Growing up, I always thought there was something different with me. My mind moves quickly, I have trouble sitting for long periods of time, and in college the traditional classroom environment just didn't work for me.
Unlike many children today, I was diagnosed with ADD later in life. While this initially made me feel alienated, I've come to realize that I'm not so different at all. Peter Shankman, a high-level entrepreneur with ADD, has shown me and many entrepreneurs that ADD can be used as a strength instead of a weakness. He has even written a book and currently runs a podcast about entrepreneurship and ADD, called "Faster Than Normal."
It's no coincidence that this article shares the same name...
Through the trials and tribulations I've faced in my own company, sprinkled in with a few lessons from Peter and other entrepreneurs, I've learned that jumping around like a speed demon is not always the most productive use of my time. Instead, there are a few changes I've made in my life that help me go faster than normal in a productive and efficient way.
Setting Up Proper Systems
Ideas are coming into my head constantly. Remembering to tell someone something. A new, potentially cool idea for my company. This is good, but only if I have a way to capture and organize all of it. Since becoming a business owner, I've had to create channels for these ideas to flow into so that I can focus on the task at hand without losing those potentially game-changing bouts of brainpower.
With proper systems in place you shouldn't have any need for ADD medications.
One way I do this is by using reminders in Inbox by Gmail--in conjunction with inbox zero--to capture ideas or thoughts as soon as they come to me. Throughout the day I will make reminders in Gmail, and when I have a free moment I can return to them and send them to the proper channel. This might mean a Slack message to someone, a Trello card on a particular board, or a phone call to someone.
Something like a Slack message might seem insignificant. Why wouldn't I just send the slack message instead of creating a reminder?
Well, I know if I go to send one slack message I'll end up spending ten or twenty minutes following up with other people. Before I know it, I've just lost a good chunk of time. Those ten minute distractions add up quickly.
I also use tools to limit distractions and set myself up to pull information as I need it, rather than having information pushed at me when I don't need it. Most of this boils down to the notifications I get. Whether it's a phone call, text message, email, or direct message, I am in full control of when that information appears in front of me. I can use these tools to delay notifications, snooze them, or remove them entirely.
That is the difference between these things being distractors or "enhancers."
Time is Not Linear
Before I get into a debate with a bunch of astrophysicists, let me explain what I mean by this.
Throughout your day, you have different peaks of productivity. For most people, mornings are the most productive part of their day, but it's different for everyone. For me, I've found that I am at peak productivity at 8:00 am, just after a workout. My mind is clear, I don't get distracted, and I can really focus in on the work I'm doing.
That hour after working out is the equivalent of 4+ hours during some other parts of my day. In other words, I can get four times as much stuff done during that period as I would during other parts of the day.
If you want to move faster than normal, it is imperative that you understand what times you are most productive and capitalize on them. Set yourself up for success. If you know that you are most productive right after you wake up, make sure you have everything you need at your fingertips.
This means that I make sure I schedule the things that are most important which require brain power to be earlier in the day. You will never find me booking a doctor appt early in the day. I book them for after 3pm when my brain is already slowing down.
Another way I like to maximize time and slow things down is through meditation and the use of float tanks. This is a time where I can clear my mind and deal with all the stuff bouncing around in my head.
ADD is Not a Weakness
Before I started Leverage, I was working as a high frequency algorithmic trader. One year I decided to take ADD medication, and it completely changed the way my brain operated. I was able to sit down at a computer for 14 hours a day--literally, sitting in a chair for for 14 hours straight. I was logical to a fault in my thinking and I had incredible tunnel vision. I thought I was being more productive than ever.
And it was my worst year of trading ever.
The problem was that I was unable to use the creative side of my brain. I couldn't look outside the box. To make matters worse, when I got home at night all these thoughts that were bottled up in me throughout the day would burst out. I could never really "shut off."
Since then, I have embraced my ADD. I have been able to use it as a strength, but it's always a work in progress. I still get distracted by new ideas and I'm still optimizing my systems. In fact, I'll be speaking about my journey with ADD and how I've used it to bolster my productivity at the "Shankminds" Mastermind Event in June--an event that helps entrepreneurs with (or without) ADD figure out how they can improve themselves and their businesses. Anyone reading this who might like to go can get $150 off with the coupon code BU.
I truly believe that ADD is not a weakness as long as you know how to handle it. People with ADD can be extremely productive and go faster than normal by just acknowledging their condition and playing to their personal strengths.