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Synopsis & Links
The Autofocus System
Updated Autofocus System with lots of discussion
If you want help implementing the autofocus system yourself, then sign up below for a free ExD mini-session! We’ll chat about how it can work best for you in order to procrastinate productively!
Join in on #30toClean and tag @exgiftedcast or @chaotic.organized and all participants will get a downloadable prize of some sort.
Procrastination is pretty foundational for Ex-Gifted types. It’s one of the things that make us who we are.
What if instead of trying to “stop procrastinating” which has never worked in the past, we started making procrastination work for us?
Gifted kids learn the exact possible last moment to start working on an assignment, but as we often end up excelling despite barely putting in any effort, we learn that it’s safe to put in even less effort and we often start missing deadlines altogether.
But what can we do about it when we just can’t drum up the motivation or the willpower?
How can we make procrastination work for us?
What we can do about it:
I love to use the autofocus productivity method in order to procrastinate on other tasks I’ve already deemed worthy of my time.
Autofocus uses a master to-do list. When you’re ready to get to work, you look over the list and instead of trying to prioritize based on importance, you just work on whatever motivates you at the time.
This allows us to skip the time we’d usually spend on prioritization, and at the same time it utilizes and encourages our internal motivation which is crucial for adults with executive dysfunction.
You might be afraid that you’ll put off the most important tasks - and you might be right - but the important thing to remember is that you’re already doing that. Otherwise you don’t need any help overcoming procrastination.
The idea here is that we spend the time we’d otherwise be wasting away wishing we could be motivated to work on the right thing, working on something else valuable, even if it isn’t the exact right thing.
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Kawai Kitsune by Kevin MacLeod
About the Ex-Gifted Podcast:
If you are a former gifted kid who grew up to struggle with basic adulting, then you need the Ex-Gifted podcast.
Host Ren Eliza talks about gifted kid burnout, and the damage that lasts long into adulthood. Damage like battered self esteem, decimated internal motivation, and a continued failure to live up to expectations even while we were placed on pedestals and alienated from our peers.
Ex-Gifted will cover failure, procrastination, imposter syndrome, and chronic anxiety and depression, and a whole lot more.
Each episode also offers suggestions to deal with your executive dysfunction in adulthood so you can rebuild the systems that allowed you to shine so brightly in childhood.
We’re making exceptional children into functional adults.
Hi there friends. I’m Raine Eliza. If you consider yourself to be the pro in procrastination, this is the show for you. Welcome to Ex-Gifted.
Hi friends. In true Ex-Gifted fashion, I have put off recording this episode until basically the last possible moment that I could deal with it. I think it’s time for me to finally go ahead and get started.
What’s easier for a gifted kid with executive dysfunction than just…doing our work? How about calculating the very precise last moment you can begin working on an assignment and still finish it on time?
Today we’re talking about procrastination.
Here’s my hot take. Procrastination can actually be one of our greatest assets. It’s a skill that we spend years perfecting, so why, throw out all that hard work?
But the problem is that as you keep turning out A work spending less and less time on it, your ability to actually put in the time and effort drops too.
My peak procrastination moment was in college on a group programming project that even as a whole group, we hadn’t finished in two weeks. We kind of worked on it a little bit, but we… We just like the whole group – it was was not just one of us, it was the whole group – felt like you know, it would would come together. We hadn’t quite figured it out so it would come to us when the time came.
The time came. It was like an hour before the assignment was due. And we hadn’t figured it out. We hadn’t put it together, so in that those last few minutes before class, I just made a graph on my Calculator to answer all the questions for the assignment for us. We missed one. Now, maybe not too surprisingly, my moment of burnout – which, yes, I can also pinpoint pretty much to a single moment – happened shortly after. And then by senior year of college, waiting to the last moment for me meant basically, waiting until class actually started to leave my dorm room and start walking.
That that’s the problem. Isn’t it? You learn how to wait until exactly the right moment. But then as you experience no real consequences from waiting until that moment, that last moment just slips and slips and slips. Until you’re not getting your stuff done on time.
