November 22, 2022

The Scandalous Concept of “Archive-All”

If you’re guilty of adding too many tasks to your to-do list and then feeling guilty for not completing them, this message is for you! To-do lists are meant to be useful for prioritization and recollecting what needs to get done — but it’s easy to lose ourselves in the list itself and struggle to cross anything off at all, leading to procrastination, dread, and shame.

It may sound scandalous, but you should consider the email concept of “archive all” to cleanse the clutter in your brain and let yourself off the hook! To those of us living with ADHD, this may sound terrifying… impossible even. But the only way to make progress is by taking one step at a time, tackling items one by one.In this episode, I’m divulging why I relish archiving ALL THE THINGS that take up too much brain space and how it helps me be *more* productive in the long run.

It’s time to let go of the unnecessary weight you’ve been carrying for far too long. Archive it all — with no strings attached!



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Welcome to the I have ADHD podcast, where it’s all about education, encouragement and coaching for adults with ADHD. I’m your host, Kristen Carter and I have ADHD. Let’s chat about the frustrations, humor and challenges of adulting relationships working and achieving with this neurodevelopmental disorder. I’ll help you understand your unique brain. Unlock your potential and move from point A to point B.

Hey, what’s up? This is Kristen Carter and you’re listening to the I have ADHD podcast episode number 186. I am medicated, I am caffeinated and I am ready to roll.

How are ya? How are ya? It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Welcome to the I have ADHD podcasts. I’m glad that you’re listening today. Thanks so much for pressing play. On this episode, I had a great idea for today’s episode and identify bunch of research on it. But then, life happened. And I just did not or do not have the time or space or capacity to pull it off this week. I hate it when things like this happen. But we’re pivoting I’m going to save my great idea for next week. And I’m going to let myself off the hook a little bit because listen, I got two kids home from school, not just one, two kids home from school sick. I had some weird how things going on nothing. Nothing major at all, but like annoying, you know what I’m saying? Like annoying, distracting things. And then getting the call from the school nurse about that second kid, you know what it’s like when you already have one kid home, and then your phone rings. And it’s the school and you know that it’s like, oh shoot, somebody else needs to come home, it was enough to put me over the edge. You parents of school aged kids? I understand. I know you do. I know you do.

So today we’re going to pivot. And we’re talking about a concept that I created last night. I created it last night. And I’m telling you, I think it might be life changing. It’s called archive all it’s simple. It’s to the point, and it might just change your life.

Here’s the story. I was listening to a focus coaching call last night and the client was talking about how she literally has 100 things on her to do list. She has been keeping a running list of everything that she wants to do, including like books she wants to read and pictures, she wants to print and hang on her walls and just every single thing that she’s wanted to accomplish for years. Her problem was that only the urgent things were being done. And whenever she had time to do the other things on her list, she just didn’t do them. Does this sound familiar?

Everytime she looks at the list, she feels overwhelmed, she bedazzles it and she schedules it, she prioritizes it and yet she still just can’t make herself do anything on the list. The coach who was coaching her who by the way, someone that I trained in my focused ADHD coaching program. Amazing. She handled all of this very well. She coached her expertly on constraint, and overwhelm and prioritizing and the client walked away with a lot of clarity. And it all was perfect. It was beautiful and perfect. But for hours after I listened to it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

The client, Kylie had 100 things that she was telling herself that she should do 100 things that she wants to do. And she has been carrying this list around for years. Now I bet a lot of you are like this accumulating to dues that you’ve told yourself you want to do or that you should do. And then just allowing that list to grow and grow and grow until it’s 100 tasks 100 tasks. Here’s what I want to say archive all. Archive all is a technique that I use with my email inbox. I mean, like everyone does, right? I get a lot of emails, so do you emails about my kids emails about my business emails about products I’ve purchased or programs that I’m in and once in a while I noticed how messy and cluttered and bulky and heavy it all is. And I just archive all literally archive it all. I get rid of everything. I let myself off the hook for everything.

Unless I know it’s totally urgent and I need it in the next couple of days or the next week. I just archive it by done audios, I’ll find you if I need you, or if I want you. But I don’t want you in my inbox anymore. I don’t want you taking up space in my brain or in my life anymore. Archive. All, this is what I want to tell Kylie and all of you with huge to do lists, archive all the reason that you’re not getting anything done on your list is because you’re carrying around a big list of things from last year or last month that you just you might not care about anymore. Okay? Listen, you’re telling yourself that you should care and you’re guilting and shaming yourself about it. And it’s not working. Looking at it on your list every day. It’s not working, dragging it around with you every day. It’s not working. feeling guilt and shame.

