Designing for Your Brain Strategies – Free Video – ADHD EXPO

In this video I share some of my best strategies for Designing for Your Brain.  Designing for Your Brain is about applying what we know about how brains work to design our everyday experiences, goals, and intentions in a way that optimizes our overall ability to shape our attention, memory, and focus. Instead of trying to control our attention we learn to influence and work with it to help us play to WIN!

Recorded Appearance from ADHD EXPO 2013

 3 BONUS Strategies for Designing for Your Brain

  • Use the 1, 3, 5 rule to create focal points that your brain can easily absorb. – For example, try putting 1, 3 or 5 things on your To Do List for a given day.  Anything else you do is BONUS!
  • Reframe your questions to make them easier for your brain to answer them. For example, instead of asking
    “What do I need to do next?” which creates an overwhelming avalanche of possibilities, ask:
    “What can wait?”  
    Keep taking options OFF your plate till you land on something that really needs to be done and you also feel READY to get it done.
  • Reframing a task. Instead of asking:
    “How will I finish this task?”  if that’s getting you stuck, try asking:“How could I start this task and just do what I can in 5 minutes to make progress?”

    Sometimes, refocusing your brain on how to keep restarting instead of on finishing just feels simpler to your brain.  And, you will be playing to your brain’s natural love of starting things!   Ultimately, if you keep restarting, finishing has a way of taking care of itself!

    On the other hand, our brains ALSO love closure.  It depends on our mood and on how difficult the idea of finishing feels in the moment. So, when your brain is craving closure, try asking

    “What tasks do I already have in progress that would be fairly easy to finish up right now?  Just like our computers, sometimes what our brains need to counteract feelings of overwhelm is to  “close open windows.”  When you start acting wonky, just like your computer, it’s usually a sign you need to close some open tabs and reboot before you open any more.

    Be kind to your brain and it will cooperate with you too!



Are your goals magnetizing you into action? Join me at ADHD Awareness Expo 2014 – Oct. 26 to learn strategies for Agilizing Goals

ADHD Awareness Expo 2014

I’m excited about this year’s ADHD Awareness Expo 2014 starting October 26. I’ll be appearing along with 30 other top ADHD expert speakers.  I’ll be sharing some of my best strategies for “Agilizing your Goals”  and magnetizing yourself to get into action. This is the model I reference during my interview.  Hope you can join me!


Agile SMART Goals

The Awareness Expo is a virtual gathering of ADHD experts, professional ADHD coaches, service providers and authors, all in one easy-to-navigate virtual space.

Hope to see you there!


Falling in love with saying NO


In the age of ridiculously abundant information, it’s so easy to develop infomania and feel like you can’t stop researching and learning more about a topic. 

Nurturing and protecting your ability to create is more important and more difficult than ever.  

Falling in love with the power of no helped me learn to focus.  Instead of feeling like I’m giving up, I’ve taught myself to connect my power to say no to a feeling of freedom , liberation and power. I think of saying NO as actually enabling me to say YES.  

My power to say no to something “interesting” is what makes it possible for me to say YES and devote time and energy to what I’m truly passionate about.



“Stop. I’m not going to take any more input until I’ve made something with what I got.”

- Merlin Mann



Agile Time Management Strategies – Free Download on Slideshare

I’m learning and experimenting with using SlideShare!  Here’s my first contribution.

What’s covered?

  • 2 ways Agile Time Management strategies differ from conventional time management strategies.
  • Top 5 ways we unintentionally set ourselves up for Time Management Troubles
  • 5 Keystone Time Management Habits 

Get the Downloadable PDF version at: 


The Agile Approach to S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting and Magnetizing yourself into Action

The SMART Goal Setting acronym has been around a long time.  It states goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely or Timeline Driven.  The Agile Approach to S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting is an updated way of setting goals that are designed to magnetize you into action.  No *forcing* yourself required.

