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Coach Carlene

How many projects have you started and then dropped because you got bored or something newer and shinier pulled your attention away?

Within weeks or months, you realize the idea wasn’t as brilliant in practice as it was in your head.

It’s enough to drive you crazy. And then you beat yourself up, telling yourself that you’re not capable of finishing anything.

So wait, what happened? Shiny object syndrome, friend. Shiny object syndrome is what happened.

First, let’s get this straight – we’ve all been there irrespective of the field we belong to. We see a shiny object and chase it without thinking it through.

To be clear, shiny object syndrome isn’t a medical syndrome as such. It’s a name given to a condition that’s pretty common among several entrepreneurs and creatives.

Shiny object syndrome results in you being easily distracted, impulsive and unable to focus on anything long enough to finish it.

It’s human nature. We all do it.

And, if you happen to have ADHD, your shiny object syndrome probably appears more frequently and more intensely than those who don’t have ADHD.

You can tame the impulsivity to mindlessly dive into new things.

Here are 4 Quick Fixes to Prevent Shiny Object Syndrome from Winning

#1 Sleep on it.

When an idea first steps through your brain’s front door, don’t welcome it with open arms. Instead, stare it down with suspicion at first – have a cuppa with the idea and scan it top to bottom before deciding if you should sit with it for dinner.

Some prefer to call this “sleeping on the idea” or giving yourself some “thinking time”. The fact is any idea that sticks with you past the 24-hour think period is usually worth considering further.

#2 Make a doable plan to achieve your goals

When you don’t have any goals set, you give yourself permission to act impulsively and mindlessly jump from one thing to another. Setting goals grounds you. It gives you a framework to make decisions from. Set goals that speak to your soul.

Take your annual goals and break them down into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals.

Grab a planner and schedule the tasks you’ll do every day to work towards your goals. Keep it out where you are working.

Having a visual reminder of what I’m working on every day helps me stay focused, especially when something bright and shiny shows up.

I start every week identifying the three big things that are going to move me close to achieving my goals. These are three things that I’m getting done this week, no matter what. These three things drive the specific tasks I schedule in my daily planner.

#3 Identify the cost of the shiny object

Setting goals is so dang important because when those shiny objects come in, you’ve got to have the discipline to ask yourself, “Does this fit into the goals I’ve set for this year?”

That’s how I avoid getting distracted. If something comes into my world and I ask myself, “Does this fit into the goals I’ve set this year?” If the answer is no, then I ask myself, “Do I really need or want this? Is this something I’ve overlooked but is really important?”

The answer is often no. Then I go back to the goals I’ve set, head down, do the work.

Now, once in a while, the answer is yes. And that’s when I have to decide, “Okay. Am I going to sacrifice one thing for another?” We all now that every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else and might not realize it in the moment, but you are.

If I say yes to something, I go back to rearrange the goals I’ve already set because this shiny thing I’m saying yes to wasn’t really part of my plan.

#4 Talk about your goals

Another thing I’ve noticed is that when I talk about my goals often and out loud to others, it almost brings them to life and they become more a part of me.

Talk about your goals often, and it becomes your North Star. You know where you are going because it’s just part of your conversations. It’s just a part of you.

Speaking about goals holds me accountable to myself and others and it reminds me of my game plan.

Final Thoughts

When those shiny objects pop up then I can decide:

  • Do I want to do them and change around what I’ve already done?
  • Is this something that I can put on a wish list and come back to at a different time?
  • Is this an opportunity I’m willing to miss because I know that I’m really clear where I’m going and how I’m getting there?

Taking a moment to pause, reflect and make thoughtful decisions is the most effective way to not mindlessly fall prey to shiny object syndrome.


Taking breaks is the counter-intuitive approach to improving productivity.

Breaks should be a priority, not a reward for completing your to-do list. Listen to your body and know when to stop. Taking a break will help you perform better, get better ideas, and feel good about yourself.

WHAT IS A BREAK?

A break is a brief pause of work or physical activity. You decide to give it a rest with the intention of getting back to your task within a reasonable amount of time.

But do you fear you’ll never get back on task?

Here are 4 ways to ensure you’ll get back on task:

One: Set 2 alarms – one on your phone that you take with you on break. That is the only thing you do with your phone on break. And a second alarm in your work area that will force you to go back to turn it off – once you’re in the space, you’re more likely to start again.