Every time you think about getting something done. It’s not working. What you’re doing right now is not working. Keep the three things on there that are actually urgent. And then archive arrest. Let yourself breathe, start fresh. release yourself from the bondage of that nasty list that you don’t want to do, but you think you should do. But you can’t make yourself do but you think you’ll feel better if you do do but you can’t stop obsessing over it but you never actually do it. Enough is enough. Archive all I can hear you screaming at me, I could hear it when I was writing notes for this episode, I can hear it. Now as I’m recording it, I can literally hear your resistance to this concept. I’ve coached 1000s of you. I know the way the ADHD brain works, I get it. But Kristen, these are things that I really want to do. But Kristen, I’m never going to remember to get these things done.

But Kristen, if I don’t put it on the list, it’s a guarantee that it won’t happen. But you don’t understand Chris, and I’ve been meaning to do this for two years, it’s actually really, really important. It’s got to stay on the list until it’s done. I hear you, I get it, I do it. I’ve done it. I understand it. I’ve coached it, I get it. But let’s relate it to email. Some of you have 1000s of emails in your email inbox, emails that you’re not really sure what to do with emails that you think I should respond to that someday, or I should read that someday, or I should really do something with that sometime. And now that’s not a problem. I’m not saying that having 1000s of emails in your inbox is a problem. It’s totally not a problem, who cares? If it doesn’t affect you. And if you’re still able to be productive and function, it’s not a problem. But here’s when it does become a problem. If you open your email inbox, and you feel shame, and guilt and discouragement every single day. If you open it and think Man, I really should dot dot dot, but you never do. When you look at your emails and you waste time on the things that don’t matter because of the sheer bulk of them.

That’s a recipe for procrastination hiding, avoiding and not getting done what you actually need to or want to accomplish. Archive all the emails with the great recipes in them. You’ll find them if you need to the emails regarding next year’s family vacation, you’ll search for them when you want to do something with them. The emails from me and my email list that you’re saving because you love the content and you want to remember it. You can search for I have ADHD in your inbox anytime you want inspiration and listen, even if you can’t find things, you can Google answers or ask someone for help.

Okay. And the same thing applies to your to do list. telling yourself that you have 100 things to do is a perfect way to not do anything. It’s too overwhelming. It’s literally debilitating, you’re paralyzing yourself, you’re setting the bar way too high. And then you’re beating yourself up for not being able to do it. Which by the way is the exact definition that I have for perfectionism.

Yeah, like as I’m saying this, I’m realizing that perhaps this is a majorly perfectionistic way of viewing our inbox or our to do list and it’s all going to be accomplished perfectly and it for sure can all be organized perfectly and I can for sure get all of this done. It’s like problematic positive thinking mixed with perfectionism. Listen to me, you won’t, you’re not going to actually deal with those 1000s of emails, get rid of them. You won’t get those 100 tasks done if you keep dragging them around with you. And you’re proving that to yourself day in and day out.

Now, I understand there’s a lot of emotion involved here especially like if you do let these things go there’s definitely going to be some loss and some grief to be felt here because embracing reality is one Hard. Seeing what’s actually possible is hard. But embracing reality is very important. If we archive all, start fresh, don’t put more than three to five things on our list for the day, we actually have a chance to get things done. Seriously, some of you need to let yourselves off the hook for the things that you’ve been telling yourself that you should be doing for years.

How unfair is that Think of how unfair it is to hold something over your own head for years. And listen, I know the response that is like, well, if I would just do it, I wouldn’t have to hold it over my head, I get that. But how about we just stop holding it over our heads, let ourselves off the hook, give ourselves a once in a wild chance to archive all. An example of this is Kylie the client was telling Anna, the coach that she’d been meaning to print out wedding pictures and hang them on her wall for over a year.

So for over a year, she’s been dragging around that task on her list. Looking at it everyday thinking, Oh, I should really do that. But I don’t want to, I should really do that. But I don’t feel like it. It’s been on her list for over a year. And it’s still not done. She said it in passing. And it wasn’t the point of the call at large. So of course Anna didn’t address it, which is perfect. She shouldn’t have. But when I was thinking about it at the call later, I just I couldn’t help it. Think Kylie archive it, archive it, you do not have to hang pictures on your wall. Give yourself permission not to do it. Don’t even think about it for a couple months, I promise you, if it’s something you really want to do, you’ll wake up one morning, and you’ll spend all day getting it done.

