Below is my ever-growing “simple ways to save time” list. These are small, mostly easy ways to save time. No big overhauls. Small things to simplify.
Working with Executive Functioning Challenges:
Please, stop trying to “keep it all in your head.” Write it ALL down. Keep a list, use a notebook or planner to hold everything. Keep a calendar and schedule your day’s tasks and appointments.
Break up anything you work on into 5 to 15-minute tasks. Great to slip into those slivers of time during the day. Easier to start/not procrastinate. Greater positive feelings of accomplishment which feeds motivation.
Create your day’s plan, even on the weekend.
Appointments: Choose your best time, not theirs. Ask for what you need.
Look at your week as a puzzle. Sometimes, the pieces need to be moved around, made smaller or turned a different way. Especially if something big has happened, look at what you can drop, simplify, or move to a later date. A little planning makes life simpler.
Know your strengths and talents well. If it’s not your strength, it will take more time. You may benefit from hiring an organizing or productivity coach to help you discover your best way to work with your strengths rather than always struggling with your challenges.
Consciously decide whether everything on your to-do list deserves your time and attention. If you don’t do a task, what happens and what would you have more time for instead? Could you do a better job at …. ? Delegate, swap or share at home and at work. It doesn’t have to be permanent.
Learn how to delegate well and without guilt. You’re teaching others to do what you already know how to do OR you’re giving away work someone else is really good at and would enjoy working on with you. At home and at work. We can’t be good at everything. We are imperfectly perfect.
Duplicates are wise, sometimes. Pens. Keys. Wastebaskets. Certain books. Flashlights. Glasses. So you don’t have to look or return to the house.
Decide faster and with less information. Make this question a habit when you sense you’re acting slowly and using up time. What else do I need to know to decide?
Beat Procrastination. Decide now… or choose a time later, maybe with help, to make the decision. It also helps to decide on the first step and just begin.
Don’t use evenings to make difficult decisions. Your brain is likely tired out.
For home: Do less: You may choose to lower your standards a little. Set up simple routines to cover basic necessities, like dishes, laundry and picking up. There’s no shame in getting help for your least favorite chores. You might be surprised at how reasonable some of these services are because our culture is changing. A housekeeper may be just what you need. Try the grocery service delivery or the packaged meal concept. It doesn’t need to be every week, though it can be. Think of the hours you could save.
Declutter, 15 minutes at a time.
Know what IS important. This will help you limit time wasters. You’ll get pulled into what’s important, where you really want to spend the time.
Set out clothes night before. Make the lunch(es), too.
Teach kids chores; they will need these life skills before you know it. Start with one chore and choose the child who is most likely to latch on to this and work it, together.
Buy fewer clothes. Know your colors. Decide if you spend less time shopping on the internet or at stores. Less clothing means less time on laundry, too.
See how your time is really being used. Use the notes or reminders on your phone to keep track. Try tracking every email you send or phone call you make… Just one day is revealing.
Share household responsibilities equally between you and your spouse.
Multi-task in smart ways: walk the dog for your exercise; dog walk with your kids for more family time, etc.
Do things right the first time. Fewer redo’s means saved time.
Finances:Make the bigger decisions based on what you value most. To make it easier, take ONE step towards what you want. If your priority is your children, for example, can you cut back on work hours, change your scheduled time to begin or end your day, or perhaps consider a less demanding job? Talk to someone to figure it out financially.
Know your business expenses and household expenses. Create a “what to spend on” plan together [and therefore, what is not a priority for spending]. Without some limits, you may not have money for what is coming up and might be more important.
Determine a usual or average monthly expense amount. This means choices are done ahead and less emotionally. Less discussion time about where you’re spending your money.
Money: Buy less. Walk around the store once more before actually purchasing. If shopping virtually, leave some items in your virtual shopping cart, walk away and come back in another day.
Buy fewer clothes. Know your colors. Decide if you spend less time shopping on the internet or at stores. Less clothing means less time on laundry, too.
Limit dinners out. Some nights are for cooking bigger dinners and others with evening activities can be for simple meals. Make enough for leftovers. Plan ahead even if it’s just a few days. Stop the last minute evening grocery store trips.
Time: Use your timer and clocks everywhere (at home/at work) for a better sense of time passing and the value of your time. That will save you time.
Get up 15 minutes earlier or go to bed 15 minutes later.
Get up at the same time daily. It gives your body a better sense of time, which will follow you during your day.
Leave for work 15 minutes or more earlier. Set a timer to get yourself out on time.