Two: Tell someone what time you need to get back to work.

Three: Write on a post-it where you stopped and where you’ll start when you get back.

Four: Work for 2 Minutes – Telling yourself you only need to work for 2 minutes will get you started. Before you know it, you’ll realize you’ve been working for 20 minutes.

TWO COMMON MYTHS ABOUT BREAKS

Myth 1: Scrolling on your phone, watching You Tube videos, playing video games, essentially anything on a screen is a great way to take a break.

Truth 1: Anything on a screen is a big no-no. As this survey by Huffington Post suggests, activities like social networking can significantly increase stress. When you’re on a screen you’re more likely to lose track of time. It is also more difficult to get your brain off the screen and it does not give your brain the break it needs.

Myth 2: Breaks take too much time. It’s better to push through without one.

Truth 2: You think you don’t have time for breaks? Truth is, you don’t have time to NOT take breaks. Read on. You’ll find out why.

5 REASONS WHY BREAKS ARE INCREDIBLY VALUABLE:

One: Breaks are essential for your physical and emotional health.

Movement breaks, specifically, lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity. Getting up from your chair to walk, stretch, do yoga, etc. can reduce the negative health effects from too much sitting. Just a 5 minute walk every hour can improve your health and well-being.

Two: Breaks can prevent “decision fatigue.”

Author S.J. Scott points out the need to make frequent decisions throughout the day can wear down your willpower and reasoning ability. Decision fatigue can lead to simplistic decision-making and procrastination.

Three: Breaks restore motivation, especially for long-term goals.

When we work, our prefrontal cortex makes every effort to help us execute our goals. But for a challenging task that requires our sustained attention, research shows briefly taking our minds off the goal can renew and strengthen motivation later.

A small study summarized here even suggests that prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance.

Four: Breaks increase productivity and creativity.

Working for long stretches without breaks leads to stress and exhaustion. Taking breaks refreshes the mind, replenishes your mental resources, and helps you become more creative. “Aha moments” came more often to those who took breaks, according to research.

Five: Breaks called “Waking Rest”, AKA resting while awake, helps consolidate memories and improve learning.

Scientists have known that one purpose of sleep is to consolidate memories. However, there is also evidence that resting while awake likewise improves memory formation. During a rest period, it appears the brain reviews and ingrains what it previously learned.

WHEN NOT TO TAKE A BREAK

If you are in a state of “flow” it does not make sense to take a break. Flow is characterized by complete absorption in the task, seemingly effortless concentration, and pleasure in the task itself. Simply enjoying what you are doing may be a sign that you still have plenty of energy for your current activity.

In short, if it ain’t broke, don’t “break” it.

7 TIPS FOR TAKING BREAKS SO YOU COME BACK RECHARGED, REENERGIZED, AND MORE PRODUCTIVE.

One: Walk or exercise.

Get moving. A walking break leads to more creative ideas than a sitting break.

Two: Get Outside

Staying in an artificially lit, stuffy office or home, all day might be a necessity for getting things done. But escaping that space for even a few minutes during the day can have huge benefits. Fresh air helps clear the brain fog allowing you to focus with a clear head. Choose where you go wisely. Walking in nature tends to calm, while city streets amp up engagement.

Three: Change your environment

Briefly leaving your work space and going to another area will help your brain rest and switch gears.

Four: Hydrate and have a healthy snack.

Opt for high protein, low sugar snacks. And always, always, be drinking water!

Five: Take a few deep breaths.

They don’t call a rest “taking a breather” for nothing. Deliberately taking slow, deep breaths and focusing on your breathing for just 30 seconds is a mini-meditation that can relax your mind and body.

Six: Daydream

Daydreaming gives the prefrontal cortex a break, taking you on a brief journey to your unconscious mind where chaos and creativity reign.

A report published in Science Magazine found that simply letting our minds wander by zoning out or daydreaming has similar benefits to meditation.

Letting your mind drift can help you come up with more creative ideas and help you problem-solve.

Seven: Have some coffee or tea.

Coffee could be a great way to bring your brain to focus on the task at hand. A study conducted on 2010 concluded that employees who take regular coffee breaks are more efficient and productive. A dose of caffeine can keep you alert, reduce stress, and help you stay active.

