Three Ways to Be More Productive in Business from a CEO with ADHD

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 In this world of social media notifications and smartphone vibrations, it’s harder than ever to concentrate.

A study recently revealed that human attention spans are at a record low, tapping out at eight seconds. Even goldfish last for nine!

We may be losing to koi, but in business, a fleeting attention span might not be a bad thing. Moguls like Richard Branson and the founders of Jet Blue Airways and IKEA have all been diagnosed with ADHD. Maybe the most surprising stat is that people with ADHD are actually 300% more likely to own their own business. A study in Small Business Economics even points to a genetic link between ADHD and entrepreneurship.

It could be because people with ADHD are energetic, distractible, impulsive, and usually OK with cutting their own path. As someone with those symptoms in spades, I can say that ADHD has been the secret to my success.

After years of fine-tuning, here are productivity hacks that anyone can use in this distracting digital age – whether you have ADHD or not.

Let Others Shine

It can be hard for business owners to let go of their responsibilities. After all, your business is your baby. However, owners with foresight realize they can’t do everything forever and bring in people to specialize – and excel – in certain roles. The ones who refuse to delegate end up doing too many things to do any well, damaging their chances for growth.

Thanks to ADHD, I’ve always been very aware that I simply will never be good at some things – especially if they involve close attention to detail! For example, combing through budgets is beyond me. After some tiring, stressful years trying to do things I couldn’t, I embraced a “two-in-the-box”leadership model and hired someone to oversee operations and strategy. I’m still able to handle the overall vision, but our COO Erik Church translates it all into business reality.

The Hack: The sooner you accept your shortcomings and let others shine, the faster you’ll grow your business – and the more productive you’ll be.

Let Your Creative Mind Wander

Thanks to ADHD, my mind wanders at inopportune times – like during meetings or networking events. I used to feel distracted by it, but have since learned that embracing these moments of mental wanderlust can lead to new perspectives and creations.

One brainwave came when I was getting my home painted years ago. The crew offered to paint my home in one day! As I watched them hustle around my house, my mind went wild as I realized that this might be another 1-800-GOT-JUNK?: a business idea with the potential to go viral. From that random thought grew WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, which now has dozens of franchises around North America.

The Hack: Letting your brain have a chance to explore occasionally will lead to surprising moments of inspiration and re-energize your grey matter for the less imaginative tasks at hand.

Find Your Most Productive Self

ADHD has also forced me to pinpoint situations and times where I get my best work done. Maximizing those times and letting the rest go has made me much more productive.

Developing productivity hacks is about knowing myself well enough to know what works: I make time to work in coffee shops because the buzz gives me a different sense of energy. I dedicate a whole day each week specifically for developing ideas and setting goals. Each of these tricks helps me focus and get things done more efficiently.

The Hack: Evaluate when you are most productive and where you do your best work. Develop productivity hacks that work for you and maximize your time.

Entrepreneurship rewards those who can think outside the box, who see things differently and who look at the status quo as a challenge to be overcome. It’s why my ADHD has made me better at what I do and why I believe that discovering how to tap into your most productive self will help you in business.

Brian Scudamore is the founder and CEO of O2E (Ordinary to Exceptional) Brands, which includes companies like 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING,You Move Me and Shack Shine. Brian is passionate about helping others grow small to medium businesses and corporate culture. Tweet Brian at @brianscudamore