View Full Version : ADD and Weekly review and other issues
12-03-2004, 08:59 PM
After lurking in this forum for a long time and reading some of the posts here I realize I have something akin to ADD if not it. (cannot concentrate on anything for more then 5 minutes, cannot read more then one page of an any article without my mind drifting, not being able to recollect anything after reading something that is not of interest, brillant ideas continiusly flying in the mind :-) ). Strangely if something is challenging enough, I can spend hours focussed without noticing that the time just flies.
Anyone has a pointer for quesionaire like page on the web to get more insight into diagnosing this ?
The following are the major problems I am facing in implemeting GTD
1) This is a common problem I infer from reading the posts, but though I have perfected the art of collecting, organzing etc. I just dont get around to the "DO" part. Though my outlook is my collection box my mind just refuses to go to the "task" columns and if it does, I just procastinate (and spend my time reading these foums and other blogs searching for a silver bullet :P, but all these seem to be just to avoid doing the do part ). This is IMO something that no book/article/coach can solve for you, but i was wondering if others would share their experiences if any on how they have personally overcome this problem ? From the limited posts I have seen, the cold turkey approach seems to be the best approach and I have successfully used it to quit smoking (25 /day -> 0 in one day by just deciding I am going to stop without any methodology) but it does not seem to work for procrastination. (It is tempting to go into root causes, analysis, introspection etc. but I think these will just be another excuse to procstatinate further)
2) The weekly review generally breaksdown because I live in a completely interrupt driven environment and it is not possible to schedule a fixed time for this) moreover my mind just wanders during the weekly review and I find it too tempting to just start browsing for some tips on how to do a weekly review searching again for a silver bullet.
Any real life experiences welcome in how people just gotahead to the DO part
12-04-2004, 04:05 AM
I’m beginning to wonder if you can develop ADD by spending too much time reading about Time Management … the Planning level is a very secure and comfortable place to be, and when you spend a lot of time there it becomes a comfort zone: thus it is hard to get down into the trenches and lose your “watch tower” view of things, so you have to keep jumping up to the higher level all the time to see that nothing has been missed, and that no deadlines are creeping stealthily forward to devour you.
12-04-2004, 07:46 AM
Anyone has a pointer for quesionaire like page on the web to get more insight into diagnosing this?
There's lots of information out there - just google "attention deficit disorder." Warning: Scrutinize the source if you want valid information.
Here's just one of the available questionnaires: Jasper/Goldberg Adult ADD Questionnaire (http://mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=974&cn=3)
Another warning -- don't take the results as the final word! If you have a number of the symptoms, consult a professional. There could be other reasons for many of these symptoms.
12-04-2004, 02:15 PM
The previous post's link to an assessment was good, and here's one from WebMD
Re procrastination, see:
I was just diagnosed with ADD but have a binder with notes from 1991 where I was collecting articles about getting organized, etc., and have a shelf full of books I've bought over the years. And the problem is that I read about organizing but don't DO--just as you said. Recently I've started implementing things, and I feel I'm getting better. Realize you don't have to do the entire thing you're working on in one day, or one week, or whatever. If you just start doing a little, and keep on trying to implement what works for you in your life and your environment, you'll be ahead of where you were. Every detail of the DA system may just not work for you, but you can use as many parts as you can, and you'll be better off for it.
We don't all have the same opportunities, the same skills, the same environments, so we can't all do exactly the same thing, have exactly the same success with GTD.
If you do go to a doctor and get diagnosed with ADD, it will help you connect a lot of dots and see how lots of things happened in your life, understand some issues that have troubled you. If you start taking a medication, it may or may not help you a lot. I'm taking Concerta, a form of ritalin, and it doesn't help me all that much and I'm thinking of stopping it. It does help me concentrate and keep working on things after I get started. But it doesn't stop me from getting on the internet and it doesn't help if I'm still just resisting getting down to work. And it causes me to either be exhausted (at higher doses) or sleepless (lower dose). So there are tradeoffs.
But I've found these things helpful:
I use what I can of the DA system, like keeping up with the Waiting For list, the Next Actions list--those really do help. And gradually over time maybe I can pull more of it into my life.
I keep my desk absolutely clear, because any random papers or other visual items on it distract me from what I'm working on. They just remind me of other things I'm not doing and take my mind away from what I'm trying to work on at the time. I try to have no papers at all, no bulletin boards, and no mementos or photos, etc in my line of sight when I'm trying to work, except for the project I'm working on.
To keep your mind on work, try going to magnatunes:
and play one of the renaissance or baroque choices--quietly--it blocks out some distractions and doesn't distract you itself.
