Boycott Your Brain Biases in 2022

If you’re like a lot of business owners, you take a pause on Fridays and wonder, “Where did the week go?” We have so much going on and mayyyybe we don’t have a plan of action before we start our week.

The result is less productivity and a lot of feeling like we’re not making forward progress.

This is your brain bias in full action. We have so many “shoulds” and “have-tos” in our lives, and we start to look at our calendars and to-do lists with resentment. At the same time, I’ll bet you’re looking at someone else’s social media life and lamenting why that’s not your life too.

On this week’s episode, we’re talking all things brain bias–what’s happening inside your brain, why it’s happening, and how to protect yourself from things like time blindness, planning fallacy, and the bike shed effect. Because if you’re a business owner, whether you’re neurodiverse or not, you have these and more holding you back. And we want to make sure they’re less of a factor in 2022.

Listen in now! And don’t forget to sign up for the What’s On Your Plate workshop on Jan. 7, 2022 to make sure you’re not spreading yourself too thin.

Links & References

Time Stamps

[1:08] Speeding to the end of year
[1:30] Looking at plans for next year
[1:40] Important to take time to set vision and intentions for next year and make adjustments
[2:25] An exciting opportunity if you don’t have a plan
[3:17] Supporting neurodiverse people
[3:38] Optimizing your schedule challenge
[4:10] Many different brain biases
[5:22] Make your schedule something you’re looking forward to
[6:20] Shift how you’re looking at your business
[7:04] Look at all your commitments first
[7:25] Planning fallacy
[9:02] Counteracting planning fallacy
[10:22] Time blindness
[11:18] Normalizing brain bias & Negative reinforcements
[13:10] Bike Shed Effect
[14:48] If we’re spending so much time on things that don’t matter, we’re not getting to the goal
[15:09] Failing to plan = Planning to fail
[17:07] How meal planning can help
[17:52] Steven covey first things first
[19:48] How to support yourself


Amber Hawley 0:01
Business owners are increasingly being pulled in so many directions, feeling like they aren’t reaching their full potential in business in life despite their type aways. With my background as a therapist, entrepreneur, and as dropout with ADHD, I interview and coach high achieving business owners like you who want to stop struggling for success by using psychological systems, strategies, and the occasional care plantation.

Amber Hawley 0:27
This is the Easily Distracted Entrepreneur, your place to slay overwhelmed perfectionism and shiny object syndrome so that you can get done what matters most to you. Happy December, y’all, I can’t believe there’s only a couple weeks left of the year, it feels like every time we hit October, I just know that it’s going to be a blur until the end of the year, which makes sense because of all the holidays and added things to our to do lists, whether they’re fun events, or extra time with family and friends, or those traditions and obligations that we have. It just seems to go so fast.

Amber Hawley 1:11
Even if you’re very intentional about not overloading or over committing yourself, it still feels like it goes so fast. This is a time of year where I find myself like many others, reflecting on how my year went and assessing if I reached my goals, so set my for myself, which naturally leads me to think about my plans for the next year. So much has changed for me and even the past few months in my businesses. And I think it’s important to take time to set the vision and intentions for the next year. And make those adjustments that needed to happen. You know, after assessing how things went this year.

Amber Hawley 1:54
And I usually like to do this in November because I’m a planner. But like I said there was just so much change going on that I’ve been busy adjusting and keeping up. Luckily, I have a process for creating my vision and goals and actually planning out my first quarter tasks. And most importantly, doing in a way that I will actually accomplish these things even as a busy business owner with ADHD,

Amber Hawley 2:22
which leads me to share an exciting opportunity I have for you, if you are someone who doesn’t really have a plan, or maybe you have a vague plan that sometimes gets lost or put aside when life happens. Or when you get overloaded, then I have just the thing for you. Right now you can join me in the what’s on your plate goal planning workshop for 2022. And right now, it’s $100 off just for being an awesome listener. In the workshop that is happening on January 7, we will create your vision for the year and an actual plan for your first quarter.

Amber Hawley 3:01
So you will also receive pre Work videos and worksheets for those of you who want to get started now and jump right in. And there will be two bonus q&a sessions to get support in clarifying and creating your vision before the workshop. The workshop was created to support neurodiverse people with struggles around planning that they usually face. So it just won’t be just another well meaning plan that you create and never look at again.

