Inertia vs Executive Dysfunction

What's it About...

Jonathan Stewart
Jonathan Stewart
As an autistic business owner, I've struggled with the inertia that comes with starting and finishing tasks. The concept of "executive dysfunction" never sat well with me, as it felt negative and worked against my philosophy. Instead, I prefer to work with my inertia, finding tools and strategies that help me get started and finish projects. One of those tools was Notion, which initially helped me understand how I work. I recently came across the idea of "autistic inertia" and "monotropism" which resonated with me, as it focuses on momentum carrying our thoughts forward. In this article, I discuss my journey with inertia, productivity tools, and how I navigate the challenges of running a business with these insights.

I am well aware of my limitations… as an autistic business owner, one of the big ones is inertia.

I can be “obsessively” driven when I'm in process but getting things started, and finishing things… is so darn hard.

For those who peak into neurodiversity or productivity social stuff… you might have heard it referred to as “executive dysfunction” especially when it comes to apps and tools promising to fix it.

But… that phrase irks me somewhat a lot

I mean the language around “Executive Dysfunction” is incredibly negative and the assumption made is that there is a correct way to function, which honestly works against my entire philosophy….

This also links to the joys of “hyper-focus” which so many “productivity guru's” talk about as the BEST WAY OF WRKING which can be delightfully summed up by this image:


However… unlike a ton of the productivity advice which discusses how to remove “inertia”.

I'm more interested in working with it… and if something can support me in just getting started, whether it be researching a new topic, or coming up with content ideas and something that can honestly, help me “finish off” something that I've been hyper focused on.

I'm all for it…

Especially if it's something I find fascinating and WANT to finish, but just can't… because no amount of “habit formation” is gonna help here ?

I mean frankly I don't want to “form habits”.

I want to do work that I love and the traditional views of “habit formation” frankly drives me crazy… especially when you hear the popular phrase:

‘If you want it hard enough… you'll do it.”.

uh. huh…. SURE.

Tell that to inertia.

When I first found Notion. It was my first step into understanding the way I worked vs trying to just squeeze myself into a box, that “productivity” guru's dictate.

One of the big things I noticed was that getting started, or finishing things felt an unsurmountable task.

I recently read this article that mentioned autistic inertia (and the concept of “Monotropism”) which I'm gonna be diving further into but I loved this particular quote:

I’m a little uncomfortable with ‘executive dysfunction’ as a label for this, because it makes it seem like it’s a problem with steering; it’s more helpful to think about momentum of thought carrying us forward, often to conclusions that others might have missed.

Me and Monotropism by Fergus Murray

This idea made perfect sense… as I often have 100's of ideas in my head, all of which fighting for my attention, pulling me into doing other things, or planning something else (like a $9 ChatGPT product for example ?).

Going back to Notion, although it helped me as I was getting started. I soon found myself not only spending more time “fiddling” with the system itself, because I could see the small tweaks I wanted to make to my system to make it faster and easier for me…

I ended up not putting in new tasks, because of the effort required, and there was other other things that grabbed my momentum.

Running a business is hard work, and although I love it, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, especially when 100's of things are drawing your attention at once ?

Do you align with the idea of “executive dysfunction”… or does inertia sum up the struggles you sometimes face when it comes to getting things “done.”?

What you think of:
Inertia vs Executive Dysfunction?

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