In the Shadow of the Haunt List: Productivity with Dr. Marilyn Paul

Dr. Marilyn Paul is a coach and organizational change consultant. She joins us today to talk about how to break the addiction to productivity without shame, free to own our ADHD brains, and get things done our way.

Her mission is to support people to learn from and find value in their difficult experiences. She’s been through her own challenges with ADHD over the years, translating them in the best-selling book, It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys. Her second book, An Oasis in Time:  How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life, offers us fodder for a conversation on the how the ADHD brain can escape the inescapable: the cycle of shame that comes from trying to live up to impossible productivity standards, while not feeling able to get anything done.

Links & Notes


Episode Transcript

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Pete Wright:
Hello, everybody, and welcome to Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast on True Story FM. I’m Pete Wright, and I’m here with Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki Kinzer:
Hello, Pete Wright. Hello, everyone.

Pete Wright:
It is a beautiful day. The sun is shining. The weight of the world is light upon our shoulders. How do we feel about that? Good?

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, your sun might be shining, but mine is very cloudy.

Pete Wright:
Oh, no. We’re only a ways apart. That’s not right?

Nikki Kinzer:
I know. I know. I don’t know what that’s all about, but yeah, things are good though. They’re still very, very good. Sun or not, it doesn’t matter.

Pete Wright:
Oh, so good. Things are good, and we have a fantastic guest on the show today. We’re talking all about the productivity spiral, and I cannot wait to introduce you to her. But before we do that, head over to takecontroladhd.com. Get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show right there on the website or subscribe to our mailing list and we’ll send you an email each time a new episode is released. You can connect with us on Twitter or Facebook at Take Control ADHD.

Pete Wright:
And if the show has ever touched you or helped you make a change in your life for the better, we’d appreciate it if you’d consider visiting us on Patreon, patreon.com/theadhdpodcast. This is listener-supported podcasting. For a few dollars each month, you can get access to early episodes of the show. You can join us for a livestream recording and Q&A with our guests. And of course, you help support the growing initiatives of the ADHD podcast, like for example, transcripts, all of that comes to you thanks to supporters at patreon.com/theadhdpodcast. We hope to see you there.

Pete Wright:
Dr. Marilyn Paul is a coach and organizational change consultant. I spent some time reading one of her books that really touched me, and I found this in her introduction and I have to read it mostly as a celebration of words. She says, “I help people work together, and lately, I’ve been helping teams and organizations work through the pernicious costs of chronic work overload.” Oh, my goodness.

Nikki Kinzer:
I have to say, Pete, that is right up your alley with the pernicious word.

Pete Wright:
Come on.

Nikki Kinzer:
I don’t even know what that means.

Pete Wright:
She wields language like a scimitar, people.

Nikki Kinzer:
She does, yes.

Pete Wright:
I love it. The mechanics of just how Dr. Paul manages to help others break the cycle and remain productive and shame-free? That’s what we’re all about today. Dr. Marilyn Paul, welcome to The ADHD Podcast.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
It is so great to be here with both of you.

Nikki Kinzer:
It’s a pleasure, it’s an honor.

Pete Wright:
This is from An Oasis in Time: How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life by the good Marilyn Paul. And I want to start with this bit of the book because I think it sets the stage well for our conversation, the conversation that we’d like to have. In this passage, you’re talking about Alan, who was a physician who has just gone through and described a pretty horrific average day, and this is your reflection on that.

Pete Wright:
“Alan is just one of millions of people struggling to keep up with a culture avid for productivity. The American Institute of Stress reports the job pressures are far and away the major source of tension for Americans. Job stress caused an estimated 300 billion, yes, that’s billion not million a year in absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity, and medical, legal and insurance costs. Ironically, ongoing stress ultimately causes people to work far less productively, thus, requiring more time on the job to complete the same amount of work. Why do people put up with the stress? When people believe that their value comes from their accomplishments, it is especially hard to stop striving for those accomplishments.”

