Focus, focus, focus, focus.
Okay. So I don’t know if you’re like me, but welcome.
I’m Meredith Canaan. Welcome to the Meredith Canaan Show. And today we are talking about how to focus even if you’re ADHD, because focus is one of our number one challenges with an ADHD and other types of neurodiverse minds. And it can be a challenge when you’re trying to get things done, especially if you can’t harness your attention and focus on a topic.
What May Distract the ADHD Mind?
And I find with an ADHD mind that there’s a couple of things that really pull from our focus. One is overwhelmed. And part of that overwhelm comes from the fact that there are so many choices and so many decisions as to what to do.
So one, to help reduce the overwhelm, part of what you need to do is to make sure that you have everything simplified. And if you are challenged with priorities, et cetera, then it may be very helpful to get somebody to talk through and work out what those highest priorities are. And to help give yourself some filters to understand what has something that is more important than the other. But we’re not talking about priority.
That’s for another day. We’re talking about focus. No, I don’t get distracted. Not even in the middle of a Facebook Live while I’m trying to focus. Yes I do. Okay.
But overwhelm, overwhelm is one of those things. And so to help you a eliminate the overwhelm, part of what you can do is again, this concept of making sure that you have chunked down every task down to the smallest bite size task if it’s a project task by task, by task into the tiny baby steps.
Because once it’s small, especially if you have short term energy focus, you can only focus fully on something for 10 or 15 minutes. And honestly, I think that’s part of it is to look where genius is in our ADHD about being creative and oftentimes we can find the most.
We naturally find the most efficient, lazy, I mean efficient way of getting something done. And part of that is having it broken down into these smaller tasks and being able to have short bursts of focused attention on small things. It’s very hard to sit at a computer for an hour or 45 minutes.
It’s why if you’re not familiar with the Pomodoro technique, the Pomodoro technique could be your very best friend. It’s about doing 25 minute or 15 minute sprints, taking a five minute break to go get some food to stand up and stretch to walk your dog to do anything else and change your energy dance to a day, like get a song and change your energy because everybody’s attention is shrinking and shrinking in this day of our digital devices.
And if you spend a lot of time on your digital devices, again, that amount of time will shrink and what you’re able to focus on. So the more that you can break things into small tasks, then you can go, okay, I only need four sprints of focus time today. I have four tasks on my list. I need four sprints of focus time today and I’m gonna get it done. So that’s the number one thing from overwhelm.
We wanna break it down into those very small chunks, into small tasks so that you don’t have to work really hard against your lack of focus. Work with the focus you have, the more you understand your timeframe of focused attention on any given day the better. What does that normally look like? Then you can start understanding how to create tasks that fit into that ideal focused timeframe so that you’re making the most of that attention.
Focus Comes in Waves
And then knowing the things that you need to do to break it up. Again, it’s akin to the Pomodoro technique and it can be very, very helpful. The other thing is understanding that focus happens in waves.
For those of us that are adhd, we have both those days where we’re seriously totally distracted, can’t focus on anything no matter what we do, no matter how much coffee we drink. And it’s neuro planning pumpkin season and it means I have pumpkin fuel, pumpkin flavored fuel for my business, I’ll be honest, I call coffee focus fuel. And it may be that that’s for you as well. So when that coffee kicks in, maybe your best focused energy is in the morning, maybe the coffee kicks in or it’s a soft drink or whatever you’re drinking and it kicks in right after you have that.
Also understand that I am not suggesting that substances are something that you use, but I wholeheartedly admit my entire business is fully functioning and supported by my coffee and caffeine addiction. So focus fuel, maybe you have something else that helps get your mind focused. Some people use meditation and then once they meditate, they have focus time, but it still has an expiration time on it.
As an ADHD person, we have these waves of energy and focus and sometimes it’s a day that’s totally distractible. And if you have one of those days, part of what the goal is, the reason creating our businesses is such a powerful way of personal development is it helps you get to know yourself better and understand and accept who you are and who you’re not.
You are not a focus machine. If you have adhd, it is not, or you are not, always right. We have two modes. We have really distracted and then we have hyper focus. You might get stuck into both things. Those hyper focus are the things that we have a lot of interest in that we think are really creative, that you get lost and time functions differently.
