I have ADHD. The Inattentive subtype. Which means I don’t fit your stereotype of someone with ADHD. You won’t see me bouncing off the walls (this is why I wasn’t diagnosed as a kid).

"Attention problem?  What attention problem?  Oooh...  Look at that shiny object!"

“Attention problem? What attention problem? Oooh… Look at that shiny object!”

Nope. My ADHD has my THOUGHTS bouncing off the walls.

Some things I’m able to do with hyper-focus.

Most things though, not so much. Even things I NEED TO focus on can’t hold my focus for more than a New York minute.

As you can imagine, this can lead to productivity problems.

In fact, I used to really screw up in school. Not because I wasn’t smart enough. If I could focus on the class, I’d get an A or B. If it was the one or two classes every semester where I had trouble focusing, I’d usually hold a solid F through most of the semester, and recover to a C or D in the 11th hour.

This continued all the way through college, when I started having to pay extra tuition for classes I failed. And college professors didn’t have the same patience as my high school teachers had shown for these procrastination antics.

So I had to straighten out. Or pay up.

I chose to straighten out.

I started to pay attention to deadlines.

“Life hack” my way to better grades in EVERY class.

And here are FIVE LESSONS I got from the experience and since then, that I still use today.

YOU can also use them to solve your own productivity problems. For good.


LESSON 1… Do more of what interests you, and less of what doesn’t.

Tax time just passed. A few years ago I finally bit the bullet and outsourced nearly 100% of my bookkeeping and tax prep.

I’d let myself keep doing my own taxes because I knew how.

I COULD… But that didn’t mean that I SHOULD.

And so every Winter and early Spring, I’d beat myself up for MONTHS because I hated taxes, but forced myself to do them anyway.

Now I have someone I trust who I can hand it all off to. I spend just an hour or two thinking about it.

And I can maintain sanity and focus on the important things in my business, only double-checking everything before we submit.

I’m still not a fan of taxes (that’s a topic for another day) but the months of productivity drain they used to represent is gone.

In college, about the time I had to start paying tuition for the classes I failed and didn’t get any credit for, I also started taking almost 100% exclusively classes that interested me (mostly psychology and writing). It’s amazing with a schedule full of interesting classes how much easier it was to earn good grades.

You don’t know how much time, energy, and productivity is being sucked from your life by things that don’t interest you… Until you eliminate them.


LESSON 2… Make a friggin’ to-do list.

I don’t care if you do it in an app, or on a 3X5 card on your desk (I prefer the latter). I don’t care if you create a fancy system out of it, or keep it simple (I prefer the latter).

Just do it.

Write down EVERYTHING you need to do. Prioritize. And make a short list of everything you’re going to get done today, or else.

I was recently listening to Danny Iny, “The Freddy Krueger of Blogging” on Connect, Inspire, Engage, the Firepole Marketing Podcast. Something he said jumped out at me…

“Most productivity challenges boil down to, ‘I’m not sure what to do next.’”

If you’re consistent about this, giving yourself consistent to-do lists can solve your productivity problems for good. Because you’ll always know what to do next.

With a to-do list, “What to do next?” only lasts as long as it takes to look down and see the next item.


LESSON 3… Put everything on a deadline.

No matter what it is, you should have a deadline for EVERYTHING.

Copywriter John Carlton says that the first, most-important human invention was the deadline. Because without it, nothing else would have been invented. Nothing else would get done.

And he’s absolutely right.

Whether it’s something you’re doing for yourself, or for a client, give yourself a deadline.

One of my life hacks in college was hitting the on-campus computer lab the night before a deadline. And pulling an all-nighter writing 15-page papers in the 12 hours before they were due. Somehow they always got done, about an hour before class. Just in time to print, grab a candy bar for breakfast, rush across campus, and land in my seat as class started… Finished paper in hand.

I almost never pull an all-nighter these days.

But the lesson has stuck with me.

Deadlines are friggin’ magic.

BONUS #3.1: Legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz had a kitchen timer he set for 33 minutes every time he wrote. It’s amazing what you can get done in 33 minutes (or 30, or 60, or whatever) when you give yourself even this small deadline.


LESSON 4… Get busy.

It’s been said if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person to do.

Movement begets movement. The more you fill your schedule, the less time you have to procrastinate. And the more productive you’ll be.

So fill your schedule. And make a point of sticking to it.


LESSON 5… Focus on the right things.

Perry Marshall’s recent book on 80/20 Sales and Marketing is golden in this regard.

If you’re spending most of your day doing $10 per hour work, you’re going to feel unproductive. And you’re going to be, in terms of results generated.

Focus on the $1,000 per hour work, and find someone else to get everything else done. And you’re going to be immensely productive — as measured by results — no matter if you’re actually doing LESS work in the day.

You have to spend your time focused on the 20% of activity that will deliver 80% of results. Or the 4% of activity that will deliver 64% of the results. (That’s 80/20-squared.) Or the 1% of activity that will deliver 51% of the results. (That’s 80/20-cubed — read the book.)

Immense results can come from focusing on the right things. The high-payoff activities. Find out what they are, and use your productive time on that.


All sorts of other things can help. Meditation. Breaks. Exercise. Clearing your mind.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but what you DON’T DO can actually matter more than what you DO.

(I recently read a study where taking one day off per week — shrinking the work week to four days from five — actually increased a team’s total productivity. Again, hat tip to Perry Marshall, and another to Richard Koch.)

But if you’re looking for a list of things to do that can solve your productivity problems, those five lessons above are solid.

So when you hear the next big breakthrough marketing idea or strategy, you won’t just appreciate it or be entertained by it…


And that’s what matters most.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets


PS — I’d love your comments below!