Category Archives: Organization

Getting things done. Productivity. Battles with ADD/ADHD.

This should be helpful

How many projects are on your to do list? How many are really important to get done next week/tomorrow/right now?

I’m not going to talk about those today. You certainly know the panic of the last minute brings that adrenaline rush to get crap done. The jolt of natural amphetamine that brings that focus, and falling by the wayside are all those unnecessary tasks — like food, sleep, and personal hygiene. No; I’m talking about those *other* projects. The “I should’s.”

I bet you have dozens of things on your to do list that you “should” do. I should clean off my desk.” “I should do the dishes.” “I should do my taxes.” or even “I should stop eating so much candy corn.”

Here’s the thing: by whose or what’s authority should you do these things?

I ask again. Pause for a moment to answer this question. Who or what is telling you you should?

I know the answer: You. Or at least the guilt-inducing you. Sure; your boss may want your desk clear, your dwelling mates want the dishes reasonably clean (ask my wife). The IRS wants your taxes paid, and your dentist may want you to cut down on the candy corn.

But if you really cared what they thought, you’d just do it. The “should” is a voice from inside you. It’s a guilty word. It’s a word that chastises you and threatens to send you to your room or sit at the dinner table till you’ve finished your disgusting overcooked okra in chicken-snot marinade.

The word “should” lives in the back of your mind, and basically, shoulds” all over you. How about these…

Four alternatives to should-ing all over yourself:

  1. I need to …
  2. I want to …
  3. I get to …
  4. I can’t wait to …

Listening to your self-talk can embarrass and enlighten you. Adjusting your self-talk will reveal the pleasures of moving forward and getting all the “should” off your to do list, and strangely, this small change can make it easier to tackle your list.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get up early so I shou– I mean, I can’t wait to get to bed. Ta!

Get punched into productivity

I tend to do better when other people suggest something cool and new, or echo one of my ideas, making its value greater than my other ideas that only I have liked.

So I’m still trying to figure out what this blog is about. It might seem aimless, but stick around; I might learn something.

Are you stepping forward or standing still? Even one baby step in the right direction is closer to your goal! What baby step can you take to get started? Do it now! Not because you want to — do it because I told you to! We can work on self-motivation later! Post your results in comments, if you dare! 🙂

So far, I’ve been writing what I wish someone else would write for me, and that’s in the area of productivity. I’ve been told I give great advice, but I realize I suck at taking it myself.

Recently I wrote about the necessary sucking you have to get through on your path to success. So I guess I have to start taking my own advice, suck at it, and eventually suck less at it.

My afflicted mind is often a cluttered jumble of dozens, if not hundreds of ideas/directions to go in. It becomes a kind of white noise. When someone outside my head suggests something, the novelty often fuels my motor. The human brain is attuned to novelty; the ADD/ADHD brain is especially drawn to novelty, whether it’s a shiny pretty thing, an adrenaline rush, or an impending deadline. Today, I found a shiny, pretty thing: an outside (novel) message that spoke above my normal noise:

Marie Forleo interviewing Stephen Pressfield (Legend of Bagger Vance) about his books on creative success. I hope you can take the HUGE time commitment of a half hour (even the first 10 minutes could be helpful!)

The interview, which says your creativity and opportunities really take off when you engage yourself in it daily. I should know this after my 365 paintings in a year project, but creative exhaustion and procrastination set in. This interview is a great punch in the crotch to get restarted with a daily practice, to create something every day. Sorry if the “punch” metaphor sounds painful. Sometimes a punch in the arm, or even punch in the gut isn’t enough to get my attention.


Do you need a punch in the crotch? Find a novel source of inspiration outside yourself in the next 60 seconds, and act on it today. 

Tomorrow, I fix my procrastination.

“This is Your Brain…”
Day 46 from Rich’s 365 Paintings-in-a-Year Project

They say you should write what you know. Today, I am going to write about procrastination, (which is actually a contradiction of terms). Believe it or not, I haven’t been meaning to write this post for a while. It came as an epiphany when I realized what was keeping me from continuing my blog. I imagine I am not the only procrastinator on the planet.

On a scale of 1 being garden-variety procrastinators to 10 being chronic procrastinators, I would rate myself pathological. I could write a book about how to avoid getting things done…and I will, someday.

I periodically get into productive mode and make “to do” lists, of which a few of the more enticing tasks do actually get done, but there are always those odious tasks (“clean off desk,” “organize paintings,” “figure out what I want to be when I grow up,”) that somehow never get addressed. They will bounce around from pants pocket to pants pocket until they end up in a pile on my desk, a dresser drawer, under the couch, lining the cat box, etc. My “to do” lists are similar to Stephen Wright’s seashell collection: “…which I keep scattered on the beaches all over the world.”

