher in this field says, “Whether you are a parent or not, carving out time to turn off your devices — to disconnect from the wired world and engage with the real people who are all around you — is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and the people you love.”

Tune in. Turn off. Right on!

-Alan

P.S. — If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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This Is Your Brain on Computers! Part 2

The Myth of Electronic Gadgets and Productivity: Maybe They Should Call Them “Stupid Phones”

Last blog post I mentioned that I’d recently shared the stage with Dr. Ned Hallowell, Laurie Dupar and others at the Screen Time Sanity Telesummit, where experts shared wisdom on the insanity created by our gadgets. I listed some eye-opening facts about how it’s not just ADHD kids with media-abuse problems: adults are prey to similar misdeeds.

In this post I’ll share some of the costs of media mayhem – costs that directly hit your productivity’s bottom line. (And you thought your gadgets made you MORE productive?!)

[In Part 3, some tips for mitigating media-based miseries.]

The Myth of Multitasking

Multitasking ADHDThese gadgets – our smartphones, tablets and laptops – are fueling our multitasking behavior – and the myth of productivity that goes with it.

No one can deny the massive leap forward these devices have ushered in – in efficiency, convenience, joy and even saving lives. But with them has come a culture of multitasking – which we all assume to be a benefit. After all, why work on one thing when we can work on many things?!

Yet we’ve known for decades that the brain can barely process two streams of information, and more importantly, can’t make decisions about them both. Plenty of research – at Yale, MIT and Stanford – has tried to prove that multitaskers can re-wire their brain to allow such multi-processing. None of the studies has proved out.

Here’s what some of that research has proved out:

  • Multitaskers take longer than non-multitaskers to switch among tasks.
  • They are less efficient at juggling problems.
  • They will search for new information even when existing information is available and workable.
  • They have more trouble focusing and filtering out irrelevant info.
  • They experience more stress.

In sum, multitasking is for suckers! Thank you, Yale, MIT and Stanford.

And if you don’t believe the research, just think about it in very practical terms…

  • Multitasking is so inefficient because it’s really multi-switching between tasks…
  • You can’t type a text message and read a report at the same time. So you have to switch between them. And research says it takes anywhere from one to twenty minutes to get fully re-engaged in the original task.
  • Multiply that by 10 times a day, five days a week, and you can accumulate a full work day just getting re-engaged in your primary task.

The Impact on Prioritization

I mentioned above a finding that multitaskers seek out new information even when it’s not needed – an obvious waste of time and mental energy.

This is related to a finding that multitaskers seem more sensitive than non-multitaskers to incoming information. More specifically, incoming info tends to set off their more primitive alert system (the one that signals immediate danger) rather than the more evolved alert system (the one that signals it’s time to cook dinner to feed the family).

So to heavy multitaskers, any hint of something new sets them off on a frenzied search as if it were critically important. Whereas the non-multitasker will know to ignore these primitive signals and focus on the more meaningful meal prep.

Hmmm. Chasing imaginary problems vs doing what’s right and important. Um, I think that means…Multitasking is MAKING US [MORE] ADHD!! 

More Bad News: Impact on Relationships

A sampling of research in this area:

  • One prominent researcher says the ultimate risk of heavy tech use is diminished empathy by limiting how much we engage with one another, even in the same room.
  • Another talks about the new phenomenon of being “Alone Together” – parents texting at the breakfast table…Three teens hanging out ‘together’ for hours, but each on her own device texting with people in another location…People seen texting at funerals and wakes, as per my disturbing example in Part 1.
  • A Harvard psychologist who interviewed more than 1,000 kids, teachers and parents, said: “One of the many things that absolutely knocked my socks off was the consistency with which children — whether they were 4 or 8 or 18 or 24 — talked about feeling exhausted and frustrated and sad or mad trying to get their parents’ attention, competing with computer screens or iPhone screens or any kind of technology.”
  • A study from Boston Medical Center suggests that parents who are absorbed by email, games or other apps have more negative interactions with their children.

