Unlocking ADHD-Friendly Processes for Business Growth
"Whenever you see an ADHD entrepreneur that you're either supporting or that you are spinning in this way, I want you to have them focus in on what would benefit them most." - Katie McManus, Brave Business Coaching
Are you tired of being told to simply focus harder or work harder to improve your productivity as an ADHD entrepreneur?
Does it feel like no matter how hard you try, you can't seem to get a handle on your overwhelming to-do list?
It's time to try a new approach.
In this episode, we'll share little-known productivity tips specifically designed for ADHD entrepreneurs, so you can finally conquer the chaos and achieve your goals without feeling constantly overwhelmed or frustrated.
Accessibility: click to read a written-to-be-read transcript of the episode
ADHD-preneurs! Embrace efficiency! It's possible!
Are you an ADHD entrepreneur struggling to stay productive?
Do you want to increase your efficiency and achieve more success in your business?
Look no further, as I will be sharing the ultimate solution to boost productivity for entrepreneurs with ADHD.
Say goodbye to procrastination and hello to heightened productivity, focus, and accomplishment.
Join the ranks of successful ADHD entrepreneurs who have achieved peak performance with our expert tips and techniques.
Unlocking ADHD-friendly processes for your growth
As someone living with ADHD, I understand how challenging it can be for entrepreneurs with the same condition to juggle their daily tasks while running a business.
In this episode of the "Weeniecast", I discuss different ways to overcome procrastination and avoidance and improve productivity for entrepreneurs with ADHD.
I suggest creating daily non-negotiables and breaking down larger tasks into smaller action steps to provide dopamine hits along the way.
I also emphasize the importance of routine, longer work stretches, and short to-do lists to avoid overwhelming oneself.
In addition to productivity tips, I also touch on the importance of addressing underlying trauma related to avoidance and the benefits of consulting a coach or therapist.
This episode that's all about ADHD-friendly processes covers how to:
Tackle the overwhelm by mastering prioritization designed for ADHD entrepreneurs.
Overcome procrastination with outsourcing and body doubling secrets you never knew.
Discover the unexpected advantages and drawbacks of co-working spaces for individuals with ADHD.
Simplify your life with daily non-negotiables and checklists specifically tailored for ADHD entrepreneurs.
Navigate the tender intersection of trauma and avoidance, and learn to treat ADHD clients with heartfelt compassion.
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Get hold of the downloads and guides as well as booking yourself into the 37 Weenie accountability club by clicking here.
Some key moments:
00:00:00 - Introduction,
00:01:37 - The Three Villains!
00:03:33 - Overcoming Overwhelm
00:09:32 - Overcoming Procrastination
00:14:14 - Avoiding avoidance!
00:14:21 - Making tasks more enjoyable for ADHD clients
00:15:27 - Understanding differences between procrastination and avoidance
00:18:55 - Breaking down tasks into smaller steps
00:21:24 - Implementing daily non-negotiables and checklists
00:24:19 - Kind follow-up for ADHD entrepreneurs
Related must-listen episodes
2: Time management ADHD challenges faced by busy ADHD-preneurs
4: ADHD dopamine seeking... and how it impacts on your support teams!
37 Weenie! Cuz 75 Hard Challenge rules and ADHD don't mix!
(If you want to kick the booze and get healthier in mind and body!)
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In this episode, we're going to answer a listener voicemail about how you can make ADHD friendly processes in your business. I am so excited.00:00:17
This is our very first episode that is actually sourced from... I'm sorry, no, this is not our very first episode. We've had other questions in the past that I've gotten via message, but this is our first one that is sourced from someone leaving a voice message on our website. So before we even get into this episode, I want to invite you. If there's any topic that has to do with ADHD, starting your business, your favorite animal, whatever, I would love it if you went to Weeniecast.com, scrolled all the way to the bottom and left us a voice message with that question. Today's episode is inspired by Michael Fox Out of Australia.
He's a consultant and he works with folks who have ADHD. This question is all about well, I'll just let you listen to it. You can listen and then we'll talk about it. G'day, Katie. Michael from Action Advisory here in Australia.
I thought I'd ask you, how do you go about monitoring processes for people with ADHD? See, I help businesses understand what it is that they do, help them streamline things, keep them on task so that things can get done. How do you make sure that they're focusing on the right things at the right time? So whether this is a blessing or a curse, you can make up your mind on your own about that. Oftentimes, folks with ADHD who run their own businesses attract clients who also have ADHD.