I can’t say what works. I’ve read many “solutions” which work for other people. I have created many “solutions” which probably work for other people. Every “solution” I’ve found has worked for a short period of time before life’s turbulences and/or ADD knock me off course. Still figuring out what works for me; probably an eclectic potpourri of solutions.

I’m currently forcing myself back into productivity and this post is my Declaration of War** Within.

Here are my top 5 go-to solutions. I hope some or all work for you.

  1. Set a timer for both beginning and ending a task. Give yourself a ridiculously small amount of time that you have to endure doing the task, like 7 minutes or even 3. Even if that’s the time it takes to set up the project and put it away. You will build the practice of getting started, which is usually the hardest part of procrastination. Next time, do 8 minutes. Or 3 1/2.
  2. Buy a pack of 3×5 note cards (assorted colors are best, and until then, a folded sheet of printer paper or junk mail envelope will do). Get a pen with a clip. Put one card in your pocket and clip pen to it. NEVER LEND OUT THIS PEN *.
  3. Identify a reward system: “when I get this task done, I will give myself X.” (X=a visit to the snack machine,
  4. Identify the activities which you would use to procrastinate. Put them on your “to do” list. Use them as rewards. Set a timer.
  5. Change the energy in the room. Something in you knows you’re wasting time. Right now: Stop what you’re doing. Stand up. Say, “Yop!” Stand on one foot. Get a drink of water.

I have more to say on this subject. Guess when I’ll get around to that?

* Okay, I occasionally lend out my pen. But I buy special archival ink pens that cost $2-3 bucks each. When I lend it out, I hang onto the cap, so pen thieves get a stain in their pocket.

** By “War,” I do mean “peaceful transition of power.” It’s just not as catchy. “Declaration of Peaceful Transition of Power” sounds like the notice when I don’t pay the electric bill.


How to not suck

Tonight, I drew my first drawing in months, while waiting to buy grapes and carrots at Costco. Where and when can you dedicate 4 minutes to breaking through your fear of failure?

I’ve been waiting for months to gather the brain-power, the wherewithal and the inspiration to write something profound. I really want to have a blog, but have identified my fear of “not doing it right” as a primary obstacle.

As with anything new, I am filled with trepidation. I don’t know what to say; I don’t know if anyone will care; I don’t know if it will be “any good.” Self-doubt is pervasive in most of my creative efforts. Fortunately years ago, I gave myself permission to be “no good” when I start something new. The beginning carpenter may cut crooked planks, the beginning mechanic may crease a gasket, and a toddler sucks at walking as s/he takes their first steps. We all suck when we’re new at stuff. It’s essential in the trial-and-error process of becoming an expert. So I call that “getting the suck out of the way.” 

This has been a touchstone in many of my creative projects. I have used this technique/attitude to improve my painting. And to create performance pieces. And to perform guitar in front of people. And now, to write a blog. Surely there will be supportive people out there who say, “hey, this post doesn’t suck!” — that’s not the point. The key is: I want to make this thing happen. I want to write. I want to get better.

What is one of my main obstacles? Worrying that I’ll suck at it. So I give myself permission to suck. I tell myself it is normal to suck at something new. I fully expect that after a few entries, after I’ve gotten my feet wet at this, I will be getting the “suck” out of the way.

Whenever I talk to people who tell me they wish they could be “artistic,” I ask them why aren’t they? “Oh, I’m just not talented!” I call “malarkey.” I had an interest, I took classes in high school and college. I pored over art books. I spent many formative years trying to get the “suck” out of the way. When I look back at my old sketchbooks? I sucked. When did that change? When I started to take classes. When did my art start really getting better? When I started really doing a lot of it.

When I guide people to access their creativity, I recommend they just do it. Whatever it is, just do it. It may suck at first; it may not. But you will NEVER get to the good stuff if you don’t get the suck out of the way. So give yourself permission to suck!

Rich Potter, Visual and Performing Artist

Welcome to the gateway site of a number of my interests. I am just now figuring out WordPress, so this page should be taking shape over the next couple of months.

I’m semi-active on Twitter; I will announce there as I update here. Follow @RichIsNice

Performing Artist

www.RichPotter.NET – comedy juggler has performed since 1982 in circuses, festivals, and colleges.

His family-friendly Bert the Nerd Thrill Show delights audiences young and old all over the world.
Rich also co-produces Clown Cabaret, Washington DC’s only regular clown-only theater. Shows on second Mondays 8PM

Visual Art

Paintings, T-shirt art, cartoons, comic books

To see his full 365 paintings, it’s currently easier to view at Facebook. Blog postings about the first two months, which will soon be migrating here.

He is on a neverending quest to find out who “borrowed” the painting entitled “2AM,” right, from his last art show.