What Brings Out the Magic For You?

Not sure how it happens, but once December hits, you can feel the increased tension in the air and see it all around. I do my best to stay positive and keep my Christmas spirit up. However, some people seem to forget there are other people around them and that increased tension seems to shut down their brains Not you readers! 😊

So, this year, I am taking a hint from Cas at Clutterbug, to make a list of things that make me happy at this time of year. She called it a bucket list, but I am calling it a menu. On a menu, I can pick and choose my options and there is no competition to “eat it all.” As Cas mentions, it is easy to get “distracted” by the hustle and bustle and the list of to-dos.  That is when we miss out on the “magical” moments that the season has to offer. So, this year, let’s make a menu of the simple, no fuss things that bring us joy and then include something each day that makes us smile.

Here’s a few of my ideas to get you started. You already know the kinds of things that bring a smile to your face, so it should be easy for you to make your own list. Just be sure to add something that brings the magic to your day. Get your family involved too – everyone needs more magic.

Magic Moment Menu

      • Have a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows (spiced cider or peppermint tea, whatever you like best)
      • Drive around your town to check out the lights
      • Bake cookies in fun shapes or a gingerbread house
      • Cas’ suggestion: “do something kind for a stranger”
      • Watch Hallmark
      • If there is snow, build a snow something….(we’ve made a dragon, giant turtle, reindeer and Santa, in the past)
      • Take a walk in the woods (even better if there is some snow)
      • Read a holiday story
      • Play Christmas charades or trivia with the kids
      • Sit in the dark with only the Christmas tree on and breathe

You get the idea. Take some time to breathe and take in the magic of this time of year. It all gets done, you know it always works out, so why not take time to enjoy those little moments. They add up to some great memories.

Wishing you all the magic of this time of year no matter what holiday you celebrate.

Routines, Rituals and Dopamine, Oh Yeah!

Rituals are good habitsDo you struggle to think, problem solve or make decisions during the day? If you end up feeling overwhelmed it may be because there are just too many things swirling around in your brain. The term, “brain bandwidth” which simply means, the amount of brain resources you have in the moment, can fluctuate depending on what is going on in your life.

Think about all that your brain is responsible for behind the scenes and then it is asked to think, problem solve, and make decisions all day long too? No wonder it is always trying to “save energy” as Ed Mylett, mentions in his book, The Power of One More. We can’t create more bandwidth, but just like a computer that is slowing down, you can clear out some files to make more space.

How To Save Brain Bandwidth

      • Create habits, routines and rituals to help
      • Reduce distractions
      • Make fewer decisions
      • Stop multi-tasking (which is really sequencing and not as effective as one thing at a time)
      • Delegate
      • Reduce your to do list
      • Let go of your phone
      • Get a good night’s sleep
      • Declutter and organize
      • Plan ahead

Let’s talk about habits. A habit (an action that has become automatic) signals your brain to go into “autopilot” mode which uses much less energy. That “automatic pilot” takes away the thought and the argument that happens when the “angel” and “devil” on your shoulders start fighting. When habits result in a positive outcome then your brain is happy. The dopamine that gets released tells your brain – this feels good, let’s do it again.

Habits when strung together become a routine. You already have routines in your life for getting up in the morning, making meals, laundry, going to bed, etc. Where’s the joy in those? No joy? Then maybe you should create a “ritual” rather than a routine.

Greg McKeown, author of, effortless (not a typo) defines a ritual as the “how” of what we do. It “infuses joy into our everyday moments.” Adding moments of joy throughout your day which lightens your day and feels good = more dopamine. He uses Marie Kondo as an example of how little rituals (like thanking that worn out pair of jeans before recycling) can add pleasure to the act of decluttering.

One ritual you may want to think about is a “Close Out the Day” ritual. A routine with added joy, pleasure, or self-care added becomes a ritual. This one ritual is a good habit that will support “future you” and save brain bandwidth also. Creating an end of the day ritual can help you start tomorrow with more focus, motivation and an early “win.”