Pete Wright:
Now, our conversation today, that hits me right in the chest. There’s a giant weight that sits on my chest with that. The nut of our conversation today, I would really like to start by talking about the application of this, the cultural addiction to productivity, and how that gets knotted up with ADHD that we believe we have to be. And we keep getting … And so, it’s a never-ending, inescapable spiral of shame because we can’t be productive enough for cultural expectations. What do you think about that?

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Well, I partly wrote this book because I lived it. I had gotten into a cycle where I woke up and started working, worked as hard as I could until I went to sleep. I did not believe in breaks and I just wanted to get a lot done. That was the years of working on my PhD, and that was Yale where everyone has accomplished so much and I always had the feeling of not doing enough, living every day with the feeling of working as hard as I could and never doing enough.

Nikki Kinzer:
Which is so common with so many of the clients that I work with on a daily basis. That’s exactly how they feel. And so, I don’t know if you did this, but I know that they will often feel like they have to make up whatever work they didn’t feel like they got done during the day, so they’re bringing that home. They’re working on the weekends. Sometimes they do it, sometimes they don’t.

Nikki Kinzer:
And then there’s that shame again that they just keep feeling. How do we stop or think differently about this addiction to productivity almost? I don’t know if it’s an addiction but it sure feels like it.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
I think it’s very helpful to start with where our culture is and really understand that there is a difference between valuing accomplishment and valuing non-stop action like, let me try to make that clear. We believe without a doubt that doing more gets more done. It sounds logical, right? The problem is the more we do of the things that are not our priority, that are not done with focus and energy, that are not done with excellence, we actually pile up actions that don’t help us accomplish our goals.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
So we’re doing a lot, and yet, we can get at the end of the day and feel that we haven’t done anything. And it’s a pattern. So part of what I’ve studied is both the culture at large where we really love to tell each other that we’re busy, that we’re working hard. We love to tell each other about our accomplishments. Okay, we understand that. But we’ve lost a lot of the art of living well, which includes eating well, taking good walks, being with our families in loving ways, and our neighbors and our friends.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Mostly, what we want to do, what I have wanted to do is just check up the list. By checking up things off the list, I will feel good but I never check enough things off the list. That’s sort of what we’re struggling with.

Pete Wright:
And here we are in this pandemic, the entire world has changed around us, and people, what we’re hearing is after a brief sort of respite of, “Oh, my gosh, the world has changed, I’m going to understanding with myself,” it seems like people are now starting to set standards higher like even higher than what they can achieve or should be trying to achieve more than they were ever trying to do before because busyness is a badge of honor. It’s the red badge of courage.

Pete Wright:
I suffer for my greatness, because I’m so busy. They aren’t giving themselves or anybody else a whole lot of grace or certainly, I would say, they give others a lot of grace, certainly more grace than they would give themselves.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
So I think this is the heart of that. One is we did not learn how to work. So one thing I talked about in my book as you know is this idea of a rhythm, of action and rest. It’s natural to push hard and then to rest. But we don’t know how to rest. Our idea of rest is maybe checking our Twitter feed or checking the news. That’s not rest.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
And so, the idea of going to we’re exhausted and then flopping down and turning on Netflix does not help us establish a base of energy and focus and even calm. I’m not a calm person by nature, but it’s much easier to work with good focus and energy. And since I have ADD, I tend to create situations that give me a certain sense of panic and crisis because I like that stimulation.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
And so, a lot of what I have to work with is resting regularly, toning down the crisis, getting prepared for action, and then taking very specific concrete actions for 15, 20, 30 minutes and then key to all of these is celebrating whatever I did. As small as it is, it deserves notice.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
And that’s what helps with feeling productive. Rather than the habit that I had for a long time, which was that wasn’t enough. I didn’t do it well enough. I’m going to have to work harder. I did something good, that’s great.