This is your brain on computers. Heard enough? Me too. In Part 3 of this screen-time-insanity series, I’ll offer some corrective action steps.

Blessings,

Alan

P.S. Hey – I just heard your smartphone saying something. I think it said, “Leave me the hell alone for a coupla minutes, will ya?!”

Oops…Sorry. That was my phone. ab

P.P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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This Is Your Brain on Computers! Part 1

It’s Not Just ADHD Kids with Media-Abuse Issues: How to Take Back Control from Your Gadgets

Last month I shared the (virtual) stage with Dr. Ned Hallowell, Laurie Dupar and others at a very cool event, the Screen Time Sanity Telesummit. In it, top experts from around the world shared wisdom on the insanity created by gadgets and screens.

While all the other experts focused on kids’ media usage and “abusage”, I directed eye-opening facts and sanity-saving tips at adults.

I thought it worth sharing with my ADD Crusher™ peeps, and I deliver in three parts. Part 1, herewith, and Part 2, provide some sad background. (Yes, I’ll need TWO parts to cover all the negative aspects of this gadgetary crisis!) In Part 3, some tips for mitigating media-based miseries…

Let’s Start with Some Harsh Realities

While everyone’s understandably concerned about children’s screen use, and sometimes sadly, addiction, there’s plenty of misery created by our own adult-size gobbling of gadgetry. For example…

  • Adult brains are attracted to screen-based activities in much the same way as video game junkies’ are.
  • We are deceiving ourselves in believing that using our many gadgets incessantly makes us more productive – it’s actually the opposite in key respects.
  • Lastly, research shows that adult (i.e., parent) media use creates significant emotional issues for children as they battle with our devices for a share of our attention.

The good news is, if we take healthy stock of our media habits (not just smart phones and tablets, but TVs and laptops – anything with a screen) and put in place a few simple measures, we can free up tons of time and mental space for productive pursuits…and parents can have more enriching interactions with their kids.

How Our Brains Are Attracted to Screens

A typical ADHD kid is readily hooked on screens because, unlike the sustained attention needed to stay focused in the classroom — which offers no immediate rewards, the concentration involved in video games and TV is sustained with frequent immediate rewards: in the form of bursts of dopamine when points are scored, new levels are reached, laughs are had, etc. Ditto for fast-paced social interactions with friends.

The stimulation of video games, texting sessions and much of TV/YouTube is also about the pacing of the action; and once accustomed to that pacing, the real world seems mighty UN-stimulating. Hence the hours-long gaming or texting or YouTubing sessions.

But this is the same for adults. For instance…

  • Why is it that we can’t stand in line without checking our devices? It’s in part because our brains have become accustomed to getting those stimuli frequently – and whenever we crave them.
  • One researcher said, “When you’re plugged into your screen…everything feels urgent — everything feels a little exciting. We get a little dopamine hit when we accomplish another email — check this, check that.”
  • Why is it that while watching on TV a memorial service for the victims of the South Carolina church shooting, and the camera panned the audience, I saw countless adults staring down at their phones?!?!

And all the pitfalls of screen time insanity are of course more extreme for those of us adults and parents who are ourselves ADHD!!

Some Stats on Media Use for Adults

  • The consumption of all media tripled from 1960 to 2008.
  • At home, we consume 12 hours of media a day on average, when you include simultaneous consumption.
  • We visit an average of 40 Web sites a day.
  • And we are constantly shifting our attention. Computer users at work change windows or check e-mail or other programs nearly 37 times…an hour!

The nonstop interactivity is one of the most significant shifts ever in the human environment. Another expert said, “We are exposing our brains to an environment and asking them to do things we weren’t necessarily evolved to do. We know already there are consequences.”

