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Today, I’m talking about how I make my ADHD my superpower at work and more specifically as an entrepreneur. In the spirit of full transparency, while I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 10 years, it’s only the last year that I’ve discovered that I have ADHD, and learned how to use it to my advantage.
Now, this podcast episode, video and blog post (which ever way you like to consume) is for you if you have or suspect you have adhd. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur because a lot of this can translate into freelance and regular employment.
Also, I’m never one to give parental advice (because I don’t have kids), but for those of you who are parents of ADHDer’s or just parents period, this is also something that’s helpful to think about in terms of your kiddos.
I WISH my parents had the awareness and capacity to raise me in a way that leveraged my ADHD, but we didn’t know I had it, so it is what it is. But if I can share these insights to help you or the next generation, it will have all been worth while.
Why do ADHD Entrepreneurs Have Superpowers?
ADHD is not a deficit of attention as the name implies. In fact, we have the ability to hyper focus and be super productive when we’re in what Gay Hendricks likes to call, “a genius zone”.
This is why I think ADHDers do so well as entrepreneurs. Because when we are free to leverage our superpowers and be intentional about the work we do, we’re seriously unstoppable. It’s only when we’re forced to do work we don’t have interest in, that our symptoms present in a negative way and that can look like the inability to get started, stay focused and follow through.
Now, back to that interest-driven brain and how to make it your entrepreneurial superpower.
Create ADHD-Friendly Structure and Boundaries to Manage Ideas + Action
ADHDer’s always find creative ways of doing things. Our brains think divergently which means instead having one sequential thought, I have 64 thoughts all at the same time. This kind of thinking sucks for execution, but it’s amazing for brainstorming original ideas.
Now, for the average bear, too many ideas can be a total distraction, but it’s a superpower when you have a boundary about not executing on “raw” ideas (aka, impulsivity). Personally, this means I don’t create or act on anything until it’s gone through my vetting process.
For content creation, that means keyword research. For client experience, that means testing it for relevance and viability. For personal things like impulse buying, I make myself wait 24 hours before I hit the buy button.
These boundaries help me pause, and switch by brain from reactivity and impulsivity into rational decision making which is something that’s not always readily available for ADHDers. But if can come up with a system for collecting ideas, then scheduling time to review them (particularly after a workout, a coffee and a dose of ADHD meds) then you’ll be better prepared to take action on them, or decide not to.
Control Your Time + Energy to Optimize for ADHD Superpower Moments
Most of us with ADHD have unpredictable energy. This can be problematic in a typical 9-5 when you’ve got to show up and be “on” during office hours.
This isn’t the best way for ADHDers to work. Entrepreneurship enables ADHD brains to manage productive time more autonomously so they can optimize for hyperfocus periods where they are super productive.
The best way I’ve found to do this in my own business is to create workflows and revenue streams that are asynchronous, meaning, not in real time. Instead, I focus more on content creation, courses and group coaching rather than just 1-1 client appointments. Having this flexible structure ensures that I don’t have to show up and be awesome when I don’t want to.
Plan + Time Block Your Week
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that my “One Thing” for January is to train myself to use a calendar and intentionally block my time. I need to do this because if I don’t, I’ll just work on whatever is interesting in the moment, which is typically not something that’s useful at all.
So there are two parts to this process. As I mentioned, there’s the part where you have to train yourself to check your calendar (and if you have ADHD, you know this is a hard thing) and the other part is planning your week thoughtfully and strategically so that my actions align with my goals. This again, isn’t something that comes naturally to me, or perhaps most of us, but we can do hard things, right?
So I started this routine with just getting used to checking my calendar every day and time blocking very loosely. Then week after week as I started to get a feel for how long things took and started developing workflows, I was able to plan with more specificity. And please know that prior to starting this process, I had zero strategy or workflows. I would run through my week like a drunk toddler, working on projects in a willy nilly way that didn’t serve me in the least.