Pete Wright:
Can we talk then briefly just about the connection between stopping to celebrate and resting and being able to ultimately get more done better, right? Because I think that’s the myth. We think if we stop working, then we won’t get enough done. But that’s not the case you’re making.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
So my book actually is about the idea that we can stop for a day a week, unheard of. I know that’s crazy but I do that and millions of people take some kind of a sabbath. The word sabbath or Shabbat means stop. That’s all it means. You go for six days, and you stop for one day.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Now, stopping because of the religious heritage often sounds terrible to people. I have to go suffer in synagogue or church, but what the original framers of this is actually one of The 10 Commandments is remember to stop. I’m starting there because it gives us a way of thinking about action. We work hard for six days, we stop for seventh day and we remember on that day that there is much more to life than work.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Now, we can take that idea and bring it into a regular day. We work hard and we pause to relax. One of the things that neuroscientists are finding is that tension, worry, actually lives in our body. When it lives in our body, it makes it harder to think. What happens is our minds spin. When our mind is spinning, we can’t focus.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
That’s why there’s so much instruction right now, long breath out, breathe in. The reason is we can stop the spinning in our mind. We can focus on what’s important. It’s a mini rest.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Now, when I tell people I take a day off each week, they say, “I could never do that. I have too much to do.” And I tell them there’s a secret formula and here it is, seven minus one equals eight.

Pete Wright:
That’s new math, Marilyn.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Yes, totally new math. Seven minus one, if you take a whole day off every week, you actually get more energy. You remember what’s important, and your mind comes down. So all those things that I thought, “I can’t stop now. It’s Friday evening. I’m going to work through the weekend and catch up.” But I have a habit now. I stop and turn off my phone and computer.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
And the amazing thing is after 24 hours, all of that stuff that was plaguing me in anxiety and trying to get back to these little details, everything goes into perspective. I’m more creative. I’m more focused, and I have much more energy.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
You were talking before about the shame of not keeping up. In some ways, I think it’s shame that keeps us locked in this cycle of, I try to get more done, then I’m worried. I’m up all night. Maybe I take Ambien. Maybe I take melatonin. I wake up. I feel awful. When I feel awful and I’m pushing myself hard, I really do not know anymore what is most important.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
And I think even there, there’s a bit of shame like how come I can’t focus, what’s wrong with me? How come I can’t do what’s important? Okay, I give up. I’ll check Facebook just to give myself a break. And then I overdo it on Facebook, and here we are and that horrible vicious cycle.

Pete Wright:
I have a friend who said to me once, he said, “I’m exhausted.” And he said, “I don’t think I’m depressed, but I do find myself fantasizing about the day I die because I’m finally going to get a rest.” Those sorts of non-suicidal death fantasies seemed to be something that we should try to address, like those are not things we should have to live with.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
We do say things like I’ll rest when I’m dead [crosstalk 00:15:15].

Pete Wright:
… I’m suffering right now for greatness somehow and that’s … I wondered because the way you framed this, you’re talking about like taking a day off, but culturally, shouldn’t we already be doing better with our weekends? There’s two days off that are ostensibly built in.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Good point. I think what happens to people is they turn their recreation or their household chores into another long to-do list. So I have a friend, for example, who’s a potter and her pottery was meant to be creative, artistic, relaxing. But she turned it into, first, I’m going to do errands. Then I’m going to go to the grocery store, get my shopping done. I’m going to run into my pottery class, do some pottery. Get out, go pick my kids up at sports, the sports events. And the pottery just get shoved in there with everything else. That’s one long check-off list.

Pete Wright:
I think that is really important, that right there.

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, I just want to say from my experience with my clients, there’s just as much shame on the weekends as they feel in the week, because if they don’t get it done on Saturday, then they feel like they have to do it on Sunday. And if they don’t do it on Sunday … And so, it really blurs. It really doesn’t matter if it’s work or home. They have that pressure.

Nikki Kinzer:
One thing I want to circle back to about the celebration when you were saying, make sure that we’re celebrating what we did in that 15 minutes, 20 minutes, however long you do it for. What I find with my clients is that they sometimes … Well, I don’t say sometimes. I’d say a lot of times, they avoid what they think they need to be doing. They avoid that priority.

Nikki Kinzer:
And so they end up working on other stuff that kind of interests them. It’s the ADHD mind doing its thing. And then they feel bad that they didn’t work on the top priority. And so, I can see somebody saying, “Why I can’t celebrate that? Because I didn’t work on what I was supposed to be working on, I cleaned the refrigerator instead of working on that paper that I’ve been avoiding for two weeks.”

