1. They use lists. High achievers organize their thinking with lists, they organize their time with lists, and when they want to spur their creativity, the best tool they have is to force themselves out of the comfort of their list.

2. They use pharmaceuticals. Adderall is de rigueur for the high-powered jobs in high-powered cities to the point that there is a shortage of available Adderall, (and a site to monitor the shortage). Pharmaceutical frenzy is nothing new for gen-yers who used prescription drugs to get a leg up on everything. New York magazine’s ode to Xanax lets you diagnose the type of overachiever you are with the type of pharmaceutical you like best.

3. They let doors shut all the time. Overachievers know their mom was lying when she said they could be anything. So it’s not that big a deal when they see doors shut. They pick a specialty, they give stuff up to get stuff, they know adult life is about making tough choices. Read more

I hate myself for not doing yoga every day. That’s how you know you’re serious about yoga: you use it to generate self-hatred.

I am the type of person who can use a wide range of things to this end: telling my son the wrong name for the D major scale on the piano, for example. Are there parents who are more stupid when it comes to music than I am? Maybe. But probably not one who also goes to ten hours of violin/cello/piano lessons each week.

Before I go on about self-hatred, let me assure you that I am more accomplished than most people you know.

I was going to list it. The accomplishments. But you know what? I’m over that. Does Bill Gates list his accomplishments? No. It’s a sign of self-assurance to not bother. Which is why the best resumes are one short page. Read more

Do you like that headline? I stole it from CBS. When I saw the headline there, I clicked immediately. I didn’t like the post, but it got me thinking.

Why does anyone want focus? People probably click the headline because we associate focus with success. Of course, I come from a family full of people with Aspergers, so we associate focus with letting the bathtub overflow. But I know that focus is not just the result of obsession and absent-mindedness. It’s also the result of expertise. I have written posts on expertise 10,000 times, but in case you forgot, here’s a link about how everyone should specialize. And if you are sick of me talking about this topic of expertise, here is a new angle. It was fresh to even me, so I bet it will be fresh to you.

But we are not talking about expertise. We’re talking about focus. And after I clicked on the link to 4 secrets and was disappointed by all four, I started noticing that I read about peoples’ secrets for focus all the time. Read more

Most of the time management advice that’s out there sucks. It’s all written by men who write about time management while their wives are at home taking care of their kids, or by men who don’t have anything to do except write about time management. We need time management advice for people who have a real life.

See that photo? It’s me, in New York City, supposedly working during my workday. And my son supposedly eating during lunchtime. And you know what? I got everything done I wanted to get done that day. Here are rules I follow to accomplish that.

1. Experiment in ways that won’t risk the sanity of the people around you.
Steve Pavlina was one of the first bloggers I ever read. And every time I clicked over to his blog I was more appalled by what I saw. Here’s a great example: His sleep experiment where he naps every four hours instead of going to bed like everyone else. He decides this might make him more productive. What blows me away about this experiment is that he has kids. So this means his kids’ needs would have to conform to and bend around his crazy sleep schedule. His sleep plan requires a wife who doesn’t need that high level of productivity that crazy sleep schedules provide. The wife can have the hum-drum sleep schedule that matches the kids, so she’s available to them. Read more

Executive function means being able to see the big picture and sort through details to arrive at a good decision. You probably have met more than a few people with very poor executive function. This person is probably very smart but seemingly incompetent in one area—often at work, or in daily life skills, or both. Executive function disorder is common among people with Asperger Syndrome.

I have terrible executive function. Sometimes I make decisions that are so bad that I look like I’m being ridiculous on purpose. It’s simply unbelievable to many people that I could make such incompetent decisions. But in the moment, I can’t see it.

To be sure, I can see it in other people. When I’m coaching others I can tell within five minutes if I’m dealing with someone with poor executive function. Many times I have said, “The crux of your career problems is that you have an executive function problem.” And after the person does a bit of searching on Google, they thank me over and over again for helping them understand why their life felt like it was falling apart and they couldn’t stop it.

Read more

One of the keys to my ability to work 40 hours a week and homeschool two kids is that I have great time management. Which is to say, I say no to just about everything. But learning when to say no is still a work in progress. Here’s what I know about saying no to phone calls:

1. It’s more efficient to read the book than talk to the author.
I get about ten emails a day asking me if I want to talk to someone about their book so I’ll recommend it on the blog. My answer is always no.

I said yes once because it was Gloria Steinem. And it turned out to be a really disappointing phone call. If she is disappointing pitching to me, then everyone else will be, too.

Now I ask people to send me the book. If I like the idea of it, I’ll read it. I just read a book by Alexandra Robbins about why high school is destroying the kids who go there. She didn’t come to that conclusion, I did. But see, that’s why it’s good that I read the book myself instead of talking to her. Read more

I make a plan where I write enough on Sunday so I don’t lose my mind trying to write posts all week in between dealing with two kids.

And then I decide writing seems too hard. And I decide I should take a bath.

You might think this is my way of relaxing, but it’s not. We don’t have a shower. We are in the hygiene part of the slow food movement. And anyway, at some insane point in the day when I thought I might be able to write, I told the kids to try to train the dog to fetch. I am not sure what they ended up training him to do.

But I have to clean the bath before I can take a bath.

Then I am in the bath, and the September Vogue is calling to me, but it’s too heavy for the bath. So I grab a magazine that looks like it’s been wet before. Newsweek. I stole if from the doctor’s office because the cover article is The Mormon Moment and it looked too interesting to read between kids getting shots. Read more

Melissa rides her horse every morning before she goes to work, at noon, which is when her boss gets to work. I am sad that Melissa is happy because now she will not come back to the farm and be my permanent photographer.

I used to feel sorry for Brad and Angelina because they had photographers trailing them all the time. Now I think they are lucky because if they had a blog, they'd have so many good photos to use.

I feel like the parent of a twenty-something who wants their kid to stop feeling lost, but wants that feeling of being unlost to happen a little closer to home. I know that's selfish. And anyway, I'm not even Melissa’s mom. But I think I want to be because I wonder where my place is in her life. Read more

The best thing about going to a rural school is that there are not really vacations. I’m not sure why. Maybe because we had bazillion snow days. Or maybe it’s because no one needs two weeks off to go to Bermuda in March. Or maybe it’s because kids need to get out of school early to help with crops. I am not sure. But what I am sure about is that school vacations are for rich people. They are for people who can take time off from work with financial impunity or, if they are brave enough to admit that vacation is torture for parents then they can afford to do stimulating stuff like a custom tour for your kids of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This is a picture of me deluding myself that I was working last week:

But of course I was not working. I was doing Passover which means dealing with the family’s withdrawal from our bread addiction. This would be a good time to have a photo of some gross, unleavened food that I made for dinner one night during Passover, but I mostly just spent the week stressing having the only Seder in our county (yes, we imported Jews for the Seder) and having three days off for Easter (yes, the school calls it spring break and then passes out Easter eggs to my kids). Read more

If you’re here because you read the Tim Ferriss article in the New York Times today, you will probably want to read the blog post I wrote about my experiences with Tim Ferriss:

5 Time management tips I learned from years of hating Tim Ferriss

And, here are some other posts you might enjoy:

What it’s like to have sex with someone who has Aspergers Syndrome

Bad career advice: Do what you love

Tim Ferriss Diet

I hope you enjoy my blog!

Penelope