I’ve learned to make what other people generally consider shortcomings into my superpowers. I talk about it in my book Kill Something and Drag It Home. I do not believe that we have to let diagnoses fully define who we are. Does it affect who we are? Sure. It is part of who we are, but it doesn’t have to own us. I am diagnosed with both complex post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder…and I am (usually…like anyone else, I can have my days that suck) a productivity powerhouse.
It Started with Embracing the Good Parts
Not everything associated with C-PTSD and OCD is negative despite what the public and many people dealing with the disorders may lead you to believe. It’s all in how we choose to embrace it. I’ve always been an overachiever. It initially started through a negative aspect of me attempting to gain the approval of my parents. As an adult, always finding something to do and staying busy led to promotions and recognition at work. Coworkers often disapproved and suggested I not work as hard or as fast…I didn’t work hard. And I wasn’t about to change who I was just to make them happy.
Staying busy was a way that helped me (a) obsess in a positive way to benefit myself (especially now that I run my own business) and (b) stay busy which helped me not get as anxious or panic as often for personal reasons (due to the C-PTSD). Now, there are times when I may start of dealing with C-PTSD which then triggers obsessive thoughts…or vice versa which makes it more difficult to become productive. Shit happens. Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and that’s when I have to engage one or more of the many coping skills I’ve learned through specialized therapy or that I learned through research from reputable websites. But what you have to understand is that no amount of therapy or research or coping skills will help you if you don’t keep engaging what you’ve learned over and over again. The more you engage those skills, the easier it becomes to break those thought patterns that have you trapped. I know because I live it.
I Work When I’m Most Productive
The best productivity tip I can give anyone is to work when you’re most productive. Of course, when you have children at home (COVID-19 or not), that can make things tricky. I am most productive from about 7 am until about 6 pm as long as I don’t have a lot of interruptions… I get very tired very fast if I am interrupted a lot (except if it is children – because in my mind, children, especially if they are young, are an exception…because they are children).
I generally do not check my email more than two or three times per day (I get a lot of email since I maintain the free jobs list for all of you). My clients that have me on Slack channels know that I don’t check it more than a couple of times a day (usually) unless I’m working on their project at that moment. Too many activities at once drain me. I am literally a one-track mind.
I Use a Notebook to Jot Things Down
The fact that I misplaced said notebook when I cleaned my desk isn’t the point…it has to be in this room somewhere…but I keep a notebook on my desk to jot things down when I am working. This isn’t my notebook for when I’m actively working. This is the “shit I need to add to my calendar, invoice, ideas” notebook. At the end of each work day, I do whatever I need to do with that information and then put a check mark by that information. This helps ensure I don’t forget that information (because “I’ll remember…I don’t need to write it down” is a lie and we all know it) and helps ensure that I don’t get distracted.
I Change It Up When Necessary
Yes, I have OCD and yes, I usually fucking hate to change it up…but I do it when necessary. Why? Because science, bitches. Apparently, challenging your brain may (keyword) help lessen the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s. Also, changing it up can make shit feel new and less tiring. So, you know…it may feel hard, but it ends up being a win/win.