Limit online time. See how much time you’re online and compare it to other things you say you want to do.
For work: Set a clear scope for any project you work on. Keep it small and simple. Test it. Use feedback; you’ll waste less time creating something people may not want and expectations are clearer.
Limit the amount of time you spend on projects. Set a timer. A time limit lessens the perfectionism demons. Set the time ahead… this is worth x amount of my time.
Group together similar kinds of work, e.g., writing vs. emails vs. phone calls. Same skill, single tasking =more productive and efficient time use.
Set your alarm for about 45 minutes before you’d like to leave for the day. Use that time to wind down, wrap up things, and review the plan for the next day. [Not to finish tasks.]
Clear communication and expectations mean fewer difficult conversations crop up later. Get clearer and more direct in what you say and write.
If more than a couple of emails go back and forth on the same topic, pick up the phone. It’s faster to meet sometimes.
Write simpler emails. The more you write, the more you draw in the other person with longer answers.
Use fewer “cc” people who might pop in and add more to the conversation. If they need to know, they can be in the “to” line. But that decision will limit how many are on the message.
Read email a few times a day. Otherwise, shut it down. Turn off the beeps and notifications. They interrupt your mind and pull you off track; that takes up extra time to get back to where you were.
If it is a task you do often, write down the steps next time as you’re doing it. Can you create a template? Delegate it? Simplify it?
Self-care: Exercise, movement, meditation. Even a few minutes a day will exercise your brain and give you clarity. And that saves time.
Find a hobby. Rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit to be more efficient.
Guest post by Susan Fay West, Certified Organizer Coach®, ADHD Coach, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, and
President, Institute for Challenging Disorganization
Click to find out more at my website and blog here. www.CoachSueWest.com 603.554.1948 (office) 603.765.9267 (cell)
Self-advocacy can give you the opportunity to speak for yourself regarding your needs and help to secure the necessary support at work or school and for your personal life. We don’t have to struggle so hard. Developing self-knowledgeis the first step. ADD Coach Dana Rayburn reminds us, that, “When properly treated, ADHD loses much of its power over our lives. As adults, we can paint a new picture of who we are and what we contribute to the world…” (1)
The goal is to develop your strengths and delegate your weaknesses.
Don’t go it alone, feeling you have to prove yourself over and over again that you CAN persevere! The truth is, delegating the things you aren’t good at, or just plain don’t like, is a good idea for anyone. If you have ADHD, however, it can make the difference between constant struggle and an enjoyable, successful life.
You are uniquely made and have a lot to share with the world. Don’t let self-judgment stop you from becoming all that you can be. For more about learning your strengths, building self-awareness, and developing powerful self-advocacy skills, CONTINUE READING HERE.
Thanks for signing up for the latest news. Hope you find a new appreciation for your talents and can use that awareness to make your life more rewarding.
I know this can be a difficult concept to get your head around. Let’s talk about it.
Can’t afford a personal ADHD coach? You have other options!
ADHD Coaching groups and other coaching options, including self-coaching.
Most ADD Coaching Groups are offered periodically by just a few different coaches. To find them, your best bet may be Google or another search engine. I do know of a few regular groups. Some are rather expensive but are still less than individual coaching and a few are quite reasonably priced.
ADHD Think Tank – (Facebook link) An affordable ADHD coaching group offered by Jennie Friedman of See in ADHD . Includes a Facebook community for accountability, online meetings on first and third Mondays at 8 pm eastern. OFFICE HOURS on Wednesdays 8 pm eastern and body doubling on Thursday morning at11 am eastern. $50 a month! (Sign up now)
The ADHD Enclave – a place for women to meet for support, privacy, and information. A Mighty Network community with Liz Lewis from Healthy ADHD. $20 a month or $50 for LIVE version which includes three weekly small group support meetings on Zoom.
