Procrastinating or just have no motivation today? Here’s a quick list of 20 strategies to get yourself moving, so you can catch a bit of momentum. As you gain momentum, often you’ll just keep going. You may or may not “find” motivation, but momentum is what’s needed. Not every task you work on “needs” motivation. That’s a feeling, right? What you need is movement.
The Practical Momentum Strategies
1. What’s the most interesting part of the project? Start there.
2. What part of the project will you be best at? Start there.
3. Play first. Get it out of your system. (Set a timer to stop the play though.)
4. Do the difficult first, with “play” as the reward.
5. Set a timer and stop at the end of 5-15 minutes, just enough to get you started.
6. Write or draw out your list of steps and take just the first small step. Just one.
7. Change your environment. Go to someone else’s office, a coffee shop, a library and use the change in environment to wake up your mind.
8. Listen to music (instrumental), TED talks, a book, or a class while you work. Yes, the choice is important, of what you listen to and what you choose to work on. It takes some thought.
9. Work on the tedious tasks while someone else comes to your office or home (e.g., bookkeeper, cleaning service, assistant). Use their presence to focus you on your own task. Or while your children do their homework.
10. Talk through your project with someone else first.
11. Read about how others have handled this project – the experts.
12. Hire it out.
13. Can you work in a team for support on at least one piece? Connections can give you momentum to keep going.
The Psychological, Emotional, and Self-Talk Strategies
1. Ask yourself: Why am I not starting? What am I afraid of?
2. Say something like: I know how to do this. I know I can start it, just dip my toe into the water and see what’s there.
3. Ask yourself: Have I already made some decision? Do I need to let this go?
4. Ask yourself: What is the best and worst that could happen? What are the benefits of starting now versus waiting?
5. Break up the work so you can set small, interim deadlines before the big, looming one.
6. Self-care: Sometimes it’s the rest of your life which is draining your mental energy. Focus on self-care first.
7. Have you ever had this happen before on a similar task? Think about what you did to get started.
A psychologist once told me that you can either start with the practical to get traction, or you can start with the psychological. Either way, both are key elements. So start at one end and work towards the middle and you’ll get what you need.
If you are reading this article, it is because you were enticed by the prospect of learning how to stop procrastinating.
Like many people I work with, you’ve tried seemly everything under the sun to follow through, but to little avail. So, at this point, you may assume that, left to your own devices, you are going to continue this way.
And what you really need is someone to watch over you to make sure you follow through, right? If this is what you are thinking, I think you are wrong, sort of…
Sure, accountability can be an important piece of the puzzle in addressing procrastination. But, when it comes right down to it, adults with ADHD usually don’t want someone standing over them, telling them what to do.
Rather, the key to managing your procrastination is figuring out creative solutions to address the reasons you procrastinate in the first place.
Read on to find out how tocounter your particular flavor ofprocrastination.
Oh, and please remember, procrastination is a really hard nut to crack, especially for Adults with ADHD. You can do it. Just don’t forget to be compassionate with yourself along the way.
Procrastination Fix #1 – Identify Where You Procrastinate
Right now, when you avoid a task, you may pause for a second. And then not give it another thought, at least for a while. Rather, you steer clear of it by getting lost in something else, anything else — another work task, the internet, organizing, etc.
Until the proverbial sh** hits the fan…
Then you knock your head against the wall, figuratively speaking of course, and scream internally, “Why do I do this?!” At this point, you may continue to avoid the task or you may get lost in addressing the fire drill of the moment caused by your procrastination.
While this scenario plays itself out again and again, I know you know this avoidance response isn’t helpful.
But think about it. If you have little clue as to why you are procrastinating on a task and even less of a clue as to what to do about it, it totally makes sense that you are sidestepping it.
Ready to learn how to respond differently?
List the tasks you are avoiding and then read on…
Procrastination Fix #2 – Clear the Decks
The next step is to decide whether all of the tasks on your active task listreally belong there. Your immediate response may be, “I’ve already decided. After all, why would I put a task on my list, if I didn’t need to do it?”
Ok, got it. But, if your list is similar to many others I’ve seen, it may function more as a wish list. Because, given your current capacity, you can’t possibly do it all.
So, while you continue to put offtasksyou really haveno intention of doing,they stay on your list, hanging on for dear life. And you continue to beat yourself up for procrastinating.
But I know, even if you are willing to consider trimming your list, you don’t want to forget your ideas. Because, well, you might want to do them — someday.
Creating a Maybe/Someday List to store projects you’re not ready to kick to the curb forever is a great solution.
Here are a few suggested guidelines to get you started:
Have one for personal projects and one for business/professional projects.
Review them monthly to decide if you are ready to take action on any of your ideas.
Continue to add any task that comes to mind, but just is not ready for prime time — research fish keeping, start to video blog, organize attic, etc.
Delete those you decide you really aren’t going to do in the foreseeable future — make own dog food, take pilot lessons, etc.
One of the advantagesof maintaining a Maybe/Someday List is you have made a decision not to do a task and are no longerprocrastinating. Then you can stop heaping shame and blame on yourself for not doing what you said you would do!
Procrastination Fix #3 – Address Your Emotions
None of the typical solutions — breaking down your tasks, scheduling them, avoiding distractions, etc. — will help you manage your procrastination until you address the emotions that may be keeping you stuck.
So, that is the next step.
If you are a run of the mill procrastinator, like the rest of us, at some point your emotions— fear of failure, fear of success and resentment — will be the cause of your procrastination.