HOW OFTEN TO TAKE BREAKS

While the rule of thumb is simple: take a break when your brain feels saturated, different researchers have come up with different options.

  • A post published in Inc. Magazine suggests a break every 60-90 minutes.
  • The Pomodoro Technique advises working for 25 minutes followed by a 3 to 5-minute break, and then a 15 to 30-minute break every 90 minutes or so.

While it’s true that different durations work for different people, you should decide how often to take a break depending on the type of work you need to do. Keep the momentum for as long as you can and take a break after 90 minutes. However, if your thoughts start to wander more frequently, a short break every 20 minutes might be helpful.

MONITOR YOURSELF AND LEARN

As you take breaks, be mindful of the results. Which kind of breaks seem to help you become more creative, motivated and productive? Which kind of breaks just seem disruptive to your work? Notice what works and what doesn’t. Research on breaks is a generalization; only you can decide what particular strategies work best for you.

WRAPPING IT UP

By knowing you have a break coming up, you’re more likely to stay focused and work with purpose.

Breaks are an enriching way of giving your brain that much-needed rest. According to Forbes, taking breaks as self-care can literally save your life.

In our culture of doing, taking regular breaks can be seen as lazy or unproductive. But when done correctly, breaks are the ultimate productivity hack, because they let us do more in less time. So, stop glorifying long days and burnout-inducing hours and take a break.

You deserve it!

Fall is your listening season. It’s your time to listen to the feedback from those around you and more importantly to listen to your intuition so you can know how to come through for the next year!

It’s your time to show up for yourself and accomplish the things you set out to do this year.

Finishing the year strong means pushing yourself past the finish line even when other people are doubting you. And especially if YOU are doubting YOU! It means running that extra lap even when you know you’ve done the work. Whether you are an entrepreneur, work 9-5 or are someone who wants to have more flow in your life, there are things you can do to set yourself up for success.

With only a few months left in the year, prioritizing is the most impactful exercise you can do for yourself. You must be realistic. There’s a good chance you won’t get everything done. And that is okay! When you focus on the most important and impactful things, you will end the year feeling accomplished and energized.

Before you dive in and start prioritizing, it’s important to understand the 7 Reasons Why We Struggle to Prioritize:
  1. We tend to suffer from FOMO (Fear of missing out). We think that if we’re not involved in everything that somehow, we are going to miss out on something. There is beauty in missing out! Missing out allows you to be more present on the things that matter most.
  2. We don’t like to let people down. Remember, if you give away all your time, you won’t have any time left to pursue your goals. Letting people down from time-to-time is something that must happen! It is the price of entry for growing into who you’re meant to be.
  3. We don’t have confidence in ourselves. We tend to struggle with prioritizing things that we could change the world with because we don’t believe in ourselves. Step out of your comfort zone, try something new, and prove to yourself that you can go beyond what you believe is possible. You are capable of more than you think!
  4. We don’t have a clear WHY. Ever feel like you’re moving through your day like a robot? You’re productive and getting stuff done but you’re bored and doing it all half-hearted? When you understand WHY doing these things are important or not so important to YOU it naturally finds its place in your list of priorities, or not.
  5. We don’t have clear goals. It’s not enough to say that you want to get better. Get specific! Articulate what “better” means so that you can create smaller goals to hit along the way.
  6. We get stuck in the stuff of life. If we think that everything is important, then nothing is important. We must release ourselves from the things that aren’t aligned with our goals and who we are.
  7. We don’t take a driver’s seat where our priorities are concerned. If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will. Their needs will fill your calendar at the expense of your self-care! Don’t lose sight of what’s important. Prioritize it. Be comfortable deciding that prioritizing yourself is more important than keeping everyone else happy!
How to Prioritize Over the Next 2-3 Months:
  1. Focus on what matters to you. Don’t get caught up in other people’s priorities for you. Everyone else in your life believes they know what you need most. But what if they are wrong? Be clear on who you want to be on January 1, 2022. Your priorities might look different than what others think they should be.
  2. Consider the trade-off. Before saying yes to anything, understand that saying yes comes at the expense of saying NO to something else that potentially matters more to you.
  3. Evaluate the impact. Think about everything you are juggling as glass balls and plastic balls. Which of the things on your plate are glass and will shatter when dropped? Which ones are plastic and would bounce back if they fell? Prioritize the glass!
  4. Ask yourself more questions. If I say yes, will I regret it later? Is this thing in line with my WHY? Make sure everything you say yes to acts as a catalyst to what you are trying to achieve in life. Otherwise, it is only going to set you back. Be clear on what you stand for!
  5. Just say NO. No is a complete sentence. You don’t have to justify anything! If someone else doesn’t understand, most of the time that is their issue. Boundaries are important!
  6. Listen to your gut. Give yourself a chance to pull away from the media, the obligations, and all the noise in your life so you can hear yourself clearly. Your intuition exists and is only ever compromised when you allow external things to drown it out.
  7. Check and Re-Check your CAPACITY. You’re going to go through different things at different times of your life, each requiring you to establish a new or adjusted set of priorities. This could change month-by-month. It’s critical that you have grace for the circumstances happening in your life and that you can adapt accordingly!
  8. CELEBRATE yourself. Certain days are going to be harder than others. If you are showing up for yourself, doing the work and trying as best as you can, that is worthy of celebration. You have chosen growth. Give yourself grace and don’t forget to celebrate yourself!