Now, in cases like Michael's, where you may have a consulting business and you have to help manage that ADHD, it adds an extra layer, right? Because you're an ADHD person trying to manage other ADHD humans and I mean, it's hard to manage yourself, let's just acknowledge that, but trying to create systems and processes that work for other people so that you can track what's effective and what's ineffective, that's a whole other layer here. So, Michael, you're fighting the good fight. I applaud you for the work that you're doing for my ADHD comrades and arms. And I want to go into this topic giving you two sides of this, right?
Because if you're a Michael and you're working with ADHD businesses and you're trying to create processes for them, this is going to be really helpful for you to know. Also, if you're a business owner and you have ADHD, like most of my listeners are, then I want you to listen to this as, how can I create processes for myself?
So the ADHD entrepreneur faces three villains every single day, and these three villains are overwhelm procrastination and avoidance. Now, if you are trying to manage an ADHD entrepreneur, you have to find a way to help them fight these villains. But here's the trick. You're never going to know which one is actually in front of your client. If you have ADHD and you are that person, you may also just feel this block and this inability to move forward and not be able to notice which one it is.
So let's talk about how you identify what's actually going on. So first and foremost, there's overwhelm. Okay? Overwhelm happens when there is this inability to prioritize all the tasks and all the ideas that are coming through this ADHD brain. There's this great story about this robot that they sent to Mars that exhibited perfect ADHD.
So Mars is really far away, right? So we can't well, we as if I'm sending instructions to robots on Mars. The scientists who put the robot on the planet can't send instructions real time to the robot. So they literally have to transmit a list of tasks that this robot has to do, and the robot will at some point download them. And the robot really has to do thinking and figure out which one to start first.
The scientists were really struggling with this because the robot wasn't completing any of the tasks. The robot would start on one task, get a few steps in and then stop, and then start another task and then get a few steps in and stop, and then start another task and get a few steps in and stop. And what was ultimately happening is this robot didn't have the ability to prioritize which to do item was most important for it to start and complete at any given time. So it would start a task and a few steps in and be like, oh my gosh, there's something more important over here, right? And I remember reading this article and being like, oh my God, that's me.
That is what happens for me. And I started talking to my clients and all my friends about this, and everyone was like, oh my God, this robot is us. We are the robot. We have to invite this robot into the ADHD club. Unfortunately for us, the scientists were able to create a program that helped this robot figure out how to prioritize and upload it into the robot's brain.
We can't do that. I can't wait for science to advance enough that we can. How cool would that be? It would be amazing. Think about it.
If we could upload files into our brains, there would be no need to take history class anymore or math class. We could literally just bypass. We would literally just go in for a day, a year into middle school and high school. We would have the files uploaded. We might have to do a test to make sure that it all got uploaded properly, that we didn't cross like the French Revolution with the story of the Spanish flu or whatever.
We'd get to be merrily on our way and go and have fun and just play ball with friends. Not that I ever would play ball. I would probably be playing with Barbies, but you get the picture anyway.
So when overwhelm is coming to rumble with the ADHD brain, I want you to imagine there are just all these ideas and all these tasks that are fighting for the attention of this one person. This person is having a really hard time figuring out which one they have to tackle first or which one they get to play with first. So when you are working with an ADHD entrepreneur and trying to help them overcome overwhelm, the first step that you have to start with is telling them which item has priority. Because for the ADHD brain, they all feel important. It feels like every single thing on that list needs to happen now.
And what ultimately happens is because everything needs to happen now, they can't focus on any one thing and so nothing ends up getting done and then they end up feeling like sh*t because they fall behind on all of these tasks and all these ideas that they're supposed to be working on. The worst case scenario here is the overwhelm hits them, stays with them, they can't make headway on any of these projects that they need to make headway on and it gets to the point where they fall behind on all the projects. So even if they go to work on one of the projects, the deadline has already passed. So when the deadline has already passed for an ADHD entrepreneur, that's kind of the death toll for that project because it means that that person is not going to get any dopamine even if they do go and complete it. We get dopamine from crossing things off of our list, but not if it's something that we're already behind on that we've already failed at.
