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If you’re a fan of productivity tools, you’ve probably heard of the 12 Week Year planning system, based on the book, The 12 Week Year.
This system promises to help you achieve your goals faster and more efficiently by condensing them into 12-week cycles. However, in this blog post, we’ll explore why this system didn’t work for my ADHD brain, and the problems I encountered, and the problems my clients encounter with productivity tools in general.
Planning in the 12 Week Year Framework – High hopes that died fast
I started the 12 Week Year with high hopes of crushing my business goals in the first three months of the year. I created an elaborate Notion setup and was ready to be a badass like everyone else on YouTube who uses this format. But spoiler alert: it completely failed. It didn’t do what it promised to do.
In this blog post, I’ll share why it didn’t work for me, but more importantly, how I used this system failure to evaluate where the system broke down for me, so that I can move forward with something that works better.
The Problem with the 12 Week Year
One of the problems with the 12 Week Year planning system, and productivity tools in general, is that they promise to get you to your goals faster by increasing your effectiveness and efficiency. However, in reality, sometimes a goal needs to take as long as it needs to take in order to happen. Weight loss, finding a parter, getting pregnant, having a baby, saving money for a down payment. All of these things take time. When we adopt systems with defined end dates, it puts unnecessary pressure on the entire process to happen in that time.
Why the 12 Week Year Didn’t Work for my ADHD Brain
My goal was (and still is) to achieve at least six figures of passive revenue in my business in 2023. However, the 12 Week Year planning system forced my brain to focus on outcomes and not enough focus on process.
Here’s what I know to be true 100% of the time for ADHDers – when we hold outcomes too tightly and assume that if it doesn’t happen exactly the way we plan it to, then we failed – and that’s not true or helpful. At the end of the day, we can do everything in our power to achieve a goal, but not everything is going to be in our control.
The biggest flaw I noticed in the 12 Week Year Planning System
When you condense a goal into such a small period of time, you almost have to know exactly what the steps are that you need to take in order to achieve the goal. And because I hadn’t yet achieved this goal, I didn’t know which ways were going to work for me. When you give yourself such a short period of time to see how your strategies are rolling out, you have no time for reflection. And when you have no time for reflection, you have no time to implement intentional strategies that are actually going to work for you, your business, and your energy.
What I recommend ADHDers do instead
Here’s the issue I have with condensed timelines for important goals – when you have ADHD, very often you already feel like you’re falling behind. So anything that accelerates that feeling can make you spiral into self-doubt and eventually drop the pursuit. Instead, I encourage my clients to give themselves just enough time to make the goal feel urgent, but focus on process over outcome. Giving yourself ample time to reflect and iterate so you’re moving forward in a way that doesn’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to achieve a goal in a fixed period of time.
It’s not all bad…
Even though 12 Week Year Planning didn’t work for me, that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. The key takeaway is to be mindful of the pressure we put on ourselves to achieve our goals and to give ourselves the time and space to figure out what works best for us as neurodivergent thinkers.
More importantly, if you struggle with productivity tools or systems in general, don’t take it personally. Most of these systems were created by people with very linear brains that work differently then our own. So instead, when something doesn’t work for you, reflect on why and what changes you can make to create a system that does work.
Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to productivity. The key is to find what works best for you and your unique situation. So take the time to reflect, experiment, and build a system that helps you achieve your goals in a way that feels sustainable and fulfilling.
Curious How ADHD Coaching Can Help with Productivity?
Ironically, many of my clients come to me with personal belief that they are not organized or perhaps that they’re “lazy” because they aren’t productive in the general sense of the word. I help them find ways to unlock productivity with systems and structures that work for their brain.
And once an ADHDer can find their own groove, there’s no stopping them! You can learn more about my coaching services here.