Nikki Kinzer:
What do you say? How do you deal with that type of mindset really? I mean-

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
I love that. I love what you’re saying. And first of all, I want to say something about getting to those hard things that we’re avoiding, whether it’s writing that paper that we’re supposed to write or do the taxes or finish a PR report. Whatever it is, we all have something we’re avoiding.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
And I think you’re very wise to point out that we feel, since we’re not doing the most important thing, we don’t get to celebrate anything. So, number one is the idea of tackling something hard with support for 15 minutes. And then I do have people because I also coach people with ADD and they’d say, “Well, I can’t get anything done in 15 minutes.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, yes, you can.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Oh, yes, you can. And if we do 15 minutes on the hard thing, twice or three times a day, and you do that hard thing, eat that frog, as we talked about. Every five days a week, you will make amazing progress. But it’s also getting support, not shaming support.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
So, I work with my co-working buddy. So I checked in with my friend, Leigh, this morning to help me make my to-do list, make my next three things list, which is something I work with all the time because I’m so easily distracted. So with support, we set 15 minutes on the hard thing and we celebrate that.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
But let’s just say we can’t. We’re in procrastination mode. Anything that we do when we set a goal with our ADD mind and accomplish that deserves something like, “Yes, I did it!” And if we can get use to that, our whole system understands that if you really look at your life, you are getting a lot done.

Pete Wright:
I feel that all of these is great. And again, I’m with you. I live with ADHD and this is like it’s, again, right here. My question is, and I’d like to have you reflect both on the individual level and on the organizational level because a lot of our people work on teams, big and small, and they recognize that this identity of living with an addiction to productivity doesn’t just happen to them. Their team, their company has that addiction.

Pete Wright:
So my big question for you is how do you begin to crack that sort of personality? How do you crack that identity and get people to start to make change?

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
The team issue is very big. And I’ve worked with a number of teams where honestly, they do this badge of honor thing with each other. IT teams, “I’m up at 5:00. I do my long run. I arrive at the office at 7:30. I’m there until 9:00 or 10:00 at night, and I’m working all the time.”

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
The first thing is when people actually start to realize either they’re not accomplishing their goals, we were called in to one team where they had this incredible work ethic but there were lots of bugs in their programs. And so, what we learned from speaking with them is they were working very hard and very fast, but they were not communicating well, and they had a lot of re-dos.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
They had to rework so much that even they thought, “Oh, we’re so productive because we’re getting so much done.” The re-work was enormous. So the first thing is, I hate to say this to people on teams, but the pain has to be great enough to be willing to step back and say a few things.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Number one, in our work culture, we think working all the time is the way to be productive and it’s simply not true. Every team, everyone needs breaks, needs that breath, needs that relaxation and needs their weekends off. I’m sorry to say that some people who might be listening to this, but people need a break so they can do their best work.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
That’s where it starts, where people start to realize that the next thing is what I found in working with people is there are always people with or without ADD who can work these long hours. There’s always someone around who only needs four hours of sleep, can get their 10-mile run in and show up fresh. And if they have kids, they don’t see their kids that much and that’s okay with them, or their partner, community takes over.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
So, there’s always someone we can compare ourselves with, but we have to know our own strengths and weaknesses and we have to know how we get work done with others so that those bionic people, and they are out there, are not the measure of our success.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
And our job is to know that there are people out there like that, and to forgive ourselves. Really, there have been so many times where I’ve had to say, “I am not that one.” But I bring different gifts. I had different skills and I want to develop the strengths that I have to offer that each of us are blessed with. Let’s develop those strengths with our downtime, with our skillful naming what we need to do next, let’s do that.

Pete Wright:
I find as I get older, and I’m saying this not as a coach because I’m not a coach. But as I get older, I look at those bionic people and I’m a little more judgy. I’m more judgy, and I look at them and I think, “Oh, that’s poisonous.” And that I feel like is growth, that I’m recognizing what I don’t want to be. I used to aspire to that. I used to think maybe I’m a guy who could live that kind of life, and I cannot. I cannot. I definitely have my own poisons that I’m still dealing with and living with and adjusting to, but it’s not that anymore. My aspiration is being able to live life well and practice that, as you say.