Looking to find your WHY and stop doubting yourself? Grab your free guide:
The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

A lot of us are back to the office and school. This is great for so many reasons like, connecting with others, having structure & routine, and even some built in accountability. 

What many of us didn’t notice while we were working from home, was the opportunities it afforded us to set our own schedule’s and take some downtime when we needed it.

Between 2 pm and 4 pm, is when we typically experience afternoon slumps to some degree; where you feel mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. For those with ADHD, you don’t experience just a little slump, yours are full blown crashes. 

No matter if you fall on the side of a slump or a crash, they both affect your attention, focus, productivity, and your ability to stay calm and rational.

Here are 7 things you can do to minimize or prevent your afternoon slumps and crashes. The more suggestions you implement, the more results you will see!

1. Simply put, EAT

Many of us don’t eat breakfast; either because we don’t feel hungry in the mornings or because we are in a rush to get out the door. However, starting the day with a protein packed breakfast is incredibly helpful to avoid the afternoon crash.

Lunch is often a meal eaten on the run or skipped when we get busy in our day. Or because we missed breakfast, we are ravenous and eat a big heavy lunch. What we eat for lunch has a direct effect on our energy in the afternoon. Take time to eat a gluten-free lunch with some good-quality protein (chicken or fish) and fiber in the form of vegetables. Your afternoons will be transformed.

2. Get your 7 hours of Sleep

75% of ADHDers have problems with falling and staying asleep. According to the CDC, more than 35% of Americans get less than the recommended 7 hours a night. If you are sleep deprived or had a night of poor sleep, then an afternoon crash is more likely to happen. However, they can still be minimized with the other suggestions on this list.

3. Be a Smart Caffeine Drinker

Caffeine isn’t bad; and if you become a smart caffeine drinker, you can still drink it and not get afternoon crashes.

Drink your first coffee of the day after you have eaten breakfast.
If drinking coffee gives you energy highs and lows, then switch to green tea.
Both tips will give you more sustained energy. Don’t drink caffeine after 2pm because it will interfere with your sleep (which in turn affects crashes).

4. Get Moving

After you exercise, your whole body and mind is energized for 3 hours. To capitalize on this, move your workout to lunch time and see if you notice a difference in your energy level in the afternoons.

5. Drink up

Staying hydrated is by far the simplest ways to fight fatigue, yet remembering to drink water throughout the day isn’t as simple. Don’t skip this step!

6. Say Goodbye to Stress

Stress is exhausting! If your morning is full of tension, mini crisis (forgetting things, mad dashes for deadlines), worry and anxiety, then by the afternoon, you will be emotionally exhausted and ready to crash. 

Stress comes from 2 sources: things you can control and things you can’t.
Focus on the life stressors that are in your control. Using strategies to reduce your worry and anxiety is a great place to start.

7. Stop Multi-Tasking

We love to multi-task. It feels exciting and exhilarating. However, it’s also very tiring. Every time we shift focus, we burn glucose, which is the food our neurons use. After a couple of hours of speedy shifting, we feel drained and ready for a nap. Also, our glucose store is depleted; cortisol (the stress hormone) has also been released, causing us to feel edgy and stressed.
Stop multi-tasking and start single tasking.