If you are working in an office, what can you do to set yourself up for success tomorrow before leaving for home and still make it enjoyable? Same question for those of us working from home. Then getting started on your work would be as easy as “plug and play” as my friend, Alison says.

How about a ritual for the home that will create a smoother morning? Aren’t you tired of seeing dirty dishes in the morning? Creating a ritual here is a good habit to build.

We’ve mentioned before about deciding what you will eat, wear and do for tomorrow, to save decision power, but how can you add some pleasure to the process? The pleasure = more dopamine = more brain bandwidth.

Ways to Add Pleasure

      • Sitting with your favorite beverage and planning tomorrow’s big 3?
      • Take a walk
      • Spend time with your family
      • Go screen free (don’t panic, even an hour helps)
      • Read or learn something new
      • Journal
      • For some, putting the house to bed is a ritual
      • Add to a “success” list each day
      • Get up earlier so your morning isn’t rushed and enjoy a leisurely breakfast

Sometimes we think that having routines and being “pre-programmed” will be boring and take the joy out of our day. In reality, having routines for the fundamentals of your life, actually frees up brain space, which allows you to be more creative, productive, and less stressed.

A close out the day ritual the night before is a good habit to ensure you start your morning off with more decision-making power and brain bandwidth for the important things. Having routines and rituals actually gives you more freedom and energy for the significant people and priorities in your life. And isn’t that what it is all about?

Related Articles from the Archives:

Is It a Routine or a Struggle? https://thinkinganddoingskillscenter.com/is-it-a-routine-or-a-struggle/

Coffee and Routines? https://thinkinganddoingskillscenter.com/coffee-and-routines/

 

 

Stressed at the Speed of Life?

Are you feeling stressed today? The pace of our daily lives is so overloaded with choices, decisions and must do’s that we can easily feel overwhelmed. We are influenced to different degrees by everything that is around us. The weather, the news, the traffic, our boss, our family obligations and responsibilities and all the options and choices we are bombarded with takes up brain bandwidth and contributes to our stress level. There are some things that are beyond our control, but there are also things that we can control, that can lessen the pressure or stress we feel. First, let’s figure out…

What’s Stressing You?

  • Communication happens 24/7
  • Online ordering done in one click
  • Less staff so more work – is it any wonder you feel like you can never do enough?
  • Less control over your own calendar
  • Unlimited choices
  • Distractions everywhere
  • Interruptions
  • Lack of boundaries around work and home time
  • Lack of sleep – have your hours of sleep decreased? That can cause difficulties with focus, working memory and other executive functioning skills needed throughout the day

What Can You Control?

Stress is defined as, “ a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” (Oxford). How can you reduce that tension?

  • Stop tolerating things that you do have control over. As mentioned in our July newsletter, change is hard but sometimes we don’t even recognize that we should or need to change something that is causing us stress simply because we don’t take the time to look at it. Is it fear of change, is it an old limiting belief that is no longer true or just a big “BUT” that gets in the way? ( I would do that but….).
  • You can say “NO”. This is a tough one because there are so many choices, but are you really making a choice going along because it is easier?
  • If you are frequently distracted by your phone, (it’s a quick dopamine hit) you have the power to decide how often you will check it. Keep a tally of each time you pick it up in one day and you will be surprised. Set a reasonable number of times to check it (if your job communicates that way, this might not be possible). Turn off the general notification sounds and pick specific tunes for text messages from important people that you don’t want to miss. Most notifications can be sent to your fitbit or smart watch, so you really won’t miss them. You are also less likely to be distracted if your phone is not nearby. Also, you can set up the “Do Not Disturb” for an evening free of “squirrel!”
  • Interruptions from people can be politely deferred for a short time if you are in the middle of something. If you allow the interruption, know that it may take you 50% longer to complete your task and you may make more errors (Brain Rules by John Medina p. 87) If interrupted by your own thoughts, write it down and get back to work rather than running off to do that “one” thing.
  • Stop multitasking – you are actually switching between things and losing attention to details and adding time onto each task
  • Declutter – that’s right, clutter can increase your stress. Click here for more insight.
  • Create a simple, nightly reset plan to prepare for the next day and start fresh
  • Lessen the strain on your memory by setting specific days for certain tasks. A basic week plan might have a laundry, grocery, bills, cleaning and/or decluttering day.
  • Take time to take care of yourself. Exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep and reduce the stress you can control with clear boundaries.