But as an ADHD person, we can’t bank that. That hyperfocus kicks in. So understanding most days might have that, like I don’t have a lot of focus. So keeping it in short focus spurts, having a low expectation of how much focus time you can have can be very helpful. And knowing the situations on when your focus is best. I don’t struggle with focus in my one-to-one conversations because all I have to do is be present.
But sometimes I will have a thought and I try not to interrupt with that impulsivity in my conversations. So I write it down so that I can remember to come back to it and not forget it because I have a working memory issue. So that’s the skill and the technique that I use for that. I find focusing one to one is really easy for me, but on the days where I have to get a lot of stuff done on my computer like writing and I have a dog that interrupts me and kids that interrupt me and all of those things. If I keep the tasks small I’m more likely to get from start to finish and focus through one small task and then knowing what are the three or four small tasks I can focus on, especially on those days where I’m very, very distracted.
So part of it’s understanding your focus energy, those focus waves. Are you having one of those days where you just struggle to focus and no, I was not watching TV right before this. Yes I was. I’m having a very difficult focus day today, I’ll be honest. So this Facebook Live is scheduled really appropriately, but I can do small tasks, I can upload one thing.
It took me forever to get my stupid Amazon web services, my S3 storage open today. And that in and of itself could turn me down my spiral to go, Nope, we’re just gonna watch TV today.
Know Yourself and Your Style
So one, know yourself, know the level of focus, know what are the things that spark and inspire that focus.
And especially if you find yourself in hyper focus, understanding what are the things that you do in your business that are those things that inspire and kick into gear, that hyper focus. It might be that you absolutely love writing or copywriting or it might be that you don’t have to worry about focusing on those one-to-one conversations or during your videos or Facebook Live or anything like that.
So the more you get to understand your own focus machine. Your focus skill set, the level at which you have that capacity, the easier it is to design things around your business. But for the most part, I think giving yourself oodles of grace and knowing who you are is super powerful. If you know you’re having a struggling, hyper focused day, maybe you take one of those tasks and you move it to tomorrow. I also believe that we have spaciousness in our schedule. We don’t have to work nine to five, you don’t have to work an eight hour or even a 10 hour day. I used to have a magnet that says owning my business means I get to choose which 20 hours a day I work. I wore it as a badge of honor and I used to work those 20 hours.
Now when I have a day like today where I’m struggling with focus, I show up for the things I’m supposed to show up for and I don’t have high expectations of what I can get done today. So understanding your focus energy is very, very powerful. Giving yourself lots of grace and acceptance of who you are and how your focused energy is and knowing that you will most likely get another one of those waves of hyperfocus and ride it when you can ride it.
Create an Environment that Supports You
And how you can set up your environment in such a way so that you can really lean into that. Remove some of those distractions. It can also be, there are techniques to help you focus. If your device is dinging and donging, is one of those things that brings you out. Focus: set your do not disturb on your phone or your computer so that it doesn’t interrupt you and pull your focus away.
If you have a door that you can close, that’s great too. My office happens to be in the middle of the house and so I can work and focus right there when the kids are at school, but the minute they get home I have to move into one of my other two places. This is location number two. I have a door, I can close it and I can put a sign that says do not enter some days.
The dog is the focus drawer.
Know What Pulls Your Focus Away
So the last thing I wanna tell you is understand those things that pull your focus and when you know you have to get some things done, you know you have a day where you need to accomplish a certain amount of tasks. See if you can set yourself up powerfully in advance to make sure that the dings and dongs and interruptions are gone. To let people know in your family, Hey, I need to focus. I need to get these things done today. No interruptions from this time to this time.
My husband is a super partner in that one. Oftentimes when I have something important, he will let the kids know, Hey, you guys can’t disturb mommy right now. She is in the middle of doing something.
So any way that you can have that set up and right, all the things that you need in that environment, is it some pumpkin flavored focus fueled. It’s neural planting, pumpkin and spice latte season. I love cold coffee.
You didn’t know that already.
So those are my tips and tricks to help you focus in your business even if you’re ADHD. And so just to give you a quick little recap, I want you to understand how you are.