This is Your Brain on Computers

More sad-but-true facts culled from top researchers…(image from Geeky Tweak)

Your-Brain-On-Computers-ADD-Crusher

  • Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information changes how we think and behave. Our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information.
  • The bursts of info play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement — a dopamine squirt — that can be addictive. In its absence, we feel bored.
  • The resulting distractions can have deadly consequences, as when cellphone-wielding drivers and train engineers cause wrecks. More commonly, we suffer reductions in creativity and deep thought, and interruptions to work and family life.
  • Effect on Sleep and Circadian rhythms: the light emanating from all of our screens interferes with our sleep onset. So checking emails or watching TV in the bedroom are very self-destructive habits.
  • If, as research suggests, a TV in a child’s bedroom increases risk of obesity and substance abuse, surely there are implications for us adults with a TV in the bedroom.

OK, I’ve reached the recommended max of 800 words for a blog. Hope it wasn’t too much. In Part 2, I’ll share some sad realities that are more practical in nature (i.e., how gadgets affect our productivity).

Stay tuned. (Um, and I don’t mean stay tuned to your TV show!)

Bless,

Alan

P.S. — I’d love to hear your gadget/media horror stories…or man/woman-against-the-machines victory!

P.P.S.  — If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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3 Super-Simple Ways to Power Up Your Brain

Everyone describes their teen or adult ADHD differently…

I describe mine to non-ADDers this way: “Ya know how you feel those last five minutes of the workday or your study session, where things are getting foggy and you’re just wiped out and getting declining mental returns? Well, that’s how it feels to me pretty much from the get-go, every day.”

However your ADHD feels to you, we are indeed at a distinct disadvantage in the workplace, the household and at school not only due to our impulsiveness and distractibility: a big culprit is the quick onset of the feeling of mental fatigue.

BUT…There are ways power up your brain before taking on weighty mental engagements — and even have more mental stamina overall…

…to feel less like this….

Traffic lights

 

 

 

 

 

…and more like this…

Strip of highway stretching towards horizon under clear blue sky.

First, Cut the Crap

No special tricks here. Just the simple fact that sugar, carbs and toxins to the ADDer are like a ball and chain to a sprinter.

Sugar and simple carbs are like crack for us – a quick burst of mental energy, then *pift*…big crash. With the only rescue being another dose of sugar or potato chips.

So cut this crap out! Watch for sugar in your snacks, check all ingredient labels for high sugar or carb counts, and switch from white to brown foods – brown rice, dark bread, yams instead of white potatoes, etc.

Next is an incredibly simple trick for powering your mind. I call it…

Venue Change

When your mind becomes worn from study or a tough task, get up and go somewhere else. To another room. To another chair at the same desk or in the same room. To your porch. To a coffee shop.

The movement gets blood and oxygen to your brain…and the brief break rests your brain muscles – plus, the new environment gives you a psychological fresh start.

Yes, you’ve run the clock a bit by the time you’re back to working, but you can get gads more mileage from your brain’s fuel tank with this simple trick.

The next trick is to…

“Shut-Up-A-You-Mind”

Not all of us are physically hyperactive, but we’re all mentally hyperactive. Our wheels are constantly spinning—worrying, over-analyzing, daydreaming. Which only contributes to what’s been called, “the constant state of ADHD overwhelm.”

Indeed, worry and frustration are as fatiguing as work itself. And our inner dialogue burns precious mental fuel mostly on two things: worries about the past, and worries about the future.

99-Problems-Stressing-ADHD

So how DO we quiet our minds?

First, just be AWARE of the CONTENT that’s whizzing around in your brain.  If you actually listen to your seemingly involuntary inner dialogue — you’ll see the quantity of worry and its focus outside the present.

And here’s the funny thing about our internal dialogue: it’s NOT totally involuntary – we CAN control it, if we choose to.

And the funny thing about the past? IT’S GONE. No amount of stressing will change it. Unless we’re formulating how to avoid repeating a past mistake, we are wasting time and energy.