Get it Done with Lynne Edris of Coaching Advantages – Very professional, personalized and well organized – Look for coaching – Group coaching and choose your favorite (I can’t find a price, but I’m enjoying the free program I’m participating in right now (April to May 2020)
ADHD reWired Coaching and Accountability group with Eric Tivers – Limited to 12 persons – Meet three times a week for ten weeks on Zoom – Price unknown – Requires an interview to get in and registration is confusing. Some discounts may apply
Virtual Online Group with Coach Rudy Rodriguez, LCSW – Link works – Date and times to be announced. Meet on Zoom – 90-minutes for 8-weeks. – Slack for accountability. Includes two 30-minute private sessions and email support. Folder and handouts – Limited to 10 members – Check schedule – $450
ADD Crusher – A virtual coaching program from Alan Brown. 10 sessions in two Videos with Audio Companion. Four hours of ADD-beating instruction. Plus, PDF Toolkits for each of the strategies (or, Ways), provide “crib notes” to help you put the learning into action. – $96
Untapped Brilliance: How to Reach your Full Potential with Adult ADHD See Amazon for Kindle version (Link works) for $10 – By coach Jacqueline Sinfield – Self-coaching primer written In straightforward language provides practical advice and simple, easy to follow techniques. Order the paperback version from Jacqueline – $15 + $7 shipping from Canada (Book links on Sinfield’s page are disconnected.)
Online classes ADHD Classes
3 Core Series ADHD classes with therapist Don B Baker – Change the way you think about and manage your ADHD wiring. Start with Opening the Suitcase for $45. Discount when you purchase all three.
You’ll find a number of options, from Parent coaching groups or individual Parent coaching, blogs. and Facebook groups as well as books, audio and/or video material in our collection of Parent Training Providers.
Stage I: “The Journey Begins” (Discovery and Diagnosis)
Relief: “Finally, an explanation!”
For many adults, discovering they have ADD, usually by reading an article, a book or seeing something on television, is a very emotional moment. People at this point in time are usually very excited. They want to talk. They want to tell their story. They want to be understood now that they are starting to understand themselves. Most want to immediately seek a professional diagnosis so they can move forward with treatment. But, do your research first. Start with a few Reputable ADHD Websites and maybe one of these 13 Classic Books on ADHD.
If you’ve begun to wonder why you or your child are different from their peers and encountering problems at, school, work, or home and perhaps having social difficulties. You’ll find a number of RESOURCES with some answers for you here.
One of the first steps is awareness of what ADHD looks like in children and adults. You’ll find a number of informal and formal ADHD symptoms checklists as well as the official criteria for diagnosing ADHD in our ADHD Screening Tests section.
Stage II: “Wandering in the Wilderness” (Increasing Awareness)
This stage is marked by a variety of feelings and questions.
Denial: “How do I know this is a valid disorder?”
Flickering Optimism: “Maybe there is hope.”
Fear, anxiety, and more anxiety: “What if I follow through with treatment, but nothing changes? All that effort and for what?” Another failure?” “Is medication safe? If I use it, will I have to take it for the rest of my life?”
Grief, Anger, and Resentment: “Why wasn’t this diagnosed and treated sooner?”
Stage III: “Up and Over the Mountain Top” (Restructuring)
At this stage, the ADDult no longer puts his energy into “What might have been ….” She moves forward with her life, focusing on what works and minimizing the impact of what does not. Some ADDults go to bed in Stage II and wake up in Stage III. It is hard to predict when or why the transition occurs, but it does, and it feels good! In Stage III, ADDults feel less shame about their disorder. They feel more empowered and more comfortable with telling others about their condition. Stage III involves:
Accepting: “I’m ready to let go of the past. I want to get on with my life.”
Delegating; Using Strategies and Accommodations: “Could some else more easily do this task?” “What strategies can I use, what accommodations can I request to accomplish my goals?”
Stage IV: “Enjoying the Peaceful Valley”(Self-Acceptance)
Along your journey, you have enjoyed the occasional oasis…the moments when you recognize and praise yourself for new behaviors, small accomplishments, and completed tasks. You note where you started and how far you have come. The journey has been difficult, (and often you wanted to quit or turn back), but you realized you were making progress toward your destination. By noting the oases along the way, you confirm for yourself that you are traveling in the right direction, on the right road and keep you nourished for continued travel.
Eventually, you reach a point in your journey when you are traveling light. You no longer carry baggage from your past. You are a seasoned traveler, good at figuring out how to pass through this rough landscape. You are confident in your abilities and strong in your knowledge of having survived. You know your journey will get easier–that you will even start to enjoy it. You continue to journey, but now you travel without needing guides and fellow travelers. You journey down the open road of life, sometimes skipping, sometimes trudging, sometimes limping, but now there is usually a song in your heart, a twinkle in your eye, and a smile on your face. It is good to notice another oasis just ahead. Your journey of life has become the adventure you have always looked for.
Everyone on an ADD JOURNEY needs guides and fellow travelers to show the way and provide support when we weaken and falter. Our guides and fellow travelers provide the six essentials of multi-modal ADD treatment.
