by Kathie England

Do You Need a Brain Hack?

If you find yourself stuck and not able to get started on a task or project, you might benefit from a brain hack.
What’s a brain hack? That’s the question I asked myself as the presenter of a recent teleclass I attended kept talking about brain hacks. The title of the teleclass through the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) was Getting Clients Unstuck: Using Mindful Presence to Improve Productivity. I had actually heard the presenter, ADHD coach Allan Brown, on two previous occasions and he talked about brain hacks but he never defined what they were until the very end of the most recent teleclass. I’d even begun to hear others use this term, but always without clarification.
Brown’s definition finally clued me in to the possibilities of this term!
Think about what happens when a computer is hacked. It disrupts everything and that’s not good.
But a brain hack is different! Its goal is to disrupt one’s thinking, but in doing so, it opens the door for another perspective and that can be very powerful.
Let’s look at one example. You tell yourself that you have way too much to do and don’t even know where to start. You’re paralyzed and begin to procrastinate. You may do something like check email or Facebook to avoid making a decision about where to start. And that doesn’t help you!
Brown’s strategy is the Rule of 3.
Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this task need to be done in the next three hours?
  • Does it need to be done in the next three days?
  • Does it need to be done in the next three weeks?
  • Does it need to be done in the next three months?

I think you get the idea.
If it does need to be done in the next three hours, then you’d better get started right now.
But what if you still can’t decide?
If you truly CAN’T distinguish among the competing tasks for their degree of urgency, then Brown invites you to acknowledge they must be equal and it doesn’t matter where you start. Choose any task – even if you make the choice by closing your eyes and pointing to one.  Or write the tasks on a slip of paper, drop them into a hat, and choose one.
Let’s say that your issue is not starting on a particular task or project. It’s making a decision about something that seems important. You can begin by asking the Rule of 3 questions, but that still might not help.
Brown recommends writing down your thoughts (being very honest with yourself). What are you thinking? The brain hack is to ask yourself a question that challenges your thinking. It hacks into your locked-in perspective and invites you to disrupt your thinking just as a hacker might disrupt your computer. The difference is that the brain hack can get you unstuck and that’s what you’re seeking.
What brain hack might be helpful to you right now?
Brown’s perspective is that the key is to just START! Starting creates its own momentum and energy.
Brown recommends the book The Now Habit by Neil Fiore which I just ordered. Maybe it will be the next focus of this blog after I finish Better Than Before.