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Top 3 Procrastination Brain Hacks from 3 Top Experts

Procrastination. We all know how much we ADHDers are doing it…

…and we all know the costs, the aggravations of procrastination. (Someone might be yelling at you right now cuz something hasn’t gotten done yet! Or maybe that unpaid parking ticket is just a few days from morphing into a brief jail term!)

So I’ll cut to the chase: Some solutions in the form of “brain hacks.”

I use a number of my own tricks to keep my to-do list small and my businesses cranking. Plus, as the host of Crusher™TV, I get to interview the best minds on all kinds of productivity-related subjects. So I wanted share some of the best brain hacks for beating procrastination from a few of our past Guest Experts on the show…

Girl-Procrastinate-Clock

Ari Tuckman: Frame Dreaded Tasks in Terms of Rewards and Regrets

In Episode 7: Stop Procrastinating, psychologist Ari Tuckman shared what your brain does when you don’t want to do something: You make arguments for how much the task sucks and how much better it would be to be doing something else. This mental stance is aided and abetted by what’s called “temporal discounting” – the farther into the future some reward or pain is, the less significant it appears.

As such, Air articulated the “brain hack” of re-framing a dreaded task, to compensate for such discounting: asking yourself, “If by 10am I don’t get going on this task, what will the ‘10pm me’ be saying? How ticked off will she be?” And if you answer that honestly, you can trigger a little motivational fuel to get you rolling in the right direction.

And if you do get moving on that task, the 10pm you will be STOKED. Envisioning that outcome gives you another boost of proactive brain chemicals.

Eric Tivers: Acknowledge What is “Imbortant”

Leave it to Eric to coin a new term. In Episode 15: Get More Done with Less @#$%!, he calls out the many things we put off…and put off…because they’re boring and…boring! Yet, they are important – hence, “imbortant”.

Just acknowledging this is a powerful procrastination-buster, because you’re dimensionalizing the key reason you’re stalling: certain tasks are mundane and thus don’t fire up your ADHD brain with any level of interest. You know: going through your email inbox, paying the bills, laaaauuuundry, etc.

His remedy for such imbortant tasks? Just schedule some time for “processing” of imbortant stuff. You don’t have to finish anything/everything; just put a block in your calendar and allow yourself to be BORED…as you do the work. Ideally, you schedule a little time each day for such processing…and fewer imbortant things will come back to haunt you.

Jeff Copper: Ask, “What Is Hard About This?”

We procrastinate a lot because we’re just not really sure what to do! In Episode 8, legendary attention coach Jeff Copper had some wise words to share about getting unstuck from this predicament. And in classic Copper style, he says, “Don’t try harder – try different!” Which you can do by asking ourselves, “OK, why the heck IS this so hard to start?”

…Maybe it’s hard cuz it’s boring (or imbortant!).
…Maybe it’s hard because there’s some confrontation involved.
…Or you just don’t know where to start.

If you just ASK yourself, “What’s hard?”, you make a huge leap toward the solution, and from there it’s easier to leap…into action!

I shared some of my brain hacks in Crusher™TV Episode 35: How to Do Something You HATE Doing! Stop by Crusher™TV and watch the latest free previews!

Bless,

Alan

OH — and a BIG P.S.: If you’re REALLY sick of procrastination messing up your life, check out our award-winning ADD Crusher™ Videos & Tools Program. This instructional “virtual coach” is endorsed by over 100 ADHD coach worldwide.  ab

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How You May Be Wasting 3.5 Hours a Day

The Classic Time-Wasters at Work

A really easy way to get more stuff done every day would be to identify a few things you’re wasting time on every day – not just the classic time-wasters, but importantly, the things you don’t realize are eating up your precious time.

Now, you can Google up all kinds of “top time-waster” lists, but I like a recent Inc. Magazine list of classic workplace time eaters. And I’ve taken it a step further – cuz for each one, I’ve done research to find out just how much time each of them steals from your typical workday.

Time-Wasters-at-Work

Here are the top seven, according to Inc.