A stressed brain does not think as easily as a non-stressed brain and learning can become more difficult. We all know the health impacts of chronic stress. For those with a neurodivergent brain, you may need to work harder at controlling your environment to make it work FOR you and not AGAINST you.

Taking time to look at what you can control and doing something about it, can really make a difference. The world is stressed enough, do we really need to allow it to impact our health and our homes?

Please share your strategies on my Facebook page.

Top Three Challenges (and Solutions) for Back to School

The kids are back in school. YAY! Take a moment to celebrate the start of the new school year with all its possibilities. September is often a great month for establishing new habits and routines. If you feel that the mornings are rushed or you are frustrated when it comes to homework time, then read on for some solutions to help.
Three common challenges once school begins:
Challenge 1: How do I make morning routines work so I am not guiding or coercing my children and teens every step of the way?
        • Start with a set bedtime and figure out how much time it takes your children/teens to get into bed (this helps them wake up rested)
        • Have a prep time before bed when kids put their clothes out for the next day, pack up the backpack and place it near the door and decide what they want for breakfast, lunch and/or snacks. Find the water bottle and rinse out. Charge devices in a central spot and not in the bedrooms
        • Put alarm clocks in their rooms and show them how to set the alarm for a reasonable time to wake up (we don’t want the slow movers to have to hustle – but you also don’t want too much extra time for them to get distracted)
        • Set a timer as a warning for the bus (Alexa works great for this)
        • Depending on age, create a list, picture or have a mirror for them to check that they have everything they need to be ready before they head out the door. No slippers allowed
Challenge 2: How do I get my kids to get started on their homework?
      • Everyone needs a break after school. It is a great time for a snack break and a little physical activity. Both of those things will help stir up the dopamine needed to reactivate the brain for homework. Usually, 30-45 minutes is plenty.
      • Take the time to find out how their day went while things are still fresh in their mind. Don’t try to solve their problems but show them that you are truly listening and hearing them by using reflective listening.
      • Set a specific start time for homework and have a reminder timer set so they can hear it
      • At the beginning stay close by (and pretend you are working on something) just to see if they can get themselves started or if they might need help
      • If a timer is motivating you can ask your child how long to set it for and then allow them a short 5-7 minute break when it goes off. (Set the timer for the break too)
Challenge 3: How do I get my kids to finish their homework in a reasonable amount of time?
      • Most homework subjects can be completed in 30 minutes or less so setting a timer for about the same amount of time makes it easier to take a break after one subject is completed
      • Reduce the distractions – Move the cellphone away from the work zone just enough that your teen will need to get up to check it. After a while, they will turn the notifications off and/or stop getting up to check it. That also means no TV on in the background or younger siblings making loud noises nearby. It is hard enough to concentrate on homework without wondering what they are missing out on too.
      • Don’t book an afterschool activity every day of the week. Kids need a day that they can recharge and have some fun before they hit the books.
      • If your child struggles to stay focused, think about creating a buddy study time with a friend. It works like a “body double” where they have a better chance to stay working as long as their friend is working too.
      • Timing is key. Homework done after dinner takes longer to do as the blood that should be in the brain, is busy digesting dinner in the stomach. Homework done 2+ hours after school, has interrupted that “student” mindset and can take longer to get back into the “work mode.” Ideally, within 45-60 minutes after arriving home is the best time to get focused on homework.
      • For elementary and middle school students, homework should be able to be completed by dinner. That gives the rest of the evening for R & R. When teens feel they have the entire evening, until bedtime to complete their work, they often find it takes them that long or longer. Then they wonder why it is difficult to fall asleep when their brain is still processing the last 30 minutes of work they did. Setting boundaries/limits around homework time and keeping to the same start time each day will help your children get more done in less time.