Amber Hawley 3:30
You can head on over to For more information about the workshop and to grab your spot. Well, since we’re talking about time planning, and neurodiversity, I wanted to share with you on today’s episode part of a optimizing your schedule challenge that I offer. It’s all about time and brain biases that can make planning a struggle. This recording is part of day four from the challenge where I talk about brain biases.

Amber Hawley 4:04
Today, we’re going to talk about brain biases. One of those things that I love talking about. Now, there are so many brain biases. Sometimes it’s crazy, you’re like my brain is really working against me.

Amber Hawley 4:17
But if we understand them, then we know how we can combat them. Right. And we’re not going to be able to get through all of them because there really are so many but I wanted to cover the ones that really impact our ability to plan and execute like our calendar. Right? I have to say Richard Branson is one of my favorite people. I am he has ADHD, he talks about it. And I love that because I think it’s really inspiring and so many people who are neuro diverse, you know, they feel like they are failures, or they feel like they’re less than or there’s something wrong with them.

Amber Hawley 4:53
And then when you see like super creative, amazing people who have built these, I mean he’s almost built an app umpire is what I would say. And, you know, and he also has ADHD, but it’s like figuring out, what do you need to do based on what you have to deal with, right? And I love this quote by Him when He says, When you have ADHD, you need to have some sort of interest in what you’re doing. Otherwise, you simply aren’t going to do it. And that is what I’m talking about with the schedule as well.

Amber Hawley 5:23
You need to have your schedule be something you’re actually looking forward to like, or something that piques your interest. Because if it’s just like, obligation, obligation, obligation, overload, overload, you’re not going to stick to it, I don’t care, I don’t care. If I was sitting right next to yelling at you, you’re not going to stick. Although I am willing to do that sometimes. And then he talks about his lesson learned, he said, Follow your strengths, develop the ability to love what you do, this strategy will serve you well for lifetime in virtually everything that you do.

Amber Hawley 5:54
So I just really love you know, his optimism and talking about making it work for you. And we’re not going to really get into like all the strengths and positives of, you know, if you’re, if you consider yourself if you’re actually diagnosed, or you know, you have ADHD, or you just are considering yourself easily distracted and unsure. I don’t think it really matters, it’s also understanding that there are so many opportunities out there, it’s, we need to be shifting how we’re looking at our business. And something we talked about, we mentioned yesterday quite a few times was the idea of shifting, I have to to I get to.

Amber Hawley 6:34
And that’s a huge mental shift, even though it seems really simple. So now we’re going to get into some of the brain biases. Alright, so And feel free to leave me any questions as we go along, I am going to leave a little bit of time more than I have been. You know, but I have that time blindness. But I want to leave some time for q&a at the end. So the number one thing, when we’re creating our calendar and why we spent like the first few days we created our vision, we got the logistics down and actually seeing, you know, in black and white on paper or electronically, we get to see like all the things we’re committed to.

Amber Hawley 7:17
And that really helps make it real for us. And then there are so many things that still get in our way of that. So the planning fallacy is when predictions about how much time it will take or how much time is needed to complete a future task. And we there’s also an optimism bias in this. And we underestimate the time that’s needed. And the reason why these things that I’m going to be talking about these three things, in particular matter, is if we’re overloading our schedules, and, and we’re not ever like checking in or revisiting our combat, but coming back to it, all we’re going to do is at the end of the day feel like we failed, we’re going to feel like I didn’t get done what I needed to because we overloaded our schedules, right.

Amber Hawley 8:00
And it builds this, you know, instead of building positive momentum, when you set for yourself, like, I’m going to do this, this, and you know, maybe small, tiny that and you get it done, you feel accomplished, you feel great. And then there’s, there’s this momentum, you get a little dopamine hit, you know, you feel good, maybe a little serotonin. And then the next day you feel that momentum. The the opposite is true as well. If we keep overloading ourselves with there’s this like sense of dread, even if it’s not in our forefront, it’s back there kind of like

Amber Hawley 8:35
I have too much to do today than I could possibly do. It’s not going to make you feel looking forward to working one, two, it’s going to actually make you slower on completing that work. So the planning fallacy is something that all humans have and struggle with. And you know, some people have learned to navigate it better than others. But it’s really important to kind of take a look at that and understand that. Are you being realistic with the time that you’re allotting?

