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Marie: Hey it’s Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business and life you love. I got a question for you. Do you ever feel crazy busy and so overwhelmed like there is a ton going on, whether it’s information overload, a ton of projects or you just got technology coming out of every orifice, most of us feel like we’re ADD in this world; we can’t get anything done. If you resonate with that struggle, you’re going to love today’s episode because I have one of the world’s leading experts on helping people perform better. In fact, we’re going to talk about why smart people underperform and how to fix it.
Ned Hallowell is a psychiatrist, a New York Times bestselling author, a world-renowned speaker and leading authority in the field of ADHD. It’s a graduate of Harvard College and Tulane Medical School and the founder of the Hallowell Centers in Sudbury, MA and New York City. He’s authored 19 books on various psychological topics and has been featured on 20/20, 60 Minutes, Oprah, PBS, CNN, The Today Show, Dateline, Good Morning America, the View and many more. Ned lives in Boston with his wife Sue, a social worker, and their three children, Lucy, Jack and Tucker.
Ned, it is awesome to have you here on MarieTV. Thank you so much for making the time to be here. You’ve written 19 books and you are the world’s leading expert on entrepreneurial ADD, but even if someone doesn’t have ADD, today’s world for all of us, that’s what it feels like. We’re going to focus today on just five of your tips, and all of them are amazing, how we can really take back control for ourselves and if we’re a smart person how we can perform better.
I love tip number one, which is all about defining clear and specific goals. Tell us more about that.
Ned: With modern life the great thing is you can do so much, but the problem is you can do so much. It becomes critical to define what you want to do, and what I suggest is that you every day have three goals, not more than three because you can 303 very easily. Every day have three goals short term, then medium term every week to two weeks have three more goals, and then longish term, six months to a year, have three more goals, and then have three lifetime goals.
You’re always working toward short term, medium term, long term and lifetime and that forces you to prioritize and that makes such a difference because it forces you to say ‘that’s good but I really want to do that instead, I really want to develop this idea and I’ll just put that one in the hamper for now.’ If you don’t do that, what so many people do is try to do everything all at once and it’s just a big jumble. At the end of the day, you say ‘gosh, I was very busy but I really didn’t accomplish much of anything.’ We see this all the time. Smart people underperforming because they failed to prioritize and define very clear and specific goals, short term, medium term, long term and then lifetime.
Marie: I love that. Simplifying things down, cutting off the fat, not looking at so much, even as I’m listening to you, I can be like ‘I can do that,’ and there’s this huge weight that lifts off. I’ve worked with you before so you’re incredible but I love that’s where we started.
Number two, and I love when you talk about this, screen-sucking and avoiding it, even just that term ‘screen-sucking.’ What does that mean?
Ned: It’s a term that I made up when I was writing my book Crazy Busy. It refers to the common tendency where you say ‘I’ll just go check my email.’ An hour later, you’re still there, you’re glomped onto the screen, you’re sucking away at it. This email exerts like a hypnotic power over your eyeballs and you really lose track of time. You lose track of what you’re not doing. Television is one thing but now the screens are interactive, and when the screen becomes interactive, the same dopamine circuitry that drives addictions captures your attention. You don’t give it away; it’s seduced away from you. Beware of screen sucking. The simplest way to prevent it is to have a set amount of time, nine to ten am or whatever, where you reserve for the Internet and email and then you shut it down. TIO: turn it off. Otherwise, it’s like a jar of M&Ms on your desk; you’ll keep reaching for it. There’s something irresistible about an unopened message. Once or twice a day, we’d rush to get the mail; now it comes once or twice a second and none of this can really resist, even if we know it’s going to be stupid, we can’t resist rushing to that unopened message.
Marie: That was actually amazing because of course not only are phones ringing, but social media is there. Non-stop.
Ned: It’s estimated that out of every hour, most people spend at least 20 minutes dealing with unplanned interruptions and that’s just a colossal waste because not only the time you spent dealing with the interruption, but the amount of time it takes to get back to what you had been doing to reconstitute your focus, which you can’t do just like that.
Marie: I notice that all the time and do my best. You were asking us before about this actual studio and do we use it when we’re not shooting, and I was saying it’s actually been amazing because we’ve been here some days when nothing’s going on, we’re not doing MarieTV, myself and a friend we write. We get here at nine o’clock, we’re here until six or seven and we write the whole day and there are no delivery guys and we’re completely focused, no dog barking, it’s incredible. Having no interruptions obviously bringing back to screen-sucking works.
Ned: I just came in with an intense case of envy. I’m a writer and I can’t write more than a few hours. You can write all day. That’s amazing.
Marie: When I have her with me, and I’m sure we’ll get to some more there later, it’s because both of us are keeping each other accountable, we go out and take a walk and we go get some lunch, but then we come back and we’re like ‘lets do this.’
