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Three Keys to Being More Productive – From Our Archives

Three Keys to Being More Productive – From Our Archives

What does productivity mean to you? Yes, it is about getting things done, but more importantly it is about getting the right things done at the right time.  It is also about making decisions. I am sure you know the feeling of being busy all day long only to wonder at the end of the day what you actually did.  Being busy is not necessarily being productive.  Today’s reality is that we are constantly being bombarded by stimulus (ex. cellphones, internet, social media, news, blog posts, emails, texts, electronic billboards, pop up ads, etc.) we have to be vigilante that all that stimulus doesn’t distract us from the important things. It’s a bit like that dog in the movie UP that yells “squirrel” and runs off after another distraction. According to two online dictionary definitions, Productivity is “the quality state or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance or bring forth goods and services.” Or it means you “do a lot.” Both of those sound like being a robot; preprogrammed to action without thinking about whether or not what we are doing is important. How do you avoid that? First step is to set clear boundaries. That word has been overused somewhat but if you think of yourself with a fence around you and only one gate to get in that you control you will get a better idea of what I mean. All this outside stimulus just finds its way to our attention which takes our focus off of the important things or even just the things we want to do. With you in control you get... read more
10 Strategies to Help ADHD

10 Strategies to Help ADHD

October was ADHD Awareness Month. Each year the media seems to do a bit more to publicize and educate but more can always be done.  There is not enough information out there geared to parents and children. So, I would like to help with some information my students find helpful. First up, the acronym ADHD which stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder really shouldn’t be the category name for the three types of ADHD (impulsive/hyperactive, inattentive and combined). Teens are often in denial because they say they aren’t “hyper” and so feel that it doesn’t apply to them. ADHD is a neurobiological condition – meaning it is the result of lower levels of neurotransmitter chemicals that are normally in the brain, which results in lower levels of stimulus in the brain. Non-technical definition: it is a chemical imbalance and not a personality/behavior or motivation problem. Just like near sightedness or hearing loss, it cannot be “fixed” at this point in time but it can be helped. People of all ages with ADHD that I have met are often very smart, they just have difficulty showing it sometimes. That’s often a combination of the lower level of chemicals and the executive function skills that are slower to develop. School challenges vary by individual but often ADHD can interfere by making it difficult to get started on a task, stay focused long enough to complete a task, remember when they have a task to do or find the task in their disorganization. It’s easy to see why homework and test taking is a challenge for these kids. 10 Strategies to Help... read more
5 Gifts to Give Your Child For School

5 Gifts to Give Your Child For School

It’s getting close to the start of school and you can feel the emotions in the air. There is excitement, fear, uncertainty, anticipation, restlessness, and worry and that’s just from the moms! I am guessing that some students are feeling the same emotions. Yes, there is always a bit of fear of the unknown but for kids that have had a “bad experience” going back to school can be scary and demoralizing. As a parent you hope this year will be different and that your son or daughter will get a teacher that understands him/her and can actually help them develop strategies that will get their homework done in a reasonable time and teach them to learn. That’s not too much to ask, is it? Gift 1: First up is to decide whether or not to tell the new teacher all about your child’s struggles and challenges before she even meets him or her? Or do you wait a bit and then provide the teacher with the effective strategies your child developed with last year’s teacher? To tell or not to tell, that is the question. Is it better for your child to have a clean slate and to make their strengths and weaknesses known on their own terms to the new teacher or to provide the teacher with the outside testing, recommendations, and a record of their failings from the past year? Having taught for over 18 years, I just want to say that your child deserves to be recognized for who they are….right at this moment and not who they were last year. As hard as teachers... read more
Habits – Good or Bad?

Habits – Good or Bad?

Why did you do that? “I don’t know” is often the response. Sometimes we are on automatic pilot and our actions are the results of a habit. Other times our actions can be the result of a lack of impulse control. What is a habit? A habit is “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary” (Source: Dictionary.com). Think about the things you do every day without having to think about them. What would it feel like if you could change just one “bad” habit or could add one “good” habit? If you are not sure if a habit serves you or not you may want to look closer at it. Monitoring an action or habit is a great way to figure out what the true impact is on you. You would need to be able to measure it. For example, keeping track of how much TV you watch (hours/day) instead of just deciding to “watch less TV.” See the difference? Good habit or bad habit they both have three things in common. According to Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit, a habit consists of a cue, a routine and a reward. Add in a craving for that reward and you’ve got yourself a habit – whether it is good or bad. To change it you would need to interrupt the cycle. Change the cue (ex. ding of a new email), the routine (checking your phone as you pick it up) or the reward (quick dopamine rush that happens in your brain and makes you feel good when on Facebook). You didn’t start out... read more
Executive Function Skill Building Fun – From the Archives

