Fighting the Adult A.D.D. Monster to Success

In an effort to find some kind of normal in my life right now, I sat down this week to examine exactly what it is I do all day every day and to find a way to improve my efficacy. Figured it should take about 15 minutes.

Okay, realistically, a couple hours. An afternoon, tops.

I am now on day five.

My goal was to somehow, find some digital miracle that would tell me exactly what needs to be done every day. Automatically. No rifling through stacks of files and papers every day trying to decide what’s next. When I started Romantic Shorts almost two years ago  – it canNOT be that long, but yes, I checked, and it is – I had the good fortune to bump into a publisher from Chicago online. (Lesson learned, I now do my utmost to keep track of the many wonderful people who spend so much time helping me along – alas, I do not know her name.) She spoke to me on the phone for more than two hours, talking off the top of her head, giving reams of advice and warnings. It was probably the single most productive conversation I’ve ever had.

The highlight of the mounds of information I gained from her expertise, was her idea on how to fight the A.D.D. that has always plagued me, leading me to the beginning of project after project, yet never allowing me to focus on any one in particular long enough to accomplish anything. So many great ideas. Such a tiny attention span. It is indeed a curse.

She told me to draw a bicycle wheel. In the hub, I was to write/draw/cut and paste the object of my focus. In this case, it was my website, In each of the spokes, I was to write in all of the tasks involved in bringing Romantic Shorts to life. That took a fair bit of time to compile. Eventually, I had a comprehensive list, sorted tasks, colour-coded for my unique Type ‘A’ personality. And finally, in the tire area, I was to list all of the reasons I wanted to do this. The finished product looked like this:

Romantic Shorts Focus Wheel

Staying on track is easier with the right wheel.

The idea was that any time I had some time – 5 minutes or 6 hours – I could go to my Focus Wheel and put some work into the task/area that both needed the most attention at the time, and that fit the time available. With this simple tool, I was able, for the first time in my adult life, to work with an idea long enough to see growth and the passing of several milestones. The feeling of accomplishment is more than a little satisfying.

But reviewing my schedule this past week brought about an enormous revelation:

I have outgrown my focus wheel.

While much of it still applies, my efforts have now become far more reaction-based. I am no longer making up things to do. There are definitive areas that require my attention. Regularly. Daily, weekly, monthly, hourly. And the list-junkie that I am, needs some structure.

Enter Google Calendar, the miracle digital tool that now emails me a to-do list every morning at 5am. (How did they know?) And so I am now learning a new routine, tweaking and growing as I go.

And so far this week, I can’t say that I’ve conquered my to-do list any better than I ever have. But I must admit, I am far more aware of all the things I didn’t get done today.

Ah, this, too, shall pass, I’m sure.

But seeing as how this post was on yesterday’s list, I’m feeling a little better now that it’s done!

Do you have any suggestions for staying on track and getting things done? What’s your secret? How important are routine and scheduling to you as a writer? Feel free to share your thoughts below.


Filed under For Writers, Just a Thought

2 responses to “Fighting the Adult A.D.D. Monster to Success

  1. Hi Alex,
    Great article.
    In order for me to stay focus, I receive reminders from three sources. Because I have a iPad, there is a reminder program that comes with it which sends my appointments and tasks also to my iPhone. But since I need a swift kick every now and then, I use the Calendar, Informat HD and Google which sends me my task list every morning as well as having my Informat HD programmed so that it keeps popping up on my iPad until I do the task.
    Another great tool that I use daily, is Evernote. If I need to make notes, it is in evernote, when I start up a project, I use, again, evernote. You can create a notebook for any new project or whatever and you have them all organized in evernote. The app Notebook does the same thing. I use both of them, however, I love evernote the best.
    For writing, I am always getting signals or ideas from my characters. Here I use Simple note and Just Note because I use the Scrivener software and Simple note and Just Note sync with Scrivener and with each other, so whatever I write in Simple Note can be automatically sync with Scrivener and Just Note and vice versa.
    These tools are important to me because they really keep me focused with what I am writing and for whom I am writing, whether for someone else’s blog or for my own blog or for my books and short stories and I have them on my iPad so that I can write wherever and whenever I want to. My iPad goes wherever I go. I don’t leave my office or my home without my iPad. It is really the biggest tool that I have and without it I am lost.
    So, if you don’t have an iPad, I can only say it is a good thing to have for people on the go. It is worth the purchase.

    • Thanks for your suggestions, Patricia.
      I work on a Mac as well, and find that most of what I’m doing is either completely idiot-proof (a plus for sure!) or fairly straight forward to figure out. Truth is, I’d never go back now.
      I go mobile with the iPhone and use many of the apps you’ve suggested. I like the idea of Evernote – I’ll be giving that one a try once I master the new iCloud connections.
      Think I’ll avoid the few rushed attempts I seem to be making to clear all of that up and just invite the husband to the Apple Store for a quick lesson/hand-holding session. (That’s Apple Genius holding my hand – not very romantic, but they’re quite good at what I need them for…) Mind you, Apple classes without the kids always lead to dinner and some hand-holding as well, so that’d be a win-win! Good thing I’m not the genius I’d like to be – you know, for the sake of my marriage…
      I could go on, but it’s time to focus and get some work done.
      Nice talking to you!!

Leave a Reply