So part of this is also really kind deadlines and letting them know when a deadline is really urgent and when a deadline is flexible for a group of people who don't do great with deadlines, we actually thrive with last minute deadlines that are critical. I could name one paper that I wrote in my whole college career that I did ahead of time. Every single other paper, even 20 page research papers I wrote the night before didn't mean I wasn't necessarily like working at it, pulling research stuff, playing around with the ideas in my brain, but there was no way I was going to get started on it until it became absolutely critical. We're all adults now and we need more sleep than we did when we were teenagers, unfortunately. So this may not be the thing that you want to use with your clients, but have faith that if something needs to happen by 08:00 a.m.
Tomorrow morning, we're going to get it done. We just may not look pretty by the end of it. That's the overwhelm villain. The overwhelm villain strikes, especially when ADHD entrepreneurs are tired when they're inspired and when they have too many voices inside their head and out, right? So this could mean that they're having too many conversations with different advisors who have different opinions on things, who are telling them, this is most important.
No, that's most important and this is most important. This is one of the reasons that when I work with a client, I tell them, I want you working with me and no one else because I don't want too many cooks in the kitchen. I don't want what I tell a client to be focusing on in their business, to have to compete with what someone else is telling them to focus on in their business. Because I know nothing's going to happen when they're listening to two voices. Now, it can also be the voices in your head, which don't worry, they're not nuts.
It's literally just like the should voices that happen, oh, I should be working on this and I should be working on that. Whenever you see an ADHD entrepreneur that you're either supporting or that you are spinning in this way, I want you to have them focus in on what would benefit them most. Not what they should do, but what's the one task that would benefit them most in this moment. You can also ask them, what do they want to focus on most in this moment? Because that'll help you overcome the second villain.
You can also ask them, what do they want to focus on most in this moment, because that'll help you overcome the second villain procrastination. So when we think of how ADHD folks have been described in the past, I mean, we're given this image of a kid who can't focus in class. They're poking their friend, they're running around, they can't sit down and settle, they don't do their homework, all these different things. That is not actually how ADHD shows up for most of us, that shows up when we're not interested in the thing. I remember my parents telling me that when they were realizing that I probably had ADHD.
I was in second grade and my teacher was noticing that at story time, I would sit on the carpet with all my classmates. And instead of listening to the story that my teacher was telling, I don't know if she just had a really boring voice or if the books that she chose were crap, but instead of listening to the story, I would sit there and I had these little ankle socks that kind of went halfway up my ankle, and I would just roll them down and up my ankle, and I would just focus on that, and I'd be off in some other land thinking about all the things that were going on in my brain. I have no idea what. But after story time, she'd come up to me and she'd say, Katie, what did you like about the story today? And I wouldn't be able to tell her because I did not tune in for any of it.
Whenever she taught something that I was really interested in, I would absorb every detail. If she were to turn around to me and say, hey, Katie, can you teach this to the class tomorrow? I'd be able to do it as a second grader because I was hanging on every word. When you think of ADHD, I want you to think like, we don't have the ability to choose what we focus on. We can only focus on the things that actually interest us.
And oftentimes when you experience an ADHD entrepreneur procrastinating on something, it's because it's something that they don't enjoy doing. That's not all the scenarios of procrastination, but it is some of them. And so if you're managing someone with ADHD, you want to really hone in on, are you interested in doing this? And if they're not interested, and if it's appropriate and they're able to outsource it to someone else do that, it's going to be so much easier, better and effective to outsource it to someone who is either interested in it or will do it, not caring if they're interested than to try to get this ADHD person to do something they're not interested in. It's like pulling teeth if you're not able to outsource this thing.
There are actually three ways that you can get an ADHD person to do something that they have absolutely no interest in. One is body doubling. So literally being on a zoom call with them while they do it and being a resource to them if they have any questions, if they want to have a little temper tantrum at you, if they're overthinking it and just want to ask them questions. Body doubling is an amazing way for the ADHD brain to get worked on that they hate. This is why I love coworking sessions.
And if you want to hear more about coworking and my thoughts on how you can make it work for you, I want you to go check out episode 20. I go all into the benefits and challenges of coworking for folks with ADHD so you can cowork with them. You can also find ways to make this miserable task more interesting for them. This will obviously vary depending on the task. So I do this for it with myself because I absolutely hate cleaning.