Executive Function Skill Building Fun – From the Archives

Summer is a great time to help your kids strengthen their learning skills. The more they use them the less they will “lose” them.  Summer learning doesn’t have to be pages and pages in a workbook but with a little creativity you can have fun and learn at the same time. Most schools now expect students to read at least one book over the summer. (Check your school’s website). Whether your child is just learning to read or reading to learn, finding books that interest them is the key. Don’t just send them to their rooms to read but show you are interested in what they are reading. Be curious and ask them about what they are reading, have them summarize, compare or simply talk about what they liked about the book (don’t just accept it was a good book). Reading increases vocabulary, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, comprehension and increases their knowledge base. I think it is the number one skill for learning. If your child is a strong reader, then they can learn anything. The executive function skills are the other piece of the learning puzzle. These are the skills that enable your child to plan, organize, problem solve and follow through to completion. In Massachusetts, the standardized testing is undergoing some changes. Schools realized that memorizing facts did not make better learners. Many did poorly on the PARCC test where they had to use their thinking skills to problem solve.   You may also hear reference to the “common core” which refers to specific grade level skills that students are expected to achieve at each... read more
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

Decisions, decisions, decisions! For the ADHD brain, making a decision can be quite the process. First, you will need to collect some information, but how much information? When do you know when you have enough information? Is it the best/most informed information for the decision you need to make? Has this ever happened to you? If the decision is made quickly, we may be called impulsive. Yet, if we take longer than expected we are accused of procrastinating. What makes making decisions so difficult? Every decision or choice we make uses up willpower according to Dr. Nowell, Ph.D. Since we have a limited amount of willpower it can be more challenging to make a decision because of our lower level of willpower. The brain is the organ in the body that requires the most glucose to keep it running. Each decision uses up a bit more of that glucose which can then deplete the reserves in the rest of the body. The less energy the harder even the simplest decisions can become. Simplifying certain decisions can free up what I call our “brain bandwidth” and can translate into more freedom and less stress. One strategy for simplifying is to make decisions ahead of time about the little things you don’t want in your life or don’t need to think about each day.  Darren Hardy of Success magazine calls them your “non-negotiables” – those things you no longer have to think about because you have already made a decision about it and are sticking to it.  It could be setting a specific bedtime or deciding a no cookies after 6pm “rule”... read more
How to Increase Motivation

How to Increase Motivation

Motivation – is what drives us to do something willingly. As Google says, “motivation is the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.” It can be an internal reason or an external one. If you are motivated by internal or intrinsic rewards then the motivation comes from within you; like the feeling of a job well done, pride in yourself for reaching a goal, etc. This is what we would like to foster in our children and ourselves. However, if you are motivated by external or extrinsic rewards – then things that can be bought or received (games, toys, $) will motivate you. This would be the “carrot” type of motivation. The opposite is the “stick” type of motivation where task completion is based on avoiding a punishment of sorts. There is a time and place for this type of motivation too but it has a downside. In Daniel H. Pink’s book, Drive, he mentions that the carrot and stick type of motivation only works for simple, and/or uncreative type activities. Once a reward or a punishment is introduced it tends to narrow the focus and limits creativity. Pink says, “The drive to do something because it is interesting, challenging and absorbing – is essential for high levels of creativity” (p45). So if we are to become more creative and motivated at work, school or home, then the task/project needs to have three things. Pink refers to them as autonomy, mastery and purpose. The first as Pink calls it is “autonomy.” Autonomy means that you get to decide about the task, the timeframe... read more
Effective Studying to Really Remember

Effective Studying to Really Remember

Here’s a strategy  written for your child. It is called SQR3. It’s an acronym that stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recall, and Review. They may have learned about it in the third grade but I can almost guarantee that they are no longer using it. This process guides your child to interact with the information instead of just passively reading it and expecting it to stick. Here are the five steps to really reading and remembering what you have read using SQR3 (Survey, Question, Read, Recall and Review). Survey means to look through the whole chapter that you need to read and check out all the pictures, graphs, subheadings, words in bold, and questions at the end of the chapter if there are any. Question – make up some questions as to what you think is going to be important. Why are you reading this, what is important about this chapter and what do you hope to learn from reading it? You can also turn the subheadings into questions to help. Read the first page and then stop. Recall – what did you read about? Try to remember as much detail as you can (no peeking). Saying it aloud helps your brain to remember. Review – now look at what you have just read and recalled. How well did you do? Did you get all your facts right? What did you miss? Reread it if necessary and try again before going on to the next page of text. Continue with this process of read, recall, and review all the way through the chapter. Write down key facts in a... read more
14 Things Your Kids Need to Know

14 Things Your Kids Need to Know

As an Educational Consultant for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students I have the unique opportunity to observe different grade levels, schools and districts. Although I am observing the student’s ability to access the curriculum being presented I also look around to identify those with ADHD and watch how they are accessing the curriculum, communicating with their peers and maintaining their focus. Here’s what I have noticed: Students are asked to focus for anywhere from 45-90 minutes without breaks. Many adults cannot focus for that long especially if they are only listening Often they don’t know what is important to focus on – so they try to focus on all of it Students either do not take any notes or try to write down everything that is said They wait for the teacher to say things like, “This is important.” They trust that they can remember the information They do not try to put the details together to get the bigger picture and end up trying to memorize random facts that don’t go together They do not realize that studying for a test begins in class Students do not know how to study Teachers are providing study guides that have “fill in the blank” answers and students think that if they memorize the sentences they will do well Students do not look at their textbooks unless specifically told to Often students only get a few days notice of upcoming tests or quizzes Students are shocked at how poorly they do on tests that they think they prepared for. 90% of my students think that 20 minutes is enough time... read more

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