Stop here and jot down which of these tips you’re going to put into practice. Don’t skip this step. Doing this sets your intentions. Also, share your intentions with a family member or friend. They may want to join you on getting out of the afternoon slump!

Have you grabbed your free confidence building guide yet?

The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

People can sniff out your underlying fear and self-doubt no matter how well you think you’re faking it. The mindset you show up with to a conversation determines the outcome.

These mindsets will help eliminate the overthinking and second-guessing you do after a conversation.

Your ability to collaborate and problem solve will improve. Your performance on the job and in your personal relationships will shift from conflict and confrontation to creating powerful partnerships.

You’ll notice these five mindsets have one thing in common. The conversation is not about you, even it is, it is NOT.

Mindset #1: We have a shared goal.

It could be that people just want to have a good time. Or we need to solve this problem. Keeping this shared goal in mind is great because it takes away any thoughts of “winning and losing.”

When you’re thinking about winning and losing, you’ll be subtly comparing yourself to others. Not a game you want to play.

With the mindset of “we have a shared goal,” you’re in a much better position to perform because your social compass will be pointing in the right direction.

​Mindset #2: It’s not about me. 

No one is judging you. They’re too busy wondering if you’re judging them.

Why do we think others are thinking the WORST about us?
 
Because of a wonderful concept called the negativity bias.

The negativity bias was a great thing for our ancestors. It was effective for avoiding sabretooth tigers. It’s not great for reading people’s minds at a dinner party.

When we’re in an uncertain environment, our brains constantly try to fill in the gaps. And our default mode as humans skews negative because staying alive is good.

Helpful reframe: We’re ALL hardwired to fear social judgment, so ask yourself: “How can I help OTHER people feel more accepted?”

The benefit here is twofold:

Awareness of the negativity bias will help you process those feelings of perceived judgment. You can even say to yourself: “Everyone is so focused on themselves. They aren’t thinking about me.” This will help you move on from that unproductive emotion.

This mindset is also helpful because it shifts your perspective from the internal (yourself) to the external (others). That’s a huge win.

It levels the playing field. If everyone struggles with perceived social judgment, you can be the person who helps buck the trend by helping people feel accepted.

Mindset 3: It’s not personal

Sometimes it’s easy to let your emotions get tangled up in things, especially if someone’s disagreeing or even attacking your position.  Anger, blame, hurt and a bunch of other provocative emotions can be at play, and before you know it you’ve got a bigger problem than you ever thought.

Don’t make it personal – people are allowed to disagree with your position, just as you’re allowed to disagree with others.

By all means, be passionate, but that’s not the same as being defensive or coming out on the offensive with all guns blazing.  The moment you start taking differences of opinion as personal criticism and judgement (even if that’s exactly what’s being thrown at you) you’ll be on the defensive or offensive, so balance that passion with the facts and a healthy sprinkling of common sense and perspective.

Mindset 4: I’m Curious

You assume you know what people are thinking, especially when it is something about you or something you’ve put effort into. You don’t have any psychic powers, but somehow you just know. And because you are so certain, you don’t bother to check out what is actually happening. 

There could be facts you need to know about or areas you need to explore before taking action.  Make sure you go deep enough into those areas to figure out the facts of what’s happening.

This is often a tricky balance between doing enough due diligence to be informed, checking in with your instincts and leveraging your experience to anticipate the different paths, and it means you have to put a hold on resolving the conflict until all parties can do their due diligence.

Be clear on what do you need to know and the most effective ways to get those answers.  Work that out with an open mind and you’ll be in a stronger position to move forwards.

Mindset # 5: It’s okay if I’m wrong 

If you’re wrong, admit it.  Don’t hang on to your position just for the sake of wanting to be right – that’ll just get you into more hot water, is sure to waste everyone’s time and will probably end up with you looking or feeling silly.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking being wrong is undesirable, it isn’t.  Allowing yourself to be wrong shows that you’re switched on enough to do the best thing for all concerned and find the best route through.  It demonstrates that you’re lead by integrity and are willing to take on new ideas if they work better, even if that flies in the face of what you were thinking previously.

