I am always struggling to be more productive and am constantly experimenting with different strategies. A regular person might find one that works and then stick with it for months, years, or even their whole life (gasp!). But, if you're anything like me, a great strategy may only be suitable for a very specific situation or may grow boring over time.
That's why I decided to write this post. In it, I'm including 5 things we can do to be more productive. These aren't necessarily anything new. But they're here for me (and you) when we are feeling like we need a little bit of help getting focused and organized.
If you're wondering how to find this when you need it, consider putting a reminder with a link to this in your calendar to automatically renew every couple of months.
Ready? Let's go!
1. Breaking tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks:
I find it so overwhelming trying to break down a big goal or project into smaller tasks, but when I do, I find it really helpful.
It isn't just helpful because it makes it less overwhelming. It's also helpful because I feel like I'm making progress when I see things being crossed off. I hate it when I feel like something is taking forever, so this is really helpful for me!
I know that doing that is easier said than done, so here's specific examples if you're working on a Facebook ad (for example):
- Figure out and set up all the tech
- Write the ad copy
- Design or find an image or video
- Select the audience
- Make sure the ad and landing page match
P.S. If you find breaking things down hard, check out the ADHD planning and goal setting bundle. I struggle with that too, and that's why I created it. (it was my very first mindflow!).
2. A planner or to-do list
I know this is obvious, but I'm including it because I sometimes need a reminder (and reason) to plan and get organized.
But not all of us will use a planner in the same way so I want to share some of the different ways I have and currently use planners and to-do lists to keep me focused:
- Schedule tasks and appointments: it can help me visualize my schedule so that I can more easily see if I have enough time for each task. Some of my clients use it to schedule blocks of time for focused work, meetings, and personal appointments.
- A to-do list for each day: A to-do list can help me prioritize my tasks and keep me on track with my bigger goals.
- A project management tool: Admittedly, I don't do this often, but I've had a couple of bigger projects with multiple tasks where I used Trello. And I always use Trello to organize to-dos with my coaching clients. It's a nice place to keep track of our goals together and how we're getting there.
- Sticky notes to keep track of smaller tasks: This is another one I don't use a lot anymore, but I wanted to include it because I know it can be really helpful sometimes. For example, you can write each task on a separate note and place them in a visible location, such as on your computer monitor or on a whiteboard.
I find that this is helpful because having a visual representation of my tasks helps with short-term memory issues, seeing how things are broken down, and seeing where they fit into the bigger picture.
3. Setting aside dedicated work time
I tend to focus more on serving others, so I tend to spend more time on other people. I have been working on changing this, and even though I haven't found one thing that works all the time, here are some of the things I do, use, and plan to try.
- Block off specific times for focused work: This could be a few hours each day or longer stints (i.e. all day every Tuesday you write your weekly blog post). One of the added benefits is that if you share these blocks with others, you can make it clear that you're not available which can minimize distractions.
- Setting boundaries with others: This one is tough for me, but it's one of the things I'm working on in 2023. For me, I'll be making sure that family and friends know that I'll be focusing at certain times of the day. And I may even set aside specific times for phone calls or meetings.
- A quiet, distraction-free space to work: This isn't a huge issue seeing as I don't have children. But one of my cats can seriously drive me bonkers. She always seems to want attention when I've finally started working! A library is a good option, and since I have one down the street, I'll definitely be heading down there more often. But, if I need a bit more activity, I can head to a coffee shop might be better.
- Experiment with different times of day to find what works best: This is one of those things I'm still working on because it seems to change but, I still think that it's worthwhile to work on. If this is something you want to explore, ask yourself what time of day you're more productive. If you're like me, and it changes, perhaps try taking note of what makes each approach work better and why.
I think this is so important because having dedicated work times it can reduce decision-making.
4. Using tools to block distractions
I can be distracted so easily, and usually, when I'm off track, I can't get back on. This is very frustrating for and I am always working on this. Here are some apps and tools that I've used (and want to use):
- Noise-canceling headphones: If you work in a noisy environment or have a lot of background noise at home, noise-canceling headphones can help you focus on your work. These have been amazingly helpful. It's just too bad I broke mine.
- Apps that block social media: I am mostly over my social media addiction, but when I fall back into bad patterns I find myself turning app-blockers back on.
- Apps that block certain websites: I had to turn one of these on for Amazon the other day. I realized that I was hyper-focusing on the most bizarre things that I "need" to buy. Most smartphones have settings for digital well-being to help you with this as well.
- The Forest App: I haven't used this one yet, but I wanted to include it separately because it sounds really cool and I keep wanting to try it. Basically, it helps you stay focused by planting virtual trees. Each time you start a task, you can plant a tree. If you leave the app to check social media or another distracting site, the tree will wither and die. This can be a fun and motivating way to stay focused on your work, especially if, like me, you give life to inanimate objects.
Honestly, I see no reason not to use all of these every day!
5. Seeking support
I used to want to do everything on my own. It felt like cheating if I didn't. Luckily, I don't feel that way anymore and find it helpful to have someone to hold me accountable.
I have used all of these at one time or another and think there's value in all of them.
- A mentor: A mentor can provide guidance, accountability, and encouragement as you work towards your goals. You might consider reaching out to a successful entrepreneur with ADHD who can offer insights and advice based on their own experiences.
- A community of entrepreneurs with ADHD: It can be helpful to connect with others who understand the unique challenges that come with ADHD. You might consider joining a group or forum specifically for entrepreneurs with ADHD, where you can share experiences, ask for advice, and receive support from others.
- A coach or therapist: A coach or therapist can help you develop strategies to manage your ADHD and set goals for your business. They can also provide a safe space to talk about any challenges or obstacles you may be facing.
- Support from family and friends: It's important to have a strong support system in place as you work towards your goals. Consider reaching out to your family and friends for encouragement and support as you navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.
- A body doubling group: Body doubling is a technique that involves working with a partner or assistant to complete tasks and stay on track. It can also include working with a group live at the same time. This works because it can structure your days and your mind.
I haven't always been able to afford a coach or therapist, but I still found a great deal of value in all of the cheaper and free options above.
If you're not sure where to start or can't decide, here are 3 things you can try. I'm including these 3 things because I have found that they help me the most.
- Break tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks: Check out the ADHD Planning & Goal Setting Bundle for help with this.
- Set aside dedicated work time.
- Use tools to limit your time on social media