It sounds like the clickbait of the decade.
But being a life-long ADHD entrepreneur – never being able to focus when I should – my life changed when I realized how efficient this is.
Read on, try it out.
If it is not working, I’ll send you a free emoji hamburger (hit me up on Twitter to claim your consolation prize)!
Breaking the life-long non-habit
I’ve always been extremely creative. My mind is a constant stream of ideas.
I have had enough ideas to launch 10 startups a day, for the last 20 years.
The problem’s never been to come up with ideas.
The problem has been to execute them.
Starting is never a problem. But even if it is just a blog post I am trying to write – it doesn’t take long before every fly, piece of lint and the passing cars are waaay more interesting than what’s on my screen.
(This is typical for us entrepreneurs blessed with ADHD, but I’m pretty sure most people have trouble focusing from time to time.)
A while ago I stumbled upon Faster Than Normal, a book for ADHD entrepreneur by Peter Shankman.
It changed my life.
In the book, I found the missing piece, that would make me able to keep going and going.
To work with focus – for a long time.
I would like to share my technique (in which I incorporated Shankmans drop-and-gimme-20-trick) on how to keep focus – regardless if you are an entrepreneur with or without ADHD!
Don’t worry – it is not rocket surgery.
Let’s do this.
Step 1: Notice the trigger
You can’t change something until you’ve noticed you are doing it.
In the beginning, half an hour of mindless surfing might go by before you realize you are not doing anything useful.
Or an hour of “I’m just gonna check what this pile of paper is all about”.
That’s ok! You will become better at noticing the more you practice.
A great way to start being more aware, is to ask yourself ”Am I being productive right now?” from time to time.
Put a post-it note on your screen with that question.
Download some cool app that will ask you at random times.
Being able to notice the trigger (surfing around, going from app to app in your phone, cleaning your desk, etc) is key.
It is how to know to launch the entire brain rescuing sequence!
Step 2: Close your computer
The second you realize you are not doing anything productive; close your laptop. Just fold it down.
(If you are on a desktop computer, turn the screen off)
Breaking the loop is the first step if you want to regain control over your raging mind.
Just stop everything.
It is easier to start from scratch than to reduce the mess.
Step 3: Take a few deep breaths
Now, close your eyes and take a few really deep breaths. Follow the air down to your lungs.
If you’ve ever tried meditation, you know that deep breathing is one of the most important pillars.
It takes you back to now. It gives your body energy and your mind clarity.
Step 4: Understand WHY you are not being productive
For me, there are usually two main reasons why I zone out.
Either I’ve lost my ability to focus. This happens very easily thanks to me being ADHD.
Or, I don’t know exactly what I am trying to accomplish at this very moment.
Not having a clear outcome in mind, tend to make me go full zombie much easier.
And of course, it can also be a combination of the two above!
Luckily, both are very easily fixed!
Step 5a: How to get your focus back
A lack of focus usually depends on a lack of dopamine (I’ve heard people say, I’m not a even close to a doctor), a chemical that can help improve attention and focus (especially for people with ADHD).
If this is the case, get up from your chair and walk around for a few minutes.
Then, drop to the floor and do as many push-ups as you can (deep squats work too).
Try it! I promise that you will feel an instant boost of energy and focus.
For me, it is like pushing a restart button.
My brain stops raging, and I am able to do ONE thing very focused.
Step 5b: Give yourself a target
If the problem is that you were not sure what or why you were doing what you were doing before starting to f*ck around on every page on the internet, you need to clarify it to yourself.
Whenever I’m writing a block post and get stuck, it is almost always because I didn’t clarify WHY I’m writing it.
What is the one message or lesson I want to share through this post?
The best way I usually clarify this is to write an extremely descriptive title for the post – before writing the actual post.
I know it is not the final title, so it doesn’t have to be fancy, cool or search engine optimized.
It should tell me the one thing this post should teach.
(The original title for this post was “How to get back on track when you stopped being productive”)
This works for everything, not just writing blog posts.
Tell yourself – or better; write it on a piece of paper – exactly what it is you are going to do.
What is the next to-do you need to finish?
Step 6: Start over
Now, having energy and a clear task at hand, take another deep breath.
Open up your computer again.
Close every application and every browser tab you don’t need.
And get to it!
Just by noticing that you are not doing anything useful, you have the opportunity to change that.
And it is not as hard as I’ve thought the last 20 years!
I’ve been able to use this to work, non-stop for full days at the time.
That almost never happened before.
I hope it works as good for you as for me!