If you are overwhelmed and things are too scattered or too big or too hard to understand, you need to chunk it down into that smallest task, that smallest task, and then understand, okay, it’s a small task, it can take 10 or 15 minutes. I have just enough focus to get through that 10 or 15 minutes and I think I might be able to do that three times today or four times today. But I need breaks in between. I need to get food, I need to get coffee, always coffee. Oh that’s just me.
I need to walk the dog, sit in the sunshine, take a few moments, meditate, understand how, what are those things that help inspire your focus energy in those waves? Especially if you get bouts of hyper focus, which is very common for us with adhd, understanding what are the things that spark that hyper focus?
What are those areas in your business that’ll help you that you’re really excited about hyper focusing on? And last but not least, giving yourself the grace to know some days are focus days and some days are not. And how do I help myself with that energy, even if it’s coffee for me coffee is my focus fuel, it is the number one thing that helps me in my business.
And I know not everybody can do that. But I also go task by task by task and try to keep my focus. And if I need to change my focus I can and I turn off all my dings and dongs when I need to be seriously focused, I close the door and I create an environment that keeps me from being distracted. I remove all of the distractions and or people that are distractions inside my life.
All right, so that is our content for the Meredith Canaan Show. I’ll see you next week and we will continue this conversation as we are still in the neuro quirky planning season. And one of the things that can be really helpful, that might be a really fabulous tool to help you out is the Neurodiverse planning system.
Did you know I created a planner and my planner works you through the framework of going from the big picture, chunking things down, creating these very small baby steps and smart goals to get accomplished, helping us deal with time blindness. Creating timelines and doing all of this stuff. And in it there are all different types of pages and perspectives that you can look at to keep your stuff simple, to understand what your prioritized projects are, to be able to break them down and there are to-do lists and daily lists and weekly lists and monthly lists and all different kinds of ways to plan based on you and your brain.
I gave you so many choices that you can choose one and stick to it. And as a neurodiverse person, the monthly might work for you this month and next week you have to use daily or weekly or to-dos or whatever because we’re neurodiverse, we like to change our stuff up. And I think this is designed in such a way that you can change it up.
You have different perspectives, you can go and edit it, you can print it out if you like paper and you like to write on pen pens with fancy colors, I like fancy colors. It’s really customizable to your uniquely wired brain. So if you’d like to check it out, the link is above us, meredithcanaan.com/2023-planner. That will get you there.
Right now it’s $147 and if you sign up now, you can also join us for a planning day on November 16th. There are two times so that I can cover the time zones and you can catch us in those two time zones. It’s 9:00 AM Pacific time for three hours and then 4:00 PM Pacific time for three hours. So depending on what part of the world you are, you can join us. You only need to join us for one. But if you feel like you need the whole day, block the whole day out, you may come to both. So it’s planning, the Neurodiverse planning system is only $147. I highly recommend that you get it, you customize it.
Plus as a couple of bonuses in there, there’s a content planning spreadsheet which I design for seven figure business for email systems. And then we have a content planner to make sure you can variety up your content. And I have it like really quick little easy dropdowns and it’s all really colorful and rainbowy because I like really colorful and rainbows. So that’s another one of the bonuses is the content planning spreadsheet.
In addition, and if you wanna know more about your neurodiverse brain, whether you’ve had a diagnosis or not, or you think I might be, or dyslexic or autistic or any of these other neuro diversities that your brain just doesn’t work like somebody else who might be neurotypical, you’re like, why does it work for them and it doesn’t work for me. You could be one of us.
So if you’re one of us, I also included an understanding your brain video series as a bonus to help you out all of this for only 147 bucks. It’s a great deal. Come check it out. As I said, it’s meredithcanaan.com/2023-planner and I’m gonna post it here in the chat as well. So if you’re listening or catching the replay, it’s in the description above or in the comments below. Either way you can check it out. It’s amazing balls and we’re gonna have an amazing day with lots of breaks to help us focus on planning day. And we’re gonna go through the whole neurodiverse planning system framework so that you can go from, I wanna write a book, I wanna be a bestselling author.
I wanna have a TV show, I wanna, I wanna have my own studio or retreat center. I wanna have like whatever those big dreams are, we’ll get it broken down for you in manageable chunks so that you can make 2023 your best year yet.
Join me for the Neurodiverse planning system and planning date November 16th. All right, let’s lead a legacy of love together and I will see you next Friday for some neuro quirky planning.