/ ADHD Productivity Fundamentals

Preface

I'm not some self-proclaimed productivity guru, and this little post is not going to change your life, water your lawn, boost your memory, improve your relations with the opposite sex or revolutionize your productivity.

It's very easy to get sucked in and get lost in guides, digital gardens, PKMs, workflows, KBs, automations and whatever else is being shared on the YouTubes and Mediums on the internet, to the point that people often forget WHY they started looking into productivity tools to begin with.

I found something that works for me, especially with some flavor of ADHD and I am sharing this only with the hopes that you will find inspiration, and consequentially your own way of being productive, through what I personally think are the smallest improvements you can do.

Note: The items are inter-connected, so the order does not really matter here.

Write Everything Down

Our memory, for the most part, is very, very far from perfect, and in today's world of excess information, it's becoming increasingly difficult keeping it all buttoned down without regurgitating or mixing up said information.

The simplest thing you can do - write everything down, first. Use whatever is comfortable and quick for you, and iterate as necessary. Don't go for the shiniest tool in the box - when you need to quickly screw in one screw, you don't bust out your cordless screwdriver with bit storage, you just use that old, passed down, PH-2 Philips screwdriver.

Use Lists

Lists are magical, and I do my best to abide by the list. I find myself often saying this:

If it's not on the list, it doesn't exist.

While this approach may sound a bit dogmatic or rigid, it's only superficial. The intention is not to brush off something that doesn't exist on your list, but to guard your time and attention from new incoming items. This means that whatever is not on the list right now, get's added if it needs to be dealt with, but at a delayed due date instead of "now".

I use Todoist and various lists therein as my universal inbox. An idea I just had? Quickly add to inbox. An interesting link I found? Inbox. Something we need from the store? Inbox that too.

Schedule It

This brings me to an equally important point: Schedule time for everything. Especially with ADHD, we are often time-blind, and seeing as our tools don't impose limits, we keep hoarding things without ever touching them again.

Not only meetings need to be on your calendar, but also your tasks as well as all the other things you keep telling yourself you're going to deal with or check out. Sure, that article about "Hidden Files in C64 OS" on HackerNews sounds interesting, but when are you going to read it? Give it a due date. Put it on the calendar. Let it remember for you.

I go over the inbox a couple of times a day, and re-route (or review) the items to their intended location and/or time to be dealt with.

Use the Proper Tool for the Job

I was hesitant whether to include this part, as "proper tools" are incredibly subjective, and people are often hostile and combatant when their fragile ideals of using The Knowledge-a-tron 5000 are being challenged by other productivity gurus. Don't use Logseq, Notion or Obsidian because "xXxMegaFamousGuruYoutuberxXx" uses them.

My personal, brutalist guidelines:

  1. Start (and ideally, stay) simple, explore other or new options (when/if feasible) and iterate on your process. Using Google Keep and it works for you? Awesome. Only have Apple Reminders? Sure!
  2. Use whatever doesn't require (a lot of/often) fuss/noodling/screwing-around to get it to work. If you need to input a bunch of supplementary information before you can capture your shower thought, perhaps it's not the right tool. Does your tool only work on one out of your ten often used devices without major configuration? Perhaps it's time to find something else.
  3. Get to know your tool and its powers and limitations. This connects to #1 and #2. Simple tools often have tips and tricks you might not be aware of. Be aware of growth ceilings.
  4. Use your tools. A tool that doesn't get used is ultimately pointless, and is, in fact, worse than not having that tool to begin with. I personally use Todoist for quick capture and lists, Raindrop for bookmarks and Obsidian for organized information.

Simplify

Simplification doesn't mean becoming a hermit and living in the mountains with no access to the internet and electricity. It simply (ha! get it?) means being aware of your surroundings and making educated choices. This is arguably the hardest step and includes a few key guidelines.

Conclusion

  1. Remember why you are pursuing this.
  2. Keep things and workflows simple and accessible.
  3. Tools and opinions are subjective. Give them a try, but keep this in mind.
  4. Iterate. Become better.
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