This morning I was watching the Today show as I prepared for work. I usually have it on while I get ready, as it’s a great way to keep on schedule in the morning. The segments are short, and they regularly announce the time, so it’s a lot harder to procrastinate with constant, cheery reminders. Today Suzy Welch was on the show promoting her new book 10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea.
Granted, this is an oversimplification, but the gist of the 10-10-10 plan is that whenever somebody needs to make a decision, they should stop and ask themselves about the consequences of that decision/action in the next 10 minutes, the next 10 months, and the next 10 years. The best/right decision is the one that leads people to where they want to be 10 minutes, 10 months, or 10 years later.
I was intrigued by this simple plan both as an ADDer and an academic who professionally studies issues related to this, but also because I’d intuitively come up with a way to do this on my own, and have been using a modified version of this strategy for at least the last two years. I can see how this would be particularly challenging for ADDers, who might end up feeling overwhelmed by the 10-10-10 plan. I know that this strategy could be difficult to employ in the heat of the moment, but I think it’s worth it to give it a try, with or without an ADD-friendly modification.
Part 1: Set aside a few free moments and figure out where you want to be in 10 months and in 10 years. If this seems too distant, think in the increments that work best for you. I tend to think about where I want to be 6 months, 1 year, and 5 years from now. I write these down in one of my notebooks, and keep notes on the steps to reach these goals (i.e., what I’ve accomplished, what I still need to do, back-up plans in case things go wrong along the way). Revisit this plan on a regular basis as suits you, and make changes as your life and goals change. Knowing what you want out of life makes it easier to do the second part, which is the ADD-friendly modification.
Part 2: A short-term modification of this strategy is key for staying on track in day-to-day life, particularly for getting through those “off-track” moments. I suggest a 1-1-1 approach. Whenever I catch myself doing something counterproductive (e.g., procrastinating on Facebook, not doing whatever is on my daily list, etc.), I take about 30 seconds and ask myself “How is this getting me where I need to be in in one minute? In one hour? In one day?” If I’m having a really bad procrastination day, I ask myself “What am I doing in this one moment that is going to keep me from meeting the day’s goals? How else will I go off track for the rest of the week and month if I don’t keep on track right now?” (Disclaimer: As beating yourself up can be counterproductive for ADDers, I don’t recommend bringing out this second set of cognitions unless your motivation is at major lows).
As all the ADD books say, it’s all about small steps and keeping yourself motivated. Knowing where you want to go is a big part of this, and structuring your life so you can get there is another important piece.