Amber Hawley 9:03
And so some ways to kind of counteract that are okay, I’ve scheduled an hour to record a podcast. But probably also what I did is I said I’m going to record a podcast. But what I really mean is, do I have the subject for that podcast? Do I have any kind of outline what I’m going to say? Those are pieces that we often don’t even plan for right? And then actually record and then upload and send to whoever I need to write. So we tend to not take all the pieces into account and even then are we being realistic with how much time it takes.

Amber Hawley 9:38
So when we plan those things, the important thing is to then at the end of that hour, let’s say revisit and say okay, well how far am I done? I’m 50% Done. Okay, well then going forward on my calendar, I can’t block one hour, I either need to have two separate things, you know, one for planning one for the actual recording, or I need to make that time longer, right So the planning fallacy gets in our way all the time. And especially when it’s something we haven’t, that we don’t do really regularly, but my feeling is, or, you know, the experience is like, people do that even with stuff they do all the time, because they’re not really paying attention.

Amber Hawley 10:17
So the second one kind of comes into that time blindness. Now, this one is very specific to people with ADHD, or, you know, anything where it impacts your I just forgot the word, because that’s what I do. But your executive functioning, that’s anything that impacts your executive functioning. I love that was very meta, actually. The pot Oh, I’m sorry, I just saw the Laura, you said the podcast analogy hits difference. Can you say more about that? I’m curious with that. What you mean by that one? I do you feel like I’m talking about you?

Amber Hawley 10:55
Yes. I was gonna say that’s what I’m thinking about. I am personally attacking you, Laura. So any, you don’t let though, like, this is the thing. We feel bad about this stuff. And we feel like God, I suck, or I’m not, I’m not a good business owner, or there’s something wrong with me. And when you are with our people, you realize this is so normal. I mean, they wouldn’t have this brain bias for all of humanity, if it didn’t apply to so many people. So you are not alone? You are not alone. Yeah, well, okay. So Laura said sometimes not being prepared with results in the best episodes. And unfortunately, that is like a negative reinforcement.

Amber Hawley 11:40
And so many people with ADHD have experienced that, myself included, where it’s like, I didn’t prepare, and then it went great. So I’m like, Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t prepare. But then I go through that whole stress of why did I start earlier, and you feel miserable, and you stress yourself out. And, you know, go through that whole process. So that’s a whole different thing. But so diet, time blindness, that’s when, when people with ADHD is specifically, they become not aware of time going. And I’ve talked about this, even here giving these presentations, my goal is to only talk between like 15 and 2025 minutes, you know, because I want to be respectful of your time.

Amber Hawley 12:23
But without a clock in front of me, it’s, it goes so fast. And I’m sure you’ve experienced that, you know, there, there have been many times where I can sit and go like, Oh, gosh, like this, or you know, something’s coming up that I’m not looking forward to like every minute ticks by slowly. But then once I start getting into something, I can look up in four hours have gone. And I know that that is a very common occurrence. And the problem is, that means you didn’t stick to all the other things on your schedule for that day. It means that you could be late for appointments, there’s so many things, or you’re just wasting a lot of time.

Amber Hawley 12:59
You know, it wasn’t, it wasn’t thoughtfully or intentionally that you spent that time it was just that it kind of slipped away from you. And the last one is the bike shed effect. And this is this one I see a lot. And I do it, and I understand it. But it is something that when I see people struggling to kind of meet their goals, they kind of get stuck in this place, and don’t move forward and don’t get the things done that are important to them. So this refers to the urge to spend time debating silly little details rather than the issue itself.

Amber Hawley 13:37
So rather than focusing on and I did have examples in my head earlier, but for some reason they have left my mind. But it would be like, Oh, okay, I’m going to migrate my membership over to a different platform. And instead of researching those platforms, picking one and moving forward, I can get lost in the minutiae of Oh, but do I need to change the email service provider that I’m using, because this one has this option, and I could do this, oh, in about one day, I might actually want to do something else that is a cool thing that people are doing. And you get caught in these details that are really irrelevant to the task at hand. And they can seem related because everything seems related.