  1. Socializing: You spend 40 plus hours a week with your co-workers, but you don’t have to BURN hours with them. Nearly a quarter of workers say socializing at work is their biggest distraction. Conservatively, you can figure 15 minutes burned per workday.
  1. Social Media: it’s a slippery slope once you start in on any of your social media. A quick reply to a text becomes a gabfest…a peek at your Facebook or Twitter feed becomes a lost morning. While the average college student spends three hours a day on social media (!!!), the average worker probably burns conservatively 30 minutes.
  1. Surfing the Web: Two thirds of workers with a computer at their desk, visit non-work related websites during the work day, and 45% claim this is one of their biggest distractions. Figure you’re burning 30 minutes minimum a day.
  1. Meetings: Some stats suggest that a half an hour is wasted every day just scheduling meetings, and then there are the useless or poorly constructed meetings themselves. Let’s call it 30 minutes burned.
  1. Interruptions: From disruptive co-workers, computer problems, busy-work created by poor organization, etc., that contribute nothing to your output. Some are unavoidable but many can be guarded against. Let’s say 15min burned.
  1. Multitasking: I’ve dedicated two Crusher™TV episodes to this very subject. It’s a sink-hole of imaginary productivity. It can easily costs us 70 minutes a day.
  1. Daydreaming: Here I would include worry and rumination. We can assume 30 minutes a day is burned by such idle, non-productive thought.

Total time wasted per day?

Three and a half hours — which puts you at more than 40% of an 8 hour workday!!

Oh, and that figure of 40% that I got to by scouring all kinds of research aligns with a massive Franklin Covey survey of 350,000 workers worldwide, in which people reported spending 40 percent of their time on things that are unimportant or outright irrelevant. Nice affirmation of my digging, I have to say.

I don’t mean to nag, and we all know we’re doing this stuff – it’s not news to anyone. BUT — we need to be hyper-aware of all these, because again, many of them are wasting our time because we’re not forcefully LABELING them as the time-burners they really are. And all the more important for us ADHDers, who never have enough time!!

Bless,

Alan

P.S. I devoted an entire episode of Crusher™TV to how you can “Gain an Extra Hour a Day”. This is the kind of stuff we’re doing every week on Crusher™TV.  You can check out some previews here. Hope you will — it was a great episode (with Guest Expert Tom Bergeron, who created a start-up incubator for ADHD entrepreneurs!). ab

 

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Are Productivity Apps Wasting Your Time?

Beware the False Promise of Productivity Apps

Would you like to have an extra day each week? Of course you would. We never have enough time! And as I often say, “If there’s one thing we ADDers never have enough of, it’s time. So the last thing we should be doing is WASTING IT!”

I can tell you, I am NOT efficient or fast at anything I do. But I’m productive and usually effective…cuz I use the time I got pretty well.

You Can Steal Back an Hour a Day

With time being the single most valuable asset for the productivity-starved ADHDer, there is much to be gained by gaining time – and even by gaining a better understanding of your perception of it. For example…The things we think are saving us time but aren’t; and the things we think are normal daily activities, but are burning loads of valuable time.

With some sober awareness and a few simple-yet-powerful brain hacks and life hacks, you can easily steal back an hour a day…basically, a workday each week. Not joking.

In this post I’ll share some wake-up-call insights on “time saving” apps, and in a sequel, I’ll dig into some classic time-burners at work.

A Word About “Time-Saving” Apps

We all want to have shortcuts to save our butts…

Procrastination Clock ADHD

(Yes, that’s the procrastinator’s clock…you know this one, don’t you?) And we know how our gadgets are saving us all kinds of time and effort on so many things. But, when it comes to time-saving apps, think about these three things before downloading the next gotta-have-it productivity app:

  1. How many new apps have you successfully incorporated into your life in the last six months, such that they are currently being used as intended from the day you downloaded it?
  2. How much time have you or will you put into downloading, learning and implementing a new app? And…
  3. What are the ACTUAL odds of you using it as a habit 6 months from now.

Hmmm. Kinda makes ya think.

The Cold, Hard Data on “Time-Saving” Apps

…with some warm, soft illustrations for ya. According to a study by Localytics

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25% of apps are used just once after download…

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And more than half are used fewer than 5 times.

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Only a third are used more than 10 times.

So chances are, two thirds of the “time saving” productivity apps on your phone, have COST you time.