Agile goals are especially useful when it comes to dealing with goals that involve changing old habits. Agile SMART goals work for everyone, but are especially well-suited to creative types, rebels, people who are addicted to insight, gifted people, ADHD and other neurodiverse characters.

Agile goals vs. SMART goalsI first learned the SMART Goal acronym in 1981.  It seemed brilliant. And in fact, it is.  It works quite well much of the time. But not all the time.

S.M.A.R.T. is a useful acronym – but, it is often NOT a good fit for the most challenging and difficult goals. It’s a good start, but the conventional SMART model does not provide all the tools needed to master the art of using goals to change habits and enhance performance. There are times when an updated agile approach is what’s needed to make our goals more effective and more *user-friendly.”

“Agilizing” is a word I made up.  I took the word *agile” and made it a verb to make it easier to articulate the complex process of becoming agile – which involves getting unstuck and getting into action in a need responsive, organic way. Agile is about being flexible and adjusting to the situation at hand in a way that produces helpful results. Agilizing is the process of making something that is rigid, stuck, or not working, into something that is more flexible, customizable and adjustable.

Getting caught in the yo-yo effect is a form of procrastination. It’s also a sign that your goal is somehow turning you off. Instead of trying harder, it’s time to shift gears, stop trying to “make” yourself do it, and start  *agilizing” your goal till you are magnetized into action.


Agilizing a goal is the process of converting it from being rigid, stuck, or not working, into one that is more flexible, customizable and adjustable. Agilizing a goal is sifting out a clear. small, simple, first step that is capable of melting your resistance to it.

Agilizing a goal may involve:

  • Connecting with your heart’s true intention and needs behind the goal,
  • Reducing the pressure to get it right,
  • Respecting and addressing your heart’s innermost objections, and/or
  • Figuring out how to go deeper than just wanting it really badly– you need to make it compelling – worth the trouble to get started.

When someone is stuck in a yo-yo pattern — a goal is achieved, but the result doesn’t last.  The goal just keeps coming back and all too often the current state is often even worse that before you set the goal the first time. Like when you lost 5 pounds but gained back 10 pounds.  The same is true for many habit related goals such as exercising, organizing, and eating healthier – these are all goals that are highly susceptible to the yo-yo effect.

Actionable goals are usually temporary. We use them like stepping stones to solve a problem or achieve a desired outcome and then move on to new goals made possible by achieving the prior goal.

If the same goals keep coming back to haunt you – that’s a strong signal that it’s time to rethink your goal and your goal setting process from every angle. It’s time to try a whole new approach that re-focuses your attention on finding a sustainable way to meet the needs that underlie the goal you are yo-yoing with.

In this example, “losing weight” is a measurable outcome goal – but it’s one you have very little control over on a daily basis. The actual needs underlying the goal of losing weight are usually things like feeling comfortable in your body, or getting your clothes to fit again.

Stating your goal as losing weight is part of the problem.  The more we think about *losing weight* the harder it becomes to do it.  This is because our attention is trying to focus on something our brains literally can’t make happen in the moment.   Losing weight is not an action or behavior we can consciously do – it’s a complex and slow process that is invisible to the naked eye. It is a *byproduct* of lots of actions, habits, biological and emotional factors. We are not meant to be so conscious of it.

When our attention is focused on something we can’t do anything about right now, it causes stress.  When we focus attention on very small, simple doable tasks and behaviors, we are far more likely to act on them.  We can’t lose weight in 5 minutes, but we can support ourselves in making better decisions about what to eat for breakfast, or what to snack on.

Why We Need Agile Goals

Goals in the conventional SMART model are often used more like a pass/fail test than as tools to help you accomplish desired outcomes. Goals should support us in getting into action rather than make us feel inadequate or overwhelmed. Inadvertently, goals often make people feel pressured to achieve the goal as stated.  If you miss a deadline, you feel like you did something *bad.* Using goals to *drive* behavior (instead of using them as tools we can customize to increase our daily life satisfaction) has many negative side effects that increase stress, overwhelm and harms health overall.

