ADHD strengths are wonderful attributes for being an entrepreneur. There are so many ways ADHD entrepreneurs are successful. It’s the creativity, resourcefulness, and solution based thinking that lead to success. ADHD includes a powerful set of qualities that make for ground breaking new ideas and tools.
There can be a few bumps in the road too. Difficulties with executive function, planning and organizing can get in the way. Here are 3 ADHD tips for business owners to maximize their success.
Planning tools make a difference
Often an ADHD small business owner will only use a planner to write in an appointment. Use your planner as a tools to help you initiate and execute your tasks.
- Think creatively about your planner and use color and small post it notes. Write each task separately so you can create baby steps and keep from being overwhelmed. If these are written on small post it or flag notes, you can move them around as needed to work.
- Think about options for your planner. It can be 3 dry erase calendars on a prominent wall with difference color markers. It can be a file cabinet adjacent to your desk with post it notes. It can be a wall you paint chalkboard paint.
Set a time once a weekly for reviewing what’s on your planner. As a processing tool use it daily to write a note for your 3 Most Important Tasks. Create a new habit by hooking this habit onto an existing habit. It won’t happen automatically for a while, but it is a powerful change.
Get a grip on paper
Being overrun and overwhelmed by paper can be paralyzing to an entrepreneur. Take back control of your paper by cutting back on it first.
- Print as little as possible. Ruthlessly eliminate all paper that will not immediate at to your bottom line with a return on investment. Write notes in an arc spiral or use Evernote. Scan in what comes to you in paper form. Choose what is going to work best considering the amount of paper. As you can see, this takes a diligently and ongoing attack on paper from all directions.
- Choose a paper system that works with your strengths. A command center can be placed on your desk or adjacent to it. An accordion file is a tool with 7 or 13 pockets that can travel with you between locations.
- Whatever the tool, be sure to label the slots. With a label only what belongs in the slot gets in the slot. It also helps you stay focused and keep you from being overwhelmed. No slot for that paper, it’s off to the shredder or recycle.
Focus on your strengths
No one is good at everything. Entrepreneurs needs to wear many hats. This may sound like a conflict for ADHD entrepreneurs, but it’s a call to action for automation and delegation. There are many small ways to start.
- Automation is using technology tools to their best advantage. It can be an autoresponder when a client contacts your website. It can be downloading financial information from the bank to Quickbooks. It can be an app on your smart phone that adds contacts to Outlook. Look for small or large ways to automate processes in your business.
- Delegation is sharing a responsibility with a colleague or employee. Know what can only be done by you. The rest can be delegated in small bites. The biggest challenge is often the first step of asking for help. Think of this step as taking on a partnership, rather than giving away the ship. As you share the task, you build in accountability for the actions you will perform, as well as get additional help with technology, marketing skills or organizational tasks.
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You find it hard to get started on a project, hard to finish up and tough to stay on task. ADHD and executive function deficits create challenges for motivation. It can feel discouraging, frustrating and overwhelming. At a recent conference for the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, speakers shared ways to get motivated despite the obstacles. There are lots of small ways ADHD and motivation can make a daily difference for you.
Russell Barkley is author of Taking Charge of Adult ADHD. This speaker suggested using external cues to help you get motivated and stay on track. External cues can include post it notes or check lists with tasks spelled out. Social accountability like a study buddy or coach can help you lower or eliminate distractions as well as keep you positive about your work. These external cues help you become more successful at any task.
Denslow Brown and Karen Boutelle shared the value of coaching for motivation. Denslow is the creator of Coach Approach for Organizers, which I have participated in. Her coach training focuses on the collaborative partnership with the ADHD client and coach. Karen Boutelle from Landmark College demonstrated using coaching to facilitate motivation for students. Both speakers shared coaching strategies in helping a client move forward with their goals.
Struggling with getting started? Here are a few practical ways to get going.
- Set a timer for 15 minutes. For 5 minutes, assess what you have accomplished. Reset the timer for another 15 minutes, twice more. You have accomplished a lot!
- Find an ADHD coach to work with you.
- Clear your space for clarity. Keep your desk clear of extra papers and office supplies in order to keep clear about your work.
- Partner with a colleague or family member. Having someone to help with decisions and work together makes the project get off the ground. Your partner also acts as a body double to help lend you energy to get going.
- Find a way to add positive accountability to your day. Send a quick email sharing what you accomplished that day. Text someone sharing the news of conquering a difficult task. Make a phone call on your way home to tell someone about an accomplishment.
- Add a dash of fun to your work. It can be a quirky element (like writing with a pink marker), some music (your Pandora work station you create) or something silly (perhaps a crazy hat or fluffy boa). No one wants to miss out on fun, right?
What are ways you are getting motivated?