So wrap this point up, the superpower here is to leverage your time and energy by creating as much autonomy in your schedule as possible and creating systems to manage your drunk toddler-like tendencies.
I can’t emphasize this enough – when you have the right boundaries, and you know what to do, it’s way easier to focus and get shnizzle done. Trust me on this.
Create Habits Like an ADHD Superpower Ninja
Now, this is something I’ve been doing for a long time and it has served me well. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that my first personal transformation was in fitness and health. I went from a pack-a-day smoker and binge party drinker who was well over 200 pounds, to what you see now. A healthy, fit, non-partying, non-smoking, go-to-bed at 9pm, adult.
This transformation happened in my 20s, but it stuck because I created habits that supported a healthier lifestyle and I did it slowly over time.
Losing 80lbs and quitting smoking is hard guys!
I am not your cold-turkey type and I am not great at follow through. I had to make these changes super simple and as easy as possible or I would give up! Persistence is literally my lowest scoring character strength, and if you have ADHD, I bet it’s the same for you, too.
So how do Habits Become ADHD entrepreneurial superpowers?
What I’ve learned is that slow and simple wins the race, every time. Especially with ADHD! I have created and continue to create habits that drive results, just like I did in my weight loss journey, and it’s because my brain works amazingly well on autopilot.
And what are habits? Nothing but autopilot behaviors!
For example, I show up in my office every day to work because it’s a habit. I show up in my living room or our home gym every day to workout because it’s a habit. I don’t spend time deciding if I want to do it, I just do it.
So now I’m building that same kind of habit with my calendar. My Alexa reminds me to check it 4 times a day until it’s a habit. I’m also planning my week every Sunday and following through with what I’ve mapped out, and I have a coach to keep me accountable.
I’m also creating and testing workflows (which is a miracle in and of itself) and even time tracking them with Clickup too to see how long tasks actually take (have I mentioned how much I love this ADHD-friendly productivity system?).
All of this awareness and experimentation has lead me toward my highest quality work, consistent focus, and effortless productivity. Quite honestly, the results have been amazing.
I’ve never seen this level of clarity, focus and output in my previous businesses. Now, we can chalk some of that up to experience, but more so, it’s about accepting my ADHD brain and finding ways to work with it to become a superpower!
Get to Know Your Unique ADHD Brain, Intimately
Every person with ADHD presents a little differently, so it’s up to each of us to discover our blind spots and learn how to leverage our energy, focus and superpower sweet spots.
How do we do that?
Start by discovering character strengths, core values, interests and talents. We should also be aware of what drains us, what we should no longer tolerate, and what boundaries we need to be happy and successful.
Much of this can be done with the help of a good therapist, but if you want to integrate these insights into your future and leverage them as superpowers, then coaching is the way to go.
The Power of ADHD Coaching to Find Your Super-powered Self
Last year, I started investing in coaching the minute I suspected I might have ADHD and I have not stopped since. I’ve gone through professional ADHD coach training and I continue to invest in personal coaching because let’s face it guys, it’s hard to operate on yourself.
I have learned so much about who I am and how my brain works, I’ve uncovered a ton of ridiculous beliefs that were not just holding me back, but dragging me down like a pair of cement slippers.
Need Help Making Your ADHD Your Entrepreneurial Superpower?
If you have no idea where to start with leveraging your adhd as a superpower, then I’d be happy to help you. We can do that 1-1, but I don’t have much availability for 1-1 clients, (back to that preference for synchronous work) so please jump in now while you still can and at a great rate.
Later this year, I plan to start doing group coaching, which have even greater benefits for my clients, especially when it comes to optimizing work or entrepreneurship.
So if you want to get coached, head to itsadhdfriendly.com/coaching for more details. And until next time my friends, I wish you the BEST adhd-friendly week, and of course, if you liked this podcast, please go ahead and give it a 5-star adhd-friendly review.