The agilizing approach to SMART goals invites you to respect and accept yourself as you are right now – even though you may not *like* it.  Wanting to change something in your life does NOT require that you fight it.

The agile approach to SMART goals is especially well-suited for people who are different. It fits the frequently changing, improvisational lifestyle most creative, growth-oriented people need and thrive on.

The *agile* approach to SMART goals offers tools for:

  • Clarifying multiple needs and outcomes and connecting them to simple, small behaviors
  • Breaking down big overwhelming goals into smaller, easier interim goals
  • Troubleshooting what isn’t working
  • Learning from what is working
  • Figuring out how to get started more easily
  • Reducing the risk of harmful unintended consequences
  • Figuring out *enabling* goals
  • Clarifying the standards for success and expanding the definition of success to include a wider range of acceptable, especially when you are in a learning mode.
  • Monitoring your progress in a way that encourages continued progress and emphasizes recovering from setbacks over fearing and avoiding them (self-coaching and self-leading.)

Imagine how different life might be if your  goals supported you in BOTH getting things done AND in cultivating a healthier, more accepting and self-respecting relationship with yourself? 

Feeling productive, confident and respectful of yourself  should not be the  “prize you earn” for accomplishing everything on your goal list. In face, the opposite is true.

Positive feelings about yourself are the fuel that enables you to figure out what really needs to be accomplished and be flexible about how you accomplish your goals. 
Enjoying life in all its messy unpredictability is what gives you the drive to wake up every day, make meaning out of your messes, and go for what you want out of life even when progress is slow.

Why do Goals so Frequently Trigger Procrastination?

Goals and expectations play a significant role in shaping our performance.  Often, the way we frame our goals triggers procrastination instead of action.  Chronic Procrastination is a form of feedback.  It’s your innermost self letting you know that your goal needs agilizing. By definition, if you are procrastinating, you don’t feel inspired to get started. That means your goal is not yet agile or SMART enough.  A goal has been agilized enough when you feel ready, willing and inspired to get into action and take steps toward the goal – no matter how tiny those steps may be, each one feels worth the trouble because you have so clearly and powerfully built an irresistible cost-benefit case that makes it feel almost impossible NOT to take a step.

Agile Approach to SMART Goals

Below is a first draft of my quest to update the SMART Goal acronym and incorporate Agile concepts.  Agile SMART Goals


Hope it helps you think about your goals in a whole new way.

S  Small, simple, specific and sustainable

Agile goals fit your lifestyle and are small enough to integrate into your life without overwhelming you or your resources. They hit the sweet spot of feeling both challenging and doable. They incorporate the need to take time to become *ready* to act, and take into account the natural cycles of fluctuating motivation.

M  Meaningful, memorable, and magnetic

Agile goals are designed to connect small seemingly insignificant actions to meaningful, big picture emergent outcome goals such as “Improve my health” or “make more money.”   In this way, even the most trivial of daily actions and habits become easier to act on.  Agile goals connect even the tiniest of actions, including taking some time to think, to highly valuable and significant outcomes.  Agile goals are stated briefly and simple enough to remember. You can visualize yourself doing each tiny step and you could even capture it with a video if you wanted to.

A  Aims for the agile zone

The agile zone is about establishing a full spectrum of expectations that range from a bare minimum, to good enough, to a challenging target of “ideal.”  In the agile zone, standards are clarified and flexible enough to address the normal fluctuations of available time energy and other resources. Functioning in the agile zone includes shooting for ideals but also acknowledging the value of the full spectrum of good enough. Many things are worth doing imperfectly — While you are learning something new, your attempts may be clumsy, but they are still worthy of acknowledgement. Agile zone goals support optimal functioning because they encourage you to keep trying even when you aren’t getting it right yet. Goals that aim for the agile zone are attractive and motivating because they anticipate and allow for the inevitable setbacks, mistakes and even failures that are part of the process of achieving any goal.  Instead of agonizing over setbacks and obstacles, setbacks become fuel for learning, creative iteration, and personal growth.  Instead of spending a lot of energy trying to make things turn out a certain way, we spend more time creatively adapting tasks to fit the resources we have available and give ourselves credit for making an effort – even if we drop the ball, at least we tried to catch it.  We trust that if we just keep working on catching it, eventually we will.  Mistakes are a natural part of the process.