And ditto for the future: IT’S NOT PREDICTABLE. We stress over what’s “gonna happen” tomorrow in the parent/teacher conference or final exam, as we imagine the bad things and feelings to come. But unless we’re strategizing a SOLUTION to a foreseeable problem, we’re wasting time and energy.

SO…When you catch yourself cranking out worry and anticipation when instead you should be cranking out a report or helping the kids with their homework…Shut-Up-A-You-Mind!

…by doing nothing more than closing our eyes and quieting the inner dialogue for even a few minutes – then re-engaging your tough tasks.

When you’re able to get the crap out of your diet, make a simple change of venue or just quiet your thoughts for a few, you are calmer and less irritable – and your precious mental fuel will last a LOT longer.

Peace Be With You!

-Alan

P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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Celebrate Your ADHD Life

“Your ADHD life is to be celebrated, not lamented. You should feel free to laugh at your silly self, but never to have disdain for yourself. And if your parent or sibling or spouse is an ADDer, look to the things in their ADHD life you can both celebrate.”  – Alan

As my brother delivered my father’s eulogy a few years ago, highlighting some of the many charms of a man who led a long and full life, I began to hear a celebration of an ADHD life. Yep, he’s where I got my ADHD from, though it took me a while to figure that out.

But back to the eulogy…

powered_by_adhd_trucker_hatMy brother of course spoke only of the good stuff. And that is as it should be. On balance, a great guy and a great life.

But each of my father’s charms came with a troubling anti-matter counterpart. So much so that in his last decades those foibles became areas of friction for me – smoking, drinking, clutter, finances.

So as my brother spoke, I heard both sides, but was of course reminded that the good stuff is what really matters — especially in our autumn years.

And so with all due love and respect to the memory of my dad, I share a few of the both-sides-of-the-coins here with you. See how many of these pairings — ADHD positives and negatives — you can identify with (or identify in a loved one)…

 

Youthful…and…Childish

Even at his passing at 86, most of his friends – and he had lots – were a generation or more younger than him. Right down to the last, he was fun, silly…and in many ways frustratingly immature – all-night poker games, reluctance to deal with serious issues.

 

Generous…and…Broke

He wouldn’t let you pick up a dinner check or a bar tab. And thanks to the impulsiveness of ADHD plus the disorganization and lack of financial planning, he was a financial mess.

 

Funny as Hell…and…Offensive as Hell

Great sense of humor, which he maintained right up to the end. The last conversation we had – the day before he passed – ended with a big laugh. But with that ADHD impulsiveness at play, there were plenty of awkward moments thanks to waaaay-off-color jokes.

 

Risk Taker…and…Mistake Maker

He made some bold moves that moved his newscasting career forward swiftly, reaching the top echelon of the business in little more than 10 years. Later, he made a bold blunder by selling his house to buy a tavern, which cost him his job and wedded him even more to his self-medication…the bottle.

Funny Guy…and…Troublemaker: Only recently found this film from 1941 – guess which kid is my dad. And watch for his dad’s kick in the pants.

 

As it should be, the things he’s remembered for are all the good ones. And so it will be with you and me. Don’t worry.

Only thing you should worry about is whether you’re celebrating your positive ADHD life (while you work to improve it) rather than lamenting and brooding over it (which makes things worse).

And again, if your parent or sibling or spouse is an ADDer, make sure you take the time to savor the things in their ADHD life you can both celebrate.

-Alan

P.S. If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. It’s an exclusive members-only library of over 100 videos teaching hacks and strategies that “unleash the power of your unique brain” to beat procrastination, get prioritized and take control of your time.. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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One Weird Trick to Stop Procrastinating

This Simple Brain Hack Frees You to Stop Procrastinating and Get Stuff DONE.

 

You’ve seen those online ads: “One weird trick to lose 20lbs!” “Try this weird trick for 6-pack abs!”

Total BS, no doubt.

But there is a no-doubt, no-BS trick for busting out of procrastination prison. And it works for even the most intimidating, nightmarish tasks on your to-do list.

