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Success with using GTD for ppl with ADD?

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  • Success with using GTD for ppl with ADD?

    I haven't been unsuccessful locating previous topics on this subject probably because ADD is also 'add' so it pulls up 500 topics.

    I've been working to implement GTD and some of my family is considering make the change also. We are in the process of trying to determine if one of my family members (one of the most disorganized) is also struggling with ADD. I am pretty new to the subject...currently reading "Delivered from Distraction" and "You Mean I'm not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?!"

    Any GTD specific suggestions would be much appreciated as well as any ADD initial coping skills suggestions. It would seem to me that GTD should still work...and the books stress ADD ppl need to get "organized enough to accomplish their goals", but I don't know if there would be special implementation issues. I mean I have struggled with the change for months!

  • #2
    Do an advanced search and select to seach titles only. This returns about 50 posts.

    Unfortunately, I can offer no advice on this except to say that several threads have address this topic and poeple say that GTD can definately help.


    • #3
      It really helps.

      I agree with Max Aspen, lots has been written.

      My personal experiences are that GTD has IMMENSELY helped me cope with my ADD. People get a little weirded out when you start to use portable capture tools like notecards and notebooks to store information in. Ever since I have installed this collection habit in to my life IT HAS BEEN SO MUCH EASIER! I cannot tell you how many times I have been delegated something- have immediately captured it on a notecard- and reviewed it later to not even remember it being delegated to me! The "externalizing your thinking" part of GTD is a life saver for people with ADD. This way I can keep going off on my tangents (like most ADDers) but not have to worry because everything is captured. The second part is processing and organizing and ultimately getting to doing. This skill can be honed with routines and practice for ADDers...

      But my first bit of advice for an ADDer is get an INBASKET where you can start to collect your creations and eventually process. and get a stack of notecards and a moleskine and take it with you everywhere.

      Once you build the corral around your creations you can start to gain control. I hope this helps.



      • #4

        One of DA's coaches was also an ADD coach (Meg Edwards). Perhaps you can inquire as to whether there are any ways to make learning the system or implementng it more effective for people with ADD. Age and talents may be a factor and I tend the think the answer is a bit individual in so far as attention problems can have rather individual variations. Some ADD people can't pay attention to anything vary long, others pay attention to the wrong thing, others need help with visual, emotional or auditory distraction and then can concentrate fine. Other have trouble starting and/or have trouble stopping. For others it might be more of a short term memory problem, by the time they have read through a page they forgot what it said at the top unless they were writing and summarizing as they went. Getting bored, difficulty with follow through and consistency might also be the real difficulty. You might try to brainstorm the problems, what has failed in other systems and what has worked, then see what you culd do to make GTD work for the indivual. Also, someone started a thread on Thinking Rock software and I somehow got the idea that that software was meant to help people with ADD but I am not sure.


        • #5
          Well put.

          Excellent points, Jamie.


          • #6
            GTD and ADD

            Hi Aspen,

            I wrote an article a while back for the coaches corner on GTD and ADD. I don't know if you saw it. I also wrote an article on procrastination and distraction.


            Here are a couple of tips. Hope they help.

            First: when you set up your categories, you might want to start with as few categories as you can and then add if you need more. Agendas, Errands, Home, Work, Waiting For, Projects and Someday Maybe is a good place to start. I find that many people with ADD get "lost" if they have too many places to go to when they want to "do" work. If @work doesn't make sense then call it @office or @company name. etc... make it your own.

            Second: When collecting, separate current work from backlog. It is really easy to start processing and organzing backlog but start with current work first and then make a plan to chip away at the backlog.

            Third: Know how your ADD impacts you and use those strategies when implementing GTD. For example, sometimes my clients do best processing to music which helps them focus better and stay on task.

            More than happy to continue this discussion.


            • #7
              As a side note, my wife and I have had immense success with ADD using the Feingold diet (as opposed to drugs). No special herbal pills or anything weird, we eat items commonly found in the grocery store.

              Common-sense stuff, they say it helps approximately 17 out of 20 people get off drugs. Those numbers are hard to fudge!! Even if they're exaggerating by a whopping 50%, that's still about 8 out of 20 helped!


              • #8
                Here is a thread on this forum that might help you -

                I know that there are others, but this is one I could get to quickly.


                • #9
                  I've been thinking about your post for a couple of days and have a couple of thoughts and questions.

                  1 What is the age of the "family member" that may have ADD?

                  2 If a child or young person (up-to 20) I would not suggest GTD but rather a simpler time management system. The following link may help:

                  Should the individual be over 20 then a simplified GTD may be of benefit.

                  3 A formal diagnostic of ADD (or other issue(s)) is warranted what ever the age. ADD takes many forms and degrees ... self diagnostics is not something I or you should feel comfortable with and can lead to greater problems.

                  4 Your local big box book store has many books that deal with ADD, spend some time looking through the list. Or alternatively head over to Amazon and run a general ADD search. Plus do not forget you local library or school district ... usually a great resource.


                  • #10

                    I have Adult ADD, diagnosed, and have had a lot of luck with GTD. The main thing that's helping me is getting everything written down. It's such a relief to get into work and know what needs to be done. It really cuts down on the wasting-time-because-everything's-overwhelming-and-I-don't-know-where-to-start behavior.

                    The other reason I believe this is working for me when the top-down methods like Covey didn't is that I never was able to pay attention long enough to get from the high level down to the level where stuff needed to be done. This got me productive so I can start to worry about the high-level stuff now.

                    I would recommend taking a section of one's life and starting - just work, or just home. You can always expand, but if you try to brain dump everything in your life you may get overwhelmed by the details and not be able to get out. Once it's working in one area then expand it to other areas of your life.

                    My two cents. I have had multiple co-workers - including my boss - tell me how amazed they are at how organized I now am, and especially what it's done for my productivity.

                    Good luck,


                    • #11
                      He's 35 and we're waiting on a consult for a formal diagnosis. We've all done some pretty extensive reading since the suspicion first came up, and there is almost definitely some level of ADD there. It was *hidden* all these years because he's never had any hyperactivity behavior at all and just the concentration issues didn't raise enough red flags I guess.

                      He's interested in trying GTD but goes into avoidance mode at even the idea of the initial dump. Several things that have been mentioned here help us understand why this is, but some say the entire dump is needed to trust the system and get rid of the worry that things are falling through the cracks and the rest say that the overwhelmingness of the initial dump is sometimes paralyzing.

                      It looks like for now we'll have to play it by ear and do as Ms Edwards suggested and to whatever level he does the initial capture make sure that there is a defnite demarkation between current and backlogged work.

                      Thanks for the links and suggestions...they are all being pursued!


                      • #12

                        Good to see the age and the fact that a formal diagnosis has been undertaken. Given the avoidance issue, this is a learned response, one that is deeply imbedded in the individual. At 35 they have a long and deep history that needs to be addresses and or modified/changed. Not a easy task for them or their family! So you will need to work day-to-day with this person to redirect and rebuild them

                        A "body double" is one way to achieve this ... it's simplify a individual who regularly checks in with the person and sees want's on the plate and helps them move it forward. This could be a family member of a paid professional ( with ADD experience). Good luck.