R   Relevant to emergent outcome goals and to satisfying multiple needs simultaneously (e.g. sensory, emotional, mental, creative, practical and functional needs)

Agile goals become increasingly meaningful and magnetic to us when we are clear about how they enable us to meet multiple needs simultaneously with one activity. Designing agile goals involves learning how to integrate needs so that you can accomplish more while actually doing less.  Agile goals resolve conflicts between competing needs and values.  For example, eating high quality, delicious nutritional food on a low budget is challenging.  But that doesn’t mean we should completely sacrifice good tasting, good-for-you food to save money.  You don’t have to choose between eating crap food all the time and saving money.  Agile goals are creatively designed to meet long term needs at the same time our short-term needs are also also being satisfied.  It requires a bit more creative problem-solving, but it is possible to learn how to integrate multiple needs into one goal.

T   Tweakable

Agile goals are easy to modify as needs change. Agile goals are open-ended enough  that you could meet them in a number of ways.  Rather than defining success in a narrow way, they offer targets that guide you in designing and improvising your way to achieving the intentions of your goals. Agile goals allow you to easily tweak them on the fly, as needed, when available resources change (such as time, attention, energy and money).

Tweakable agile goals are designed so that any part of the goal can be adapted, as needed, to meet the current conditions.  The way the goal is stated ensures that that there is more than one way to *succeed* in making progress on your goal.


 Agile SMART Goals Compared to Conventional SMART Goals

Below is an example of an Conventional emergent outcome goal.

I want to lose 5 pounds in 2 months. 

Conventional Sub-Goals for achieving this outcome might look like this:

  • I will cook my own meals at least 3 times a week to save money on eating in restaurants and to eat healthier.
  • I will weigh, measure and write down everything I eat.
  • I will plan my meals for the week and make a detailed shopping list to ensure I have all the ingredients I need to make each meal.

Below is an example of an Agile emergent outcome goal.  It is long term focused and there is no “deadline”.  It can be achieved by integrating small daily habits that add up to achieving the outcome.

 Learn to enjoy the process of cooking highly nutritious whole foods by designing small changes into the way I cook so that cooking healthy feels easy, creative and spontaneous.

The Agile SMART goal process helps me connect my intention to teach myself to like cooking, with multiple emotional, functional and health needs:  My emotional needs for challenge, learning, and mastery development as well my needs for  creativity and sensory pleasure,  and my functional need to have cooking not take a lot more time than fast food does must ALL be met by the same goal.  For example:

  • I will discover simple, versatile tools to cook with and only keep the ones that meet multiple needs: my sensory needs for pleasing color, look and feel, AND my functional needs:  easy to use, clean, store in my small kitchen with limited storage. (e.g. a great multi-purpose knife that fits my hand, feels good when using it, fits my color scheme, and makes it kinda fun to build my mastery of knife skills and experiment with new ways to cut up vegetables, etc.)
  • I will learn about and experiment with one or 2 new flavors or fresh ingredients each month. I  want to learn more about whole foods and seasonings that make eating and cooking more of a creative adventure I look forward to rather than a chore I resist.
  • I will design or discover 2 – 3  go to “template” recipes for dinner that include only 3 – 5 healthy ingredients  – are easy to remember, easy to adapt to whatever ingredients I have on hand, and easy to prepare even when I get home tired at night.
  • I will figure out a core set of healthy ingredients to keep stocked in my pantry, fridge and freezer so that I can improvise convenient healthy meals anytime.