Sounds like you have a different type of environment, so many of my thoughts wouldn't be useful to you, but they might help you to think about what would.
Be in the moment--read up on getting into the flow, the zone, a state of relaxation,--it helps you stay with what you're trying to do.
You might try the book "The Now Habit" by Neil Fiore. He suggests you just get started on what you want to do--try to work for 30 minutes of quality time, keep starting, think small,--you don't have to finish in one day, just do what you can, and next time start on the rest of it, until you get it done. I haven't had the book for a week yet, but am using his ideas, and they seem to help with procrastination. I think it takes a really intensive effort to beat the procrastination problem, but I have to do it.
The onlineorganizing article I linked to above incorporates some of the ideas from the Now Habil book, but I felt that the way he develops the ideas in the book was helpful--not a lot of psychobabble, just a few stories of people and their problems, and lots of simple, useful suggestions.
The thought that you could develop ADD by spending so much time reading about time management rings a bell with me. But which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Would we be worrying about it if we didn't actually have a problem?
Suggestion: Don't let yourself go to the forums or blogs or whatever until you have worked on one task, or at least on one task for 30 minutes. Then reward yourself with a timed, short visit to the forum or whatever your own choice etc.
Also, it looks like you just won't be able to get to the weekly review. Try doing a little daily review if you can get in a little early in the mornings or stay late in the afternoon after things calm down, or some other time during the day when things are a bit quiet. Or even do it at home for an hour on the weekend. Don't feel you have to do it exactly according to the original--I'm sure that's best, but if you can't do that, you just can't, but you can still benefit from doing the best you can. At least try to set up your next action list and your waiting for list--those are invaluable.
Good luck with the add and the gtd.
12-04-2004, 02:54 PM
One thing you might do is print out on a 4 by 6 or 3 by 5 card, in large letters:
JUST DO IT
That's what it comes down to. By the way, I wrote the previous post about ADD, and I don't mean to be hateful about it. But that card is helping me. It just takes breaking whatever resistance it is that's holding you back--fear of mistakes, fear of success, fear of failure, etc, and just sitting down and starting and doing it. That's the worst part, but at the same time it's nice that it isn't more complicated than that. And if you could stop smoking in one day, you've done one of the hardest things there is, and you're already miles ahead, because that's really something to be able to look back on. So write out your card and put it in front of you or in a pocket where you can get it out from time to time, and make it your mantra. Make it part of your brain, part of your very fiber.
BTW--Please, if you haven't had the problem, you will think we're pathetic, but people with ADD are not insane or stupid--we tend to be intelligent but something in our brains works differently--so please don't laugh at us.
12-04-2004, 06:30 PM
<<[quote="Anonymous"]I’m beginning to wonder if you can develop ADD by spending too much time reading about Time Management … the Planning level is a very secure and comfortable place to be, and when you spend a lot of time there it becomes a comfort zone: thus it is hard to get down into the trenches and lose your “watch tower” view of things, so you have to keep jumping up to the higher level all the time to see that nothing has been missed, and that no deadlines are creeping stealthily forward to devour you>>.
As someone with LD/ADHD and who has family members with ADHD, I wanted to let posters to this board know who are unfamiliar with condition, that it is a neurological disorder and has nothing to do with reading about Time Management or watching too much TV as suggested in a previous study. Those are the facts, plain and simple.
I was going to provide a link to a website that would explain the fundamentals of ADHD but I think this article by a guest columnist for the Detroit Free Press says it all. Here is a very important exert:
"Living with ADHD is far more than simply accepting a few personality quirks. It is struggling to regulate attention from one extreme to the next, from trying to focus on the uninteresting to trying not to over-focus on things that are stimulating.
Living with ADHD is trying to keep a handle on emotions that swing on a moment-by-moment basis. It's trying to deal with the little, everyday tasks in life that feel overwhelming. Deciding what to prepare for dinner, even something as simple as choosing between a can of soup and a box of macaroni and cheese, can be agonizing.
It's trying to listen when being told something for the tenth time. It's an adult wandering around aimlessly or a child sitting on the floor, completely lost in her thoughts and unsure what she is supposed to be doing.
Living with ADHD is trying to function around extreme physical and mental disorganization. The overwhelming stimuli from sights, sounds and thoughts are like an avalanche crashing down."
