10 Tips for Massively Increasing Your Productivity From a CEO With ADHD
So many successful people have ADHD that you have to wonder why they call it a disorder.
I have massive ADHD, and it has made me the most productive entrepreneur you’ll ever meet. It's been responsible for my starting and selling three companies in under 20 years.
This "faster brain" is seen in countless other successful people. I've interviewed over 150 ADHD CEOs, celebrities and sports figures for my ADHD podcast, Faster Than Normal, and the themes are always the same. We either have to be super-productive, or we won’t get anything done at all. So if you’re looking for ways to up your productivity game, read on. Here’s how I've done it:
1. Banish desk chaos.
On your desk: Your computer, your water bottle and your phone (face down and on silent so you don’t get tempted every time you get an alert). A clean environment keeps the mind clean and sharp.
2. Be ready before your fall asleep.
Work backward to map out how you’ll prepare for an event or meeting the next day. That must include getting enough sleep the night before and choosing an outfit. Make sure you include enough time in your morning plan for exercise, which will start your day off with a boost of dopamine, adrenaline and serotonin, otherwise known as “the focus chemicals.”
3. Demand deadlines.
No deadlines equals no reason to get it done. If your boss or client doesn’t give you a hard and fast deadline, you’ll never finish your project, because you’ll be too distracted by the next thing that comes in. (Priorities without due dates only exist until the next priority shows up.) Pick dates for everything you want to accomplish and set them in stone. Once you do this, you can plot on a calendar where each project needs to be at any given time, and it takes the stress out of the process.
4. Delegate as much as you can.
If you can outsource it, do it. This means everything from laundry to travel arrangements. The less minutia you have to worry about, the more you can focus on what matters. And if you can’t afford to hire a personal assistant, check out free or low cost services like Calendly or Getleverage. They’re all available to help you do the things that would otherwise hamper your productivity.
5. Tackle your tasks one at a time.
When you hear the word “multitask,” understand it as “doing multiple things poorly at the same time.” Humans. Can't. Multitask. Successfully. End of story. Focus on one task or project. Get it done, move on to something else.
6. Rituals fail, resolutions succeed.
When you have ADHD, rituals are the end all, be all of your life. Constantly be focused on both how you feel when you do the thing and how you feel when you don’t. If you want to wake up earlier, zero in on the feeling of having a more productive day, and remember the feeling you’ll get that night when you haven’t accomplished your goals because you slept in.
7. Embrace "short burst downtime.”
When you get into the “zone of focus” doing something you love, you’re the most productive you can be. But, it’s the 15 minutes between meetings, or while waiting for a delayed subway or before boarding a flight, that wind up being vastly unused productivity time. Use that time to check in with friends, catch up on the news or your favorite blog, or even drop for 20 push-ups or squats.
8. Know your routine.
Make calls at only one point your day. Check emails only a few specific times per day. Stay consistent with those times Change is awesome when you’re trying to be creative, but not so much when you need to focus on the mundane.
9. Know your tribe.
You need accountability, and that only comes from people who understand you -- who you are, and how you work. Find them anyway you want; a mastermind, a weekly colleague call, it doesn’t matter. But you need accountability in your life. Without it, your productivity will suffer.
10. Always see the endgame.
Every time you start a new project, break it down into steps. Then break those steps down into small action items you can easily get done in a finite amount of time. Remember the adage: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Peter Shankman has founded and sold three successful startups, most notably Help a Reporter Out (HARO.), and has written multiple business books, including two bestsellers on the customer economy. He’s a corporate keynote speaker, and sits on several company boards and advisory boards, as well as an angel investor in multiple companies including Daily Worth and Namely. He loves his ShankMinds Mastermind virtual family almost as much as he loves his biological one.