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The start of a new school year can be empowering and difficult. It brings the promise of a new teacher and a fresh start, as well as the fear of previous challenges. For your ADHD family, back to school is a new beginning each and every year.
Back to school for your ADHD family is a great clean slate. It’s about starting off with fresh energy. There’s excitement in collaborating with a new teacher. Start your year off with a family meeting about the successes from last year. What worked well? What didn’t? Starting off with a successful, solutions oriented perspective will make this the best year for your family.
There are many ways to set up binders and accordion files for your child. There are many different school supplies. Rely on your school district supply list and check your own supplies. Coach your child to set up a binder system and school supplies that work for him/her. A homework folder or pocket in the binder where all homework comes and returns makes it easy to keep up with this paper. The best systems are the most simple.
School and Homework routines
One of the hardest parts of school is homework routines. It’s all about consistency. Set a time for homework to start and finish after school. Starting after a snack and short break makes it easier to complete homework. Set up a homework spot with an additional set of supplies for your child. Partner with your child to prioritize the daily assignments, working in small time slots. Using a timer can be a bonus for getting started and working without distractions.
A critical element for all routines is good rest. Set bedtimes for parents and kids. Start early getting to bed, eliminating blue screens at least an hour before bedtime. Have a charging station in a public spot for all electronics in the home. A good night’s rest is a great way to be sure everyone is working at their full potential.
Set up a landing strip where kids backpacks, your purse, and possibly shoes are housed. There’s no scrambling in the morning when there’s only one spot. Clean out backpacks and purses weekly.
Parents, teachers and counselors working as a team is the best for everyone. If your child has a 504 plan or IEP, review that early in the year. Frequent communication by email helps everyone work together. Start the year off with an email to your child’s teachers sharing his/her strengths and noting where help is needed most. Establishing a trust relationship takes time, but working as a team is best for your child.
Gathering a team of resources is an asset. Your child can benefit from work with a counselor, professional organizer or homework buddy. In having a team you can learn and share what works with each professional.
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Resources and education make the difference. The more you know, the more solutions you can find. Included below are some of my favorite ADHD resources for books, websites, blogs and people to follow.
ADD Friendly Ways to Organize by Kathleen Nadeau and Judith Kohlberg
Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell
Healing ADD: 6 Types of ADD by Daniel Amen
Taking Charge of Your ADHD by Russell Barkley
More Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for Adults with ADHD by Ari Tuckman
People to follow
A special thank you to our product sponsors!
Throughout the month of December, I am honored and grateful to share posts by ADHD experts. In this series of Meet the ADHD Expert, our experts are sharing their thoughts about ADHD. Let me introduce guest blogger Laura Rolands.
Laura Rolands of MyAttentionCoach.com is an ADHD Coach who helps adults with ADHD/ADD pay attention, improve their time management skills and increase productivity. Her clients include students, adult and organizations looking for help with time management, productivity, organization, procrastination and other challenges related to ADD or ADHD. Register for Laura’s free time management guide on her website at www.MyAttentionCoach.com and listen to her radio show archives at www.PracticalADHDStrategies.com.
What was your first experience with ADHD?
I first learned about ADHD when talking with teachers at my child’s schools about attention challenges that we didn’t know how to resolve at the time. It was a frustrating experience in the beginning, but we worked together to develop strategies that have helped my child succeed. In reality, I saw ADHD, however for years in my work as a Human Resources professional. I just didn’t know how to recognize it at the time.
What was is one thing you want everyone to know about ADHD?
While it can happen, ADHD challenges do not typically go away with age. New challenges can present themselves later in life after the structure provided by parents is no longer applicable. Being aware of this can help the adults with ADHD to identify and develop strategies to assist them personally and professionally. Taking proactive action can also help build self-confidence.
What is your best tip for ADHD?
Be on the lookout for overcommitment and learn how to say no. ADHD can cause impulsivity that can lead to a calendar and to do list that is literally overflowing. Learn to say “no” to gain positive control over your commitments and schedule. Follow these skill-building steps:
- Identify situations where you make impulsive decisions to accept new projects or tasks..
- Rehearse saying “no” before entering the situation. For example, saying, “No thanks, I just can’t add anything new to my plate right now.” Avoid long explanations; they leave too much open to debate with the requestor.
- Practice your statement five times before entering the situation.
- Evaluate your progress and praise yourself to celebrate success.
It takes daily practice to build this skill. Start practicing today to “no” into a positive!
What is your morning like?
Mornings are relatively long at my house with the first alarm sounding at 5:10am and the last person leaving the house around 7:45am. There are 4 of us who wake up, get ready and head to work and school at various times. Mornings are rarely hectic though and I am thankful that my kids get out of bed without too much prodding.