To read the rest, click on this link:
For me personally, the GTD philosophy helps somewhat but it isn't the total answer. I seem to do alot better focusing on projects as a whole and what I want to accomplish for the day vs. focusing on a series of next actions. Heck, if deciding what to have for dinner is agonizing for us, you can imagine what it must be like as we try to use our intuition to decide what NAs to do next. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Regarding the weekly review, I do better having mini reviews each day vs. having weekly reviews. Since it is hard for me to stay focused on a goal, I am finding that the daily reviews are a much better reinforcement of what I am trying to do.
Anyway, I hope that I have provided a clearer picture of what having ADHD is all about and why it has nothing to do with reading too many Time Mangement books.
12-05-2004, 11:12 AM
2) The weekly review generally breaksdown because I live in a completely interrupt driven environment......
The WR is meerly a number of discrete activities that you can do whenever you want in the amount of time you have available.
Look over a list - add an Next Action to an action list.
Check your calender for lurking projects or activities.
File a document or two from your in basket.
No need to schedule 1 or 2 hours.
12-05-2004, 01:12 PM
I doubt that Dave meant his comment literally. It is true, however, that there is a tendency on the forum to obsess about the process, to try to fine-tweak the software and meanings of all the steps in GTD. See the Dumbing Down thread:
At some point you do have to step back and stop thinking about it and analyzing it and just get started and do it.
And too much thinking about anything can indeed waste time. After all, you get better through practicing (which is another word for doing), not by talking about it or thinking about it.
What ever became of the lawsuit? Seems so ignorant. I've seen web pages that rant about antidepressants, which no one who's been helped by them would ever be able to look at without laughing. And even though I'm not sure about the Concerta, I certainly wouldn't want it to be unavailable to those who have benefitted from it, or may benefit from it in the future.
12-05-2004, 03:25 PM
I don't think Dave meant his comment literally either. But for me, even comments like that hit my hot button due to all those misconceptions about ADHD. I was also concerned about uninformed readers getting the wrong ideas about ADHD.
I agree that you can obsess too much about the process and that you need to just do it. But practice doesn't always make perfect in my opinion, especially if you have executive function issues.
Fortunately, on my own, I have been able to come up some semblance of an organizational system. But other people like me can't do it no matter how motivated they are or how hard they try. I know someone who only improved after seeking the help of an organizational coach.
And even if you don’t have XF issues like I do, I am guessing that still, for many people, organizational skills are hard to master. So what may seem like too much analyzing or thinking to some people is really their way of trying to make sense of the process.
Still, I think that the “Dumbing Down” Thread makes some good points, particularly about perfectionism, which of course, was never a problem for me:)) Yeah, at times, I have tweaked way too much or hoped for the perfect book to solve my problems. Some of that is due to actually having had a few books make a big difference in my life and seeing a technology invention, the palm pilot do the same thing. But I finally realized that is the exception and not the rule.
Changing gears, I don’t know what happened with the lawsuit. As one who take meds and has suffered numerous side effects while still benefitting greatly from them, I see both sides of the issue. But just like you, I hope reason prevails.
12-06-2004, 01:46 AM
I don’t know very much about ADD. However, I have noticed recently that when I take up a piece of paperwork at my desk, my attention literally ricochets off it like a bullet. There is absolutely nothing I can do to stay on task. I am constantly retreating to a position of comfort where I can see all my to-do’s, and watch them to see which one starts to over-heat first. That is when I get enough certainty to choose THAT task above all the others, and commit to doing it. Without that single indicator – “overheating” – I find it impossible to choose and work confidently though a task. My big fear is that if I commit to a task and take my eye off all the others, I will be devoured by another one that I did not realise was coming to the boil.
This condition has only evolved since I started trying to create an all encompassing life management system for my work and private life. Before that I existed in a kind of blissful ignorance, where I more or less got my stuff done with the typical amount of pressure and stress that people generally suffer; missed about the same amount of deadlines as everyone else, put out the average number of fires, and chilled out when everyone else chilled out. I suppose you would call it a reactive approach to life.
Now I find I am often paralysed into inactivity by the hopelessness of trying to decide which non-urgent task to tackle next.
From your post, I know now that this is not ADD, but the devastating consequences of going into work day after day, week after week, and producing nothing of any value, will be just the same as for an ADD sufferer.
In my defence, I work very effectively when I am told to do some particular thing by my boss, and can stay with it with unwavering focus until it is done … so maybe it’s just that I’m not one of those people that can be described as a proactive self-starter, or as Brian Tracy would say, I’m not one of the 2% who can lead themselves, and who are therefore the most sought after in business.
I did not mean to press your hot button :) , but my newly developed utter inability to stay with a task does seem to produce the results I have often seen described as arising from ADD.
12-06-2004, 04:33 AM
P.S. to the above:
Brian Tracy’s quote of the day today:
“The last thing one knows is what to put first.” – Blaise Pascal
How utterly ironic :roll: .
