I’ve ranted and raved on this blog previously about how having ADD can make it hard to actually accomplish anything that’s not strictly necessary. It’s also no secret that I have entrepreneurial aspirations, but I’ve had a really hard time successfully executing on them.
I have also been known to avoid doing other things that I should, like cleaning, laundry, etc. Unless it’s a responsibility, like keeping the kids, cats, and chickens alive or doing work I’m contractually obliged to do, it’s rare that I willingly do it. Trust me, my grass needs mowing like you wouldn’t believe, and I’m just not very likely to actually do it. As far as I’m concerned, laundry is for schmucks who care if their shirts are wrinkled.
While drugs have helped me, they’re not a panacea. They can give me the extra wind behind me that helps make things like lawn mowing a tenable idea. However, I still have to decide what to do at any given moment, and that’s where I fall down.
It turns out that ADD is an impairment of working memory. Working memory is essentially the memory associated with goals and task execution. The net effect of this (I once worked for a company called the NetEffect) is that it can be really hard to remember why I’m doing something. Essentially, every time I decide what to do I have a different perspective on the world and therefore my decision making process changes. This is why I could work for two or three months on a personal project and then switch to something new and exciting as soon as the first project becomes something less than thrilling.
There’s a ton of frustration, self flagellation, and guilt that goes along with this. I really, really, want to get beyond these roadblocks!
My psychiatrist recommended that I create a flow chart of my decision making process that I could hang on the wall. The purpose of this is to keep all the little variables that play into what I could be doing visible and harder to forget. I tried making this flow chart and got pretty much nowhere. However, after a little more consultation, she helped me come up with another approach.
What I’ve done is break things that I can or need to do down into categories. For me these categories (currently) are:
- Family Responsibilities
- Personal Projects (Not Committed)
- Entrepreneurship (Committed)
- Contracting Work
These are categories of things that I need or want to do. For example, a family responsibility might be to take a kid to the doctor. Recreation is anything I enjoy. Etc, etc. There’s also a seventh category of On Hold, which where my personal projects go to die (but now with permission).
For each of these categories I’ve created a list of categories of my life that they relate to, general notes about them, examples of these types of things, best time of day to do them, best moods to do them in, and ways to convince myself to do them.
My goal is to take this document and use it to help keep in focus what I’m working towards and what’s really important to me. I assume this will morph over time as I learn better how to use it. Heck, maybe I actually can make that flow chart now that I have so much information about each category easily accessible.
For those of you who might find it useful, here’s the final document I created (click for a larger version):
So… what do you think? Would this work for you? Any bets on this being useful for me?