And, since your thinking is driving your emotions, you can start to manage them by practicing positive self-talk, such as:
“I might make mistakes, but that does not make me a failure.”
“Even if the worst happens, I’ll be ok.”
“This is going to be really uncomfortable, but I don’t want that to stop me.”
Personal Issues – Maybe you need to take care of it so you can move on. Alternatively, maybe you can put it aside by telling yourself, “I’m doing this and not that!”
Phone Calls – Turn off the ringer for a short time so you can work.
People knocking on your door – If possible, tell them, “I really want to give you my full attention, but I need to do this first. Can I let you know when I am available?”
What are other distractions that keep you from doing what is important to you, and what can you do to manage them?
Procrastination Fix #6 – Don’t Wait for Your Mojo
For many with ADHD, one of the most common excuses for putting off work is the questionable idea, “I need inspiration.” This often leads to the unconvincing promise, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” And you know what comes next. Tomorrow becomes — not now.
If you can wait for inspiration, great!
But the problem is — in many instances — you can’t really wait until you feel like doing the task. So, the key is to figure out what will help you to do it even when your mojo is just not there.
Some workarounds are:
Find an accountability partner.
Delegate the task.
Hire someone — another form of delegating.
Attempt to do it when you are most likely to be at your best — late at night, early in the morning, etc.
Work in an environment that is most conducive for doing that task — at a coffee shop, in a quiet office, with music, etc.
What do you need to do to tackle a task even when you just don’t wanna?
Procrastination Fix #7 – Fill’er Up
Sometimes, when you don’t feel like doing something, it is because you are not taking care of yourself. Yet, self-care is key to managing procrastination.
Use this checklist to figure out if the reason for your procrastination is because you are running on empty or your circuits are overloaded.
Do I need to eat?
Am I tired and, if possible, do I need to take a power nap?
Do I need to take my meds?
Do I need to get up and move —exercise — to wake up my brain?
Do I need to drink more water?
Do I need to slow for a few minutes and do some deep breathing because I am overloaded?
What other strategies do you use when your tank is low?
Procrastination Fix #8 – Use a Procrastination Journal
Now that you know some of the reasons and workarounds for your procrastination, it is time to start the hard work.
And the best way tostop procrastinatingis tobecome more aware in the moment of decision —the moment you are deciding whether to do a task or not.
You can do this by recording your answers to the following statements in a Procrastination Journal:
the date and time of the impulse to put off working on a task
name of the task
what you were thinking and feeling when you thought of doing the task
what you were tempted to do instead
what you told yourself when you were tempted to something else
what you ultimately chose to do
Yes, it takes time, especially in the beginning. But the payoff can be huge, really.
Sample Procrastination Journal
Below are a few fictional journal entries based on the hundreds of conversations I’ve had with clients, the journals clients have shared with me — and my own experience, for sure.
March 14, 8:30 am
I just got to the office and wanted to start on the quarterly report first thing because I didn’t want a repeat of last quarter when I got it in late.
Then I looked at the file on my desktop and thought, “This is going to take forever…” I started to feel overwhelmed — my heart was racing and I got this fuzzy sound in my head.
I opened my email, which I promised myself I would not do, and thought, “Maybe I should plow through some of these first.”
Then I remembered the conversation I had with Sheri, my boss, after handing in the report late last time…
And I told myself, “I don’t have to do it all today. When I feel overwhelmed with big projects it helps to break it down and schedule time to do a little at a time.”
So, that is what I did. I finished a little bit today, and felt pretty good!
March 17, 11:30 am
Ally emailed me last week with a question about the program, and I promised her I would give her an answer by tomorrow.
But I just don’t know the answer and I should! This is so pathetic… I’m so embarrassed that I am not pulling my weight.
I’m really hungry. Maybe I should take a walk and eat lunch…
March 17, 12:30 am
Ok, better. I’m feeling a little more clear headed and a bit less stressed now that I took a walk and ate.
What I need is help figuring out how to answer her. Steve is really good at helping me talk through these things when I am stuck. I’ll call him, and see if we can meet this afternoon
In the above cases journaling helped Bob avoid procrastinating.
Of course, you will not necessarily come up with an immediate solution every time you write. But, keeping a procrastination journal will help you become more aware of the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors involved in yourprocrastination.
Then you can work on changing them in the long run!
Question for You
I know I gave you a lot of information above.
Where do you want to start?
By ADHD coach Marla Cummins. Please visit Marla’s website at www.marlacummins.com for additional articles and resources on Adult ADHD.
“Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva
Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) is a neurobehavioral disorder that affects three to five percent of American children and adults. AD/HD is usually diagnosed in childhood, and the condition can continue into the adult years. Many individuals with AD/HD are undiagnosed until adulthood (NINDS, 2011).
The common characteristics of AD/HD are impulsivity, inattention, and/or over-activity (DSM-IV-TR, 2000). Failure to listen to instructions, inability to organize oneself and work tasks, fidgeting with hands and feet, talking too much, inability to stay on task, leaving projects, chores and work tasks unfinished, and having trouble paying attention to and responding to details are the primary symptoms of AD/HD. Although individuals may have both inattention and hyperactivity symptoms, many individuals predominantly display one symptom more than another. Therefore, the DSM-IV-TR identifies three subtypes that can be diagnosed:
AD/HD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type: The major characteristics are fidgeting, talking excessively, interrupting others when talking, and impatience.
AD/HD predominantly inattentive type: The major characteristics are distractibility, organization problems, failure to give close attention to details, difficulty processing information quickly and accurately, and difficulty following through with instructions.