Be ready to be wrong – that’s how you grow.

Curious how self-doubt keeps you trapped? Take the quiz here!

Do you have a hidden advantage?

Maybe you live with ADHD and creativity comes naturally for you.

More good news; recent research shows individuals with ADHD have an innate creative potential that could put them among an organization’s most valued employees.

Researchers at the University of Michigan studied a group of college students with and without ADHD who were compared on lab tasks of creativity and found the research indicates that individuals with ADHD are:
  • More flexible in tasks that require creating something new, and less likely to rely on example and previous knowledge.
  • Less prone to design fixation or the tendency to get stuck in a rut,
  • Less likely to stick closely to what already exists when creating a new product.
This research provides more confirmation that the characteristics of ADHD can be an asset in creative endeavors. It also means that for those with ADHD, finding the right career to allow that creativity to flourish is essential

Is creativity alone enough to rise above the competition and put your innovations out in the world?

Of course, you also need the hard skills or technical skills, that you learn in school or training programs.
In order to ensure your ideas come to life you need a combination of technical (hard) skills and inter-personal (soft) skills.

Creativity is one of many soft skills that is essential in a world where innovation is paramount to an organization’s growth.

7 Other Soft Skills to Boost Your Creative Impact

  1. Communication
    With the number of emails, proposal and design documents, clear and compelling written communication is essential. Effective verbal communication is equally important.  If you work in the IT field, you often have to explain technical processes in clear, easy-to-understand terms for customers and employers. You must also be able to explain your ideas in such a way as to make others want to support and finance your projects. Without strong communication skills, your creative genius will be overlooked and your creative ideas will never make it to market.
  2. Determination
    A number of innovative projects stall because of a variety of issues: financial problems, issues with vendors, problems with software, hardware or processes, a lack of teamwork, or one of many other reasons. It is important for to stay focused on the ultimate goal and continue to work toward that result. Beginning a project with a clear and realistic timeline and budget can help you achieve your ultimate goal. Your employer will be impressed with your ability not only to plan a project, but also to see it through to completion.
  3. Flexibility
    Professionals often face setbacks or unexpected changes, ranging from a technical problem with their project to a last-minute issue with a vendor or a change in direction from management or the client. You must be open to suggestions and feedback, whether from an employer or client. Listen attentively to any feedback you receive, and be open to making necessary changes to improve satisfaction.You need to learn to be flexible, accepting these changes and immediately looking for creative solutions. Employers will appreciate this flexibility.
  4. Leadership
    Even if you are not in a management position, you will often be asked to manage a project or team. Being a project manager requires strong communication skills, the ability to delegate tasks, and a constant focus on the end goal. You may also be involved in client and vendor management. It is essential that you know how to communicate with clients and vendors effectively to ensure your company’s needs are being met efficiently.
  5. Listening
    It is not only important to communicate your own ideas, but you also need to listen actively to others. It’s important to listen closely to what the client or your employer wants so that you can give them exactly what they are asking for. Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand the other person.
  6. Negotiation
    No matter what your position, you will need some form of negotiation skills, from making hiring decisions to collaborating with vendors or contractors to selling your idea to an organization. Being able to come to an agreement that satisfies both parties is a great soft skill that will make you stand out, particularly if you want to be promoted to a management position.
  7. Teamwork
    Innovation projects are often the work of a team of professionals rather than an individual. Therefore, teamwork is essential. You need to be able to communicate your ideas and listen to others’ suggestions, and know when to take a leadership role and when to be a team player.

Master these soft skills and your creative ideas will come to life!

“Lost time is never found again.” Benjamin Franklin

If you have ADHD and/or are a chronic procrastinator, you’ve probably wondered why you can’t just get things done before the last minute. It’s not like you want to procrastinate; it’s this thing that just happens. And it keeps happening, no matter how many times you tell yourself it will be different next time.

Procrastination is a passive habit, which is partially why it is so hard to break. You have to be really creative and clever to outsmart your brain’s desire to avoid a project in front of you.

You want to be successful. And I want that for you too. So today I wanted to share with you some strategies that really do work. These tips work because they help you get around your urge to procrastinate. You don’t have to try to change who you are. Instead, you just need to change the way you work.

