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Issue #41

No, You Don’t Need A Diagnosis to Crip Your Productivity

John Loeppky

March 21, 2024

There is a blue and green illustrated background, showing ground and the sky.. In the foreground is a blue and white sign that reads Now with an arrow pointing one way and Later with an arrow pointing the other way.
The eternal question/Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Gatekeeping is very last year

There’s a podcast I regularly listen to called The Writer Files. During episodes, host Kelton Reid speaks to writers about their practice, about how they came to their current processes, and then both host and guest tend to give some advice. A few weeks ago, I was listening to an episode where Skye Waterson, an author who is the founder of a support service called Unconventional Organization and who focuses on helping those with ADHD, spoke about the needs and wants of neurodivergent writers. 

And, while the advice they gave seemed incredibly valuable, I can’t help but feel like they both inadvertently started from the wrong premise. Early on in the interview, she was asked if you should go and get a diagnosis, and she said yes—though talked later about supporting folks through her business who don’t have ADHD, but have symptoms/needs that are similar. 

And here’s the thing, I do think diagnosis is a valuable tool. I do think that exploring what a diagnosis could look like is valuable, and I do have some concerns about self diagnosis discourse at its extremes. I have concerns about a lot of social media discourse at their extremes. When it comes to self diagnosis, I am concerned when someone’s vibe in championing it has more to do with making more people part of their club than it does actually helping the people trying to sort out what their body and mind is telling them. It's, on the scale of things, a rare phenomenon. However, it's still a damaging one.

Anyway, this led me to thinking about cripping productivity and that, in a way, the entire concept (in my head, anyway) requires no diagnosis whatsoever. Part of what frustrated me, perhaps unfairly, about the podcast episode was that it didn’t actually mean to be gatekeeper-y. A lot of the concepts were broadened out, the guest seemed lovely, her business seemed interesting, and her methodology didn’t seem needlessly prohibitive. 

But, if I was new (or new-ish) to disability, I’m fairly certain I would have clicked away and I don’t think I’m alone in doing that. But, as I talk about endlessly, part of cripping productivity is knowing the difference between feeling uncomfortable and feeling unsafe. So, today’s post is about nudging you to flip the middle finger—or equivalent if you don’t have that much dexterity—to advice that is gatekept in even the most minimal of ways. 

Because, especially when it comes to productivity, the earlier you build those skills, the better. Not because you would have magically found some perfect productivity system when you were nine, not because it would have gotten you better grades, and not because it sets you up to make your boss way more money off the back of your productivity, I think these skills should be built early, from an inclusive space, so that you know how to engage those muscles when they are required. 

In other words, it’s okay to want to be productive, and you’re not a bad disabled person if that is something you want to be. Here’s hoping that podcasts like the Writer Files, even if they misstep in my mind, can continue to put out content that challenges us to think about the value of diagnosis, of skill building, and of productivity. 

Until Tomorrow!


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I've decided to shift CRPL to a 5 times a week newsletter about productivity as I am fascinated by the topic, am in the early stage of writing a book about it, and want to have a place to think, and write, and create work about this vital area of thinking. Click below to join the daily newsletter and/or to help financially support this project.