AD/HD combined type: The individual with combined type meets the criteria for both hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive type.
What causes AD/HD?
Scientists are not sure what causes ADHD, although many studies suggest that genes play a large role. Like many other illnesses, ADHD probably results from a combination of factors. In addition to genetics, researchers are looking at possible environmental factors, and are studying how brain injuries, nutrition, and the social environment might contribute to ADHD (NIMH, 2011). How is AD/HD treated?
Currently available treatments focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Treatments include medication, various types of psychotherapy, education or training, or a combination of treatments. Much like children with the disorder, adults with ADHD are treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of treatments (NIMH, 2009).
AD/HD and the Americans with Disabilities Act
Is AD/HD a disability under the ADA?
The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet (EEOC Regulations . . ., 2011). Therefore, some people with AD/HD will have a disability under the ADA and some will not.
A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment (EEOC Regulations . . . , 2011). For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, visit http://AskJAN.org/corner/vol05iss04.htm.
Accommodating Employees with AD/HD
Note: People with AD/HD may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with AD/HD will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.
Questions to Consider:
What limitations does the employee with AD/HD experience?
How do these limitations affect the employee’s job performance?
What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine accommodations?
Can the employee provide information on possible accommodation solutions?
Once accommodations are in place, can meetings take place to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations? Can meetings take place to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
Would human resources or personnel departments, supervisors, or coworkers benefit from education, training or disability awareness regarding learning disabilities? Can it be provided?
Time Management: Individuals with AD/HD may experience difficulty managing time, which can affect their ability to mark time as it passes incrementally by minutes and hours. It can also affect their ability to gauge the proper amount of time to set aside for certain tasks. It may be difficult to prepare for, or to remember, work activities that occur later in the week, month, or year.
Divide large assignments into several small tasks
Set a timer to make an alarm after assigning ample time to complete a task
Provide a checklist of assignments
Supply an electronic or handheld organizer, and train on how to use effectively
Use wall calendar to emphasize due dates
Develop a color-coded system (each color represents a task, or event, or level of importance)
Allow co-worker or supervisor to add entries on the calendar, or to double-check entries added by the employee with AD/HD
Memory: Individuals with AD/HD may experience memory deficits, which can affect their ability to complete tasks, remember job duties, or recall daily actions or activities.
Provide written instructions
Allow additional training time for new tasks
Offer training refreshers
Use a flowchart to indicate steps in a task
Provide verbal or pictorial cues
Use post-it notes as reminders of important dates or tasks
Concentration: Individuals with AD/HD may experience decreased concentration, which can be attributed to auditory distractions (that can be heard) and/or visual distractions (that can be seen). People with AD/HD report distractions such as office traffic and employee chatter, opening and closing of elevator doors, and common office noises such as fax tones and photocopying.
To reduce auditory distractions:
Purchase a noise canceling headset
Hang sound absorption panels
Provide a white noise machine
Relocate employee’s office space away from audible distractions
Redesign employee’s office space to minimize audible distractions
To reduce visual distractions:
Install space enclosures (cubicle walls)
Reduce clutter in the employee’s work environment
Redesign employee’s office space to minimize visual distractions
Relocate employee’s office space away from visual distractions
Organization and Prioritization: Individuals with AD/HD may have difficulty getting or staying organized, or have difficulty prioritizing tasks at work.
Develop color-code system for files, projects, or activities
Use weekly chart to identify daily work activities
Use the services of a professional organizer
Use a job coach to teach/reinforce organization skills
Assign a mentor to help employee
Allow supervisor to assign prioritization of tasks
Assign new project only when a previous project is complete, when possible
Provide a “cheat sheet” of high-priority activities, projects, people, etc.
Social Skills: Individuals with AD/HD may have limitations in adaptive skills, such as communicating with others, or exhibiting appropriate social skills. This might manifest itself as interrupting others when working or talking, demonstrating poor listening skills, not making eye contact when communicating, or inability to correctly read body language or understand innuendo.
Provide a job coach to help understand different social cues
Identify areas of improvement for employee in a fair and consistent manner
Make attendance at social activities optional
Use training videos to demonstrate appropriate behavior in workplace
Encourage employees to minimize personal conversation or move personal conversation away from work areas
Provide sensitivity training (disability awareness) to all employees
Encourage all employees to model appropriate social skills
Adjust the supervisory method to better fit the employee’s needs
Allow the employee to work from home
Adjust method of communication to best suit the employee’s needs
Use role-play scenarios to demonstrate appropriate behavior in workplace
Hyperactivity/Impulsivity: Individuals with AD/HD Hyperactivity-Impulsive type may exhibit over-activity or impulsive behavior. This could be disruptive to the work environment or could inhibit efficient and effective work performance.
Provide structured breaks to create an outlet for physical activity
Utilize a job coach to teach/reinforce techniques to control impulsivity
Allow the employee to work from home
Review conduct policy with employee
Adjust method of supervision to better prepare employee for feedback, disciplinary action, and other communication about job performance
Use services of EAP
Provide private workspace where employee will not disturb others by tapping, humming, or fidgeting
Multi-tasking: Individuals with AD/HD may experience difficulty performing many tasks at one time. This difficulty could occur regardless of the similarity of tasks or the frequency of performing the tasks.
