I still remember the day I received my ADD diagnosis 12 years ago. Suddenly the disorganized overload I had experienced since elementary school came into full view, and for the first time in my life, every scattered thought and overdue library book mixed with fits of hyperfocus suddenly made sense.
While ADD has certainly presented its challenges over the years, I’ve tried to focus more on the silver linings it has brought me as the owner of my own business and the lead of an all-virtual team of more than 20 women.
As I’ve navigated my career, procrastination has always been my number one problem. But it really came to a head when the business I started in 2017 began to take off and do really well. I realized I no longer had the time to allow my procrastination tactics to get the best of me. I had to do something or risk flushing my young and vital business down a plunging spiral.
Over the years I played around with a variety of productivity techniques and I finally found a method that works wonders for my ADD.
You may have heard of the Pomodoro Method. It is a tried-and-true practice among productivity nerds like me. My twist? I like to bring my team on board for coworking Pomodoro sessions rather than doing them myself. For someone with ADD—as I’m sure some of you reading this can relate to—that added accountability factor is exactly what we need to make the magic happen.
Setting you and your team up for success
These coworking Pomodoro sessions can be planned ahead or executed spur of the moment. My team and I have had success with both. Usually, I will Slack my teammates alerting them that I plan to do two to three Pomodoro sessions that day. Whoever is interested in joining receives a Zoom link to join and we hop on together.
I’ve found that making these coworking sessions 100% optional has actually increased my employees’ attendance because they see the value of the exercise both for productivity, but also for team-building. Particularly right now, when many of us are feeling isolated due to the ongoing pandemic, having this be a weekly practice has been a welcoming experience.
To get started, explain to your team that you will be working in 25-minute sessions, with 25 minutes of focused work, followed by a five- to seven-minute team break. The best thing about these breaks is they end up looking and feeling different every single time. A team member may bring up a task she is stumped on to get help. Other times we will brainstorm together, or just simply catch up on the goings-on in the world—everything from how people are feeling to what Gaga wore to the Inauguration. I have found that not structuring these breaks makes the focused 25-minute sections of our time together all the more productive.
The absolute best part of the process though is feeding off of my employees’ positive energy. Even though we all will mute ourselves during the 25 minutes “on,” everyone feeds off of one another’s positive energy, and momentum builds throughout the sessions.
In the end, “eat the frog”
This is my favorite thing to do during our final coworking Pomodoro session as a team. I can’t take credit for the genius behind this technique. I owe that to the great Brian Tracy. Everyone has a frog. Think of that one important task that’s been on your to-do list for days, weeks, or if it’s really bad months. For whatever reason, maybe it’s because the task has been on your list for so long the idea of starting is a paralyzing thought, or maybe you simply don’t know where to begin. In any case, there is no time like the present to rip the band-aid off and get started. And that’s exactly what this technique does.
During our final break together, before our last 25-minute working session I’ll announce to the team: “It’s time to eat the frog.” Then, each team member goes around saying what their “frog” is and what their intention is going into the final 25 minutes. Sometimes 25 minutes doesn’t give you enough time to eat the entire frog, but 99% of the time my colleagues come out of this exercise feeling rejuvenated that they’ve started to put the wheels in motion.
If you don’t have a “frog” on any given day, do this instead: select between one and three things on your to-do list that will feel really great knowing they are off your to-do list for tomorrow. The positive energy and motivation built up in the beginning working sessions will lift you and your team up to conquer these tasks as one unit.
Couple accountability and vulnerability to be a more effective manager
Learning to be open and vulnerable about my ADD diagnosis has only made me a better leader. Hosting these coworking Pomodoro sessions instills an accountability element to my day that is really the driving force behind me showing up as a leader and getting my work done.
Initially, I began holding these sessions because they were the most effective way for me to get my work done. Over this past year though, the motivation behind the exercise has shifted a bit. Yes, it’s still my most effective productivity technique, but more importantly, these coworking sessions have made me into a more present and accommodating CEO. For those two to three hours, I am fully “in the trenches” with my team. I’m hearing firsthand what projects or tasks are holding them back, taking too long, or are just completely unnecessary for our business and should be eliminated. My favorite is when I find out about a task that I am the bottleneck for, so I can correct it immediately during one of our sessions together.
So yes, coworking Pomodoro sessions will increase your productivity, but more importantly, you may just become a more effective leader in the process.
Tasha Booth is an agency owner, coach, and podcaster. She is the founder and CEO of The Launch Guild, a course launch support and digital marketing implementation agency.