Amber Hawley 14:24
You know, that’s like saying, Oh, I really want to buy this new bike. And then you spend two months you know, researching colors, as opposed to the whole point of buying the bike maybe was to get in better shape or be able to go bike riding with a friend or whatever the thing was, you lose track of the bigger picture. So that is the bike shed effect. We waste a lot of time here and this goes back to again, before spending so much time and I’m seeing people do this for like hours for spending so much time on things that don’t really matter. We’re not getting to that goal. Right, we’re not getting to the things that are really important to us.

Amber Hawley 15:04
The other way that our focus gets impacted is not having a plan. So you know that old adage, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, that kind of thing. This is where another one where I see people wasting a lot of time. So if you don’t really have this clear delineation, if you don’t know, like, hey, tomorrow, tomorrow’s my day where I see clients, I have this and you know, a meeting or something like that. If you don’t already know, the odds are you’re wasting a lot of time, either once you get into the office, or you know, you start work for the day, actually figure out okay, what is it that I need to do today? Or what do I want to do? Right? Kind of going with that as the not prioritizing? That is a huge one.

Amber Hawley 15:45
And I think it’s one that that’s probably what keeps most people from achieving their goals, because it’s not that they’re not smart. It’s not that they’re not creative. And in fact, I find so many of my easily distracted entrepreneurs to be super smart, super creative. And the thing is, though, if you’re only going to do what you feel like is, like what you feel like, like, Oh, I feel like doing this today. You’re not, instead of doing what’s important, it’s really hard to move ourselves forward. Because the reality is, you know, there can be things that we’re like, oh, I need to do that.

Amber Hawley 16:21
But I have some resistance, either. I’ve never done it before, I’m not quite sure. I don’t really have somebody to help me in it, or it just sounds really awful. So there’s ways that we avoid it without being conscious that we’re avoiding things right. And so we’re never going to put that task, we’re always going to do other things. And I know, even for things we sell my life, like I like podcasting. And I put everything else before recording a podcast episode. Because that’s unless I’m talking to someone else, unless it’s an interview. It’s just like, I’d rather connect to people, I’d rather do all these other things.

Amber Hawley 16:58
And they’re valid things, but they’re not exactly the thing that I’m planning to do, right. And I always like in like having a plan for the day, kind of like, you know, fruit Food Prepping for the week. If you have like a menu plan, and you just stick to it, one, it reduces like decision fatigue to then you know, like, Oh, I’m eating healthy, I did this. So, you know, I have everything’s kind of taken care of. Instead, it’s like, what do I feel like eating today, and then I’ll send you eaten burger and pizza for three days. Because, you know, in the moment, we’re like, I don’t feel good today. I’m like, whatever. And I’m just going to continue to choose things that maybe aren’t the best for me.

Amber Hawley 17:39
Not that there’s not a reason to have burger and pizza every day. But so I wanted to touch base on this because it goes along with it. The Steven Covey talks about this in his book, first things first, and this goes with the planning, prioritizing, letting time slip away from us. And he talks about, you know, important and urgent things, important non urgent things not important and urgent, not important and not urgent. And believe it or not, we waste a lot of time in quadrant four. In this one says like escapist activities, we spend a lot of time there.

Amber Hawley 18:17
Because it’s like, mindless and, you know, like, we feel like we’re doing something. And instead of we should be mostly in quadrant one. So they kind of say the action, the key action, we’re supposed to manage these things, focus on these things, we should avoid these things. And this as well. So this is like letting other people’s priorities dictate your day.

Amber Hawley 18:42
So you have a plan. You’re like, Okay, I really need to focus, I really need to work. And then you get a phone call from like, a family member or a staff member or even a client. And you’re like, Okay, let me just answer this, you have no idea, like what’s gonna be coming at you. But if you had designated this next hour to a very specific task, then you know, you need to, you need to focus on that. Because often it’s not, it’s not a true emergency. Now, there are things that come in that are true emergencies, right? But we’re talking about letting all of these little things or you’re trying to focus on a task and you let your email stay open.