If routines, habits and homework are constant battles in your home, and you would like to increase cooperation, communication and lower the stress level in your home – then let us help. Contact us today about coaching.

Back to School and Life Edition

Are you prepared for another school year? I recently looked at the list of supplies that some schools are asking for and it can easily become overwhelming – especially for the students to keep organized.

Preparedness – what does that mean? Webster defines it as, “the quality or state of being prepared.” To be prepared, means you are ready to do or deal with something. Let’s use that as our “working definition” for back to school. What does your family need to do to be prepared for back to school?

Let’s break it down into three big categories:

1. Routines

2. Organization

3. Supplies

Routines

  • Let’s start getting kids to bed earlier and waking them up around the time they will need to get up for school. Sometimes we like to use just enough time to get up and out the door and others need wake up time, time for meds to kick in or just a slow wake up – so make sure you allow enough time for whatever your kids need.
  • Morning routines are easiest if there is a set order to the actions the kids need to do and they have memorized that order. Having a list that they can check if they forget, may save you from repeating yourself (fingers crossed). Also, it is better to ask, “what do you need to do next?” instead of telling them what to do. You might want to set your alarm a bit earlier than that so you have time for yourself to get ready or enjoy that first cup of coffee.
  • A homework routine that begins around the same time every day and a space to do it in. Doesn’t matter where it is, but it should have access to supplies they might need so there are fewer distractions. Minimize distractions and be sure to have a homework buddy your kids can call for help. This is a great time for you to “body double” with kids that have a hard time getting started on their work. Use this time to deal with your paperwork within sight of where your kids are working. Kids can create their own homework routine in our Super Skills for Students Class starting October 4th for Middle and High School students.
  • Set up for tomorrow including setting clothes out each evening, repacking backpacks and putting them near the door. Figure out what is for snack and/or lunch and breakfast. Make sure ice packs are back in the freezer. Are you heading to work? Pack up what you need and make the decisions tonight rather than in the morning.
  • Weekly clean out routine on Sunday as you prep for the week ahead. Everyone needs to know what is going on in the next week and having a family meeting can help. A good time to clean out your pocketbook, backpack or bag and maybe a quick check of the car too – how’s the gas level?

  Organization

  • Key organization tips are to have a landing pad near the door where backpacks, jackets and shoes can be left the night before. Good place for your keys, bag and anything leaving the house.
  • Set up the bedrooms so that kids can easily find their clothes. All clothes should fit into storage whether that is on a shelf, in a bin or basket or in a drawer or closet. The easier to grab, the more likely they will. Too many clothes can often make it difficult to make a decision – help them put together 5 outfits for the week and use a sweater hanger in a closet. Hooks are very handy for sweatshirts, sweaters, etc.
  • Calendars with the schedule of activities, where everyone can see it and it can be reviewed for those kids that don’t like surprises. Advance notice of what is coming up each week and reminders or a visual schedule in a place to be easily seen. Talk about the upcoming year – listen to your child’s concerns and take them seriously. Visit the school if they are switching to a new building – make sure they know where the cafeteria is and the bathrooms on each floor and the fastest way to their locker.
  • Make sure all supplies fit EASILY into the backpack – kids will not fuss with lunchboxes they need to stuff into their backpacks – they are more likely to leave them somewhere. They do not need to take the entire package of #2 pencils with them. Keep the reserves at home along with extra paper, project board, markers, etc. that might be needed for a project. That will save you a trip to the store at the last minute.
  • Charging all devices in one spot each night.
  • Write down the necessary passwords and log in steps for accessing grades and homework as well as, remote learning if needed and have your children do the same (get a copy of those).

 Supplies

  • When buying supplies don’t look for the cheapest, but look for the most durable. Kids are rough on their supplies, especially binders. The binders should open easily with one hand, not two and be no bigger than 1.5 inches (it can hold 350 pages)any bigger and it is difficult to fit into the backpack and it weighs more. Backpacks should not weigh more than 10% of your child’s weight.
  • Food – Breakfast ideas that kids can prepare for themselves or make ahead ideas to easily grab.
  • Have handy snacks, drinks, and lunch supplies or set up the school account (have reserves of their favorites)
  • Medications for colds and flu, and also covid tests, to have on hand. Masks too, just in case we revert back.