Stay connected to Laura
Throughout the month of December, I am honored and grateful to share posts by ADHD experts. In this series of Meet the ADHD Expert, our experts are sharing their thoughts about ADHD. Let me introduce guest blogger Andrea Sharb.
Andrea Sharb, ACC®, CPO-CD®, COC®, and CPO® is owner of S.O.S.~Sharb Organizing Solutions, LLC and a trainer for the Coach Approach for Organizers. Since 2006, Andrea has specialized in Helping Others Overcome Overwhelm™. Her most rewarding work is with chronically disorganized clients, especially Adults with ADHD or those who wonder if they have ADHD. She also works with individuals who want to gain better control over their physical space, time or life. A certified coach, her approach, is grounded in helping clients raise their awareness around how their challenges are impacting them. With awareness raised she assists them in creating strategies for a more organized, productive and fulfilling life. She then supports her clients in the implementation of those strategies. Her goal is to not only teach her clients techniques for clearing the clutter from their lives, but to empower them to make changes leading to a more organized lifestyle. In addition to working with organizing clients, she provides mentor-coaching services to professional organizers.
What was your first experience with ADHD?
I first became aware of ADHD in my work as a professional organizer. What I noticed most was how I identified personally with many of the struggles of my ADHD clients. I had always been good at organizing physical spaces. But, was challenged when it came to managing my time and dealing with overwhelm that resulted from taking on too many shiny, new activities. As I learned more about ADHD, in order to better serve my ADHD clients, I began to suspect I was dealing with ADHD myself. I was formally diagnosed with combined type ADHD a few years ago.
What was is one thing you want everyone to know about ADHD?
What I most want people to know is that ADHD is not a sentence to a lesser life. Change is possible, but it takes building awareness about your ADHD and your strengths, designing actions and developing accountability around those actions, and creating supportive systems. An ADHD coach can serve as a guide in all of these areas.
What is your best tip for ADHD?
When you learn something that works for you, it’s important to find a way to remind yourself of it, so you can continue to use it to support you. Unfortunately ADHD often results in us forgetting what supports us most. Document what works best for you on a list of best practices, and review it regularly.
What is your morning like?
Great question Ellen! I’d love to be able to tell you my mornings are well ordered, but they tend to be a little inconsistent depending upon whether I have an early morning appointment. If I have an early morning appointment, the external accountability makes all the difference in motivating me through what needs to be accomplished before I leave. If my first appointment isn’t until later in the morning, things get a little more challenging. Early morning appointment or not, there are some constants: Before I even get out of bed I review my best practices on my iPad and check my calendar for the day. If my first appointment is a little later in the morning I also clear the email that filled my inbox over night.
The next step is dealing with what I call my linked activities: putting in contacts, brushing teeth and getting dressed for exercise. No matter what the day, these tasks almost always seem tough to tackle. Putting in the contacts is easiest, because being able to see has the biggest payoff. From there it is a matter of talking myself into doing just one more thing. “Ok, contacts are in, all you need to do now is brush your teeth.” “Alright, all you need to do now is get dressed and put your hair up.” There is a lot of self-talk going on in my house in the morning.
If I have an early morning appointment, I head straight to the treadmill. Exercise shifts my brain into gear and can make all the difference in how my day goes. I do a lot of my professional reading while I’m on the treadmill because reading becomes so much easier for me when I’m moving. (My husband will tell you that if I read while sitting in a chair I tend to fall asleep, which isn’t terribly conducive to learning.)
A later morning appointment can result in procrastination around exercise, so I’ll usually end up working backwards from the time I have to leave and calculating the latest time that I can get on the treadmill. Setting a timer for this time and placing it in another room makes all the difference when it comes to transitioning me to the treadmill.
After exercise, breakfast and a shower, it’s time to start the day.
Anything else you want to share?
Just to say thank you for this opportunity to share with your readers and to pass along the following: The way your brain works is not your choice. How you respond to the way your brain works is. What choices will you make with respect to your ADHD and overcoming your own overwhelm?
Stay connected to Andrea
Shiny! Glittery! Oooo ahh! The holidays are filled with fun and frenzy. The holidays can be overwhelming! Follow these five ADHD holiday tips to help you have a very merry holiday!
Holiday family calendar
Make a list of your family’s priorities for the holiday season. Add these to your family calendar to guard that time together.
Keep your holiday thoughts together in one spot. A holiday binder, spiral or online tool like Evernote keeps all your ideas, wishes, and details together. No more searching for scraps of paper.
Holiday gift list
Create a list of gift recipients and your purchases. You can use a smart phone app like Notes or keep your list in your holiday notebook. Think about clutter free gifts that include experiences.
Gather your team (of family, friends or “teens you rent from church’) to help you decorate. Set up a time line on your calendar for when you want to start and when you want to finish.