Now, everybody’s different, and I know people who grab the latest app and are workin’ it from day one right up until the better competing app or version 2.0 arrives.…But I’m not one of those people and I KNOW it…so I don’t waste ANY time hunting for miracle apps.

That alone probably gives me a few extra minutes every day. If you even suspect you’re like me in this regard, maybe you shouldn’t be quite so app-happy?!

And besides, devices and productivity apps can’t compete with our bad-ass brain for saving you time. That is, if you’re hackin’ your brain right.

And speaking of brain hacks: I recently devoted an entire episode of Crusher™TV to brain hacks for “having an extra hour each day”. You can check out some previews here. Hope you will — it was a great episode (#19, with Guest Expert Tom Bergeron, who created a start-up incubator for ADHD entrepreneurs!).

‘Til next time…guard your time!!

Alan

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How to Get Clutter Outta Your Workspace!

Simple Steps to De-Clutter: Peace of Mind…via Peace of Place

Here’s the third in my trio of blog posts about clutter. In the first, I talked about why it’s so dang hard to get rid of; in the second I laid out the brain barriers clutter creates.

In this post, I share the indispensable keys to getting crap out of your way so you can focus more and think bigger.

But first, here’s a Mini-Productivity Hack I shared back in Episode 4 of Crusher™TV, in which I clear the decks of my desk before hunkering down on a tough task or project…

While I make sure my entire office is giving me Peace of Mind by providing Peace of Place, keeping my immediate workspace clutter-free is most critical. And here are the simple steps you can take to do the same….

First thing you want to do isIdentify-Energizers-Clutter-CrusherTVscan your working area and identify the things that give you energy. As one expert puts it, things that spark joy. These are the things that should remain in your line of sight – or immediately behind you as reminders. Might be a picture or a sculpture or just a handwritten note of a quote. These things are like battery jumper cables for your brain! So don’t take them lightly!

 

 

Next…

Photograph-for-Perspective-Clutter-CrusherTV

Take some photos of your work area and spend a few minutes just looking at them. By seeing your space from different perspectives OTHER than your everyday view from your chair, you can better spot the most cluttered areas.

 

 

 

With some clutter hot spots identified you’ll know best where to start discarding

Discard-Clutter-CrusherTV

Cuz, a key to success is to discard first…and THEN organize or de-clutter. When you don’t do it in this order, you slow down the process and dramatically increase the odds of frustration and of giving up….

 

 

 

 Needless to say, in looking for things to discard or remove from sight….

Identify-De-Energizers-Clutter-ADDCrusherScan your work area and identify things that you don’t like to look at…that just give you a negative vibe. Cuz they weigh you down. Might be a stack of to-do’s…a stack of bills…an old piece of art. Get rid of them or take them out of your line of sight.

 

 

 

Then…

Identify-Junk-Clutter-ADDCrusher

Look for anything that doesn’t do ANYTHING. If you haven’t used it in 6 months, and it doesn’t spark a joyful feeling when you look at it, it’s probably useless – trash it or donate it.

 

 

 

Last…

Essentials-Clutter-ADDCrusher

Put ONLY what you need for a given day’s work at arm’s length. Everything else goes in a drawer or on a shelf.

At the end of your de-clutterment, there’s a good chance there’ll be some items that you’re on the fence about. You feel some attachment…you think you might need it. Well, there’s a hack for that: Put them in a box, stick it in the corner and one week later, try to remember what’s in the box. Anything you don’t remember….it’s probably ok to flotsam that jetsam.

Think about the relative mental peace you have when you are visually confronted by nothing more than a blue sky, or the surface of a lake. Make your workspace more like that and see what your beautiful brain can do!

Peace, baby…yaaaaaaaaaaaa.

-Alan

P.S. The overall topic of de-cluttering and personal organization was the subject of Episode 14 on Crusher™TV. If you like this stuff, you might like Crusher™TV, where we crush productivity issues with simple-yet-powerful “brain hacks” every week. www.CrusherTV.com

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What Clutter Does to Your Brain

There is Great Mental Power to Be Had in a Place of Peace

…and great frustration to be had in a cluttered, visually noisy environment!