In fact, it works especially for such tasks.

You know the ones…

The super-complex projects…

The cluster-funks involving multiple people and multiple moving parts on multiple timelines…

The “I-soooooo-don’t-want-to-dooooo-this” assignments…

By the way, this sense of dread in the face of many of our to-do’s is a big reason why our long to-do lists stay so damn long. Because our natural reaction is avoidance of the task (aka, procrastination), often in the irrational hope that it might somehow just go away, or that you’ll find some magic bullet idea that will result in its swift elimination through a sweeping act of ADHD-inspired genius.

Ya, that happens a lot. Not. Ever.

 

Anyway, if you can at all relate to this frustration, then you’ll want to let your mind munch on the disarmingly simple brain hack I’m about to share.

What I mean by disarmingly simple is that it mainly involves little more than the act of giving yourself permission. To fail in a small way. To be slightly imperfect. If you can just do that, this hack will work wonders for you.

To get us started though, I need to paraphrase Dr. Neil Fiore from his book The Now Habit. In it, he basically says the following…

I-Never-Finish-ADHDNever look at a big project and say, “I have to finish that dang thing”. Because you’ll be less likely to schedule time to do it. The thought of having to finish is the surest way to invoke all the mental and physical chemistry that supports continued procrastination.

The more painful or perceived-to-be painful a given task is, the more we will try to seek relief in avoidance. And the notion of having to finish something is almost always painful or threatening.

Worrying about finishing, he says, is a form of perfectionism. Your failed attempts at finishing when you do take up the task, reinforce your belief that such tasks are…unfinishable! You will then wait for that 11th hour jolt to drag you – kicking and screaming – into the finishing…which will surely yield a less-than-perfect end product.

So…Do not think about finishing. Instead, says Fiore, just schedule time to START.

 

OK, sounds easy enough, right?

Well, not when there’s that sense of overwhelm and dread we get when confronted by tough tasks. Not when we’re unable to fathom WHERE to start on a complex to-do. And not when we’re afraid to begin because we know we’ll just get bogged down soon after starting…or that we’ll do such a lousy job at it that…well, Why bother?!!

Now, the hack that lets you hack through all those forms of paralysis is simply to give yourself permission to start. And you do that by…

Giving yourself permission to NOT finish.

Giving yourself permission to be imperfect.

Giving yourself permission to FAIL (to finish).

And that last one’s key. Drop all expectations of finishing. The only thing you need to do is start, with no demand on yourself other than to give it a few minutes’ effort. [TWEET THIS]

And guess what. Once you’re “in it”, you have a decent chance of seeing how best to get it done…and quite often, before you know it, you’ve been “in it” for 20 minutes!! Or more!!

This is the gift that accrues to us when we just give ourselves permission to START. That is, to fail. To be imperfect. To NOT finish.

Weird, huh? Get weird with me and try it. I bet you’ll find that it works.

Starting-Is-Easy-ADHD

“Keep starting – finishing will take care of itself. If you must worry, worry about starting, never worry about finishing.”     – Dr. Neil Fiore [TWEET THIS]  

You can start many times every day. Always focus on what you can do next. One little step at a time. One start at a time.

Deploy this hack and you’ll find you’re less and less intimidated by big-ugly-hairy-ass to-do’s…and you’ll actually start scratching them off your list. Done. And DONE.

Blessings and Bountiful Crushings,

Alan

P.S. I want to thank all the FANTASTIC people across six European cities that hosted my appearances and workshops this month. And of course, the hundreds of people who turned out to attend. You know who you are – cuz I probably hugged you a few times! Can’t wait to do it again! -AB

P.P.S. Dawdle. Hesitate. Shilly-shally. However you describe your own chronic procrastination…it is yours to crush. -ab

P.P.P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. It’s a video library full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks” to help beat procrastination, get prioritized and manage your time. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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PUPPIES!! (A Killer Natural ADD Remedy)

Check these out…

Puppies-Natural-ADD-Remedy-ADHD

You like the puppies, don’t you? I knew you would! And you can thank me now because I just improved your brain function and may have extended your life span.

