Entrepreneurs are like a crapload of people in one. They are the talent, the financiers, the marketers. They have to be creative and business-minded and have their foot in every part of the business. Now imagine being every one of those people with the questions, thoughts, details and overall obsessive concerns of all those people constantly running through your head. That’s the life of an entrepreneur with ADHD.
I wasn’t diagnosed with my ADHD until adulthood. I was told by the doctor that I was very high-functioning and that made it easy for me to compensate for many years and never be diagnosed. The reason that it was becoming increasingly difficult as an adult was because I was taking on so much. Looking back on my childhood I can see how my ADHD affected me every single day but I never knew that what I was struggling with wasn’t “normal”. I know that ADHD can tend to be a little over-diagnosed and so it’s hard for people to accept it’s existence. It wasn’t until I was old enough to be really self-aware that I realized my process wasn’t what is considered the norm and had to come to terms with what I was dealing with.
My biggest issue is my inability to focus which makes it difficult to organize and plan. Having so many thoughts going through my head at once makes it so that I bounce around from thing to thing without completing the last task and because my brain overthinks everything, my anxiety (which was diagnosed as GAD) settles in and every reason why something won’t work has now become the new topic. So everything becomes, “ooh I need to that but…” It also makes me forget things quickly so if I don’t return a text message, an email, or a phone call immediately, days could go by before I ever think about it again and the anxiety of having to talk to people and give them the right information makes me procrastinate which is also an issue when it comes to networking and being social. Social anxiety and awkwardness sets in and it can be crippling. Decision making takes so long that sometimes things just don’t get done.
All of these things combined make being an entrepreneur that much harder BUT on the flip-side of it. Entrepreneurship fits my personality perfectly. My focus issues work both ways. There are days when I can hyper focus on a task and it helps me to really put my all into it. When I love something I learn everything there is to learn about it which really gives me confidence in what I am doing and helps me better much better at it. Thinking through every side of something helps it to be more perfect when it FINALLY is completed. I also think there is a sense of free-thinking which comes along with my ADHD which helps my creativity.
In order to be able to run multiple businesses and continue to be high-functioning, it has been necessary to incorporate techniques to help to keep me at least remotely organized.
I cannot not make lists. To do list, list of places to visit, lists of people ideas, lists of people, lists of events, list of groceries lol. My lists are everything! They help me to make space in my head but getting things down and they help me to not forget. If there are items I need to bring for a photo shoot in the morning. I have to write ever item down. I will without question forget an item if I try to keep it in my memory.
Evernote is life. Evernote is an app that keeps track of… well, everything. This is where I organize my post ideas, and shoot ideas, and all of my lists. I have had Evernote for years but never took full advantage of it until recently and it is a lifesaver! Stay tuned for my whole post about my Evernote and the best ways that it helps me and can help you too (ADHD or not)!
A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING
This is something I’m working on trying to really stick with but having a set place for everything really helps my forgetfulness. For example, I put my car keys in the same exact place every time because if I don’t, they will easily get lost. My brain does not hold onto random information if I am not deliberate about it because there are just more important things to worry about so I have to be very conscious about small details.
I write every event down on my calendar. Networking, sessions, birthday parties, etc. if it’s not on my calendar, it’s not happening. I won’t remember the date or time. There has to be 1-2 alerts set as well. A reminder a few days out so I know something is coming up and I can mentally prepare to have to be out and about and then one the same day to make sure I’m there timely (or close to it).
Those are four major things I do to try to combat my ADHD & GAD but there are so many more. One of my favorite books that has helped me and has a lot of useful tips is Your Life Can Be Better by Douglas A. Puryear. The author struggles with ADHD and talks about how it has affected his family and his work life. He gives lots of really great tips to get organized and stay focused.
Whether you have ADHD or not, what are some of the ways that help you to stay organized that may help someone that struggles to stay organized like myself?