1. Always know what you will work on next

For me, the worst procrastination happens when I finish something and I’m wondering what I should do next. Big projects on my to-do list can start to seem like such a big commitment that I don’t even know where to start. So I don’t start, and the day gets away from me.

This won’t happen to you if you are prepared.

Every night, look at your to-do list. Decide which goal or goals are most important to work on tomorrow. What work will be the most meaningful?

Put 5 tasks on your to-do list, so that when you get to work tomorrow, you have 5 choices for where to start. When you finish one, now you have 4 choices of what to do.

You can even get more specific and rank them in order of importance. Start with the most important thing, and work from there. Don’t give yourself any option to deviate from the list — this is your plan, and this is what you will do.

2. Create super specific to-do tasks

If you procrastinate on big project because you are afraid to start or afraid to fail, try turning the project into as many tiny steps as you possibly can. Maybe you don’t feel confident that you can give a huge proposal to your company’s executive team. But I know you have the ability to google examples of good executive proposals. I know you can open a Word doc and write a paragraph about your idea.

Small steps are easy to do. They aren’t scary. And once you do one, the next one seems even easier.

It’s easy to go days without making progress on a big project because when you look at a task that’s too large, you know there’s no way you’ll be able to complete it today — so there’s little motivation to start chipping away at it.

You can fix this by turning every big project into a series of really small steps.

Spend time once a week (or even daily) turning your to-do’s into really specific actions. Close your eyes and visualize these specific actions.  Instead of “edit blog post”, you might write:

  • read blog post
  • make changes in the doc
  • send feedback/notes to the writer
  • create title
  • add blog post to the content calendar

Just like the last tip, this one is about leaving yourself no choice but to make progress. Every task should be so small that you can clearly answer yes or no if you did it.

3. Change your environment

If a place that you “work” frequently has become more of a place that you procrastinate frequently, you are more likely to fall into procrastination mode out of a kind of muscle memory. If you can, leave that place and go somewhere new like the library, a coffee shop, or another office or conference room in your building.

If you’re in an office where you can’t leave your desk, there are small ways to change your environment and make it easier to start working.

Instead of typing on your computer, see if there are steps you can do with on paper first. For example, outline a report you need to write using a pen and paper before typing it up on the computer. This accomplishes two things:

  • it gives you an easy task to start with
  • it changes what you’re looking at, so you approach the project with fresh eyes

4. See the value in certain kinds of procrastination

Do you ever use negative self-talk when you’re procrastinating? Do you think about how you’re lazy or stupid or how you always leave things to the last minute? This ADHD mind chatter is deafening.

That perspective is not motivating. The worse you feel about yourself, the less likely you are to feel ready to do the work you need to do.

Instead, consider this: sometimes procrastination is actually part of the process of doing amazing work.

When our minds are clear (like they are when we do things like taking a shower), our brains start using that free space to make connections. Information starts to fall into place. This free space is where great ideas come from.

So the next time you’re choosing to do a little task before starting on your big to-do, don’t get down on yourself. Acknowledge that this is part of the process. It is just one of many steps you will take in completing this project. Know that when you are done with this task, you’ll move on to the next step of your project.

Your confidence and new perspective will help that to actually come true.

5. Think about why you procrastinate – and work with it

Do you procrastinate because you need the pressure of a deadline? We know for the ADHD brain, that pressure increases dopamine and adrenaline and allows you to get stuff done. In fact, while neuro-typicals often crumble under this pressure, the ADHDer engages in hyper-focus and meets the deadline. If this works for you, try setting smaller deadlines for yourself over the course of a project. Break the project down into steps that you can complete in the weeks leading up to the due date.

Treat these deadlines like you would any other – even if that means working up to the last minute. The idea here is that by getting things done along the way, you have more overall time to do a better job than you would trying to do every single thing under the gun.

6. Hold yourself accountable – get an accountability partner

If you procrastinate because you struggle with motivation or accountability when you’re working on your own, try involving other people. Often, the pressure to not let other people down is far more motivating than the desire just to get the work done.

Ask a peer to help you put together an outline for your proposal, and set a date where you will have all of the necessarily materials ready for them to meet with you and help you.

Identify what’s really causing your procrastination, experiment with any of these strategies and soon you will make progress towards your goals, one step at a time.