Separate tasks so that each can be completed one at a time
Create a flowchart of tasks that must be performed at the same time, carefully labeling or color-coding each task in sequential or preferential order
Provide individualized/specialized training to help employee learn techniques for multi-tasking (e.g., typing on computer while talking on phone)
Identify tasks that must be performed simultaneously and tasks that can be performed individually
Provide specific feedback to help employee target areas of improvement
Remove or reduce distractions from work area
Supply ergonomic equipment to facilitate multi-tasking
Clearly represent performance standards such as completion time or accuracy rates
Paperwork: Individuals with AD/HD may experience difficulty completing paperwork efficiently and effectively. This is due in part to workplace distractions and difficulty with time management, disorganization, or prioritization.
When possible, automate paperwork by creating electronic files
Use speech recognition software to enter text or data into electronic files
Save time filling out paper forms by completing information in advance, using pre-filled forms, or adhering pre-printed stickers
Use checklists in place of writing text
Supply large quantities of regularly-used forms
Color-code forms for easy identification
Re-design commonly used forms
Use large font
Double space or triple space
Provide adequate space for hand-written response
You’ll find more appropriate accommodations in JAN’s article on Executive Function Deficits. http://askjan.org/media/execfunc.html
Attendance: Individuals may have difficulty getting to work promptly because of the varied activities, processes, and interruptions they may experience while preparing to leave their home and/or during their commute.
Allow flexible work environment:
Modified break schedule
Work from home/Flexi-place
Getting to Work on Time: Employers can have time and attendance standards for all employees. Because getting to work on time is the responsibility of the employee, the following ideas are for employees who are having trouble getting to work on time because of executive function deficits:
Have a routine of putting and keeping things in their place (keys, phone, glasses)
Prepare for the next day’s work the night before
Create a checklist for yourself and others
Place sticky notes on the door, dashboard, or wherever you will see them
Turn off distractions – including cell phones
Set a timer or a programmable watch to pace yourself
Situations and Solutions:
A journalist with AD/HD experienced sensitivity to visual and auditory distractions. The employer provided the individual with a private, high-wall cubicle workspace in a low-traffic area. The employer added an environmental sound machine to mask office noise.
A social worker with AD/HD had difficulty completing handwritten paperwork in a neat and timely fashion. The employer created electronic forms for the employee, which allowed him to type responses. The employer arranged computer files labeled by month to help the employee prioritize open cases. The employer also sent email reminders of deadlines.
An office worker with AD/HD experienced impulsivity and often interrupted co-workers by entering offices without knocking. The employer helped identify appropriate techniques for approaching co-workers, such as keeping a daily list of tasks to discuss with others, then emailing or calling to set aside time to talk about work-related projects.
A retail employee with AD/HD often forgot the closing and cash-out procedures, which resulted in missed printouts of daily sale reports. The employer created a numbered checklist that identified each step for proper closing procedures and identified which reports to run from cash registers. This accommodation benefited all employees.
A delivery person with AD/HD had difficulty with time management. She spent excessive time making deliveries and would forget to return to the warehouse between daily runs. The employer provided a personal organizer watch that could be programmed to beep and display a written message many times throughout the day. This auditory and written prompt helped the employee move quicker from task to task, and helped remind her to return to the warehouse to gather her next load.
A teacher with AD/HD experienced disorganization in her classroom due to clutter from many years of teaching. The employer provided a job coach to help the teacher learn organization techniques, to help separate and store items, and to dispose of previous student work and projects from yesteryear.
Information about JAN
Source – Job Accommodation Network – Accommodation and Compliance Series: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Retrieved December, 6, 2105 from https://askjan.org/media/adhd.html
The Job Accommodation Network is a service of U.S. DOL’s Office of Disability Employment. Article may be reprinted without copyright infringement.
JAN provides free, confidential technical assistance about job accommodations and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
JAN’s Accommodation and Compliance Series is designed to help employers determine effective accommodations and comply with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This information provides a starting point in the accommodation process and may not address every situation. Accommodations should be made on a case by case basis, considering each employee’s individual limitations and accommodation needs.
American Psychiatric Association: Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000.
EEOC Regulations To Implement the Equal Employment Provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act, as Amended, 29 C.F.R. § 1630 (2011).
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). (2009). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Retrieved November 17, 2011, fromhttp://www.nimh.nih.gov
On ADHD: Parent to Parent – Honor your child’s individuality while seeking solutions to challenges you face every day.
ADHD is a complex disorder that affects both individuals and their families greatly. There’s so much to know about ADHD that you might wonder just what it is that your child really needs from you. While there’s no one right way to deal with the problems you may face, you may find ideas that will work for you from other parents who have faced similar situations. These three articles offer down-to-earth and practical approaches that honor your child’s individuality while acknowledging the very real challenges in your family life.
One treasure offers 85 – Yes, ‘85 Important Facts about Raising a Child with ADHD.’ And you’re likely to use every one of them. Why? Because:
“…You will need help Face it: Everything is easier when there are people to help you.
Yes, you will be judged – This is why it’s important to surround yourself with people who understand you and who accept your child as he is.
Several ADHD kids have other problems – Whether we’re talking about learning issues, anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder, or problems in the autism spectrum, all these things can be tagged to an ADHD diagnostic.”
A healthy life hygiene is of utmost importance
Chips + chocolate at 10PM = catastrophe.
Lower your expectations It won’t hurt as much. No one is perfect.
Yes, having a routine is very, very important If you never liked routine, you’ll learn to love it. Your sanity depends on it…”
By Eloïse Beaulé from “FamilleTDAH,” a French-Canadian blog that talks about the daily life of a family with three children affected with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Translated by Lauren Berkley
You think your kids don’t notice when you forget what they’re going through and lose your patience with them? ‘What my Son with ADHD would Like Grownups to Know’ records what Heather LeRoss finally understood what it meant to her son to have ADHD. He had more than a few things to say, but here’s a sample.