Celebrate by taking a picture before they head out. (Taking an “after” pic might also be memorable.) At the end of the day, celebrate by doing something special but keep it low key as they will be tired. For kids, it is like starting a new job, there are a lot of unknowns but it is also a fresh start and the opportunity to shine. Keeping the stress level down in the home can make it a smoother year. Good luck!

PS Other articles from our Archives you might find helpful

5 Things Your Child Needs to Know Before School Starts

Change Your Mindset – Raise Your Self-Esteem

Five Super Strategies to Knockout Stress

Helping or Hurting? The Dilemma of Enabling vs. Empowering

What Is Bugging You?

UpLevelI recently read UpLevel Now by Ursula Mentjes and it made me stop and think about a few things. The book is divided into chapters that are major life categories like health, friendships, money, spaces, time, etc. The author asks questions and gives examples of things you might be tolerating without really realizing it. She shares her experiences in each category with suggestions to help you “uplevel” or kick it up a notch. At the end of each short chapter, she asks three questions.

1. What are the top 3 things you are tolerating in this area?

2. What are the top 3 things you would like to change about that area the most?

3. What is one step you can take right now and when will you take it?

Change is hard but sometimes, we don’t even recognize that we should or need to change something that is causing us stress simply because we don’t take the time to look at it. Is it fear of change, is it an old limiting belief that is no longer true or just a big “BUT” that gets in the way? ( I would do that but….).

Up-level according to the Free Dictionary is an idiom, meaning “to make progress or improve in a specific skill or area of one’s life.” So, for instance, if you wanted to UpLevel your life you might consider ways to get healthier, have less stress, maybe you want to consider switching jobs, end a relationship that drains you, or just get organized enough to be able to find your keys every day. Whatever it is, you first need to figure out what is holding you back?

Maybe you think it will only happen that once, but then weeks or even days later, it happens again. Or the “It’ll go away” pain that doesn’t and you realize you have been tolerating it for 3 months! Or is there some fear from your past that keeps getting in the way? Sometimes it does take frustratingly long to finally realize a change is needed.

What are you tolerating that if you weren’t you would be happier, healthier, richer, better organized or more productive, or whatever it is for you?

If you have ADHD you may have learned early to adapt and change on a whim, you may not have taken the time to look at a problem long enough to think about changing it, instead you end up continuing to tolerate it and just accept it as the way it is.

Yes, ADHD can get in the way and make some things more difficult for you but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something to change it. A big part of coaching is helping people figure out what is getting in the way of them leading the life they dream of. Then breaking it down into manageable parts so that they can come up with strategies, habits, routines and ideas to make it work for the way THEY think. Other people’s suggestions don’t necessarily work for the way you think, but you have to stop and really think about what will work for you.

Also, sometimes lower self-confidence can also play a role. Maybe you feel you don’t deserve to get rid of that problem once and for all – but you do. Read that again….YOU DO!

Three coaching questions:

      1.  Think about what impact it would have on your life, if you were no longer tolerating “x”.
      2.  What is it costing you to do nothing about it?
      3.  Make just one small change at a time (when will you do it?) and watch what happens.

Looking for more help with this – Email to set up an introductory call to see if coaching is right for you.

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“I’m Bored!” – Now What?

Working togetherProblem solving skills. We use them all the time at work, school, home and in social situations. They help us locate our keys, or solve a problem at work. For kids, they help them learn and think on their own without waiting to be told what to do.

The definition, according to Merriam Webster, is “the process or act of finding a solution to a problem.” When bosses, teachers and parents provide the next steps to solving a problem, then there is no true problem-solving practice. Without practice, our “solutions” can be anything from an impulsive response, to paralysis, where we do nothing and the problem is never solved or there are consequences that were never contemplated. Do you want to be able to trust that your children can make the right decisions when it comes to problem solving?