Just as the wise backpacker carries the ten essentials (1) when out trekking, the journeying ADDult needs to have the ADD treatment essentials at hand. Whether or not all treatments get used during the journey depends on the traveler. Some need to employ all treatments; others, only a few. Below is a chart showing which Guide or Fellow Traveler is most suitable for each stage of the journey
Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Counselor or Primary Care Physician
Education and Support
Education and Support Groups Self-education Self-Help Groups Friends and Family
I and II,
I and II,
II and III
Medication (and/or Alternative Treatments)
Psychiatrist, Primary Care Physician (and/or Alternative Health Care Providers)
II, III, and IV
Counseling (and Therapy Groups)
Counselor, Psychologist or
II and III
Professional Coach or Coaching Partner
WHO ARE YOUR GUIDES FOR STAGES I AND II?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in helping people with mental health problems. Their training includes medical school and usually a three-year postgraduate residency. One advantage of their training is that it enables them to understand, use, and prescribe medications. With respect to ADHD, this is a definite advantage, since ADD treatment usually includes medication. In addition to psychiatrists, other medical doctors along with physician assistants and some nurse practitioners have prescriptive authority. However, none of them do psychological testing.
Sometimes psychological testing is recommended–not to make the ADD diagnosis–but to gain other information on the person’s functioning. Only psychologists do this kind of testing. So, at times, an adult seeking an ADD diagnosis may see several different professionals. Some adults see several experts for another reason. They cannot find a knowledgeable helper. Sadly, many mental health professionals are not knowledgeable about adult ADD. They may look at it as either a “made up” or an over-diagnosed problem. Since mental health professionals are not used to working with adult ADD patients, it is likely that they may believe another problem is dominant.
Professionals in any field tend to “see” only what they know. If they don’t know or understand something, they can’t see or treat it. For example, the psychologist may see your problem mainly as depression or anxiety (especially if you are a woman), not recognizing the ADD as the underlying concern. How you feel about your life because of your untreated ADD may cause you to be depressed or anxious. ADD may be your primary problem, but other problems may need treatment as well.
In evaluating a mental health professional’s knowledge about ADD in adults, many of the following questions could be asked. Most of these questions could also be asked of ADD counselors and ADD coaches.
Do you accept my insurance? Do you diagnose ADD/ADHD?
How long have you been diagnosing this disorder in adults?
How many ADD/ADHD adults have you diagnosed in the past five years. What percent of your practice has a primary diagnosis of ADD/ ADHD?
How familiar are you with the day to day tribulations of having ADD? (You’re trying to learn if they or someone they are close to has this condition. How intimate is their understanding of ADD on a daily basis?)
What is your treatment philosophy? (Will the clinician work with you and be open to suggestions or will he/she call all the shots. Is their treatment of ADD the same for everyone or is it individually tailored?)
In a subtle way, learn what they do to keep current in their knowledge about adult ADD and its treatment protocols.
How do you make a diagnosis? How many visits will it take and how much will it cost?
How long will I have to wait for an appointment?
Ask psychologists how they handle the medication part of treatment.
Ask physicians (and other medical personnel with prescriptive authority) what medicines they use to treat ADD/ADHD.
YOUR GUIDES FOR STAGES II AND III – Therapists and Coaches
Counselors/Therapists: Often, after being diagnosed with ADD, it is a good idea to find a therapist with you whom you can work. Many times adults with ADD have become so mired in negative feelings about themselves that the first thing they need to do is to face these feelings directly and learn how to let them go. Besides dealing with the ADD symptoms themselves, there may be depression, anxiety, or other problems that need to be addressed.
A good therapist can help you develop practical ways to deal with your daily life based on your own problems and circumstances. You will develop insights into how your ADD symptoms have interacted throughout your life, which is likely to help you understand why your life has taken a certain direction. It is our belief that a good therapist will educate you thoroughly about ADD.
Individual therapy is the most likely choice because most people prefer the privacy of a one-to-one relationship with a mental health professional. In individual therapy you and your therapist talk about your particular problems and develop ways in which you can deal with them more effectively. You will probably see your therapist once each week, although the schedule may later change. Visits usually last about forty-five to fifty minutes. After the initial screening is completed, you and the therapist will spend your visits talking about specific challenges, developing coping strategies, sharing new insights, and whatever concerns are on your mind.