“I want people to know I feel like they don’t like how I am. I want Daddy to know I am not stupid and it hurts my feelings when he says, ‘Are you dumb?’ I want you to know I don’t like it when you yell.”
“I just want it to stop. The yelling, comparing me to other kids that are ‘normal.’ How people tense up sometimes when I just walk into the room. I want people to say I am nice and funny and good at drawing. And not follow it with, ‘If only he could focus like that in other areas.’ I just want to feel like it’s OK to be me.”
Dealing with ADHD isn’t easy. But others have gone before and are willing to share their experiences and expertise. You can survive the challenge, but don’t go it alone. If you can, join a support group. Make friends with fellow parents you meet at school or in the Doctor or therapist’s office. If these avenues aren’t possible, follow reputable websites, blogs, social media or join an on-line organization that will keep you informed and offer encouragement. Your goal is to let your child know that they are loved and that they are worthy – That it’s Okay to just be themselves.
As an adult with ADHD, you know that it is much easier to follow through on tasks that interest you. So, of course, the more of these you can have on your plate the better.
But the reality is we all have tasks we don’t want to do, and for one reason or another they still need to be on our plate. We can’t delegate, barter, drop or defer these tasks. We need to do them. Now!
Obviously, these are also the tasks that we are most likely to procrastinate on starting, never mind completing.
And, while we are dragging our feet on these tasks, they still take up a great deal of our mental time and energy. Consider the following statements as they relate to a taskyou are putting off.
While I really don’t want to do (fill in the blank), I am thinking about it a lot, even worrying about it.
And thoughts of it will pop into my head at random times, distracting me from tending to my task(s) at hand.
I will likely be behind the eight ball when I eventually get around to it, and will need to put aside everything else to get it done.
Another day. Another fire drill!
So, how do we follow through on those tasks that having us screaming, “I don’t wanna!!!”
What About The Task Turns You Off?
First, figure out what about the task turns you off. Here are some possibilities:
It bores me. Simple as that.
It takes too much time and energy because it is hard for me.
It is not important to me.
I have too many other tasks on my list… “Take a number and fall to the back of the line” is what comes to mind when I think of this task.
My other reasons are…
Once you’ve figured out why you don’t want to do a task, the next step is to figure out what you can do to follow through on those tasks that must fall on your plate.
Because often it is the not deciding and not doing that can contribute significantly to your feelings of overwhelm.
Activating the Reward System
Then, take into consideration the other challenges that may be getting in your way. An understanding of the process that happens in the brain’s Reward System is a good place to start.
In simplified terms:
We make choices and prioritize goals when a sensory stimulus is sent and processed in the brain indicating a reward is on the way.
When a reward is anticipated, dopamine is released to various parts of the brain, which activates our motor functions, attention and memory pathway. (When the memory of this stimulus and associated reward is in place, we will be more likely to tackle the task next time.)
When the reward is concrete, it is easy to do something because we are motivated by the obvious anticipated reward. But here is what may happen when you think about doing the report you dread that is due in two days:
♦ As you look at the bathroom, you think, “I should clean the bathroom. Then I’ll do the report.”
♦ Then when you sit down at the computer, a notification from Facebook comes in. “Facebook, take me away from all of this…. I need a break before I start the report.”
♦ “Wow. Look at all those emails. I really need to answer those before doing the report!”
When deciding to clean the bathroom, look at FB or plow through your emails the stimulus is right in front of you and the reward is immediate. Because the reward for doing the report is not so obvious or immediate, it is harder to make the connection at the moment.
In this simplified version, you can see that your motivation to do a task is related to the immediacy of the reward when all is working as it should be in the Reward System of the brain.
Remembering Your “Why”
True enough. It is important for everyone to make the connection between doing a task that may not be intrinsically interesting and the potential rewards.
Here are some possible starting points:
I want to be successful at my job and doing reports is just part of the gig.
These reports are important to have the data we need to make good business decisions.
The reports actually aren’t that important to me, but I want to be a dependable team player. And Bob really needs these reports…
But you need to have a visceral connection to the payoff, not just an intellectual connection. That is, you want to be able to really feel and see the reward in all colors of the rainbow. To do this you will need to go one step further.
For example, you might want to think about having a visual cue (pictures, quotes totems, etc.) to help you remember what it will feel like when you are successful; you can look at this item in those moments when you think, “I don’t wanna!”
Now you are thinking, “Ok, got it, Marla. I have to make the connection between the task and the reward. But I don’t think that is going to be enough…”
You are right!
Along with a weak working memory, it is believed that there is not enough dopamine in the ADHD Brain to carry out the processes in the Reward System, particularly motor functions and attending.
So, even when you can really feel the reward of a task that does not interest you may still:
feel like you are standing in cement.
avoid it – not do it or think about it.
Not to despair, though. You’ll just have to incorporate a few more workarounds in order to get going.
Knowing Why Is Not Enough
Yes, it is important to acknowledge that there are going to be times you are bored. It happens. And remember that your particular brain chemistry makes it harder than for neurotypical people
Be that as it may, you can still be proactive in meeting the challenge of doing these type of tasks by having a few strategies ready to employ when you feel resistance to doing a task you need to do. Here are a few options:
making a game out of a task, such as “beat the clock.”
setting a timer for the amount of time you think you can tolerate working on a particular task.
timing when you do a boring task to when you take your stimulant medication.
taking a break and doing something else. Then coming back to the task when you have more energy
taking notes during meetings to keep your attention.
using a fidget toy help keep you on task.