It can make for a long summer if you often hear, “I’m bored,” “I’m hungry” or, “Where are my shoes” and then your child or teen waits for you to suggest what they should do next. Often in our rush to get the kids to do what they need to do; we simply tell them what to do rather than having them think about it and figure it out for themselves. Have you supplied the snack or told your child where to locate their shoes recently? Providing an “instant” solution rather than allowing your child or teen to solve it themselves can create a dependency that delays their journey towards independence.

Problem solving skills are important in simple decisions we make every day. Our children are faced with a variety of challenges throughout their day, in school and out. Without the ability to come up with options, children may choose to avoid situations which can make things worse.

How to encourage problem solving:

      •     Use humor for example, “Hello, hungry, I’m Mom.”
      •     Ask an open-ended question, “I wonder where I would be if I were a shoe?”
      •     Identify the actual problem
      •     Suggest you brainstorm possible solutions together and then discuss pros and cons of each
      •     Allow your child to pick a solution and see what happens

Five Advantages to Developing Strong Problem-Solving Skills

1.  Problem Solve to Avoid Boredom

When children are home during the summer, there is often unstructured time even if they are off to camp programs. Switching from a structured program to non-structured can sometimes be overwhelming. With so many choices they can have difficulty making a decision. Sometimes it is difficult for children to decide what to do in the moment. Creating a “menu” of choices together can help inspire them without having you run through their choices. Coming up with the ideas is often the stumbling block – even for adults, so having a ready made “menu” avoids that challenge.

2.   How to prevent the problem from happening again

Once your child has solved a problem, make sure they understand what made that such a challenge and ask what they can do to prevent it from happening again. This can range from the basic, put your shoes in the same spot every day to remembering to be a thoughtful listener when their friends are talking. Discussing social situations before and/or after can help your child practice those “being a good friend” skills of listening, negotiating, taking turns, playing fair, etc.

3.   Natural consequences

Let them make their own decision whether you agree with it or not and allow for natural consequences to happen (as long as they are safe). This opens the door for a discussion on other things they might want to consider next time. What did they forget about? Cause and effect skills develop from comparing the pros and cons.

4.   Build Independence Skills

Creating routines, making sure there are routines and structure at home that children can depend on. Children need to trust that certain things will happen regularly. It is important they understand they are part of a team and should also be expected to contribute to daily life at home.

Help them learn how to solve problems and/or build skills. Ask what they would do and why to help brainstorm solutions and strategies. Discussing the pros and cons of each can then lead to better decisions being made.

Build positive self-talk and let them hear you problem solve by voicing your thoughts out loud to role model the process.

5.   Self confidence

When kids succeed be sure to praise their effort and not just a generalized compliment that praises something they cannot control (intelligence, looks, etc.). Encourage a growth mindset attitude that emphasizes the effort and encourages perseverance to attain the goal, rather than the goal itself. As they see how effective they are, they will become more self-confident.

Failure is part of the learning process – as the song says, “nobody learns without getting it wrong.” So, let your kids, “try everything” and see what happens.

Everyone benefits from working on and encouraging problem solving skills. It’s simple, according to verywellfamily.com, once you identify the problem, then brainstorm several options, nothing is off limits. Now, go back through those options and identify the pros and cons. Pick a solution that looks good and try it out. Is it a success or do you need to try another solution? More practice, the better the skills.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

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Attack Procrastination….Here’s How

Late againProcrastination is something everyone has experienced. Although there are many reasons for it, understanding why you do it won’t necessarily help you get things done.

Delaying or putting things off until the last minute can sometimes work to motivate as there is nothing like a hard deadline to bring on the hyperfocus. Hyperfocus can be helpful, and many people falsely believe that they work best when under that kind of pressure. The problem is they don’t remember how awful they felt for the next three days. When you depend on your adrenaline to get you through a project you are using up your reserves and sometimes there is a price – your health.