I hate it. I hate cleaning. I hate folding laundry. I like doing laundry. It's the folding part and the putting away part that I find really challenging.
It just doesn't interest me. And so one of the things that I will do to make it more doable is I will basically call a friend and have a whole phone conversation while I'm doing those things because I really enjoy talking to my friends, okay? I'm a phone talker. I can also put on a book on tape on Audible and listen to that while I'm doing these things. I cannot it doesn't matter how many times I've seen a movie or a TV show, I cannot have something on the TV while I'm trying to do this.
I will just there and watch it. It backfires. Of course that's a personal example, but you have to find different ways to make this more enjoyable for your client or yourself.
And the other thing that you can do is really time batch it. So remember folks with ADHD, we don't do well with short time batching, right? Time blocking, that's too short. Where we're worried that we're going to be interrupted and we're going to run out of time doesn't work for us. So you want to give yourself like a good three or 4 hours to get this done.
It'll give you enough time in the front end to really transition into this kind of work. But also you'll be able to make really good headway and you won't be stressed out about oh God, when's my time up. And if you want to hear more about time management, then please go back to one of our early episodes, episode two where I go deep into this. I want you to imagine procrastination and avoidance are basically evil twins that work together, right? So procrastination and avoidance are similar in that the thing that needs to get done doesn't get done.
However, they are different in that when someone's procrastinating it's because usually they are having a hard time prioritizing what needs to happen. They just don't want to do it or it's just not interesting to them. Avoidance is like the more fu*& ed up twin.
It's the twin that was really treated badly by the parents. Like there was a favorite twin, the procrastinator, and then the avoidance one was just treated really poorly and they have a major tip on their shoulder and maybe some trauma. Usually when there's avoidance, there actually can be some trauma under the surface. So I want to use a really classic example of avoiding looking at money, right? This is really common with folks with ADHD because there's a lot of shame around being bad with money anyway.
And also because we have ADHD, we tend to be a little more impulsive. And impulsivity plus money usually equals some scenarios where you made bad decisions which then feeds into the story of oh, you must be bad with money. And so remember, whenever we're talking about trauma, it doesn't necessarily have to be like a quote unquote checks all the boxes, traumatic event, okay? Trauma for a person just has to be that there is a scenario in which they were made to believe that they were unsafe. So when we're thinking about self caused trauma, it has an extra edge to it, right?
Because the trauma was caused by us. So for someone who has ADHD, who has this whole narrative around, oh, my God, I'm really bad with money. I can't be trusted with money. I make really bad decisions. I waste money all the time.
And then they have to go and do accounting for their business. What's that going to activate, right? Because they don't want to go in and actually look to see if there's any more evidence that they've actually been bad with money. Money is one of those things that's literally tied to our ability to survive. And our lizard brains can make that connection that if you're bad with money, you're less likely to survive if you're bad with money.
If you're bad enough with money, then that could actually cost you years on your life. So that becomes a really scary thing to look at. It is the complete ultimate danger zone for someone with ADHD. So I want you to notice if there are things that you absolutely avoid doing versus procrastinating doing, whenever there's massive avoidance and just don't even want to go there, look at it, it usually indicates that there's something deeper going on, that there's some narrative that needs to be worked through. I highly recommend either working with a therapist on these things or working with a coach who specializes in whatever it is that you're avoiding.
But honestly, even if you do work with a coach, I still want you working with a therapist on that. When we procrastinate, there's this different edge. Like, we know about it, we're thinking about it, we're putting it on our to do list. We got to do it. It's something that we're talking about, yeah, I got to do this, I got to do this, I got to do this.
When we're avoiding something, it's something that we don't even want to acknowledge. But for both of these, the approach is going to be similar. Usually we're procrastinating or avoiding something and it turns into this massive project in our brains, right? And so the best thing someone with ADHD can do is break it down into smaller action steps. Now, what this does is a it mitigates the oh, my God, this is huge.
It gives them all these smaller tasks. The smaller tasks actually are dopamine hits, right? So we all know that saying, eat the frog first thing in the morning, do the hardest thing on your to do list. For neurotypicals, that works. For neurodivergent folks, it does not work, especially folks with ADHD, folks.
With ADHD, we already have a dopamine deficiency. We need to build up enough dopamine so that we can tackle that bigger thing. All right? So breaking down the big project into smaller little projects is going to be so much more helpful for us to tackle the bigger thing later on in the day. And let me just tell you how it goes.
When you try to flip it, when you try to do the hardest thing of the day in the morning. What ends up happening is you do a lot of bullsh*t work avoiding doing that thing. None of it actually moves the needle on anything in your business. And then by the time you are just spent, you've used up all your energy, all of your creative juices for the day, you really haven't gotten anything done and you feel like garbage because that big thing that you needed to do, you didn't do. And you also didn't get anything else useful done that day.
Don't do that to yourself and also don't do that to your clients. If you're supporting someone with ADHD, don't expect that of them. And it's so funny, we actually just finished recording this episode and my producer Neil and I just had a moment where he was like, oh my God, I did this to you because he was projecting onto me what he thought would be most difficult for me. And I just want to remind you, if you're supporting someone with ADHD, you actually can't assume what they will find difficult, okay? You can't assume what will be that big juicy frog for them to eat.
What might be a juicy frog for you will actually be just a minnow for them and you won't know unless you ask. So bring a whole bunch of curiosity to your work with them and they'll be very grateful.
Now this is where my favorite tool comes in and this is daily non negotiables and checklists. So for folks with ADHD, we do really well when we do the same thing every single day, and not so well when it's sporadic and you kind of have to do it on like the third Thursday of the month and then every second Tuesday and this and that and the other thing because we just forget. And when we forget, there's always that moment two days later we're like, oh fu*k, I forgot to do that thing. Oh no, someone's going to hate me for that. So whenever I'm working with my clients, I give them three non negotiables every single day.
They have to do these three things and I actually do these in my life too. So number one is visibility. People can't hire you if they don't know that you exist. So no matter what you do that day, you can go on to the social media apps, you can comment on other people's posts, you can post something yourself. You could do a live, you could call five people and tell them what you're up to, I don't care.
But you have to go out and be visible every damn day, even on weekends, every single day. You have to tend to your mind and your spirit, whatever this is. You have to either meditate, go for a walk in the woods, play with your dog, pray, whatever it is, for you to tend to your mind and spirit. You have to spend some time there. This could also be reading it could also be doing art, whatever has you feeling at peace.
And then you also have to do something for your body. This could be prioritizing drinking enough water. It could be sleeping eight to 9 hours that night. It could be going and working out, which I highly recommend for folks with ADHD. But you have to do something that tends to this meat suit that is going to carry you through life.
Because guess what? If you own your own business and your meat suit fails, guess what's? Not going to survive your business. And we don't want that. We want your business to be massively successful.
We want you to be healthy while you do it. And in addition to that, anything else that the ADHD entrepreneur has to do every single day, it's so much better for their mental health for you just to give them a checklist or to give yourself a checklist. What are the things that they have to do every day? Give them something that they can cross it off or exit out. Give them that little dopamine hit of saying, this is no longer on my to do list today.
I find also that putting more than three things on a to do list per day becomes overwhelming. And what ultimately happens is if you have five things on your to do list and you only do three of them and you get to the end of the day and you still have two, you actually don't get the full dopamine hit. But when you have three things and you get them done and maybe a fourth thing, oh my God, you get the dopamine hit plus some, you got a bonus point. That's badass. So keep your to do list each day or your must do list each day very, very short.
And lastly, this is mainly for those of you who are supporting folks with ADHD in their businesses. Keep your follow up kind the person who has ADHD is very used to authority figures or parents or even group partners coming to them being like, where the hell is this part that you are responsible for? You're screwing this up, you're going to get docked points, you're going to get fired, you're never going to be successful. So you may come to them and be like, hey, where's the thing that I asked you to do? And you don't have to say any of those mean things, but your ADHD client is going to start saying them to themselves.
So you have to go above and beyond to say, hey, listen, I'm just checking in on this. No stress if it's not done, but want to be able to plan my work accordingly, to be able to support you to get this done above and beyond kind follow up is going to be so helpful to your clients. And by the way, if you are that client, you can train your team to do this with you and let me tell you, it makes a world of difference. So, Michael, I hope that answers your question. If you have any follow ups, please do go to Weeniecast.com.
Give us another voice message. And for those of you who want your question answered, please do the same. And if you want to learn more about how you can train your teams better to support you as an ADHD entrepreneur, then please go check out episode four, where I go all into that.