Putting things on autopilot gets more DONE

Systems Development puts things on Autopilot
and supercharges your Executive Functioning

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
From the Brain-based Coaching Series

My usual Friday post is posting a day early this week, to give you time to read it before Tinkertoy‘s post on National Dog Day – this Saturday, August 26, 2017

Don’t strain your brain!

Some things take a lot of “cognitive bandwidth” — which is a fancy way to say that your brain needs to work especially hard to do them.

Other things are so “automatic” we often say we can do them in our sleep.

The more things you can do without conscious thought, the more brain cells you make available for the areas where they are really needed.

  • Almost everything takes a lot of cognitive bandwidth at first introduction.  Nothing is automatic when we’re beginners — every piece of the puzzle takes concentration.
  • There are multiple decisions to be made – or recalled – at every step along the path of learning anything.  That’s HARD work for a brain. It’s an expensive process, in brain currency.
  • However, once a task becomes familiar it’s sometimes difficult to recall why we ever struggled with it to begin with. It’s become automatic – a habit – a system.
  • BUT systems development will never happen unless you follow its rules.  And that’s where systems development coaching is pure gold.

Let’s start at the very beginning with a bit of review . . .

What IS systems development coaching?

Systems Development Coaching is a way of working that focuses on helping a client discover the underlying concepts that will help them develop systems targeted to what works best for them. I’m about to share some of the ways we go about it for those of you taking the Lone Ranger approach.

But FIRST, let’s define our terms

system is a set or arrangement of things
so related as to form an organic whole.

Whenever you activate a system you are freed from having to burn up cognitive resources remembering each individual step — less likely to get distracted in the middle of a task, or stopped cold by the need to make one of those “expensive” pre-frontal cortex intensive decisions in the moment.

Most people are a little fuzzy about systems, probably because the last systems development training most of us received was potty-training.

How many of you have to actively remember what-comes-next when you’re going to the bathroom? (Except for putting down the toilet seat of course!) I’m sure you rarely think about it at all.

Unless the toilet paper is missing or the toilet overflows, or the doorknob comes off in your hand, I’ll bet you barely recall the trip once you get back to what you were doing.

Have you ever looked “everywhere” for a pen or something until you finally find it in the bathroom – yet you didn’t remember going INTO the bathroom?  (Hey, here’s that little notepad too!)


Systems vs Solutions

When we focus on solutions, we are generally focused on “fixing” – because we hope to come up with something that will solve a particular problem.

When we focus on systems, we develop templates that can be picked apart
to solve all sorts of problems —
some of which we are then able to avoid altogether from that point on.

While solutions tend to be more specific, templates are modular. We can port pieces of working systems to new situations to propagate new systems.

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Organization & Task Completion

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Investigating the link between
Organization and Task Completion

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An article in the Org&Task Series
In support of The Challenges Inventory ™ Series

It’s no good running a pig farm badly for 30 years while saying,
‘Really, I was meant to be a ballet dancer.’
By then, pigs will be your style.
 ~ Quentin Crisp

graphic thanks to Phillip Martin, artist/educator

Happy Brand New Year!

Hey – last January – did you make any Resolutions for the upcoming year?

Or are you someone who is more comfortable Setting Intentions, making a Vision Board, or coming up with a list of S.M.A.R.T. Goals to live into?

Maybe you’re a real go-getter who does all four!

So let me ask you the Dr. Phil question:
How’s that workin’ for you?

What’s your success ratio?

Did you lose the weight, get in shape, stop smoking, finish your degree, clean out the garage . . . or any of the other things you hoped to complete in the years that came before this one? (um . . . like “Get ADDCoach.com redesigned and up and running again,” Madelyn? And, oh yeah, those books you keep meaning to get published?)

Like me, is Déjà Vu all over again the best description of many of the items from your yearly resolution ritual?

Or are you one of the many who have given up and given in, convinced of the futility of making resolutions you never complete anyway?

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Everything I know about Systems I learned from Cristopher Lowell

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Systems Development Coaching and Christopher Lowell?!

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another article in the Coaching Series

I really love the heart inside this man, and think many of you will too — but this article is primarily a light-hearted introduction to a number of foundational concepts (which will be especially valuable for those of you who struggle with impulsivity and have come to be wary of decision-making as a result).

Because I wrote this as the holidays were getting underway, the article ends with some suggestions to help  navigate the decisions of the shopping frenzies of Black Friday and Cyber Monday — and they apply to the entire Christmas Shopping season.

They ALSO will be helpful things to keep in mind for anybody who struggles to resist the allure of certain kinds of places to add to your collection of whatever
(you know what I mean and you know who you are!)

Decorator and Systems Guru

The minute I became conscious of the “TV hypnosis” experience, I realized the danger. Since I wanted to spend my life DOING, not watching, I chose to banish the bugger. I haven’t owned a television set in decades.

As a consequence, I came years late to the Christopher Lowell party — aware of his existence only after I picked up a discount decorating book at one of those “odd lots” resale stores.

If you’ve been following this blog for long, you might recall that curling up on my chaise with a huge cup of coffee and a decorating resource is my cookie. (click on: Virtue is Not its own Reward, part of the TaskMaster Series, for more about this Cookie concept and how I use it in MY ADD-drenched life)

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Domino Problems


Domino problems?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
From the Stuff series: Part 4

Yeah. Domino problems!

You know that game where you set a row of dominoes on end, then tap the first one to watch them fall, one at a time, as the domino before it knocks it down?

