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Posts Tagged ‘productivity’

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

The (10 +2) x5 Rule?

by Rebecca Shafir, M.A.CCC Personal Development and Executive Functioning coach at the Hallowell Center MetroWest  

A February 2017 Inc. Magazine article by Dan Scalco titled Four Ways to Stop Procrastinating Right Now provided some helpful tips for managing procrastination such as creating false (earlier) deadlines, donating $5 to a charity for every hour you waste, and moving tasks to the afternoon if you idled away your morning. His first suggestion, however, was the (10 +2)x 5 rule.  This process reportedly makes a work task “less intimidating.” The (10 +2)x 5 rule goes like this: do 10 minutes of focused work with a 2 minute break and to repeat this interval 5 times which results in 50 minutes of work. The (10 +2)x 5 rule will keep you on your toes, but it is flawed.

This rule feeds your distractible nature and discourages concentration on a task. The (10+2) x5 rule may come in handy for folding laundry or doing yard work, but not for work that requires analysis, processing, or integration of complex information. Here’s why:

  • As clock ticks closer to minute #8 there’s the tendency to start looking forward to the break or rushing the work to beat the clock, again wasting time.
  • If most of your work involves the computer, your 2 minute break will likely be spent on the Internet or on your phone (Good luck keeping those breaks to 2 minutes!).

The (10+2) x5 rule also assumes that you will make nice, clean transitions from the break to the task. Unfortunately, research shows that your brain will continue to reflect on the entertainment from break time for at least a few minutes before you can steer your concentration to the task. Therefore, if you factor in transition time, time needed to re-engage in the task, and time anticipating your break you may end up flipping those numbers – it’s more like 2 minutes of work and 10 minutes or more of break time!

A better system is to keep your phone and any other controllable distraction in another room. Allocate 30 minutes of work and 5-10 minutes of a break. Do that interval 5x and you’ll get close to a good 2 hours of work. Make your breaks screen-less – a brisk walk or some stairs will make the mental transition time shorter. Physical exercise will help you process the portion of the task you just completed, improve your focus and your attitude about the task you’re trying to complete. This (30+10)x5 is much more productive way to get things done.

Just as there are different brains, there are different ways to avoid procrastination. To learn more and to come up with a system that works for you, contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com

Monday, April 9th, 2018

Managing Your Time: Hey Big Spender! Part 3 of 3

by Rebecca Shafir, M.A.CCC Personal Development and Executive Functioning coach at the Hallowell Center MetroWest

In my previous blog on Managing Your Time, I urged you to look at “time” as you do “money.” I invited you to assign a dollar amount to each work task in your day. By the end of the day, ideally, if you did everything on the list, you’d figuratively earn a day’s pay. If you slacked off instead, it would reflect in your bottom line. In this blog I’m suggesting you think of every minute of your workday as a dollar. Periodically throughout the day, ask yourself: Am I wasting or saving time right now?

Time is more precious than money. There are many similarities: they are limited, have value, and are measurable. If you viewed your time this way, you might be shocked to see how much better you are with your money than you are with your time. The difference between the two is that you can earn money back, but not time.

Consider viewing time spent playing video games, surfing social media, consenting to interruptions, and worrying as “throwing time” out the window. If you “throw out” an average of four hours a day ( 240 minutes) with every minute at $1, it’s $240 lost a day, x 7 days is $1680 a week out the window! Would you throw $1680 out the window every week? Hell, no! If you’re conservative with money, thinking of “time as money” is a great way to think twice before you act.

Need some extraordinary ways to manage time? Let me know. Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com

Friday, April 6th, 2018

Managing Your Time: What is Your Day Worth? Part 2 of 3

by Rebecca Shafir, M.A.CCC Personal Development and Executive Functioning coach at the Hallowell Center MetroWest

If money drives you, think about placing a dollar amount on your day equal to the effort and efficiency you put forth. This is one of my clients’ favorite strategies for enhancing productivity and assessing their performance at day’s end.

For example, imagine a day where you put forth your 100% personal best. What dollar amount might you tag to a day like that? $1000, $5000, $10,000? Let’s say $5000.  A $5000 day  assumes that every task on your list gets done, done well and delivered. The next step is to assign, according to the time needed per task, complexity and priority, a dollar amount where the maximum total for the day = $5000. For example:

  • refining a clear description of your business model = $500
  • making 5 cold calls to prospects = $1000
  • clearing your desk and planning your schedule for the next day = $1000
  • sending out the three proposals you’ve been putting off = $2500

Therefore, accomplishing all these tasks would earn you your max for the day ($5000). Consider attaching greater dollar amounts to the most undesirable, but essential tasks on your list.

At day’s end ask yourself : What did I pay myself today? What did I earn? $500, $2000? $4500? Where did I jip myself and how can make more tomorrow?  You can also use a self-rating scale from 1 (total slacking) to 10 (personal best) and resolve the next day to beat the previous day’s rating. If you easily made your quota, perhaps your allotments per task are too generous, or you can fit more into your day and pay yourself more.

Let me know how this works for you! Need help being productive in extraordinary ways? Contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com.   

 

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

Resolve to “Go Micro”

After tonight’s killer boot camp, the instructor announced that between January and March a flood of new, resolute members will descend upon the gym. We were asked to be patient and encouraging to new members. She assured us that, come mid-March, our class size will normalize with only a few new members remaining.

Why does this happen? Combine the pressure to regularly get to the gym, to be patient and accepting of oneself, and to tolerate too much discomfort too fast causes the high New Year’s Resolution crash and burn rate. These admirable, super-sized intentions are a great strain on one’s limited willpower reserve.  What results is a sense of failure and another blow to one’s self-esteem.  How can you avoid this?  If you are thinking about any New Year’s resolutions for you and your business, I advise you to plan first and then “go micro.” Ask yourself:

  • Which new habit would have the greatest impact on your family and your business?
  • What would you gain from your new habit? And conversely, what will you lose by not following through with this resolution?
  • How will you break down your resolution into micro steps making change more gradual, least uncomfortable, noticeable and worthwhile?
  • Do you need a coach or a partner to motivate you and monitor your progress?

Jess, a 40 year old founder of a small home furnishings company, wanted to keep her meetings under 20 minutes. Her meetings typically ran over 40 minutes. She knew that shorter, more efficient meetings would yield greater productivity for her team, plus she’d get home earlier to her family at night. She tended to address topics off the top of her head and over talk. Jess recognized that her poor planning and gift of gab were problems. After previous failed attempts to stick to the 20 minute limit, I suggested we chose just three micro steps and apply one at a time:

1) prioritize the top 2-3 topics for the meeting

2) write out the key talking points , and

3)  have an analog clock in view so as to pace herself.

Interestingly, Jess reported that the analog clock was the most helpful step in staying on track. She remarked, “I got a sense of what 20 minutes felt like and what I could reasonably accomplish in that span of time.”

These small steps improved other inefficiencies such as: dependency on Jess to remember the main points, her over-talking and wasting time. Three meetings later, after applying a micro step at a time, the new habit was in place. The benefits of the micro approach? Staff demonstrated 20-30% better follow through, there was less confusion about priorities and next steps, attendance at meetings increased resulting in better staff connection, and Jess was getting home sooner. Resolving to a micro step approach can make a New Year’s resolution stick.

Let me help you “Go Micro” and accomplish more this year. Email me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com and let’s get started.      

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