Nikki Kinzer:
You know what’s interesting, Pete and Marilyn, is that when I first got into the workforce, I was the opposite. I love my vacation. I love my time off, and I would do new employee orientations when I was in HR, and I would tell them, “You get this much time off, take it. Enjoy it.” But then as I got older, I started feeling more guilty about that. I don’t know, Marilyn, where does that come from?

Pete Wright:
… from a perspective of HR, right? Your job is to protect the valued interest of the company. And I imagine you’re an island in telling people to take their time off at that point in time, right?

Nikki Kinzer:
But I really believed it too though.

Pete Wright:
No, I know.

Nikki Kinzer:
I mean, I don’t know if that was just something. It could be, I mean, just something that was inside of me because my parents always took vacation. I mean there’s probably a lot of like backstory there that if I really analyze it, I could see it. I could probably understand it. But I think it’s still interesting that then there becomes these skills of taking time off. For some reason, I shouldn’t enjoy the weekend. I don’t know, it’s just weird.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
I think you’re talking about an important values conflict. For example, in the US, we have a strong bias for action. But if we were living in Italy where they have … They can also be productive, very productive and create beautiful things, there is a strong bias for weekends off, for meals together, for delicious food. And we sort of have it that, “Oh, the chefs get delicious food but we can’t have that every day,” which of course we can.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
And so part of what I hope to communicate to people is when people have done studies in organizations, they have found that the most productive people do rest. The most productive people step away from their desks, eat lunch outside although here we are in the pandemic.

Pete Wright:
You can’t eat outside, that’s great.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
[inaudible 00:27:17] So we need to learn how to set those boundaries. And these are little practices, like my practice every hour is to write down the next three things I’m going to do on a sticky note and focus on those things knowing full well. The other thing of that is I set a timer on my phone because I know my brain. I will find other things to do, that’s the next three things. So, my timer goes off every 10 minutes and every once, I look up and say, “How did I get here?” Well, that’s my brain and I go back to my next three things.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
And I wrote my book. So, writing a book, you have to do this every day while I was homeschooling my son, leading the renovations on our house, helping him prep for his bar mitzvah and keeping myself in relatively good shape as well as being the one in charge of all our food and food prep. But I could do that because I used these tools.

Nikki Kinzer:
Are your next three things different? Or do you like finish them and then you have the next three things? Or do they carry over if they don’t get finished? How does that work?

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Let’s say, today, my next three things after this podcast is to spend 20 minutes working on my next book. That’s it, 20 minutes. Then I also have to send out an announcement for a course I’m doing on my book. That will take 20 minutes. And then the final of my next three things actually is to debrief this podcast and make sure I make notes that go into my … I have a learning notebook, what am I learning because I’m always learning. And that’s my next hour.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
At the end of that hour, then I will create a new set of next three things based on the goals I set for my day and my week.

Nikki Kinzer:
I love that. And you have a timer, so it keeps you on track.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
My timer goes up every 10 minutes because even though I’m doing 20 minutes, say, on my book, if I am writing my book and reading, going to a link … My book is called Get Food on the Table Without Making Such a Mess in the Kitchen and on the Planet. I can lose myself in research very quickly, so my timer goes off and I discover I’m reading about industrial agriculture.

Pete Wright:
That’s a great lesson too, Nikki. I mean, just like we’re big fans of just Pomodoro and taking timed breaks and that kind of a thing. But the whole idea of having that timer just automatically ping you every 10 minutes just to say, “Hey, we need to reset your context in space and time, right here. You are here now, look around and make sure you’re still here now.”

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Yes. And I want to talk about shame for a minute because I’m sitting here thinking, “Wait a second, Marilyn. You’re telling people the details of your life.” I have a PhD from Yale. I’ve worked all over the world. I consult to all kinds of organizations and now, I’m revealing something about my brain that tells me I have to set a timer every 10 minutes like, whoa! But I’m telling you, one, to reduce my own shame about it, two, this is my brain. I have to work with it. I don’t have my husband’s brain. My husband can sit down at his desk at 9:00 a.m. and he gets up for lunch, has his lunch and goes back. He’s not setting timers or writing his next three things. He works.