Next tip, and this is one of my favorites, which you know I have my own way of discussing it, but I love how you talk about it; setting your default response from yes to…
Ned: ‘Let me get back to you on that. Let me think about it.’ Because most of us tend to be quickly very generous. ‘Sure, I’ll do it. Sure, I’ll help you. Sure, I can show up. Sure, sure, sure’ and it’s our great asset but if we’re not careful, it becomes our great liability because the next thing you know, we’re overcommitted, overstretched, overbooked and about to snap. We’ve said yes to too many things. They’re all worthy but you just can’t say yes to too many things. If you simply say, ‘Let me think about that,’ everyone will understand that. “Let me get back to you on that.” First of all, they’ll probably forget, but if they don’t forget, you can say ‘I’ve thought about it and honestly I don’t have time to do your excellent project justice.’ You don’t insult the project, you say it’s a wonderful project, but I don’t have time to do it justice. They will thank you for that. You don’t want to commit to something that you’re going to give second-rate service to, so give yourself permission at least to think about it, or your position, get on the train to No.
Marie: Get yourself a first class ticket on the No Train, Dr. Ned. It’s really a useful way to break that pattern, to break that habit of constantly just ‘yes of course I will, yes of course I will.’ Really beautiful. Moving onto the next one. When I first heard you speak this one from the stage, it really hit my heart; never worry alone.
Ned: It’s so simple those three words, never worry alone, can save your life. It’s one of the ironies of modern life, it’s that we are super connected electronically but as we have connected electronically, we’ve been disconnecting interpersonally. People don’t have that sense of affiliation of belonging, of company, of people to turn to at hand. There’s an awful lot of unacknowledged loneliness out there, people surrounded by people, but not really connected. Have in your brain’s Rolodex the people that you can worry with about money, about relationships, about your business. They’re different people because you want them to have some expertise as well. Your closest personal friends you can worry about anything with them, but a financial worry, have someone you worry about that, medical worry, you have a doctor.
A three step worry control, never worry alone, then step two is get the facts because toxic worry is usually rooted in wrong information or lack of information or both. You go to the person you worry with and get the facts, and then step three, make a plan. Even if the plan doesn’t work, you revise the plan. When you have a plan, you feel more in control and less vulnerable, which makes you more effective. Those three steps begin with never worry alone, get the facts, make a plan, but most important is never worry alone.
Worrying alone, the worry tends to become toxic. You awfulize, you globalize, you get paralyzed, you hunker down, you withdraw, you disconnect. When you’re worrying with someone, you problem solve and next thing you know, you’re laughing about that it wasn’t the worry at all. It’s magical, never worry alone.
Marie: Our final topic for this little section is cultivating lilies and getting rid of leeches.
Ned: Lilies by my definition are people or projects that are worth it. They may take a lot of time, they may take a lot of effort, they may cause you all kinds of pain and agony, but in the long run, they are worth it. Cultivate lilies. In my life, my most prominent lilies are my three children. They take a ton of effort, they take a ton of concern, a ton of time and what not, but boy are they ever worth it. In order to have time for your lilies, you got to get rid of leeches. Leeches are people or projects that just aren’t worth it. They may be worth it in their own right, but not to you. They don’t pay back the time you put in. You want to get rid of those leeches.
Some leeches you can’t get rid of. If your mother is a leech, you’re kind of stuck with her, you just have to live with it and build some boundaries around it. Most of the time you can withdraw from those leeches. People stay with leeches for two reasons usually; inertia or guilt. Don’t do it. You don’t owe it to the leech to continue to give him or her your precious life’s blood. Let someone else do that. Who knows? That someone else may become a lily for that leech. The downers in your life as best as you possibly can withdraw from them so that you’ll have time for the lilies.
One caution about lilies. People like you and most people who watch this show, your problem is you might have too many lilies, and when you have too many lilies, it’s a lily patch, and when you have too many lilies, they tend to become a leechoid. You’ve got to be careful not to have too many lilies. Too many worthwhile projects crowd out each other’s growth and none of them flourish. You have to prune and cut back and have a later group, ‘I’ll get to that when I’m done with this,’ and prioritizing your lilies. One of the basic principles where smart people underperforming is they’re not using the control they actually have. They think they’re less powerful than they are, and this is a good example, where you can cultivate those lilies and get rid of those leeches.
Marie: I love that. It’s so funny because you brought us right back around to that first tip, which was about goals, prioritizing and bringing it down.
Dr. Ned, this was amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be here. I know you got a ton of books. I know you’ve got an amazing practice and we’re putting all the links. If you want to know more about Ned, everything is below this video. Thanks for being with us today.
Ned: Let me just say thank you to you for this service you’re doing for all these aspiring entrepreneurs out there. You’re a fantastic example of what you can do if you just use your imagination and lift high your dreams and look at you. You’re fantastic.
Marie: Thanks, Ned. Now Ned and I have a challenge for you. Which of the five strategies that we talked about today is the most impactful? What’s the one that you really have to pay attention to, and more importantly, take action on? Tell us about it in the comment below.
As always, the best discussions happen after the episode over at MarieForleo.com so go there and leave a comment now.
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