Today I’d like to introduce you to Eric Tivers, ADHD Therapist and Coach, who spoke at the 2014 CHADD Conference this past November on the topic of productivity apps. His presentation was so engaging and informative I not only tweeted about it, but I asked to interview him for my blog. Hopefully you’ll appreciate what he has to say as much as the roomful of people at the conference did.
Andrea: Eric, I know I was already searching for ways to be more productive and efficient when I was in my teens. When did you first become interested in productivity and productivity apps?
Eric: I first became interested in productivity when I was in grad school. I was diagnosed with ADHD in college, and my strategy was to take a pill and that was about it. Though I was a really hard worker, I didn’t have the skills I needed. Once I got into grad school, I got to the point where there wasn’t enough time in the day to use the “just work hard approach.” I always wanted to do big things and I always had a lot of ideas, but I realized just having these ideas is kind of worthless if you don’t have the follow through and strategies to implement them.
I’ve always been a techie person. When the iPhone came out with Siri, and the ability to push one button allowing it to remind you of something not only at a certain time, but at a certain place, I felt like that revolutionized self-management and ADHD-management especially. To have that ability to remind yourself of something at the place you need to be reminded is awesome. So I guess that’s how I’ve gotten into apps, anything that can create shortcuts, or can automate, or can make things interesting, I’m a huge fan of.
Andrea: At the CHADD conference you showed us a screen shot of all of your apps. How many apps do you have and how many of them would you categorize as productivity apps?
Eric: The photo you saw probably had around a thousand apps on it, and no they’re not all productivity apps – Angry Birds was definitely in there – but a lot of them were. I go through apps regularly. I know a lot of the to-do-list apps kind of do the same thing, but they look different and that’s really important because that keeps it interesting, keeps it novel.
Andrea: What are your favorite apps, right now, the ones you couldn’t live without?
Eric: I’m glad that you added that “right now,” because it could be a different answer if you asked me that next week. Right now, Evernote and Sleep Cycle, which in a round about way I view as a productivity app because it not only allows you to track your sleep but also track different things you’re doing. Then you can see trends between what you’re doing and sleep because sleep affects productivity big-time. Other favorites are Dropbox and Google Drive, because I definitely use those daily.
Andrea: I am curious how you discover new apps?
Eric: First, I have an online community through my podcast, it’s an A.D.H.D Rewired Facebook community group, and I discover a lot through there as well as various other Facebook groups. I also discover a lot through watching podcasts of apps. I’ll also occasionally go to the App Store and search, using search terms like “GTD,” or “To-Do-List.” I’ll often add the GPS or automation features in search queries, because I find that a lot of the neat apps depend on your location. There are also other websites such as Lifehacker.com that I learn a lot from.
Andrea: I’m particularly interested in your statement earlier that you “go through apps regularly.” I know I change-up productivity systems often because I get bored with them. I’m curious how you handle the transition between systems?
Eric: That’s a great question, and it’s really important because that’s where the wheels on the bus can fall off, if you don’t have a strategy. I have different planning periods I integrate into my life. I have my daily planning period and I also do weekly, monthly, and quarterly planning. Quarterly planning is when I look at my tools. It’s almost like doing a cleanse, in a sense. I look at my old tool and ask, “What’s still on there that I haven’t done?” Now I’m creating this natural filter by importing into a new tool what’s going to interest me again. I need to be excited about these goals and these things that I want to accomplish all within the context of this new tool. So the short answer to that question is I integrate it into quarterly planning.
Andrea: I appreciate that. When I start using a new planning app or tool, which is fairly often, I see that new tool as being “pure” and not wanting to drag everything into it, especially items that languished in my previous tool.
Eric: Right, and I think it forces you to ask yourself the question, “Is this still important?” And it’s ok to say no.
Eric, I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for taking the time to share with me and my readers.
If you’re interested in hearing more of what Eric has to say about productivity, he’ll be presenting an ICD teleclass on February 9 at 8PM Eastern titled, Productivity 2.0 – Getting Things Done (GTD) with ADHD: Strategies, Apps & Other Tools to GTD (click here to register). If you’re interested in learning more about Eric and his work, check out his website: http://www.erictivers.com