Nikki Kinzer:
But you know what’s so wonderful about that is that there is such a beautiful statement around acceptance with what you’re saying. “This is how my brain works. This is what I need. These are the tools I need.” There is no shame in that. It doesn’t make your husband any better of a worker than you are. Both of you worked the way that need to work. And I think that’s definitely one of the messages that Pete and I tried to let our listeners know is that you don’t have to do it the way somebody else does it. You don’t have to be like another ADHD or neurotypical. It’s all about what works for you and accepting that.

Nikki Kinzer:
And knowing that that’s great. That’s beautiful. I mean it doesn’t have to look the same. We don’t want it to look the same. I just think that’s a great example of that when you were saying that.

Pete Wright:
If you don’t take ownership of your brain, who will? I wonder, when did you start doing the micro timers. When did you learn that that was how your brain worked?

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Years and years ago. I mean, well, before smartphones, I had a little timer, wonderful timer. I have a whole thing on timers in my first book. It’s hard to make a difference when you can’t find your keys because I found this out, I don’t know, 20 years ago. I could really see that I have an interesting brain. But I want to say a word about this whole thing we’re all different and he’s not more productive necessarily. It’s worked for me still to accept the way I am.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
I’m not neurotypical and to get through school and graduate school and feed good about ourselves, our learning style, our learning approach is something that I still do affirmations. I set my timer. I appreciate myself and one of my new tools that I just learned is to imagine my friends and colleagues cheering me on. Just I have a cheering squad because if I make mistake, I am so quick to beat myself up. Though even if I make mistake, my cheering squad is, “Get up. Keep going.” I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a marathon. Have you ever visited a marathon?

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Okay, so you know how they’re running and there’s cheering in the street. I imagine that.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s great. I love that. I have a question for you. On this day off, you had mentioned taking a 24-hour break from, I believe I’ve read it in your book and you may have said it, electronic devices?

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s hard.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
But I want to temper that because if we’re going somewhere, I do turn on our GPS. If I need to meet someone, I don’t mind texting back and forth. I am not an orthodox Jewish woman, but I find that if I put my device, if I block it or put it away, then actually, it restores my mind to the present situation. So, I prefer not to turn on my devices. If I have to, I will. It’s not hard and fast.

Nikki Kinzer:
I’ve always wanted to do that. I’ve always thought it would be a great idea and I will … I’m not addicted to my phone in the sense that I always have to have it on me. In fact, a lot of people try to call me or text me and I’m not looking at it on the weekend. But there still is this pull to check it. And I still feel … Like for me, it’s easy to take a day off but for the people who that’s not easy for and maybe the phone isn’t as easy for them to walk away from except for what we’re talking about with texting if you’re meeting someone and such. Where does a person start? How do you get into that mindset that, “This could save my life, this really will increase my productivity”? I mean, we can tell it to them but how do they really start believing it?

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
That whole idea, I started very slowly. I was in graduate school. I was invited to a Shabbat dinner, that’s a Friday night meal. I turned it down three or four times, “No, I’m too busy to take an evening off.” But a friend said, “No, you got to come.” And I went to this meal, and the reason I’m mentioning that is it was not long. It was a couple of hours. I did not know what was going on. I did not want to be there. But something happened where I recognized relaxation together. And I went home, and went back to work.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
So, the way to start, I think, in my experience and now I’ve just talked to and coached hundreds of people, is to find one small thing that you love. And I would say preferably with others but it doesn’t have to be. It might be playing with your cat or dog, or going to a local park or beach and just set aside an hour or two without your device and see what happens. What is that like for you? But bound it.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
One of the things I’ve learned is you have a begin time and an end time. And when you’re in your time off, really savor it. And the other thing I will say is this takes practice. Setting aside our to-do list, and I think just as important as setting aside our device, it’s not just setting aside our to-do list but setting aside the hot list. The hot list is all those things we haven’t gotten to, those thank-you notes for our wedding 10 years ago. And it’s all of us.