Amber Hawley 19:22
So you get no and you get notifications even worse. And so you see every little email then something like Oh, what did they say, oh my gosh, like I have to address this right now. And we get taken into other people’s, you know, what they’re wanting to do for the day. So these are the things to be aware of, and again, wish we could go further into them, but I am trying to be mindful of the time.

Amber Hawley 19:46
So ways that we can support ourselves. A number one way for especially for people who have ADHD or neurodiverse is body doubling. And this is why like in My membership, I offer a minimum four hours a month of co working time. And body doubling is this phenomenon that even having somebody in the room with you having somebody present. Now, if they’re distracting you or bothering you that that’s the opposite of helpful. But even if they’re not doing the same task, they’re just there. It helps you stay on track. There’s this kind of like mental accountability.

Amber Hawley 20:24
And I used to do this all the time before I even realized what was happening. Because there will be those times I’m like, Okay, I’m gonna do a deep purge of my house or something like that, or, you know, like the play room or my office. And but if I’m by myself sometimes and I get lonely, or you know, and then I’m like, Oh, I’m hungry, or I get distracted. But if I have somebody there, even, you know, even not that their job is to be like the, you know, the officer watching me, but they’re just there, it helps me stay focused. I’m like, oh, there’s somebody here, I can stay focused.

Amber Hawley 20:57
And so my husband would ask my husband sometimes to do that, like, he would come in and like watch a movie while I was organizing paperwork or something. And he just thinks it’s weird. And I thought, I don’t know, I just need it. And then it wasn’t until years later that I realized, like, oh, that’s actually a thing. So then I started capitalizing it. Once I realized it, I started making sure I can build that in. So there are times where, and this just happened last week, where I was feeling like, oh, my gosh, I have so much to do today. But I can tell you, if I’m sitting here in my office all by myself, I already know, I’m going to get distracted with other things.

Amber Hawley 21:31
So I went to friend space to actually spend time with them, so that I could be focused. seems kind of counterintuitive, but it actually works. The other one is Parkinson Park, Parkinson’s Law, I think I misspelled that, sorry, not parking son, but Parkinson’s Law. That is the concept that work fills the time allotted. So interestingly, it’s kind of the opposite of the planning fallacy where we, we say, like, oh, this will only take me 15 minutes, and it really takes you 45, right. This is that concept of like, especially around things that we dread, or we are new to us, we build them up as so big, like, Oh, my God, I’ve got to address, you know, my tax issue, or, I’ve got to address this thing that I have to research and it’s gonna be like a big deal. And I’ve never done it before, and we build it up, like, it’s gonna be hours of work.

Amber Hawley 22:27
And even sometimes preparing for a presentation, we can make it feel like it’s such a big thing. And then it becomes really overwhelming. When reality is, they have found that, you know, for the most part, if you say, this is how long I have to prep for that presentation. That’s all the time you need, you will find a way to get it done. And the same goes with, like some creative tasks, but then other ones you can say like, this is how much time and I just started thinking about when you get ready in the morning.

Amber Hawley 22:58
I mean, have you ever had that where like, if I have my leisure time, it takes me about 45 minutes, you know, shower and do my thing, whatever it takes about 45. But there are times when the crap I have 20 minutes, or even 10 I still manage to get just as done just as ready as if I had 45. It’s not kind of thing. The other way that we can support ourselves is to address decision fatigue. And that goes back to this is why plan out your week, plan out your month. Because if you have a plan, you’re more likely to stick to it as opposed to going oh, and hemming and hawing and thinking like, what is it that I want to spend my time on today? You’ve already decided it’s a known thing for you. And it helps.

Amber Hawley 23:42
And then there are other ways to address the decision fatigue. And it kind of goes back to some of the stuff we talked about yesterday, whether that’s creating a system outsourcing, you know, having these habits and routines where we just do them and we don’t question that we’re not going back and forth, like, should I or shouldn’t I, you know, that kind of thing.

Amber Hawley 24:01
I hope you found that helpful. I do include some videos on optimizing your schedule. In the pre work for the workshop that I mentioned, the goal planning workshop for 2022. As I find it’s important to have your schedule set up to support you and the goals that you set. And as a reminder right now you can get $100 off the all day workshop including the pre work and the live q&a sessions. You can grab your spot at I look forward to supporting you there

Transcribed by

The Inner Circle

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