Do you have a fortress of solitude where there is no visual noise to interfere with your budding big-ass ideas and potent problem-solving? I do. I always say, Peace of Mind requires Peace of Place, and in this second blog post on clutter, I’ve gathered up some of the science that shows just how visual and physical clutter can make our adult ADD/ADHD seem worse.

But to get us started…In which of these two bedrooms do you think you’d fall asleep faster and get a better night’s sleep?

 or…

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Which would you rather begin your day in?

I know, the pairing’s quite exaggerated, but all to amplify that the latter creates or preserves positive energy…and the former, just drains it.

And importantly, whether you live in a McMansion or a mobile home or a micro-home, you can create an environment for more mental power. All the more important therefore, that our place of work, must be a place of visual peace. And so, let’s talk about…

Visual Clutter’s Impact On Your Brain

…which is of particular importance in your office or other workspace.

Research shows that any excess items in your surroundings can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information: Neuroscientists at Princeton showed that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.

Why is this? What are the mechanics of this? Writing in Psychology Today, Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter does a nice job of explaining. She says that…

  • Clutter pelts our minds with excessive stimuli (not just visual, but olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on unnecessary or irrelevant stimuli.
  • Clutter distracts us by pulling our attention away from where it should be.
  • Clutter constantly reminds us that our work is never done.
  • Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow us to think, brainstorm, and problem solve.
  • Lastly, clutter makes it harder to relax, both physically and mentally.

Now many of you may look around your office and say, “Hey, I like my stuff, I can find my stuff, and I’m pretty productive, so don’t mess with me or my STUFF!”

Well, I hope the evidence-based info above will have you thinking a bit more about getting rid of a bit more! Cuz as I say in the first post in this clutter series, You don’t have to be a hoarder to benefit from some de-cluttering!

And by the way, just as a cluttered desk can slow us down….so can a cluttered computer desktop!

So whenever my desktop gets a little cluttery…

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I sweep it clean…and what a difference it makes to my ADHD brain!!

Next installment in this series, I’ll show you a very simple, step-by-step process to getting clear skies ahead…

‘Til then, wishing you Peace…of Place!

Alan

P.S. — We devoted an entire episode of CrusherTV to the topic of clutter. If you’d like to dive into a bigger heap of insights and tips, consider trying CrusherTV! We do an episode each week on a new topic…and we dig in deep, with A-List Guest Experts. Hope to “see” you there!

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The Brain Science of Clutter: Why We Can’t Let Go

You Don’t Have to Be a Hoarder to Hang On to Clutter!

There’s a lotta noise goin’ on in our ADHD brains. And that noise is made worse by the visual noise around us. We are often our own brain’s worst enemy by maintaining a home and/or an office that is full of energy-draining STUFF (a.k.a., clutter).

Clutter is not just a problem for hoarders. Most of us have stuff that is not adding to our lives (and could probably add significantly to someone else’s…but let’s put charitable donations aside for the moment).

What the Science Says

New research helps explain why getting rid of stuff can be so difficult. Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine recruited both non-hoarders and hoarders, and tracked their brain activity while they sorted through various items and decided what to keep and what to discard.

The subjects sorted through items like junk mail and old newspapers, some of which were their own, others of which were added to the mix by the researchers.

When confronted with the prospect of discarding their OWN junk, many showed increased activity in two regions of the brain: the anterior cingulate cortex and the insula – both of which are associated with conflict and pain.

This brain circuit also generates cravings among smokers or drug addicts trying to quit, because when it is triggered, it signals that “something is wrong.” And then motivates you to look for a way to stop the pain or anxiety—so smokers will then smoke, addicts will get more drugs, and hoarders …will hold on to their junk.

The Upshot? Letting go of junk can be literally painful to you. But it’s only painful when it’s…YOUR junk.

Clutter ADHD

And there’s another part of the brain that gets activated particularly in hoarders: The ventromedial pre-frontal cortex, or vmPFC. It’s associated with emotions, identity, and personal meaning. Some call it our sense of “me-ness”.

It’s the reason that hoarders look at something as simple as an old shopping bag, and feel it is connected to who they are. Making it all the more painful for them to get rid of it.