That’s the way ADHD works, right. Because when you’ve had space and time away from it, and you’re pressure free, you’ve given yourself permission not to do it, it’s no longer a should or a shame filled, guilt ridden obligation, you might actually have a chance of getting it done. When you take off the shame, the guilt, the shoulds, and all of the regrets, you actually have the ability to be free enough to do the things that you want to do. But when you’re carrying around a two ton to do list filled with all of the reminders of your shortcomings, and all of the ways that you’ve so called failed yourself up until this point, you will inevitably be paralyzed and resist doing anything. archive it, archive all and move on. Now, caveat here, because we live in a weird world.

And I need to make sure I say things like this, please use your very big adult brain here to understand that. Obviously, I’m not talking about archiving tasks that will affect you in terrible ways if you don’t do them. So like consider the example I used of hanging wedding pictures on the wall, right? This is not a life or death scenario. Obviously, if your to do list contains things like schedule that heart surgery, or show up for cancer treatment, please don’t use this concept of archiving in ways that are detrimental. Please, please, please, please don’t archive the things that are life or death. But many of you are keeping tasks on your list that you’re telling yourself will be incredibly detrimental if you don’t do them. And I just really want to encourage you to question that line of thinking, you may be assessing it incorrectly. Remember, ADHD impairs your frontal lobe. And your frontal lobe is where your executive functions are housed. And one of your primary executive functions is prioritization. So printing and hanging wedding photos is not the same as showing up for cancer treatment. So don’t treat it like it is.

Okay. So here’s a few questions that you can ask yourself to make sure you’re not archiving things that are actually really, really, really, really, really important. Number one, will I go to jail if I don’t do this? Like that’s a pretty great question. Okay. Number two, will not doing this put my job at risk. And number three is anyone’s life at stake. Okay. If the answer to those three questions is no, archive it, get rid of it, move it off your list, release the pressure valve that you are trying to perform under. Here’s the benefit to archiving. You get to start fresh. You got to ask yourself, Who am I today? What do I really care about? What’s one thing that I could do today to make my life better? What’s burning in my soul for me to accomplish?

I promise you you’ll have a much better chance of getting stuff done. If you approach things in this way, listen, if you have 50, or 100, or even 20 things on your list, there’s a lot there, that is dead weight. You’re trying to force yourself into being productive while carrying around dead weight. So many shoulds that have turned into perfectionistic standards, and you’re making just showing up and functioning so hard for yourself. It’s time to archive Hall and let yourself be free. Now I know this opens up a whole new issue, which is, are you even comfortable being free? And if not, why not? What emotion comes up for you and you don’t have shame and guilt and obligation to contend with?

This entire conversation we’re having today is such a perfect illustration for why mindset coaching and emotional management is such a key component to being able to function with ADHD. ADHD meds are great. But ADHD medication is not going to help you figure all of this out. It’ll help you think more clearly. But it won’t help you to understand the root cause of why you drag around a 50 task to do list and shame yourself all day everyday for not getting it done. The skill of being able to observe your thinking and process your emotions is so crucial to your ability to accomplish what you want to do with this neurodevelopmental disorder. Which is why if you’re able to, you need to join my coaching program and learn how to manage your mind and process your emotions. I coach hundreds of adults with ADHD from around the world and they make real sustainable progress in this program.

Of course, you can go to my website, I have adhd.com to learn more. But my friend, my friend, my friend, consider throwing away your to do list. Even better, burn it. Let yourself be free. Start fresh with no strings attached, archive all and then enjoy what it feels like to be untethered. And when you’re ready, choose one thing every day that you want to do not 100 things. One thing. And if you did one thing every day, if you accomplished one thing every day, you’d get hundreds of tasks done every single year. Instead of carrying around a list of 100 things every day, and accomplishing nothing all here. Do you see what I am saying? Have I made my point? I hope I have I know I’m coming in hot today. I hope you can handle it.

That’s it for me this week. I’m gonna see you next time. Hey, ADHD, er, I see you. I know exactly what it’s like to feel lost, confused, frustrated and like no one out there really understands the way that your brain works. That’s why I created Focus. Focus is my monthly coaching program where I lead you through a step by step process of understanding yourself feeling better and creating the life that you know you’re meant for. You’ll study be coached grow and make amazing changes alongside of other educated professional adults with ADHD from all over the world. Visit Ihaveadhd.com/focused to learn more

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