The therapy will vary according to the therapist’s orientation. For example, one therapist may help you listen to your negative thoughts and get you to actively challenge them. This method is central to cognitive therapy. Another therapist may help you develop strategies for actively confronting and, hopefully, overcoming the ADD symptoms that make your life less than optimal. Often you will gain insight as therapy proceeds. You may have misunderstood your ADD and thought that you were just “lazy, crazy, and stupid.” You may have many misconceptions that you built up over the years that you can now interpret in the light of your new understanding of ADD.
This does not in any way release you from doing the necessary work to get your life in order. Yes, you will develop insights. But you will also need to work at developing skills you have never had before.
A good therapist will teach the ADD adult to acknowledge the importance of small steps in making progress. Often people don’t continue along the road of self-improvement because they don’t acknowledge their small steps of Progress. The person with ADD often expects a difficult problem to be solved rapidly. “I want it yesterday.” If it can’t be solved soon, the person gets frustrated and gives up. The adult with ADD who learns the value of taking small but positive steps toward a goal learns a very valuable lesson. The good therapist keeps the client on track and helps the client maintain a positive perspective.
Coaches can be therapists, although coaching is not therapy. Coaches can also be another ADD adult, a friend or someone in your family. ADD coaching focuses on practical issues confronting the ADD adult, such as organization, managing time and setting and reaching goals. Coaching could help ADD adults to develop routines and daily habits which will simplify and make their lives more manageable. Some coaches are very forceful and offer lots of suggestions while others prefer coaches who mostly listen and then offer ideas.
A coaching relationship could last any length of time, but a typical relationship lasts at least six months. Sometimes coaching is done in person, one hour a week. It can be done over the phone, 10-15 minutes a day, or even done through e-mail. Hiring a trained person to be your coach is called professional coaching while getting someone else to work with you is called peer or partner coaching. Find an ADHD coach
A coach works with you to improve your results and your successes. A coach will:
help you set better goals and then reach those goals
ask you to do more than you would have done on your own
get you to focus your efforts better to produce results more quickly
provide you with the tools, support, and structure to accomplish more
How does coaching differfrom consulting? …therapy? ….sports coaching? …Having a best friend?
Coaching is a form of consulting as coaches provide advice and expertise in achieving personal change and excellence. However, unlike the consultant who offers advice and leaves, a coach stays to help implement the recommended changes, making sure they really happen and ensuring that the client reaches his goals in a lasting way.
In most therapies, patients or clients work on “issues,” reflect on their past experiences and try to understand the psychodynamic causes of their behaviors. Coaching focuses only on the here and now, looking at the problems in the present needing solutions. In this way, it is like solution-focused therapy. Coaches work with their clients to gain something, such as new skills, not to lose something, such as unhealthy thought patterns. The focus is on achieving personal and professional goals that give clients the lives they want.
Professional coaching includes several principles from sports coaching, like teamwork, going for the goal, and being your best. Unlike sports coaching, professional coaching is non-competitive. You develop your own way to achieve your goals. There is not one best way to do it. It is not focused on outdoing someone else. It is focused on strengthening the client’s skills, such as a trainer might do.
Having a best friend is always wonderful, but you might not trust your best friend to advise you on the most important aspects of your life and/or business. A best friend might not be able or willing to provide the consistency in monitoring and feedback that coaching demands. The relationship with your coach has some elements of a good friendship in that a close relationship evolves. The coach knows when to be tender or tough with you, is willing to tell you the truth, and keeps your best interests foremost in the relationship.
“A coach is your partner in achieving professional goals, your champion during a turnaround, your trainer in communication and life skills, your sounding board when making choices, your motivator when strong actions are called for, your unconditional support when you take a hit, your mentor in personal development, your co-designer when developing an extraordinary project, your beacon during stormy times, your wake-up call if you don’t hear your own, and most importantly: Your coach is your partner in living the life you know you’re ready for, personally and professionally.” —Thomas Leonard, President of Coach University
People hire coaches because they want more to their life; they want to grow as individuals, and they want to make achieving their goals easier. When using a coach, people take themselves and their goals more seriously. They immediately start taking more effective and focused actions. They stop focusing on thoughts and behaviors that drag them down. They create a forward momentum to their lives and they set better goals for themselves than they would have without a coach.
COACH SELECTION RECOMMENDATIONS
Rapport is very important. Your relationship with your coach is important to your professional and personal growth. The effective coaching relationship is an effective model for all your other relationships: inspiring, supporting, challenging and productive. Choose someone you will be able to relate to very well.