Can you feel the difference between the agile goals and the conventional goals?

Which kind of goals are more likely to captivate your interest and inspire you into action?

If you were born to agilize, chances are the conventional approach SMART goals will not inspire you to easily achieve long-term success. You might make a change for a couple weeks then find yourself inexplicably just stopping.  Not achieving your goal feels bad enough, but it is not a benign fleeting kind of pain.  The dark side of repeatedly using goal setting strategies that don’t fit you is that the stress actively and cumulatively does HARM to your self-image and to your emotional, mental and physical well-being.

The stress of repeatedly feeling like a failure actually harms your overall health and well-being so that it progressively becomes HARDER to achieve the outcome goals you deeply desire. 

Repeated lack of success has many undesirable side effects and consequences, such as making you feel inadequate, defective or like a failure.  It can lead to anxiety, depression, and set you up for chronic feelings of overwhelmchronic disorganization, clutterchronic procrastination and resisting your own goals.

Outliers who are growth-oriented, creative, non-linear, intuitive thinkers and who love to learn and explore more than the average person does, need goals that are adaptable, flexible and agile.  The agile way of goal setting accepts you as you are.    Rather than relying on self-control, the agile approach encourages self-understanding and self-leadership to design goals in a way that nurtures your spirit and organically inspires you to achieve beyond what you can even imagine right now.   Using control tactics is not *required* to inspire yourself to do things that are good for you – there are other ways!   

As you learn and evolve, your needs, interests, and resources change more frequently than the average person’s.The agile approach to S.M.A.R.T goal setting works with your natural adaptability and cultivates it into a strength.

Agile goals respect and accommodate your drive to learn and grow. The goals you tried on and let go of are your stepping stones to wisdom.  All the course corrections you make along the way as you learn are the ingredients needed to develop good judgement and reasoning skills.  Agile goals are designed to change as you learn – without the drama of feeling like you failed to achieve yet another goal.



Handling Emotional Overwhelm – the AgiliZen Way – ADHD Support Talk Radio

I appeared on ADHD Support Talk Radio, discussing the agile way of dealing with and preventing emotional overwhelm. 

Get the free MP3 download or listen online below.

Handling Emotional Overwhelm the Agile way -ADHD Support - Ariane Benefit, Life Coach NJ, NYC Highlights

  • The role of emotions in cultivating performance and productivity
  • Cultivating emotional resilience and intelligence is a high impact productivity strategy for everyone and particularly for creatives, HSP (Highly Sensitive People), ADHD, Gifted Adults, and other neurodiverse individuals. 
  • How your personal metaphors affect your emotional life and how you handle conflict.
  • Common metaphors that affect what you perceive is normal, acceptable, or disordered.  
  • The car and plane metaphors for different personality and productivity styles. Continue reading

Resisting the War on Resistance. BOOK REVIEW of “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles”

I don’t usually write about what I disagree with, but I think it’s time for me to express my opposition to cultural metaphors and myths that feed the growing epidemic of stress, anxiety, powerlessness, and feelings of inadequacy that so many people are experiencing today.

war of-art-steven-pressfield

What better place to start resisting than with a best-selling book that has 309 5-star reviews and declares something as untrue as  “Resistance is Evil?” 

If resistance is characterized as evil…no wonder our culture destroys the confidence and self-respect of anyone who dares to be different, express dissenting ideas, or disagree with dominant values.  

Today, I’ve decided to resist openly and honestly. I’m not going to be “nice” or “quiet” just to not make waves.  Our cultural obsession with the idea that self-control and battling one’s inner resistance is the only way to “break through” procrastination or creative blocks must be challenged.   Continue reading

Organize Your Time the AgiliZen Way: Agile Time Management Strategies – VIDEO

Welcome to life in perpetual beta. There’s almost no time to plan. Nothing seems to follow the plan even if you do have one. Conventional time management strategies are inadequate to the challenges of the digital age.

