Productivity Tools For Writers (…And Other People Too, I Guess)

You might not believe it, but a lot of people with ADHD really do want to be on top of their projects and not be a perennial disappointment to people who don’t understand the affliction. Truly, I always wanted to be a “Get Sh** Done” kind of guy and I absolutely hated the way people thought of me. Because of this desire to be efficient and effective, I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to find methods to increase my productivity.

Unfortunately, nothing really worked or stuck. The reason for that is because my brain has an issue that requires medical treatment. Once I had the management of the core issue under control, I found myself with a lot of insight into how to keep on track with your tasks and projects. Finally, I see myself as a “Get Sh** Done” kind of guy and it’s a good feeling.

For this week’s blog, I wanted to share some of my favorite methods of keeping your projects under control. They might not be perfect for you, but it will get you thinking about the systems you want to put in place to help keep you on task.

In no particular order:

No. 1: A Playlist. This one came the easiest for me. I make a playlist for everything — I have a playlist for when I’m writing (and I’m listening to it right now), for each creative project I’m working on, for different moods I’m in, etc. It’s something about the way my brain recalls information, sounds are my most potent recall sense. My writing playlist (which we covered last week) is a curation of songs I’ve written to. When it’s playing, I am able to put myself in the creative & writing mind set. Getting to my desired word count becomes easier and more direct. When I’m plotting out a creative work, I’ll put together a playlist of songs that fit the mood of the piece I’m trying to write. If I’m feeling depressed, I have a playlist of songs that pick me up and remind me of what that positive frame of mind is.

No. 2: Pomodoro Technique. Pomodoro is Italian for “Tomato.” The creator of the Pomodoro method set a kitchen timer (which was shaped like a tomato, hence the name) for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes of intense work, he’d take a 5 minute break, then another 25 minutes of work, 5 minute break, 25 minute work sesh, 5 minute break, 25 minutes of work, and then a 15 minute break. Every four work sessions (or Pomodoros), you take a 15 minute break. There are phone apps, you can use an actual kitchen timer, or you can go to You have options!

No. 3: Mind Map. Having ADHD means that I am extremely prone to losing my train of thought and I am susceptible to tangents. A mind-map is a great way to track threads of thought and quickly capture what is on your mind before you lose it. If I’m working on a complex story, it would be easy for plot holes to exist (I’m not saying that my work is completely free of them) and using a mind map is a great way to diagram that plot and identify plot holes easier. A mind map is also an excellent tool for any complex dialogue of thought.

No. 4: To-Do List / Bullet Journal. When I discovered Bullet Journaling, it changed my life! In the digital world, we try digital apps and all kinds of other craziness to keep our life in check. It doesn’t work, at least not for me. In the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, he recommends keeping a to-do list to catch everything you have flying at you, calls them buckets. You can have as many buckets as you need, but ultimately, you want as few as possible. The Bullet Journal fits into David Allen’s method — it’s one central place to keep things as they are flying at me, and its completely analog. I use a small notebook and blue ink pen. No apps to download, no alerts to be bothered with, just a very simple way to keep myself on top of it.

Here is a brief video to get you started on Bullet Journaling:

It’s interesting to mention: Ryder Carroll, the developer of Bullet Journaling, is afflicted with ADHD and developed the system as a response.

No. 5: A Checkbox. To-do lists were always trouble for me, until I mastered them in my adult years. I’d scribble myself notes and reminders all over everything and nothing ever clicked. One day, I’m in a meeting and I didn’t have my Bullet Journal with me. I had a mild panic, but I improvised: I just drew a checkbox on the pad I was writing on. For me, when I’m writing down notes, I’ll usually store them for reference. When you are reviewing your notes, it’s easy to come across things that might be tasks — and let’s be honest: it’s hard to format your notes when you are trying to capture a ton of information quickly — when I started using checkboxes, they become a visual indication of things that needed to be done. Because of that, I have developed the healthy habit of reviewing anything I am about to file, looking for checkboxes. If something is on my notes with a checkbox, I know I need to do something and transfer it to my Bullet Journal. It’s so simple, but was very effective in chasing productive work.

Thank you for joining me this week and may the work you do to achieve your passions be swift and productive.

Until your next trip across the Millerverse!

Recommended Reading & Resources:

  1. “Getting Things Done” by David Allen
  2. “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy
  3. Tomato-Timer.Com
  4. BulletJournal.Com

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