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Julia Alexis Diaz
Julia Alexis Diaz

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This isn't the Productivity Post You Want but Need to Understand

So, you have hanging responsibilities on the back of your mind--a project to build, documentation to write, API's to research and whatnot. You know you need to do it. You know there will be consequences if you don't. But, you just... can't.

Once the guilt piles up, you go on binge-watching videos to search for tips or hacks that could finally "fix" you. You just need to look for "the one." You find something interesting and you think "this is it. This will work this time around." And surprisingly it does! You build the project and read the documentation. You build a routine that works for you. Until life disrupts you and then suddenly, it doesn't. Things don't feel exciting. You put it off again and again and now "the one" leaves you feeling overwhelmed. You've come back to square one.

Sounds familiar?

This has been my whole life. I tried everything. Name a productivity guru and I can tell you what I learned from them. It's a cycle of hope and action and disappointment and spirals. It is exhausting.

Then, I got diagnosed with PTSD and eventually, ADHD.

You probably get the gist. This isn't a mainstream productivity guide where you buy a planner, schedule tasks, and other one-size-fits-all approaches. Why? It simply doesn’t work for our brains. I learned the hard way that how brains function vary from one to another. Mine is hypervigilant, emotionally dysregulated, struggles in planning and executing tasks, bored and disinterested, among lots of other things. Following a guide which excludes that reality for me, is invalidating my being. I hope you can start seeing it for yourself too. The following section explores exactly how I’ve come to that conclusion.

Why Mainstream Doesn't Work

I've been trying to teach my nephew about how people are different from one another. I keep on telling him that we all come in different shapes and sizes every time he asks why a person looks a particular way. While I was trying to teach him about mental health conditions and why I was so tired all the time, I used the same script. He asked in response, "Tata, is your brain [shaped like] a triangle?" 😲

Brains DO come in different shapes and sizes, just not the way my nephew thought (by the way, I disappointed him biiiig time when I said so). Some brains aren't fully developed even after 25 years, especially in the case of people with ADHD. A wide variety of people get sensory overload when there are too many noises or when the lights are too bright and colorful or they feel all of those at the same time. Another part of the population have executive function challenges which means it's harder for them to plan, organize, manage, and execute actions. It should be fine, since brains are different from one another. But the problem is, society isn't built for people like us neurodivergents.

Instead, we grew up in environments that thrive on competition. The best reaches more opportunities, widening the gap of access to those that are not. And so, productivity gurus focus on how you can survive and succeed in this environment. More often than not, however, they overlook the fact that there are no one-size-fits-all approaches. The "grind" can be debilitating for others and can backfire. I believe that what we need instead is a "progress not perfection" mentality which is centered on self-compassion and a value-driven compass for life.

What does that look like? Well, it varies from person to person. I believed for a long time that I want to be successful, because society dictates that’s how you can gain freedom. It still rings true today, but I now know success comes in different metrics. It’s your responsibility to define what matters for you and align your actions with these values. Embody compassion in every step you take towards your future, and hopefully, you’ll enjoy the process–the present, more than the destination.

P.S. If you’re struggling to think of practical steps that imbibe this mentality, the next post in the series will offer a more solution-oriented approach. We’ll be exploring how you can set yourself up for success, how to start hard tasks, and other helpful suggestions. Take what resonates and try. But for now, let me ask you: how do you stay productive? 😉

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Top comments (5)

darkterminal profile image
Imam Ali Mustofa • Edited

Look at me! That's way I need to become Software Freestyle Engineer, cz everything is suddenly "arrgggghh" YKWIM.

When everything is mess up, I can see the pattern and maintain that situation in chaotic harmony, like...

Death Metal songs that have something in them to bring "chaos" (it seems) with their own colors and still rely on the metronome.

or Traffic Jams! which can happen at certain times, but always has the same pattern and repeats itself.

This is my Sufistic journey exploring technology and responding to it, after 10 years in IT.

jlxfd profile image
Julia Alexis Diaz

That's so cool! Thanks for sharing!

darkterminal profile image
Imam Ali Mustofa

Share what you did and let people see and let them feedback and try to confident with yourself.

Because not all the methods that other people say can work for everyone.

There are many ways to achieve a goal, if you want to achieve your goal well, then take the journey well too.

Jah Bless!

janmpeterka profile image
Jan Peterka

Thank you, this is really important!

jlxfd profile image
Julia Alexis Diaz

Thank you as well!