Getting ready for 2015 – part 2: using what I’ve learned about ADHD to set better goals

It’s about 3 weeks since my last entry and I think I’ve done it! I think I have my goals for 2015 set! I learned a lot this year and I’ve pulled together everything I’ve learned to try and make 2015 a more reasonable, more successful year.

One theme that’s come up over and over this year is accepting that “there is waaaaaaay too much on my plate!” Depending on which of my systems I’m looking at — my SCRUM system (stacks of white paper covered with post-it notes) or my online system (currently Wunderlist),  I’ve had a backlog of up to 400 items! Insanity.

Granted, I knew enough even 3 years ago to divide them into “likely” and “unlikely” clusters, but still, I would often spend multiple hours per week reviewing and reorganizing those lists.

No more!

I am going into 2015 with no more than about 20. It’s been gruelling trying to figure out what to give up, but I recognize that 2 finished projects are better than 50 that are “coming along”. (And, to be honest, I am not “giving up” on any of the, they are just going into the “look at later” pile.)

I need ONE MORE PASS at the list to see if I’m satisfied. In the meantime here’s a peek at last year’s “high level” list. Let’s see if the 2015 list is any cleaner!

2014ToDo

2014ToDoPart2

 

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Getting ready for 2015 – part 1: reviewing last year

For the last 3 years now, I’ve been spending a few weeks in December reviewing my goals for the last year and setting goals for the next. It’s a long and sometimes frustrating process as I see all the things I wanted to get to but didn’t. But it’s also exciting and encouraging when I see how much I actually did get done.

The process keeps evolving and, I hope, getting better.

Two years ago, I decided it would be a good idea to assign levels of importance to my goals: 1/2/3 (High, Medium, Low). That turned out to be a great idea. For the last 2 years, I’ve managed to finish nearly all of my #1 goals, even if many of the 2s and 3s suffered.  A tally of “20 out of 50 finished” looks a lot different from “9 out of 10 #1 priority goals finished, 11 out of 40 2s and 3s”.

2014 turned out pretty much the same: 9 of 10 #1s finished. Yay!

One more thing I realized this year is that something very big is missing: new projects that came up during the year! Just off the top of my head, I can think of a handful of successful things I’ve done (the Improv class at the Orlando ADDA conference, the benefit concert for Clawson UMC, road trip with Lisa, playing music for EMU’s Performance Hour, the meetings with Joanne, selling t-shirts in Orlando, being included in the ADHD “tips” book, getting back into poetry) that don’t show up on the list.

The point of all of this is to share a few thoughts with ADHD friends:

– we all underestimate our accomplishments, it seems built into us to focus on what we didn’t finish, not what we did finish

– let your goal-setting and time-management tools evolve, use them while they work, then switch them up when you need to – always keeping the parts that did work (I’ve heard this mentioned in several podcasts this year. We will almost inevitably get tired of the current system and move on to the next. That isn’t a fail! It’s just how we work.)

– don’t be afraid to let go of goals. The one #1 item I didn’t finish last year was consciously dropped because I realized I wasn’t willing to do the work. That isn’t a fail – that’s a success.

I’m looking forward to posting part 2 of this series, which will be about setting goals for next year. Unless I change my mind between now and then.

Bright and Shiny Open Stage – ADHD Talent Show

Last Tuesday, December 2, the Ann Arbor Adult ADHD group had its first Talent Showcase/Get together/Open Stage. (I’m always nervous about what to all it because every term is loaded with positive and negative connotations for people!)

We’ve been talking about it for over a year (how unusual for ADHD folks!) and finally decided to just pick a date and go.

We were well attended for a first-time event. Granted, most of the audience were performers, but I’ve learned over a lot of years that this isn’t unusual. And, you have to start somewhere!

The program went like this:

  • Five Miles More jazz band
  • Improv group
  • Monty Python “Argument Clinic” skit
  • Stand up comedy
  • “Who’s On First?” script from the Credibility Gap
  • more jazz
  • more improv

Everyone who attended had a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to the next one.

A Physical Dimension to Interruptions

Another interruption!

I was in the middle of writing some HTML/Javascript code for Lisa’s Christmas website when the phone rang. I answered and did my best to be polite and pay attention but I was aware the whole time that my mind was in a fog. I’m not going to say who it was or what they wanted because that is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that this is the first time I’ve really paid attention to what was going on with me physically.

Some background: for a long time, I’ve been explosively angry when I was interrupted in the middle of something. I’ve done a pretty good job of  not just yelling into the phone, but I’ve done all sorts of other things:

  • after hanging up, I would sit and stare at the phone, waiting for the next interruption
  • I would not go back to what I was doing, I would just sit back and cross my arms and stare. What was the point of starting up when I was just going to get interrupted again?
  • at least once, I’ve thrown the phone (gently – I’m too aware of price to lose control completely) across the room and talked to it in very harsh terms

I’m aware that this is not uncommon among us ADD folks – at various intensities, of course. But today was the first time I really noticed the physical sensation.

It isn’t anger at all. It’s more like disorientation.

I was in a state of flow and I was yanked out of it. And I’m keenly aware that when I get started back up again, it won’t be “where I left off”, it’s going to be “part 2”. And that is never the same.

It was an actual physical sensation. A slight bit of dizziness, like walking out into the sun after being in the dark for a while. Or sitting up after laying down too long. I felt it in my head and I felt it in my stomach. It was unpleasant. I can see why I don’t want to experience that feeling often. I can also see why it makes me angry. But anger is a secondary response not a primary response.

Downstream, there are other considerations:

  • the ramp up time to get started again
  • things that might have been percolating in the back of my mind that are now lost
  • the pressure to handle whatever the call was about

And, on top of those, the guilt about feeling angry at the poor innocent person who had the nerve to interrupt me while I was working on something

There are a lot of levels to this, but I’m hoping that the realization that it isn’t really anger will help me handle it next time around.

I wonder how soon that will be…?