Project and time management have always been a natural talent for me; I’ve never struggled with it, and I’ve excelled with projects despite my ADHD. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been noticing a slow decline in my productivity, and a scary decrease in my short term memory. It’s a frightful thing at 24 when you cannot remember details of a documentary you watched about 15 hours before, or what you ate during the day or what you did at the office yesterday.
There are other symptoms too, like how I blink to try to regain focus, or can’t find a word I’m looking for when I’m explaining something (anomia) but can try to describe it or just pause and go through a host of words before I get it; the latter is really annoying and embarrassing in meetings, as it makes me feel less intelligent.
I’ve never been one for taking pharmaceuticals, other than antibiotics and pain killers for extreme pain, and as tempting as something like Adderall is (Adderall is supposed to help you focus), it is not an option for me. I’ve had this challenge before, when I was a teen, but as I got older I was able to focus more. This is the first time in my working career that I’m facing this issue. I honestly thought that my previous encounter was just my teenaged self not settling down to actually focus, but perhaps my school teachers were wrong, what if it was something else which was causing this. Nevertheless, I have to remedy this, and soon.
Now that I’m aware of this issue, but no idea what’s causing it, how shall I remedy this?
Time to amp up the GTD methods
I’m an obsessive planner, and if you’ve read my blog long enough, you’d know that. But recently, I’ve been rather negligent with my calendar, which has lead to the obvious decline in productivity. So, I have to become more aware of my schedule and stick to it. I have a simple system: Evernote is home to all projects and tasks, Wunderlist is my daily checklist (to ensure I do things like check my LinkedIn or Google Analytics) and my calendar for all my scheduling. Every evening, I have to plan my next day; go through my Evernote, map out the tasks for tomorrow, and then organise them into my calendar for tasks with appropriate times. This way, I have to stick to a timeline to getting tasks done, else I’ll have to work overtime to get them done. I really try not to let tasks roll over into the next day.
Basically, my calendar is my go-to place for all my organisation; it’s the only way I keep on top of everything.
An End to Multitasking
Looking back, I’ve noticed a big flaw in my work productivity: I was doing too many things at once, and nothing got done. So this week, its back to sticking to the schedule; hunkering down and not moving until I finish one thing. I’ve also set timers for tasks: one hour per task. This way, I’ll be able to push to get something done since I work better under pressure, and I can actually fit more into my work day. It’s a WIN-WIN.
Diet, Exercise and Sleep
Like most people, your diet, sleep and exercise levels affect your ability to focus. I used to drink a few cups of coffee and forget to eat (yes I know, it is a really bad habit). So, a more balanced diet with a daily regime of vitamins was established. Surprisingly, this helped a great deal.
I have a super special soup that I have every day, I take a few vitamins (I’ll list them in a bit), I try to get a decent amount of sleep, and I track how much water I consume a day to ensure I meet my targets (Hydro Coach is the awesome app I use).
- A low dose multivitamin
- 2 Omega-3’s with DHA
- 1 Neurorubine-Forte
- 1 Turmeric (every two days)
- 1 Vitamin D (every other day)
- 1 Biotin
- 1 Cranberry tab
Journalling has helped to keep my mind clear and balanced. It’s a great way to also track your progress throughout life, and you can go back and read about your experiences, and see how your views have changed from then to now. People journal for different reasons; Google has a vast array of articles describing that particular niche.
So, why did I write this post? Something like this could impact my career long-term, especially since it has a direct link to my core skill: organisation. I wrote it because I’m human, and many people have the very same challenges I have, but aren’t certain how to cope with them, let alone overcome them. I’ve overcome this many times before, and it’s an ongoing struggle.