Agile Time Management Strategies ClassAgile Time Management™ offers a whole new organic approach to juggling the 8 Dances of Life™ that works for creatives, ADHD, gifted, neurodiverse and anyone who desires a simpler, more enjoyable and flexible way to organize their lives.

[br] Session Description:  Organizing Your Time – The AgiliZen Way

Join me and discover:

  • The benefits of the Agile way of orchestrating the 8 Dances of Life™
  • Your time management style and how it affects the way you get things done
  • How to design Agile goals that inspire you
  • How to cultivate habits that reduce stress and overwhelm
  • Powerful Mantras to inspire putting Agile into Action

 This class is over.  Here’s a Video Clip from the class.


Agile Time Management by Ariane Benefit, Life Coach, ADHD Coach, Gifted Adults, Creative Personality

Thursday, January 17, 2013

7:00 PM Eastern
4:00 PM Pacific

INCLUDES Downloadable MP3 and PDF of slides so if you can’t attend live you can still attend!



 Organize Your Time: Agile Time Management Strategies – Featured in the “Organize Your Life” Webinar Series

If getting organized is one of your new year’s intentions, join me and other experts  including Judith Kohlberg, Ramona Creel, Elizabeth Hagan, Allison Carter!

 Allison organizes this annual event to celebrate Get Organized month with a series of high quality learning experiences to help you focus, plan, and organize your time, space, and information. CEU credits are available for professional organizers. 




ADHD Expo October 2012 Appearance

I’m appearing at the  ADHD EXPO Online 2012 along with 25 other ADHD Experts, Coaches and Doctors!

October 14 – 20, 2012

I’ll be sharing some of my best life design strategies for juggling the “8 Dances of Life” PLUS special bonus gifts at the ADHD Awareness Expo.
[br]The Expo is a great place to find support to understand and treat ADD / ADHD. Whether you or a loved one have ADHD, or think you might, you will get lots of great ideas from 25 of the leading ADHD experts, doctors, therapists, educators and coaches in the world. 
[br]Speakers are appearing by video to share their best tips and strategies.
You will also be able to connect with other attendees 24/7 in the Chat Room.  The Expo Exhibits will feature additional complimentary goodies offered by the guest speakers.

Sign up at

Just a few of the leading experts you’ll see…

  • Sari Solden
  • Nancy Ratey
  • Dr. Charles Parker
  • Melissa Orlov
  • Dr. Roberto Olivardia
  • Dr. Rory Stern 
  • Jennifer Koretsky 
  • Dr. Ari Tuckman
  • Dr. Stephanie Sarkis
  • Terry Matlen
  • David Giwerc 

Look forward to connecting with you there!
I’ll be in the chat room as often as I can be.  Look for me there!

Want to send me a note or comment about my video appearance? Comment Below. 

Want to Learn More Now?

View Video by Neurologist Dr. Sam Goldstein on Diagnosing and Treating ADHD, Autism, and Attention Difficulties

      Check out recordings of and clips from some of my past classes on Agile Life Design, ADHD, Organizing, Time Management, and more.

Chronic Procrastination and Resistance: How we Learn to Procrastinate.

 How do we learn to procrastinate?

We are waging a cultural war against procrastination and inner resistance as if they were evil itself. I believe it is time to STOP the War and START negotiating a peace treaty with yourself.  Persistent patterns of procrastination are the outer manifestations or signposts of inner conflict and resistance.  

Procrastination is the result you get when one part of you is trying to get the rest of you to do something using tactics like: ordering, coercing, pressuring, tricking, or even bullying yourself to do it.

Resistance can only exist when there is some kind of pushing, pressure, or force trying to get you to do something you don’t want to do, or aren’t ready or willing to do at this time for some reason.    Continue reading