What other strategies have you used?
ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line
Getting started and following through on tasks that are not immediately interesting for you is harder for Adults with ADHD.
But taking the above steps, and getting the support you need, can make it easier!
If you are a parent of a child with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and you have big time problems with homework, explore these seven questions with your child to create the best environment for him or her to succeed. Understanding how your child’s brain functions will help you find the strategies that work best.
When we are interested in something and are good at it, such as math, or English, interest stimulates the brain and aids focusing. For people with ADHD, the greater the passion, the easier it is to pay attention. Kids who have an interest may be a walking encyclopedia for their favorite topic, like dinosaurs or basketball, but be hopeless about school. The problems arise with subjects that are not interesting and may be particularly difficult for your child.
New research supports this experiential evidence.
Recent research has identified two separate areas in the brain which are used to focus attention. The parietal cortex reacts to external stimuli; the prefrontal cortex is active when you must choose what to pay attention to.
The prefrontal cortex is the brain part that is used for executive functions like deciding, planning and activating and is under active in ADHD. It is the last part of the brain to reach full maturity (that’s why Hertz and Avis don’t rent cars to people under age 25). Children with ADHD may be two to three years behind their age peers in mental maturity, but they do get there.
How can you use this information to help your child do his homework?
Your job, Mom and Dad, is to provide the environment that works for your child.
You do not want to do it for him or be dogmatic about how, where or when he should do his homework. But you do need to provide more structure and organizational assistance than for other children of his age.
Talk and explore with her to discover what kind of stimulation works best to help her brain stay focused, every child is different. Your goal is to provide an environment which provides the right stimulation for her unique brain.
Seven questions for you to explore.
When does he work best? He probably needs some exercise and a snack after school before settling down to do homework. A snack should include some protein for fuel for the brain.
Where does he work best? Does he work best alone in his room with no distractions or does he work better in an open area with some noise and movement around to provide stimulation? Does background music of his choosing help him stay on task?
Does he need to move often? Let him work in small chunks and take a short break to jump a bit between chunks. Explore using a rocking chair or a rubber ball seat.
Is he an aural or visual learner? Our modern world is expressed mostly through visual media, but some people learn better aurally. If your child is an aural learner have him work out loud recording his lessons on a tape recorder.
Is he a verbal or a graphic learner? Some children work better with pictures than with words. Let him use his creativity to illustrate his lessons with pictures cut from old magazines or his own drawings. Provide colored pens and highlighters to make his notes stimulating to look at.
Does he have a problem with time? Many people with ADHD have an elastic sense of time. Have your child practice measuring the time he needs to do each assignment. Prepare a chart on which he can record estimated time, start time, end time, elapsed time, and the difference from estimated time for each assignment.
Does he have difficulty starting? Some children with ADHD see tasks as one big overwhelming cloud. They need help finding where to begin. Talk with him about the steps he needs to accomplish starting with very simple actions like open your book, read the first problem.
Most important! Enjoy! Have fun! Tell a silly joke before he starts or when he takes a break. This may sound paradoxical, but laughing lowers the stress level for you and your child.
Published by Sarah Jane Keyser, Copyright 2006, all rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward or post this content in full for use in a not-for-profit format, as long as this copyright notice and full information about the author is attached intact. If any other use is desired, permission in writing is required.
Sarah Jane Keyser worked for many years with computers as a programmer, analyst, and user trainer, but her struggle with inattentive ADD kept getting in the way of her plans and dreams. Once ADD was identified and the great need that coaching filled, she added ADD Coach training to complete her preparation for a new career as ADD Coach. Her credentials include ADD Coach training at the ADD Coach Academy. the Newfield Network’s graduate coaching program “Mastery in Coaching,” and “Coaching Kids and Teens” by Jodi Sleeper-Triplett MCC. Sarah Jane coaches in French and English by telephone. (Coaching Key to ADD)
“Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva
Like many people today, do you find life overwhelming? Is getting through one day an exhausting marathon? Does your day include kids to be picked up, doctor’s appointments, bills to be paid, and dry cleaning to be retrieved? Are you afraid to open envelopes for fear of seeing the negative bank balances and the unpaid bills? Are you afraid of wasting time and money on impulsive flings every time you go shopping? It all adds up to a paralyzing sense of doom called overwhelm.
Today’s hectic world puts tremendous pressure to perform on everyone, but if you have ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) the pressure is magnified several times over.
Here are some ways ADHD contributes to that desperate feeling.
Number one is poor organization. It is now recognized that ADHD often presents as chronic disorganization. If you have ADHD, you have difficulty sequencing actions (or papers thus the unmanageable piles). Difficulty organizing the events of the day is just one example.
The second problem is an elastic sense of time. You have difficulty estimating how long tasks will take adding to the problem of planning the day.
The third is what I call the slipping clutch or the getting-started syndrome. When you do fix a time to do a task it still doesn’t get done because you can not start. Instead, you get sucked into the internet or the TV or another low priority activity.
Finally, the lack of boundaries makes it difficult for you to say “no”, so you have too many things to do. Poor boundaries also mean that you absorb more than your share of emotional overload; other people’s problems swamp your brain and make it difficult to think coolly about what needs doing.
Take these 6 steps to plan your day and beat overwhelm.