I sh*t you not.

Fact: Powerfully pleasing imagery can be a killer natural ADD remedy – and a great brain hack for anyone.

In her book Positivity, Barbara Frederickson details research showing that test subjects whose anxiety was driven high by an impending public speech, were able to reverse negative cardio vascular effects in less that a minute by viewing relaxing imagery — a tranquil film clip of ocean waves, a puppy playing, etc.

A separate study at the University of Virginia showed that viewing “very cute images” of puppies and kittens enhanced fine motor skills. Fine freakin’ motor skills?! Yep.

Then, more recently, researchers at Hiroshima University found that subjects who viewed pictures of baby animals as opposed to adult animals or pictures of food, performed better on both dexterity tests and a visual search test.

Is it any wonder that we put pictures of our families, including our pets, around us in the workplace? They are loving, pleasant images. We also tend to surround ourselves with pictures of ourselves doing things we enjoy – whether it’s boating, tailgating, or shooting unsuspecting deer.

In yet another study, self-affirmation – e.g., thinking about one’s values – was shown to encourage abstract thinking, self-control and delayed self-gratification.

It turns out, I’ve been using both of these principles – pleasant images and reiteration of my values — unwittingly for years! On my laptop I have a screensaver combining a rotation of images that make me feel relaxed and content…which I’ve embedded subtly with my mantras for living…

Picture 18

THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN THEIR DREAMS – is embedded into the awe-inspiring sculpture of Joe Louis’s arm in downtown Detroit (go see it if you can!).

Picture 4

THERE IS NO PROBLEM HERE (…in the Now – from Eckart Tolle) – quietly placed under the KTM logo. (Ya, that’s me…draggin’ a knee.)

Picture 19

HAPPINESS IS THE WHOLE AIM OF HUMAN EXISTENCE (partial Aristotle quote) – woven into my mom’s collar. (Miss you, Mom!)

These are just three of many. But you get the idea.

Positivity author Fredrickson also recommends we create our own Joy Portfolio – “a physical collection that is a shrine to each shade of positivity”. Like a vision or dream board, but made up of images and objects representing moments of joy. That screensaver I guess is my Joy Portfolio, but maybe I’ll create an “analog” version too.

So, what is the imagery surrounding the place(s) where you do the most working and thinking?

Take advantage of this knowledge by Taking Action: Spend just one hour in the next day or two creating a screensaver…or printing out some super-pleasing images of loved ones or of you being powerfully blissful.

Or just get some pics of PUPPIES!!!

In cuteness,

Alan

P.S. This is one of many brain hacks I teach in my presentation, “Practical Zen Brain Hacks for Productivity”. If I’m ever in your ‘hood at a support group or conference, I hope you’ll come by and say hello. Click here for dates of my upcoming European Tour. Six cities. Maybe I’ll see you in one of them!

P.P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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European Tour 2015: Workshops and Presentations March 6-18

TEDx-Alan-Brown-ADD Crusher-ADHD

ADD Crusher™ Workshops and Presentations, Europe 2015

My European speaking tour is March 6-18. If you’re in the UK or Netherlands please check out these dates (more dates/cities are being set) in chronological order. For more details on each, follow the links…

Amsterdam, 6 March: ADD Crusher™ Seminar

New-logo_UP-300x174This is a two-hour multi-media, live coaching workshop with lots of interaction and strategy implementation. Created in partnership with Martina Schneider of UP Coaching.

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Utrecht, Netherlands, 7 March: Congress of ADHD Women — ADHDvrouw.nl

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I’m giving two presentations at this unique conference for ADHD women — one, a workshop on general ADHD productivity strategies and the other, the closing keynote speech on “New Approaches to ADHD Solutions”.