One idea that I am thinking of using is declaring one day a week as Anti-Procrastination day. I believe it comes from the Fly Lady but I found it on Diane in Denmark. Wednesday is Anti-Procrastination day and she suggests completing one or more things that you have been putting off. She typically focuses on small things so there is a feeling of accomplishment. Just taking 15 minutes can make a huge difference but I’ll need more. Keep a list going so that you can get right to the tasks on Wednesday.

Since we are talking about procrastination, I have to ask….are you reading this because it is of interest or are you procrastinating on something else with a higher priority? No judgement here. You make your own choices. Let’s talk about 5 common procrastination pitfalls.

  1. I don’t feel like it right now, I’ll do it later

This is sometimes called “discomfort intolerance” when you think about the task you need to do and your body tenses or you suddenly feel overwhelmed and realize you can’t work on a task because you don’t “feel” like it.

      • Admit it….you are never going to “feel like” doing it. Now figure out why. Is it boring, difficult or time consuming? Are you clear on the steps to completion? Are you afraid of failing or succeeding?
      • Schedule a time to work on it – even if just a little piece of it. When that reminder goes off, get to it.
      • Time yourself. Often time estimates of how long things take can be really off.
  1. Too many things to do and I want to do it all
      • Figure out what is really a priority and what is not rather than what is just easier or more interesting to work on.
      • Limit your to do list to 3 things that are important to you and keep the rest of the items on another list.
      • If nothing is a priority, then nothing will get done. You should be looking at quadrant 2 activities/tasks not quadrant 4 (Eisenhower matrix).
  1. Distractions are everywhere
      • According to one article, each time you hear a ping or a ding from your electronics, you are losing 10 points off of your IQ even if you don’t give in to them. Turn off all notifications or go on airplane mode and/or use focus mode which limits the distractions you can see on your device.
      • When internal thoughts distract you, while you are working, take time to write them down instead of jumping up and dealing with them. Each break in your focus can add 20 minutes to your project/task while you regain the level of focus you had before you were distracted.
      • Check in with your body before you start working. Do you need anything? Should you bring a drink or small snack with you so you don’t need to get up from your work?
  1. Instead of “now” and “not now,” think of “present you” and “future you”
      • Handling things in a timely manner helps “present you” stay calm and prevents “future you” from becoming frantic. What can you do today that will make “future you” happy or less stressed?
      • Take a look at your systems and processes – are there any improvements you can make, that will make your life easier in the future?
      • Learn from your struggles. If you faced a challenge and solved it, document it for the next time. Learned a new skill, found a helpful app – keep track of them for next time.
  1. Change the negative into positive
      • Science says our brains tend to focus on the negative as a safety measure, so we need to be aware when that happens and up the volume on the positives. Create a victory list of what you did accomplish instead of a longer to do list for tomorrow.
      • Stop the negative self-talk. It doesn’t help you get things done, instead it stresses your brain and makes it harder to think.
      • End the day on a positive note. Cross off those things you accomplished and celebrate. Add to your victory list and then go do something that makes you happy. Life is not about what you did or didn’t get done. It’s about who you are becoming.

Let me know what you have been procrastinating on over on my Facebook page. Let’s get a conversation going.

Got 5 Minutes?

Time timerTime is our most precious commodity. If we don’t use it, we lose it and it is one thing we can never get back. Sure, we can try to pack more into a day but often that leaves us feeling overworked, exhausted or stressed. Ever feel cheated that you didn’t get to do what you REALLY wanted or needed to do?

Instead of cramming more into our day, look for a few spaces between tasks, errands or transitions. I am sure there are several five-minute blocks somewhere in your day. For today, let’s assume you found 3 blocks of 5 minutes = 15 minutes total. You decide what works for you. Just don’t overdo it  trying to get one more thing done and make yourself late.

Now how will you use those 5-minute blocks? You can decide your three big categories, and then list ideas under each. My three categories are listed below with some ideas to help get you started. Use your imagination and make it work for you. I have seen how having a specific time limit can help motivate us for unpleasant tasks every week during Work It Wednesday when we use 3, 25-minute blocks to get things done (contact me for zoom link to join us at 10am ET). Let’s use these blocks to improve our lives.