Stop. Recognize that overwhelm has captured your brain and is interfering with your ability to plan and get things done. Take a minute to observe how you are feeling. Take several deep breaths into the abdomen and exhale slowly.
Listen to your self-talk. Change negatives to positives: tell yourself “you can do it”. Talk out loud to yourself at each step as though you were explaining to another person what you need to do.
Make a list of the tasks you need to do, estimate the time needed including travel or set up time. Then weigh the importance and urgency of each task. Could some items wait until tomorrow or next week?
Consider what help you can get. Could a husband or a friend pick up the kids?
Plan the day. Group tasks according to location. If you have to go out, consider the time of day. If you must drive during busy times of the day, allow for extra travel time.
Write out the day’s route map and put it in your purse or place it where you can’t forget it. Now you are ready to go. Go!
Still having difficulty? A coach or coaching program can help you stay on track.
“Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva
Published by Sarah Jane Keyser, Copyright 2006, all rights reserved. Coaching Key to ADDPermission is granted to forward or post this content in full for use in a not-for-profit format, as long as this copyright notice and full information about the author, Sarah Jane Keyser, is attached intact. If any other use is desired, permission in writing is required.
*** About Sarah Jane *** Sarah Jane Keyser worked for many years with computers as a programmer, analyst, and user trainer, but her struggle with inattentive ADD kept getting in the way of her plans and dreams. Her credentials include ADD Coach training at the ADD Coach Academy. The Newfield Network’s graduate coaching programme “Mastery in Coaching” and a programme “Coaching Kids and Teens” by Jodi Sleeper-Triplett MCC. She is an American living in Switzerland who coaches in French and English by telephone
If you have ADHD and you struggle to fall asleep, you’re not crazy, you’re not being bad and most of all, you’re not alone. Several studies have revealed that people with ADHD are more likely to have irregular circadian rhythms. What’s a circadian rhythm? According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, “circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in your environment.”
Are You Out of Sync?
Circadian rhythms are the changes that happen in your body that make you sleepy at night (when it gets dark) and make you want to wake up in the morning as it grows light. As many as 70% of adults with ADHD complain they have difficulty falling asleep, wake up tired (or not at all without enormous effort) and feel out-of-sync with the rest of the world.
If you work independently and don’t need to follow the same schedule as the rest of the population (perhaps you live on a desert island?!), this may not be a problem. (Sounds pretty lonely though!) However, if you must interact with family, friends, peers, customers or anyone else who’s not on the same schedule as you while they’re awake, this can cause problems.
It’s Not Just “Beauty Sleep”
Falling asleep at 1 or 2 AM may not be a problem if you’re a freelancer who answers to no one in real time and you can wake up at 9:30 or 10 AM, but if you have a day job or if customers expect you to answer the phone between 9 AM and 5 PM, you’ll have to cut your sleep short to make it to the office on time. The resulting lack of sleep will affect your ability to focus, your capacity to deal with and manage stress and the functioning of your working memory.
If you’re “tired” of struggling (wink! wink!) luckily, studies show that you can adjust your circadian cycles with a few relatively simple techniques. As someone who has struggled all my life with insomnia, I have tried many of these strategies myself. Here are a few that have the biggest impact.
Humans are like plants; our internal clock is usually set with daylight. When daylight hits your eyes, your brain signals your body to increase your body temperature and starts secreting hormones, like cortisol, to modify the electrical activity in the brain. In the evening, when the light begins to dim, this triggers the production of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. In ADHDers, however, melatonin production is often delayed.
Manage Your Light
If you struggle to fall asleep, start dimming the lights at home as early as right after supper. Stay away from blue-light-emitting sources, like computer screens at least 3 to 4 hours before you need to fall asleep.
Many of my clients with ADHD report dramatically better sleep quality with earlier sleep onset when they engage in cardiovascular exercise (not at bedtime, but during the day!). Cardiovascular exercise is any activity that makes your heart beat faster for at least 20 minutes, such as jogging, taking a brisk walk, moderate biking, aerobics, cross-country skiing, hockey, basketball, skating, etc. Pick one or more sports you enjoy and do at least 20 minutes each day. You’ll find your sleep will come more easily.
Top Up on Melatonin
Studies have shown that supplementing melatonin with light management can advance sleep onset. You can find melatonin supplements at some pharmacies and certainly at health food stores. They work even better when you use them in combination with light management.
Zone into Sleep with Sound Waves
Research shows that the brain is frequency-following, that is, you can train it to fall into a certain brainwave pattern by listening to sounds in that frequency. Our brain regulates our state of wakefulness by changing the amplitude and frequency of brain waves. To fall asleep, we produce Delta waves in lengths of 0.5 to 4 Hz. Some sounds induce our brain to fall into Delta waves. I use the sounds of the ocean and find that it really works for me. My youngest daughter, Kyrie, and ADHDer, had problems falling asleep until we started playing ocean sounds, along with improving her sleep hygiene, at bedtime.
Change Your Mind
Many ADHDers find their thoughts churn at bedtime, which keeps them from falling asleep. By thinking about what happened today or what will happen tomorrow, you’re activating certain hormones that keep you awake. Changing what’s going on in your mind might be as simple as reading stories – not work-related stuff – before bed. If you struggle to put a novel down, read short stories like the ones you’d find in Readers’ Digest.
Do a Mind Dump
If you’re still plagued by concerns over what you have to do, dump all those thoughts in a notebook that you place next to your bed. “Dumping” will help you avoid staying awake because you’re afraid you’ll forget.