12-07-2004, 07:08 AM
The theory of the German psychologist Julius Kuhl attempts to separate people into two groups: state-oriented individuals who focus under stress on the past, present or future states, rather than options available for action; and action-oriented individuals who focus under stress on action alternatives.
There seems to be a personality dimension of state versus action orientation: State-oriented persons on the preoccupation dimension, are those who report having persistent and uncontrollable negative emotional states after being exposed to aversive events. They tend to focus their attention on a past, present, or future state instead of focusing it on the current task. Action-oriented persons, in contrast, have a better ability to “down-regulate” the negative affect elicited by an aversive experience.
State orientation differs from the constructs of neuroticism and anxiety with regard to the way negative affect is managed: State oriented individuals are not postulated to have an increased sensitivity to negative affect or to punishment as neurotic or anxious individuals do. Instead, they have a decreased self-regulatory capacity to reduce negative affect in a self-initiated “top–down” manner once it is aroused.
If this all makes any sense, then I would draw the following conclusions regarding the impacts of the collecting habit of the GTD methodology (“writing it all down”) to a person’s work or life:
For an action orientated person that “writing it all down” habit would lead to a greater awareness of choices and opportunities, increased efficiency and faster accomplishment.
For a state orientated person that “writing it all down” habit would lead to more distraction, a decrease in the ability of handling the amount of information, decreased efficiency, and a state of “feeling stalled”.
12-07-2004, 07:38 AM
Great post Rainer – a distractingly large amount of food for thought!
I can identify with the two conditions, “action oriented” and “state oriented”, but unfortunately I think I am 75% "state oriented" and only 25% "action oriented"!! I just keep getting into the trap of wondering about how I will feel if I take a particular action.
On the other hand, when I am under time pressure, I find it is a tremendous help to just write down the 7 or 8 things I have to do, write a time estimate beside each one, and then power through the list. It tends to give me a straight line to follow.
But I wonder if there really is such a creature as a truly “action oriented” person? I suspect that an “action oriented” person is simply a person who has done their thinking before we get to see them: by the time they walk into our office or meeting room, they have already decided what they will be doing when they leave, and so they LOOK like they are totally “action oriented”. Also, if there is a problem to be dealt with, they already KNOW the outcome they want (they are not trying to decide or evaluate because they already decided either that morning or three days ago what their target outcome is) and so, once again, they appear to be very decisive and action-oriented.
Am I right, or just envious!? :(
12-07-2004, 08:02 AM
I know I'm definitely not action oriented! Wish I were.
I'm not keeping a pure GTD system because the list of everything I need to think about would terrify me. And I don't really have any hope of doing the things on my someday/maybe list. For now I just want to get done the things I have to do for my clients. I'm keeping one page per month of client projects I need to act on, and trying to get through that. It allows me to do some advance planning, since I already have something on my list for February 2005. And for important personal things I use a tickler file or my calendar. I'm going to try using Dave's idea of the short list of tasks for the day--would love that feeling of powering through, whereas now I'm collapsing with relief when I complete one project.
This action vs state orientation hypothesis does seem to be on point. I do often feel a sense of incapacitating panic that overwhelms me and causes me to freeze until the sense of panic at the undone project past it's due date rises to a level equal to or greater than the panic at the list of all I need to get done. Then I can work on the project which is screaming at me the loudest.
And both my daughter and I respond very badly to stress, especially to criticism. With my daughter I have to be very careful when commenting on her actions. She cannot tolerate negative criticism--even when meant kindly, she explodes and the message is lost. Therefore I've told her father to always praise her--never criticize. Make only the gentlest of suggestions.
And I've noticed that when my doctor reacts with irritation to the news that I've gone off my diet or medications, it takes me several weeks to recover from the stress and upset that result, and consider his intent, and the fact that he's right, and that I need to change whatever it was that annoyed him.
So I believe the state/action orientation provides insight to my own life, and perhaps a means of stepping back and looking at myself and possibly even improving my work and personal life.
12-07-2004, 12:05 PM
I do often feel a sense of incapacitating panic that overwhelms me and causes me to freeze until the sense of panic at the undone project past it's due date rises to a level equal to or greater than the panic at the list of all I need to get done. Then I can work on the project which is screaming at me the loudest.
I second the recommendation for "The Now Habit". It provides a structure/system for dealing with exactly this problem.
12-13-2004, 09:36 AM
I have also struggled with this. Several things have helped.