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De Bilt, Netherlands, 9 March: Impuls — Powerful Strategies for ADHD Teens and Adults

Impuls_beeldmerkIn partnership with Impuls in De Bilt, I’ll be sharing a range of strategies for ADHD teens and adults — and as with most of my presentations, parents and spouses will also benefit.

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Strijen, Netherlands, 10 March: ADHD Cafe Strijen — Free Workshop with Alan Brown

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Three ADHD organizations are coming together with me to provide a free presentation in an informal atmosphere. If you’re in the Rotterdam area, please join us!

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Surrey, England, 12 March: One Evening, Two ADD Crusher™ Presentations

[Link with details to follow] I’ve partnered with three great support groups in South West London and Surrey to offer a two distinct presentations: “Increased Productivity via ADHD Brain Scaffolding” and “Practical Zen Brian Hacks for Parents”. A great value and a great warm-up to the full-day event on the 14th…

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London, 14 March: ADDISS & ADD Crusher™ present Powerful Ways to Escape the ADHD Overwhelm

LDA_partners_landing_page_16This is the big one. Nearly a full-day affair starting with a four-hour, multi-media live coaching event with tons of great insights, videos, 1-on-1 coaching, action steps and more. Then a complimentary lunch — and last, another presentation on “Practical Zen Brain Hacks”.

…and if you know someone in the UK or Northern Europe, please share this info!! TX! -ab

P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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Not-So-Obvious ADHD Time Management Hacks – Part 2

“The one thing we ADHDers never have enough of is time. So one thing we should never be doing is…wasting it!” -Crusher

[TWEET THIS]

Screensucking-Collar-ADHDA while back I posted a blog with some less-than-typical ADHD time management hacks. I talked about the time-saving benefits of popping protein, reeling in rumination and rewiring waiting time.

I’ve got tons of these in my Arsenal of Crush, and this Part 2 post will share a few more of them. What they all have in common is that they’re easy to implement and, if made into a habit, can save you gads and gads of time every day. Here ya go…

Obey Your Strong and Weak Times
You gotta know your mental strong and weak times. We all have ‘em – some of us are total bad-asses in the morning, then overcooked spaghetti in the afternoon (that would be me). Some are zombies in the morning and vampires-on-steroids at night. The trick is to identify your up- and down-times, and try to focus on easy-vs-brutal tasks accordingly, e.g….

  • If your best mental firepower is in the morning, focus on the tough stuff then, and don’t squander that power on easy stuff, or especially on BS – like repeatedly checking your social media feeds or “cleaning up” your photo album.
  • Likewise, don’t try to engage tough tasks in your weak times – you’ll just feed the perception that you can’t do the tough stuff!

This one’s nicely explained via video – here’s a Crusher snippet on YouTube with this simple ADHD time management tip.

Stop the Screensucking

This one’s very, very simple. The phrase, “screensucking”, was coined by Dr. Ned Hallowell to refer to the amount of time we all waste in front of electronic screens. I’ve blogged on this topic specifically because it is such a massive time-wasting conspirator, especially for us easily screen-addicted ADHDers.

Needless to say, it’s not just about watching too much TV. It’s about spending inordinate amounts of time with all our gadgets – laptops, tablets, phones, video games. These are some of the most abused “drugs” in ADHD Land. Beware them all! And if you can find just half an hour of needless screenscucking in your average day – and then cut it the hell out – you give yourself the gift of over three hours a week in badly needed breathing room.

Put Things In Motion First

If you have to do two things today – let’s say, write a speech and do laundry, which do you start first? Or how about this one: two of your to-do’s in the next hour are to finish writing a key memo and to brief a subordinate on a time-sensitive task – both being due by end of day. Which to start first?

The laundry and the subordinate briefing, of course.

Why? Well, if you haven’t yet figured out what they have in common, it’s that both the laundry and the briefing are things than can be “put into motion”. Meaning that you can get them going and let them “do their thing” while you then embark on your speech or memo.