ADHDers need to be vigilant about taking care to engage in good sleep hygiene. Lack of sleep DOES NOT CAUSE ADHD; however, lack of sleep can make your symptoms worse, so taking care of your brain and its creative genius by sleeping enough can help reduce your struggles. Everyone, whether or not they have ADHD, needs 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night; less sleep than that and you’re not able to tap into your brain’s potential.
If you find that one of these strategies has helped you, or if you have your own approach that works wonders, please share it in the Comments section below.
And have a lifetime of great night’s sleep!
By Linda Walker, PCC, B. Admin. Linda is a certified ADHD Coach who helps adults with ADHD overcome the special challenges of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) they encounter at home and in the workplace. She is the creator of The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Creative Geniuses, a training program for adults with ADHD and the author of With Time to Spare. Coach Linda Walker
“Image courtesy of freelart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net” – Modified on Canva
A series of short articles by Sarah Jane Keyser. Follow the links.
ADD has strengths as well as weaknesses; like heads and tails, you can’t have one without the other.
Attention Deficit Disorder is not an illness (in spite of the name) and there is no “cure”. ADD is a way of life, a difference in the way you see and move in the world.
You can learn to manage the world and use your brain.
There are many ways to train your brain. Usually, a combination of medication, ADHD coaching strategies, and exercise is most effective. Each individual needs to discover what combination works best for him or her.
Here are some ways that you can change your life:
Life Styles for ADD – You can do many things for yourself. A good program includes exercise, what to eat, how to breathe, how to get to sleep and how to enjoy.
Maintaining the Brain – If your car runs on two cylinders you take it to the garage. If your brain sputters take it to a doctor for a checkup.
ADD Coaching Strategies – A coach is a partner who guides you to new ways of seeing yourself and the world. An ADD coach who knows how ADD feels and understands the ADD brain can help you value your strengths and structure your life.
Celebrating ADD – Learn to appreciate the passion and sparkle which are the gift of ADD.
Published by Sarah Jane Keyser, Copyright 2006, all rights reserved. Learn more about ADHD at Coaching Key to ADHD
Permission is granted to forward or post this content in full for use in a not-for-profit format, as long as this copyright notice and full information about the author, Sarah Jane Keyser, is attached intact. If any other use is desired, permission in writing is required.
*** About Sarah Jane *** Sarah Jane Keyser worked for many years with computers as a programmer, analyst, and user trainer, but her struggle with inattentive ADD kept getting in the way of her plans and dreams. Her credentials include ADD Coach training at the ADD Coach Academy, the Newfield Network’s graduate coaching program “Mastery in Coaching” and “Coaching Kids and Teens” by Jodi Sleeper-Triplett MCC. Sarah Jane is an American living in Switzerland who coaches in French and English by telephone.
“Image courtesy of mrpuen–FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva
The core symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity, impulsiveness, distractibility and inattention as evidenced by problems organizing, planning, procrastinating, and time management. But doesn’t everybody have these problems? Yes, but for the diagnosis to be applicable, the doctor will consider the severity and duration and the extent to which your problems interfere with the quality of your life. For a diagnosis, you must see a doctor who is knowledgeable in ADHD and related problems. The principle tool for diagnosis is the interview.
Before seeing your doctor, take some quiet time to think about what is really bothering you and write it down. (People with AD/HD often forget the key things to say). If your office looks like the aftermath of a hurricane and you feel depressed, be sure to tell the doctor both facts. You may be depressed because you can’t deal with the office, or your office may be a disaster because you are depressed. Which came first?
“Pills? I don’t take pills!”
Well, you aren’t alone. Many people feel that way. Consider for a moment. Do the pills make you a different person? Is it not you, if you take a pill? Who is the real you?
That person who loses his temper at the slightest excuse,
the nerd who walks past his best friend without saying “Hello”,
the wife who is too tired to clean up the mess and greet hubby with a smile and kiss when he comes home?
Or are you the smiling affable, competent person you know is inside trying to get out?
Let’s go back to our car. Do you expect your car to run without oil or gasoline? Would you drive a car that worked on two or three of its four cylinders? Your brain needs fuel.
Ideally, every brain would produce just the right amount of all the ingredients it needs, but there is no such thing as an ideal brain. Some brains are chronically undersupplied with the chemicals they need to function properly. Clinical trials have shown that medication is the most effective method of dealing with an under functioning brain
There are a number of medications available. Your doctor may need to try more than one, to find the right one for you. He will probably start with a low dose to see if you tolerate it and then increase the dose to find the most effective dosage and timing. So don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a positive result immediately.
When you start taking the medication it would be a good idea to keep a record of the time you take it and any sensations you may feel and the time when they occur. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the effects. Some unpleasant effects like a headache or dizziness may, in fact, be what are called rebound effects which occur when the medication wears off. The problem can often be resolved by changing the timing of the next dose or even by increasing the dosage. Help your doctor to know what’s happening and he can help you to find the best solution for you.
For information about medication, you must see a doctor who has experience with ADHD.
For treatment guidelines and which medications are available, see
A PHYSICIAN’S PERSPECTIVE on ADHD Medications by Theodore Mandelkorn, MD
Editor’s note: Not everyone wants to take medication or is helped by traditional ADHD medications. Nor is medication alone enough. Some type of outside intervention, however, is usually helpful. You may prefer to try cognitive behavior therapy, coaching, diet changes, supplements, mindfulness meditation or any number of holistic or alternative treatments. Many treat their ADHD with a combination of these, searching for the right mix. Please see the Pinterest boards listed below for examples.