Is GTD scalable for someone with ADHD?
I've been struggling with GTD for some time. I have the formula down, but the problem seems to be that my brain is creating more Inbox entries than my body can process each day.
By this I mean that as someone with ADHD, I have perhaps 10X the number of ideas, thoughts, tasks, perceived things that should be done, than a normal person does.
If I don't document them, they are gone from RAM.
The problem is that this does two things:
1. Because the flow into the Inbox is faster than the time it takes to "DO", I find that a Daily Review of the Inbox is counter-productive and is taking longer each day to do. That's not scalable and it's also very frustrating.
2. The more time I spend processing, the less I have for "DOING", so it is a loop.
Now, you might say that the answer is to really get focused and limit what you put into the Inbox; but that's counter to what GTD says, which is that Everything should go into the Inbox so it is out of your head and off your mind.
Because we with ADHD don't really have a sense of time, I've even experimented with two Inboxes, one that says "TODAY" and another that says "NOT TODAY".
I've also clearly identified my "Essentials", my "Priorities", in an attempt to focus on investing my time there.
However this still does not solve the Inbox flow and Daily Review problem.
Any suggestions for those of us who are adults and are struggling with ADHD?
I have been accused of having ADHD...
And my suggestion is to let those ideas flow but put most of them on the Someday/Maybe list so that they don't interfere with what you have to get done day to day. Then review them once per week to keep them fresh, and if appropriate, then you can move some to next actions or projects.
GTD can reduce this brain overload.
Aren't 99% of these thoughts just repeating echos of previously unprocessed stuff?
Originally Posted by user
In my opinion GTD can reduce this brain overload.
ADHD and GTD
Hmmmm.....Perhaps me too! However, I am convinced that I can spend ALL of my time processing the in-flowing or doing the in-flowing, without doing ANY pre-defined work.
I so struggle. But the answer has to be giving myself permission to shut off processing and incoming and do the pre-defined. We know time has to be allocated to all three. But SUCCESS is allocating more time to the pre-defined! Has to be.
Reward yourself when you cross off or mark completed a pre-defined task (s) or project.
I am learning. Us ADHD types can be slow.
I've been diagnosed with ADHD too and have had all the same problems you describe. It's been about three years since I started following GTD and it' has changed my life. My wife says it's actually calmed certain aspects of my ADHD-ness. It's been a task and I still have a long road ahead because of the added load ADHD creates (it's been quite beneficial now that I use GTD to channel it). While I believe that GTD will benefit anyone, I believe the benefit for people with ADHD might be greater as we tend to have the idea generation capacity of a group of seven but every other resource is about the same as anyone.
GTD is much deeper and more powerful than it seems at first read. To date, I've had read GTD 9 times and Making it All Work 7 times (both in physical and audio formats) just to get a hold of what I'm sure everyone else got first read through. I listen to all the podcasts (multiple times-I speed them up with audio software), and follow GTD Times. I'm still learning more. After all that, I still consider myself a beginner and I'm excited for the future.
So, daily review and inbox. I've had both of these problems and have solved them in these ways.
1) improve the quality of your processing. When you're able to negotiate the meaning of the 200 pages of ideas you had at a high quality, you'll process faster and it doesn't take very long. Also, since your input isn't stagnant, neither are your ideas. Some days you'll have 5 min of processing, sometimes you'll have to filter through what seems like several medium sized books. Through my three years of GTD, the hardest part of GTD is implementation bit by bit. If you're trying to do it slowly, bit by bit, you don't get the mind like water return that GTD can bring when done right. Also, every new idea seems revolutionary so you feel like you need to rebuild everything every few days or weeks making the process take even longer as you tinker.
I suggest you block off 2-days (a weekend?) and just slam it. You'll detect your own failing faster that way and get more benefit faster. Also start off with a paper based system, it helps you detect failings in your understanding of the system faster than using software. You should probably read GTD again before you do any of that though, and take it with you as reference.
2) The idea behind the review (daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly) is to back off and gain perspective. Once you have that perspective, then you just need to "do." So the idea is to push, push, push or do, do, do and then once per day, back off, regain your perspective, process, and organize. Don't do. Once you get the perspective back, then you return to do, do, do.
One tip for you that has been absolutely necessary for me is including Areas of Focus in every weekly review, and sometimes even in my daily review. I scan my entire projects list every day as well as my next actions (multiple times per day). Because of the added amount of ideas and input (some not as good as they might seem at first glance ) the sheer mountain of info and ideas needs another layer of filtering; areas of focus. Areas of focus is best taught in Making it All Work.
Just an added thought, David sometimes says, if you've got a bottle-neck, iron out what's downstream so it's easier (and faster) to place things. So your inbox/processing problem may actually be an unconcious awareness that your contexts and project lists are not as complete as they should be. In other words, an organization problem in the 5-steps.
Hope that made sense and that it helps a bit!
As someone who probably has ADHD but has never been diagnosed, I'd suggest that you keep putting everything in the inbox, but that you make lots of those entries "someday/maybe", rather than thoroughly processing each and every one into a fully defined project, complete with next action, that you may never get to. And also that you use tools that support high-speed entry and processing - in my case, that means OmniFocus.
Are most of your ideas things that would produce new projects, or are they thoughts for existing projects? For example, if you're at the very beginning of a project, do you find yourself thinking of "don't forget" things for the very end of that project? When I do that, I often label those things with a context of "info" (I could also make it "planning" or "reminders") and put them in a subfolder in the project, to review occasionally as I get closer to the stage for which they're relevant. They're not next actions, they're not separate projects, they're usually not really even actions at all, but if I don't put them somewhere they'll nag at me.
Alternatively, are some of your thoughts listable, rather than being separate actions or projects? For example, you might think, "I should really learn to program in Python". And tomorrow, "I should really learn PHP." Rather than creating entire projects for each one, you could have a list of "things to learn" and then a periodic tickler to "Look at list of things to learn and consider starting one." The same for "things to read/watch/listen to", and "ideas for things to code" and "recipes to try" and "short story ideas" and "stuff to buy" and "gift ideas" and "car maintenance worries" and "home maintenance worries" and other thoughts that might be categorizable into a list.
Some of these will turn into projects when you get to them - for example, "stuff to buy" might contain "flat-screen TV" and someday you may have a project for "select flat-screen TV". But for now, just an entry in "stuff to buy" will probably do. And if, before that day, you find yourself sitting down with a specific TV model to consider because a friend enthused about it and you don't want to forget, maybe another list of "products to consider" will fill that need.
And if you _know_ perfectly well that you have a huge number of things that you're not going to get to anytime soon, you could have a less frequent review frequency for some things - another thing that OmniFocus will do for you. I have projects that are set to review quarterly, or even yearly, in addition to the more normal weekly review.
I guess that all of my ideas are about putting your thoughts somewhere in the system so that they're not lost, and you'll get back to them someday, but so that they don't clutter up what you want to do today or this week.
GTD scalable with ADHD
Oh goodness, yes it is. I deal with nearly identical circumstances.
People tease me for writing down as much as I do, which at times has been several hundred per day.
You will find that GTD will help you to slow down (in the "slow is smooth, and smooth is fast" sort of way). I found through hard experience that being careful to choose WHAT I did was far more important than how I did it, at least as far as accomplishment goes.
Doing all of the processing can sometimes be a chore, but I assure you it beats the alternative of having ADHD and not having GTD!
The reviews are the most often neglected part, and by far the greatest part for maintaining perspective.
Best of luck.
Tags for this Thread