Keep up your holiday spirits with lots of rest and nourishment. Carrots make reindeer fly and your veggies will help you too!
Join me on pinterest to enjoy more holiday ideas at Happy Holidays!
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Throughout the month of December, I am honored and grateful to share posts by ADHD experts. In this series of Meet the ADHD Experts, our experts are sharing their thoughts about ADHD. Let me introduce guest blogger Ari Tuckman.
Ari Tuckman, PsyD, MBA is the author of three books: “Understand Your Brain, Get More Done: The ADHD Executive Functions Workbook”, “More Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for Adults with ADHD” and “Integrative Treatment for Adult ADHD: A Practical, Easy-to-Use Guide for Clinicians”. His “More Attention, Less Deficit” podcast has over one hundred episodes and is approaching one and a half million downloads. He is a psychologist in private practice in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
What was your first experience with ADHD
I fell into working with adults with ADHD when a psychiatrist asked me whether I wanted to help his patients with practical matters of daily life. He found the medication to be helpful with the basic symptoms, but these patients needed help with the skills of time management, organization, prioritization, procrastination, etc. At the time (1998), few clinicians specialized in ADHD in adults, so there was a great unmet need. My joke is that if you knew three things about adult ADHD, then you were the expert in town. Now you have to know four. So it is slowly getting better.
What was is one thing you want everyone to know about ADHD
ADHD can be very impairing before it is diagnosed and treated. But the good news is that there is a lot you can do to make someone’s life better once they know that it is ADHD that underlies a lot of their difficulties. ADHD tends to respond well to treatment and we know a lot about which strategies tend to be most effective for people with ADHD. So it can be a very optimistic diagnosis if you use that knowledge effectively and work hard at it.
What is your best tip for ADHD
Learn as much as you can about it, whether it’s you who has ADHD or your romantic partner, family member, etc. The more you know, the better off you will be. There is no need to re-invent the wheel when there is already so much that is already known. You obviously need to customize any strategies for your own situation, but there are a lot of good ideas already out there.
I sometimes hear that the romantic partner or family members of the person with ADHD are hesitant to invest the time to educate themselves about ADHD, saying that they already do enough so they shouldn’t have to put in the extra work. While I appreciate that they already feel overloaded, there is great power in understanding ADHD and how your partner operates. While it may not be their responsibility to ensure that the person with ADHD does what they need to, it is their responsibility to ensure their own happiness. If learning about ADHD helps you get your own needs met more effectively, then why wouldn’t you do it? Ultimately, we are all responsible for our own happiness.
What is your morning like
We wake up at 6:15, my son gets on the bus at 7:20 and my wife and I head out by 7:45. It sounds like a lot of time when I say it, but it goes pretty quickly, especially if we get behind schedule. At this point in the school year, I have a good sense of what needs to be accomplished by when in order for us to get out on time. I make breakfast and know that we have to start eating by 7:00, so that helps keep us on schedule. It’s easier to break the morning in half—before and after 7:00.
Anything else you want to share
There is a lot of good information out there about ADHD. I’m a big fan of getting good ideas wherever I can. So keep educating yourself. The best part is that the strategies that work best for people with ADHD tend to just be plain old good strategies that work well for most people.
For more information about Ari:
Podcast: More Attention, Less Deficit—listed in iTunes
Classes have already started in many places and around Houston. Football season is around the corner. Knowing its time to get back to routines is part of the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall. Our routines may have faltered during the hot Summer, but these tried and true routines make a difference in easing our stress. Back to school means back to routines for moms, dads and everyone!
It’s easy to get to bed later and later during the Summer. It stays light late and it is hard to wind down. Get started getting ready for bed earlier so you can get a great night’s rest. Most of us truly need 8 hours of sleep a night to do our best.
There seems to be much more on our plate during this time of year. Make it easy with making lists. It takes a lot to keep remembering all that we need to do. Your list can be digital or paper. Write stuff down and then prioritize for the day.
Organize and take stock
Stuff may get a little chaotic during the Summer. All of a sudden your closet, your supplies and your pantry are disorganized. Take a little time during August to get them back to their regular order. If you have clothes you have not worn all Summer, it’s time to donate them. Gather your office supplies together. Do you have a good routine for putting back your supplies? Simplify your access to items if you have trouble. Straighten items and review what is in your pantry. Create a checklist on paper or with an app to make shopping easier. Just giving each of these areas a little attention will make each day easier.
Summer fun is often spontaneous, but Fall has lots and lots of activities coming up. Get back to the routine of entering dates in your planner as soon as you know them. Enter all dates from the school calendar, sports calendars, church calendars and any other activities onto your planner so these are all consolidated. Having all the dates in one spot makes it easy to see and know what is coming up.
Check out my Back to School board on pinterest for other Back to School ideas.