Chances are, if you had written the key memo first, you’d have found yourself scrambling toward end of day begging the subordinate to, “Please, can you get this done in the next hour?!” Not good management of people…nor of your own time.

 

If you really want to put some of this advice into action, I suggest you pick ONE and zero in on it. Identify the one that made you nod your head the most, or that had you mumble, “Boop. That’s so me!” That’s the one you’ll have the best chance of turning into a habit that actually makes a difference in the days and weeks and years to come!

Yours in Happy Habit-Formation,

-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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Negative Self-Talk: Extreme Edition 2.0!

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about Impostor Syndrome, the “extreme edition” of negative self-talk. Officially, it’s defined as the “psychological phenomenon in which…despite external evidence of their competence, people remain convinced that they are frauds and don’t deserve the success they’ve achieved” – per Wikipedia.

The blog post got quite a response from readers – and I’m not at all surprised. Because we ADHDers subject ourselves to enough toxic levels of self-doubt to set off a Geiger counter.

Just to get you back up to speed, here are some signs that you might be suffering from this ADHD negative-self-talk-on-steroids:

  1. You feel like a fake.
  2. You feel like your success was just luck.
  3. You downplay your successes.

And here are two fabulously successful people reflecting on theirs…

“The exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.” –Albert Einstein

“Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this.  I’m a fraud.” – Kate Winslett [TWEET THIS]

This blog post is the “2.0” version of the original because here, we’re going to slay this insanity. So whether you are just a dabbler in occasional negative self-talk or a full-blown impostor syndromer, here are five simple steps for getting back to reality…if not self-lovin’…

Take Some #$%&! Credit

Identify where you deserve some credit for whatever success you’ve achieved. Hard work. Getting up every day and giving another go despite what happened yesterday or last week. Coming up with some decent ideas. Find these positives, give them more than a passing thought, and accept them into your heart.

Appreciate-the-Good-Impostor-Syndrome

[TWEET THIS]

Question the Voice

Recognize that the statements you’re making about yourself are coming from the same place as the ridiculous contention that we are “lazy, stupid or crazy.” And as we ADHDers now know, thanks in part to Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo’s fabulous book with this phrase in its title, we are none of those things. We’re just wired differently. With this in mind, look for the absurdities in your negative views.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

This is a biggie. Through all our foibles and mess-ups and embarrassments and resulting insecurities, we have always looked at the person next to us and thought, “Geez, why can’t I be like HER?!” But fact is, nobody knows what the hell they’re doing! And that seemingly flawless “her” is probably as much a bundle of nerves and self-doubts as you are. (Refer to above quote by Einstein…or any of a million other famous/successful people who we think have their sh*t totally together.)

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

There’s buttloads of research telling us that this really works. For instance, you can become happier just by smiling (has to be a big smile, but it’s proven to work). You can increase your self-confidence by posing like Wonder Woman. This is neuroplasticity at work, by the way. (More on that another day.)

Score Your Successes

We must pay more attention to our successes (as described in ADD Crusher™ Video II, Way 9). ADHD teens and adults tend to “filter out” successes in their thoughts and memories – leaving only their ‘failures’ to dwell on. But it’s not enough just to think about our successes: we have to record them by writing them down. Ideally in a journal, but even if just a stickie note. A written success is remembered. An unrecorded and forgotten success may as well never have occurred.

Successful-People-ADHD-Altnernative-ADDCrusherStop dwelling on your foibles. Start scoring your successes!

Bottom line, our ability to push forward powerfully has much to do with how we judge our own past.

You are not a fraud. You’re a miracle and a rockstar. Trust me on this. I’m a miracle and a rockstar because I decided I am — notwithstanding my own tremendous self-doubt and ugly past. And you and I are cut from the very same tribal cloth.

Now, will you stand with me in the spotlight of fabulousness?

-Alan

P.S. – Have you checked out the Crusher Pinterest page yet? Tons of great eye candy on there. Check it out and follow some of our boards!

P.P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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