For a lot of people with executive dysfunction, a lot of Ex-Gifted kids especially we thrive on deadlines because we want someone else to be responsible for that. We want someone else to provide that structure for us, and that’s something we’ll talk some more about later. But if we don’t have to pay such close attention to deadlines, then what is providing that structure for us?
As I said, I don’t like to throw out procrastination entirely. I like to harness procrastination and consider it to be one of those Ex-Gifted superpowers. One of the best ways that I have found to do that is to use the Autofocus productivity method. This is a system invented by Marc Forster. I’ll put the link in the show notes so you can check it out. But essentially what it is is using a master To Do List that has all of your to-do items on it.
And a lot of people with ADHD or other forms of executive dysfunction will tell you that that’s a terrible way for someone with ADHD to work and the reason for that. They have a very good point. The reason for that is that the executive dysfunction brain can have a tendency to spend a lot of time in analysis paralysis trying to pick which one of those things is the most important thing to do.
However, that’s not how autofocus works. And that’s why I love this system. We can defeat the menace of procrastination by embracing it – by accepting that we are going to do the things that we want to do that are productive. While putting off the things that are a little bit scary until the last minute.
The autofocus system is a to do list. With all of your to-do items on it. When you’re ready to get to work, you look over the list. Slowly, one item at a time. and see what jumps out at you. You see what item on the list speaks to you and says, yeah, I want to work on this right now.
Since everything on the list is something that you need to do, something that is productive, something that is what you consider a valuable use of your time, then no matter what you pick on the list, it’s going to be something that’s a good way to use your time. It might not necessarily be what you would choose if you were to spend an hour there sitting and looking at your list, but the point is that you’re spending that hour working instead of spending that hour looking at your list. So you work on the thing that you’re motivated to do, and you harness your internal motivation.
Now the second thing that’s great about that that might actually even be the bigger deal about it. It’s not only using the motivation that you have right now, it’s also encouraging you to develop your internal motivation. Which is absolutely crucial for just about anyone dealing with gifted kid burnout. Internal self motivation is one of the things that people with executive dysfunction struggle with the most.
So you’re not only working on the thing that you’re motivated by – which is just more fun – but you’re also feeling a boost to that internal motivation by realizing that the thing that you want to do is actually a thing that you need to do – that’s helpful for you to do. So you’re strengthening that motivational drive.
Now. Probably you’re afraid that you’re going to put off the most important tasks. But you’re already doing that. The only difference is that you can start replacing those important tasks with other productive tasks instead of just letting the time float by wishing that you were working on something but not being able to find the motivation. Find the motivation to do something that’s useful even if it’s not the absolute 100% most useful.
Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. Spend the time working on the thing that inspires you right now. Instead of spending the time wishing that you were working on the thing that you’re “supposed to” be working on. Stop should-ing all over yourself and get to work. And did I mention get to work doing the thing that you actually want to be doing anyway?
So if you follow me on Instagram or you get my newsletter or you’ve been to the website, anything like that you have probably seen this thing that I’m doing this month. It’s called #30toClean the information will be in the show notes. Today is April 30th which means that #30toClean is… is “a wrap” – that’s that’s what they say in the biz, right? Today is the last day. Finally… My house is not clean but it is clean…er?
If it’s April 30th when you’re listening it to this, you still have a few hours to get in on the action. Just tag me, use the #30toClean. And you will get that downloadable prize when I send it out. #30toClean is a spring cleaning challenge that I was doing where you spend 15 minutes two times a day for the 30 days of April to start to get some of the clutter in your house under control.
Now that #30toClean is at an end. I have to say I would definitely try it again if my house needed a reset. If you want to know more, check out the #30toClean wrap up on instagram.com/exgiftedcast. You can check out all those links in the show notes.
Join us in two weeks for the next Ex-Gifted, where we’re going to be talking about the counterpart to procrastination and that is Perfectionism. Byeeeeee.