1. Read and implement "The Mood Cure" by Julia Ross. She will help you address issues caused by poor diet and an undernourished brain. If your brain does not have the proper nutrition it simply cannot function properly. I cannot stress this enough. I use the supplements she recommends because I can't function without them...yet.
2. You may need to "tweak" the way you do the GTD system. If you are like me, you are naturally inclined to think at a very high "chunk" level, possibly at the "someday/maybe" level which you may be treating as if those are realistic project levels or even tasks. The genius of David Allen's system, is he actually understands and helps people like me learn to think differently for the various "levels" of life concern, and more importantly to SHIFT GEARS AND LEVELS appropriately for the task at hand. Thinking at the "someday maybe" level is your comfort zone. However that style of thinking is inappropriate for the smaller chunks and action list. You will naturally feel a little uncomfortable as you begin to practice a different style of thinking, but after you practice you will learn to trust it. But it will feel strange at first.
I have benefitted from making myself put ONLY active projects on my project list....and by active I mean that is the only area where I allow myself to draw action items and for which I create a measureable result I am committed to acheiving within a short time frame--up to maybe 3 months maximum. If it is larger than that it may need to be broken down into sub-projects and the inactive ones go to someday maybe. This is important. If you are like me, you go into overwhelm very easily because you see the Big Picture very fast. You must reassure your unconscious mind that just because stuff goes to Someday Maybe doesn't mean you won't do it--it just means that you are not going to do it YET, and that "at least" you know you will address the items on your active project list.
3. Consider the function of Self Doubt. Self doubt is an extremely valuable skill: It allows you to keep options open in case conditions change, and it allows you to guard against arrogance and over-estimating your abilities....It keeps you pliable and able to change spontaneously when new information comes along. HOWEVER....there is a point at which self doubt and constantly re-making decisions and then undermining them becomes very destructive and renders you ineffective. So consider: Just how much doubt is appropriate for the project I am considering? When is it truly functional to question the task at hand, it's purpose, where it fits in my life etc....? If you are like me, you will realize your "sef doubt and questioning" level is set way too high for optimal functioning.
Guess what? You can TURN IT DOWN! WAY down. I find myself reminding myself "Oh wait, I already decided on my projects for this month...see, it is on my list. And the value of sticking to this list outweighs the value of re-making this decision....I have agreed not to change my mind unless there is a very compelling reason.....and there isn't one. So I will stick to the plan."
If your doubt-o-meter is stuck at 95 percent, don't turn it all the way off because you don't want to become rigid in your thinking--the opposite extreme. But you can probably function way better if you turn the doubt down to maybe 5 to 10 percent.....or less....so it is very small, just in the background. In the foreground you keep your attention on the "stakes in the ground". There is a reason David called it that! They are *decisions*. Maybe your actions for a while are making decisions you intend to seriously implement. Start with simple but moderately important decisions that you are willing to act on for a specific time period, enough to give you enough information to either continue with the project OR abandon it and try something else. But extend the time frame enough so you commit for a period of time that ensures action over time. Try to build the habit of sustained effort on one project until something you value is accomplished. Give yourself that success.
I realize this may sound "impossible" but if you feel strange and it is unfamiliar to you, then that is a signal you are doing something different that may get you better results. Eventually it will feel more normal. Practised preoperly the GTD system will teach you how to think at the appropriate level and style: from big chunk to little bits back to big chunk.
Here's the thing: It will help you learn what to IGNORE! Learning what to ignore is a great skill. I am amazed at the depth to which I habitually question myself and my abilties: somehow I thought it made me have more integrity! Unfortunately it actually eroded my integrity because it made me disfunctional! So now I ignore 80 percent of my self doubts. I note them....then "do it anyway"! Much better.
Again, make sure your brain chemistry is good first.....especially if you crave bread, pasta, sugar....too much of that is poison.
08-14-2008, 06:58 PM
I just dont get around to the "DO" part. Though my outlook is my collection box my mind just refuses to go to the "task" columns and if it does, I just procastinate (and spend my time reading these foums and other blogs searching for a silver bullet :P, but all these seem to be just to avoid doing the do part ).
The major thing that the GTD book taught me is to be specific with next actions... if you break down your next actions correctly most everything in your life can be simplified to a series of 2 minute actions which works very well with ADHD. Break every project down as much as you can and focus on that next action, once you get one down you get a boost toward the next (next) action.
As for the rest, ADHD presents a unique challenge even when medicated and determined toward a goal. I have been trying to implement a complete GTD system and find that the effort required to implement the system is more than my concentration allows all at once. I get distracted frequently and can only to tell you to avoid the things that you know distract you (much easier said than done - even as I type about it).