As hinted at in Part-2 of this series, for many of us (especially those of us with ADD/EFD Brain-wiring), DECIDING is journey fraught with domino problem land-mines!

Like I said, even the most disorganized of us has
no problem putting trash in the trash can, books
on a shelf, and beer in the ‘fridge, right?

So what IS the problem?

  • Deciding whether something is trash, which shelf on which bookcase and where in the ‘fridge is the problem!
  • An even bigger problem is deciding what to do with the produce you removed to be able to appropriate the crisper drawer as a beer cooler!

Every decision to be made seems to be complicated by another decision that needs to be made first!

The terror of tiered tasks

As an example, let’s continue to use something considered relatively simple by many with neurotypical brains: putting away the groceries on return from the store.

We’ve got canned goods and boxes and bags, oh my!  But the really tricky stuff needs to go into the freezer or ‘fridge — before it reaches a state where it is unfit for any place but the garbage can!

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Stuff series: Part 3

Escaping the Frame Changes the View

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

*attribution below

Changing the context

Framing (adding perspective)
Reframing (changing perspective)

Reframing is  a well-worn tool in a number of helping professions.  The fields that seem to advocate it most are Neuro-Linguistic Programming [NLP], therapy, and Coaching (especially ADD Coaching).

Reframing is on the Optimal Functioning Institute™ list as one of the Ten Basic Coaching Skills used Most Often with ADDers.  

Including Reframing on this particular list underscores the importance of the two most important ADD Coaching skills, normalizing (ADD affect) and endorsing (client actions, perspectives and talents).

But what IS Reframing?

In the coaching field, reframing is one of the Languaging skills that refers to a particular manner of speaking that allows an individual to escape black and white thinking boundaries so that a different conclusion can be drawn from the same set of facts.

That, in turn, changes the way the situation “seems,” in a manner similar to the way that reframing a picture impacts the look of the picture itself.

In other words, changing the context puts a statement or point of view into a different frame of reference; a “seeding” skill that fosters a shift, (paradigm shift, in some fields).
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Part Two of the Stuff – and Nonsense Series
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie,

Repeat after me:
OHIO is a STATE, not a system for handling stuff!

You know the term, right?  OHIO.  Only Handle It Once.  Pick up the first piece of clutter and move it to its final resting place in one swift masterpiece of organizational wizardry.

Get a grip!  If we’d had it together enough to only handle it once we would never have been in need of clutter management to begin with!

Edited excerpt from: Stuff – and Nonsense: an organizing miracle cure that doesn’t start by making
you throw out your stuff!
   ©1998, 2002, 2011 – Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC; all rights reserved

Part 2 of the Stuff series – CLICK here to read Part 1 first

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STUFF – and Nonsense!

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Hover before clicking for more info

Content in the stuff series has been excerpted from the upcoming book: Stuff – and Nonsense: an organizing miracle cure that doesn’t start by making you throw out your stuff!
 Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, All rights reserved.

From Chapter 1


Nobody NEEDS all the stuff we collect.

IF they were brave enough to be perfectly honest, not even those who can barely walk through their houses because the sheer volume of all their stuff makes it tricky to maneuver would argue about that one.

HOWEVER, professional organizers and organizing systems that work from the premise of usefulness and need miss the point entirely.

Stuff is not about need, it’s about CHOICE.
And personal preference.  

Just because a large majority of professional organizers agree that life runs best from a base camp that looks to me like a vacant room in a Motel Six, that doesn’t make their paradigm, ipso facto, The Gold Standard for A Life Worth Living.

“If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it’s still a foolish thing.”
~Anatole France

DISTINCTION: Preference vs. Policy

While those who prefer the stuff-less lifestyle would never believe it, those of us who are what they might call “stuff junkies” find it just as difficult to function in their “stuff-free” environments as they claim is true for them whenever the house doesn’t echo.  (And they think we’re the weird ones?!)

We like our stuff

We find it cozy to be surrounded by our stuff. Homey. We decorate with stuff because we like to SEE our stuff.  And we think they are bug-nutty to tell us to throw out perfectly good stuff that we know we’re going to have to spend time and money replacing when we need it later.

The only things we don’t like about our stuff are:

  • Hunting for it when we need it
  • Tripping over it when we don’t
  • Listening to complaints about it the rest of the time, and
  • Trying to come up with logical reasons why we won’t throw it away!!


Good!  Because, seriously, we still have to talk.

Somewhere between the black and white divide separating “so much stuff nobody can breathe for the clutter” and “throw out your stuff” is a nice, functional, gray zone that I promise you will like better. Hang with me here.

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ADD & Organized?

Organization for ADDers is NOT Pipe Dream

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In support of The Challenges Inventory ™ Series

Drawing of a man popping out of the top drawer of a file cabinet, holding a file, with a self-satisfied smile on his faceYes, even YOU can learn to be organized —

the REASONS why you’ve been stopped in the past.  

Here’s the kicker: it’s a different mix of stoppers for every single one of us.  

If you don’t understand how YOU work, you’ll never be able to determine what YOU need to do to to keep from spending half your life looking for things that were “right here a minute ago.”

So much for helpful hints and tidy lists!  

That said, what follows is an Organizing Overview summarizing concepts that need to be embraced and understood if you want to have a shot at working out what YOU need to do for YOU to be organized.

In a series of articles to follow, I will “unpack” the list and explain the concepts.  FOR NOW, reflect on the list itself, and stay tuned for articles to follow.

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