Self-Care

  • Drink a glass of water
  • Go outside and breathe
  • Stretch my muscles
  • Call or text a friend
  • Meditate (yes, even 5 minutes is beneficial)

Declutter/Organize

  • Put away the winter jackets and boots
  • Clean out and organize a drawer
  • Remove 5+ things no longer needed or wanted
  • Toss/recycle today’s junk mail and catalogs
  • Declutter a shelf or clear a counter of all non-essentials

Family

  • Spend 5 minutes with each child and listen
  • Plan a family activity for the weekend
  • Make a meal plan for the week
  • Go outside (take a walk, shoot hoops, swing, etc.)
  • Do a 5 minute (maybe longer) reset to be ready for tomorrow

Creating routines and habits that keep the family organized impacts the level of stress in your home. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish in five minutes. Feel free to build onto the momentum as we have seen how clutter and disorganization can impact mood, weight, stress and health.

Let me know what you are most proud of doing in your 5 minutes over on my Facebook page. Let’s get a conversation going.

Is it a Routine or a Struggle?

Routines not struggleThere are numerous theories about how the brain works, but what I have come to believe is that we can think of the brain as having three parts or personalities. They are the “robot”, the “Yoda” and the “monkey” brain.

The monkey brain is the emotional part of the brain, it is what happens when our self-control is gone and our emotions take control.  It is the brain that doesn’t think before acting and is often full of movement and impulsivity.

The Yoda brain is the brain we use for learning and making decisions (when emotions are not involved), it is the rational, thinking brain.

And lastly, the robot brain is the brain that controls our habits and routines. It is preprogrammed to do things automatically with little or no thought involved. The robot brain does not create habits on its own, especially if ADHD is involved. It takes training and practicing and often some tweaking before a set of actions can become a habit. Once there is a habit, the brain can relax and just follow through the motions without having to use up its decision-making energy.

Routines that use the “robot” brain can save you time and brain energy. When a habit or series of steps becomes automatic, you no longer have to think about what to do next. You probably already have several routines that you do each day.

ROUTINES

  • Does your morning start the same way each day?
  • How about your evening, does it have a routine?
  • Does your work day have a routine?
  • Bill paying?
  • Dinner routine?
  • Tax routine (Quarterly taxes or April 15)
  • Laundry routine?
  • Weekly reset routine?
  • Planning routine for the week?

You get the idea. There are plenty of opportunities to create a routine that helps you get through your day without using up valuable brain bandwidth.

Where Could You Use A Routine to Save Time and Energy?

  • Are you frequently late for work or appointments?
  • Do you need to get groceries before you can cook dinner?
  • Have you ever missed a bill payment or paid a late fee?
  • Is your home cluttered and/or disorganized?

If you answered “yes” to even one of the questions above, then a routine can help.

Create a Routine

First, pick a problem to solve. Why is that a problem? Now, think about what it would be like if that was no longer a problem. How would your life be different?

Next, pick three steps (yes, just three) that you think are important for this new routine you are creating. It may not be the entire routine, but it is the 3 most basic steps to get you started. Now close your eyes and run through those steps in your mind. Does it flow smoothly or should you do the steps in a different order?

An ADHD brain can struggle to remember the order of steps which makes each day a new pattern. This doesn’t help create a routine and actually uses MORE brain power and decision-making energy. The idea of the routine is that when it is automatic, you are saving brain power and energy because there is no thinking involved.

Finally, find the order of steps that works best and “practice” doing it until it becomes a habit. Then you can slowly add more steps to the routine, making sure it works for you and the way you think.

It has been suggested that linking a new habit with an already established habit can make an effective “trigger” to start the new habit. Is there something you already do that you can link this new routine to?

Once you feel the first routine is working you can either expand it (although don’t make it complicated) or you can start to develop another routine to help yourself solve another challenge.

Habits are tricky things but once they are established – the benefits far outweigh the struggle at the beginning. Keep at it. We are here if you would like some coaching to help you design and navigate establishing new habits and routines.