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

The Stubbornness of Stuff

Ego Gratification, or, “me-ness”, is just one reason we keep stuff unnecessarily. There’s Acceptance – you just accept that, “Hey, this is the way my home/office looks.”

There’s Perfectionism: “I’m not gonna deal with this stuff until I have the PERFECT PLAN.” Ya, and that plan hasn’t arrived now in, how many years?

There’s Faulty Valuation. Sadly, that 1922 silver quarter…it’s worth about 25cents. Sorry.

Then there’s Guilt… The hardest things to discard, experts say, are the ones that hold some sentimental meaning. Because people confuse letting go of a thing with letting go of the person who gave it to you.

And the Big Kahuna…Procrastination. We know this one all too well. But here’s a nice quote that might shake some cobwebs out and get you to confront some of your junk…

clutter-ADHD-procrastination-ADDCrusher

 

In upcoming posts, I’ll be sharing the impact of visual and physical clutter on your BRAIN and your PRODUCTIVITY, and I’ll provide a step-by-step, super-easy process for creating a Place of Peace at your desk! Stay tuned.

Meantime, all these topics around clutter are the focus of an episode of Crusher™TV. Here’s a preview – I hope you can tune in!!

Bless,

Alan

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How to Power UP Your Mind in 20 Seconds

…By Quieting It Down

It’s easier than you think. And you needn’t sit on a bed of nails to do it.

quote-our-fatigue-is-often-caused-not-by-work-but-by-worry-frustration-and-resentment-dale-carnegie-4-86-81

 FACT: Most of our thoughts are “mental BS”…and they’re exhausting us!

Ask Your Mind a Few Questions

Q: What percentage of your mind’s content is BS. (A: Lots.)

Q: How much mental energy are YOU giving away to mental BS? (A: Lots.)

Q: What is the nature of all that BS? (A: Keep reading.)

And…

Q: How do you shut OFF some of that BS? (A: Keep reading!)

I know how most people feel the moment they hear about the benefits of….I’m afraid to even say it……meditation.

“Ya, ya, I know, I ‘m sure there are great benefits but please, I don’t have time, there’s no way I’m gonna learn it…I’m not the kinda guy/gal that does that stuff…”

The Mainstreaming of Mindfulness

I totally get that. But at the same time, I realize it’s true that many in the Crusher Community do get it (it’s a simple-yet-powerful natural ADD remedy!), and the concept at least of mindfulness is becoming very mainstreamed.

  • Legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson (eleven NBA championships with the L.A. Lakers and Chicago Bulls) has used meditation and considers it part of his success as a coach.
  • The NFL’s Seattle Seahawks as a TEAM are deep into mindfulness practices thanks to their mindful coach, Pete Carroll.
  • Dan Harris, the ABC News anchor, reversed years of addiction that culminated in an live-on-air panic attack and published a bestseller about mindfulness and meditation called 10% Happier.

But whether or not you might be ready to try a simple form of meditation, just hear me out…

The Nature of Mental BS

Most of our thoughts are churning on autopilot…and when on autopilot we are mostly churning on three things…Worries about the past…Worries about the future…Petty judgments of this and that.

If you don’t believe me, just listen for half an hour or so. And don’t feel bad – we all do it. But it is exhausting, whether you realize it or not. (Refer to FACT, above.) And it contributes to the classic ADDer cycle of stress and feeling of overwhelm.

But we have the power to stop it any time, just about any where. And this action step from ADD Crusher™ Video I (Way 3) shows you how to do the very simplest and quickest way to “shut-up-a-you-mind”. Even if you’ve seen this clip before, give it a fresh watch. And try it out…

Here’s the Action Step from Way 3: Shut-Up-A-You-Mind

 

We have the opportunity to take mindfulness and strip away the woo-woo and the bed of nails and the unclipped toenails. To be Buddhist Zen monks with a Serta Posturpedic and a mani-pedi!

Just quiet your mind…for even 20 seconds…and you can power it up!

Bless,

Alan

P.S. The overall topic of “mental BS” was the subject of Episode 11 on CrusherTV. If you like this stuff, you might like CrusherTV, where we crush productivity issues with simple-yet-powerful “brain hacks” every week. www.CrusherTV.com

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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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