Pete Wright:
Did you make that up, Marilyn? I’ve never heard that before, and it just hit me right here, that term. I’m going to live with that. Is that yours?

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
That, I was working with a client. She said, “Marilyn, I can put down my phone. I can put down my to-do list, but then there’s my hot list that comes with me when I watch a movie, when I’m cooking something, my hot list.” So, we talked about how do you even put down your hot list.

Pete Wright:
It’s amazing. That term is fantastic. Welcome to the title of the podcast.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s right.

Pete Wright:
That’s amazing. Our great appreciation to your client.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
How do we turn to this other world which is right there? It’s right here. How do we turn to connection with self, other, and their higher power? How do we look at the leaves not as something to sweep up or to blow off our deck or patio, but how do we see the patterns? How do we be grateful? And that’s where I think ritual comes in, even a little ritual like lighting a candle or turning on music, or putting a special shirt on or spraying ourselves with some perfume, just something to interrupt the feeling that there is always something to do.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Here’s the thing. There is always something to do. And to live the kind of lives that we want to live, there is also a way to be. Now, when we’re not accomplishing and we’re not trying to get anything done, there is still playing. There’s reflecting. There’s enjoying. There’s reading. There’s dancing. There is delighting. There is appreciating. There is being grateful. There are all these other things we can do that are more in the being mode but we need to practice them.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
I have a yoga friend who does her yoga like she does her to-do list. “Now, I’m going to improve my downward dog. Up, up, down, down,” she’s always counting. Well, let’s do our yoga for an hour with just inquiry, just renewing, just, “Oh, that’s interesting. I can’t do that today. What is that?” Not, “Now, I’m going to do it.” So, we change our mindset.

Nikki Kinzer:
Something that has happened to me and it just happened the other day when my daughter and I were driving. There is this beautiful sunset Saturday night. It was breathtaking. And we both were just like, “That is so beautiful. That is so beautiful.” And it brought both us sort of just a sense of peace that everything in the world can be kind of chaotic but when you look at the sunset and you see the beauty of the colors, it just gives you peace like, “Okay, it’s going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay.” There’s bigger things than just everything that we’re dealing with right now. There’s bigger things.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Beautiful. That sense of awe that we’re small, the world is big and the world has a certain kind of order that we don’t understand the mystery, the miracle of it all, then we can just relax.

Nikki Kinzer:
I love this. I could talk to you all day long.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, I know. I know. Marilyn, this is fantastic. Thank you for joining us today. We so appreciate it. We’ve talked in circles sort of around your books, but where would you like people to go to learn more about the work you’re doing and where they can pick them?

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
I just mentioned that my first book is … For those of us who struggled with organization and overwhelm, and it’s called It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys. That sold almost 200,000 copies.

Nikki Kinzer:
Wow.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
My second book is An Oasis in Time: How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life. You can find both books on Amazon, in your library. I just want to make a plug even though we have to pay more for independent book shops, if you want one of my books, please go to your local bookstore. Support them even if you don’t buy all your books there. They need us. We need them.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Also go to my website, marilynpaul.com. I give courses. I’m giving a webinar on Tech Mastery: How to Take Back Your Mind, Take Back Your Life. I’m doing a workshop with Jane actually on productivity partnerships, how to build much more support into our lives. And I’m also giving a class on An Oasis in Time.

Pete Wright:
That’s Jane Massengill for another show.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah. Oh, wow, that’s awesome. I hope you come back.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
I’d love to come back. There’s so much to talk about.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, there is. I’d like to have you and Jane come back and talk about this productivity relationship. That’s an interesting thing. Is it like a body double, like a check-in accountability? What is it that you guys do?

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
It starts with meeting up, having a pattern where we set goals and focus on what’s important, then we check back in, “Did you do it, what got in your way, what did you learn all day long?”

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s great. Well, thank you so much.

Dr. Marilyn Paul:
Thank you [crosstalk 00:44:41]. Thank you for having me.

Pete Wright:
And thank you, everybody, for downloading and listening to this show. We so appreciate your time and your attention. On behalf of Marilyn Paul and Nikki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright. And we’ll catch you next week right here on Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast.