Banish desk chaos. “a clean environment keeps the mind clean
and sharp,” shankman says.
Ask for deadlines. if your boss
says it’s okay for you to turn in
something “when you can,” it may
be tempting to accept that leeway. but an open-ended assignment can be harder to prioritize.
“pick a date for everything you
want to accomplish and set it in
stone,” shankman recommends.
Make a night-before plan. Work
backward to map out how you’ll
prepare for an event or meeting.
that can include getting enough
sleep the night before and choosing an outfit. since shankman
wakes up at 3: 45 a.m. to exercise,
he simplifies his morning routine
by sleeping in his workout clothes.
Delegate where you can. Hiring
an assistant to manage your calendar isn’t in everyone’s budget.
try a virtual assistant instead, or
When Peter Shankman was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity dis-
order (ADHD) in his thirties, he finally understood why he’d been going to such extreme
lengths to achieve a heightened focus, including skydiving and triathlons. In his popular
podcast, Faster Than Normal, he interviews ADHD experts and discusses how he’s learned
to use his unique brain wiring to professional advantage as an entrepreneur, angel investor, and author of four books.
Some of his tactics may seem extreme: When Shankman was two weeks from a book
deadline in 2014, he bought a $5,000 round-trip business-class ticket to Tokyo, hopped on
the flight the next day, and returned home 30 hours later with a finished draft. But many
of his approaches can apply to anyone, whether they have ADHD (and $5,000 to spare) or
not. Here are Shankman’s tips for boosting your productivity, from his most recent book,
Faster Than Normal: Turbocharge Your Focus, Productivity, and Success With the Secrets of the
ADHD Brain. —PM
organize your life with tools like
Calendly and Wunderlist. “there’s
so much good help out there
that doesn’t cost a lot of money,”
Compartmentalize tasks. Carve
out time for just one thing, and
stick to that until you’re done.
Make rituals—not resolutions.
most people struggle to keep
resolutions, so shankman suggests making rituals, the holy grail
for people with aDHD. “the trick
is to constantly focus on both
how you feel when you do it and
how you feel when you don’t,”
he writes. if you want to wake up
earlier, zero in on the feeling of
having a more productive day.
Find your routine. schedule calls
or field emails during the same
block of time every day. “Change
is great when you’re trying to be
creative, but not so much when
you need to focus,” shankman says.
Put your devices
percent of americans
can reach their
phones without moving their feet 24
hours a day,” says
adam alter, author
of Irresistible: The
Rise of Addictive
Technology and the
Business of Keeping
Us Hooked. “It’s
easier to resist
the charms of your
inbox if it’s not
Check email three
times a day: when
you arrive at your
desk, before lunch,
and at the end of the
day. try a tool like
Inbox Pause, which
delivers emails at
Consider a service
such as Shortwhale,
which allows you to
limit the length of
emails and set up an
FaQ page, reducing
the number of messages you receive or
need to respond to.
“It ensures that they
your time needlessly,” says alter. —SV
Plan for the unexpected.
staying productive during
stretches of “deep work” isn’t
typically a problem. it’s the
15 minutes between meetings—
the “short-burst downtime”—
that can throw a wrench into your
day. use that time to text a
friend or meditate.
Find your people. surround
yourself with folks who can
support you and hold you accountable. “i don’t care
how you find these people,
but make sure that one or more
of them are smarter than you,
one or more are older, one or
more are younger, and one
or more are not as smart (so
that you can give back),” shankman says.
Remember the finish line. Every
time you take on a new task,
identify the “essential problem.”
then “break it down into
manageable pieces, employ the
strategies you’ve learned, and
get it done.”
From a CEo WitH aDHD
– Peter Bregman Leadership Guru, and Host of Ford Transit Connect and FastCo Works new productivity video series, “The Specialists.”
Make every interaction you have with others meaningful and fruitful by leading with the
punchline. What’s the most important thing that needs to be said? Start with that and
your interactions will be clear, concise, and productive.