Experience in your field is less important, although knowledge of A.D.D. is important. Coaching technology works for a wide variety of people, professions, and situations. A coach with experience in your personal or professional situation may understand you more quickly. However, much of your work with a coach will involve encouraging you to use and develop your personal skills and your expanding network. Therefore, the specific business experience of your coach is not as important as you might think. Coaching technology works independently of the business or professional environment.
Location is normally not important. While some coaches do offer on-site coaching, it is normally not necessary nor efficient. You will get the same or better results with telephone coaching at a fraction of your investment with on-site coaching.
Interview more than one coach before you decide. Most coaches are happy to speak with you for several minutes in order to get to know you and your situation. You can use this time as an opportunity to gather information and an impression about the coach’s style. Compare two or three coaches and select the one who seems most helpful to you. Trust yourself to know what you need.
Ask the prospective coach good questions. Great coaches are willing to answer your questions directly and forthrightly. Consider asking questions about their depth of experience, qualifications, skills, and practice. For example:
“How many clients have you coached, and how many are presently active clients?”
“What is your specialty and how long have you been practicing in that specialty?”
“What is your knowledge of Attention Deficit Disorder? (expand this to be lots of questions–modify those suggested earlier for evaluating a mental health professional’s knowledge of ADD)”
“How many clients have you had with A.D.D.?” What percentage of your clientele has this diagnosis?”
“What qualifies you to coach people in my situation and how many people with my concerns have you coached?”
“How do you typically work with a client?”
“What are the names and numbers of some of your clients so that I may ask about your coaching?”
“Focusing on our inner values and strengths is another way to approach finding our purpose in life. Cultivating Habits of the Heart is an interesting3-minute video.
“Too often being productive is the only measure by which we judge a man. But success can come in many forms” according to ADHD coach David Giwirec. “Who you are and your associated self-worth is not based on how well you do things…Learn how to focus on what’s important, so you don’t get emotionally hijacked by the expectations of inconsistent performance.”
The inspiration for this article and some of the information on the journey, its stages, (stage IV is my addition), guides and fellow travelers came from a self-published booklet, “Coaching Partners,” by Lisa F. Poast. Material on therapy and therapists was adapted from Do You Have Attention Deficit Disorder? by Lawrence Thomas, Ph.D. It is published by Dell Books. Information on coaching was obtained from the International Coaching Federation.
Cynthia Hammer, MSW, ACSW, an adult with ADHD and the parent of three sons, two with ADHD. At age 49, she learned that she had ADHD and realized she knew very little about the disorder. Cynthia founded ADD Resources in 1994 and went on to become a nationally recognized advocate for the understanding of ADHD among both those who have it and those who treated it. Cynthia is now retired and lives in Tacoma with her husband.
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!
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
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
ADHD Coaching is a partnership dedicated to you. ADHD Coaching provides support and encouragement for you to follow your passion and realize the visions of your childhood.
Editor’s note: A coach can be anyone who believes in you and cheers you on. Your friends or family, a mentor, or even an employer can help you find your strengths and develop them. It’s important, however, for both of you to understand ADHD and how it impacts your life so that you can work around it. If you cannot afford a personal coach, see Alternatives to ADHD Coachingwhich lists group coaching, self-coaching, and other options.
ADHD Coaching will help you vanquish negative thought patterns and help you build strategies to master organization and time management. New confidence and a healthy self-image provide the motor to climb your personal mountains.
Your coach will listen to your stories of pain and frustration and hear your wholeness, your strengths, and hidden resources. Powerful questions open up new vistas to explore. Making choices leads to ownership instead of victimization. The result is a new awareness of self. Your coach is your loudest cheerleader, and they expect you to succeed.
ADHD Coaching startswith an inventory of where you are now and where you want to go. Many clients want some help organizing, managing time, and surviving overwhelm. You will choose two or three areas on which you want to focus in your coaching.
In following sessions, usually held once a week by telephone, a coach will hear your success report, help you explore problems that have arisen and ask you to choose and commit to your next steps for the next period of time.
A successful ADHD coaching relationship requires honesty and a willingness to change. You will do the work of creating new habits. It is important that this is important to you and not your spouse, parent or employer. A coach must be able to be honest with you. It may be hard, but important for you to learn how others see you.
Time can be elusive for many with ADHD. So, it is no wonder that running late is a common problem. Yet, I know you want to get to places on time because you want to be responsible and honor your commitments.
It would also be nice to be grounded and present once you arrive at your destination, right? Just think of those times when you arrived someplace feeling like you had just slid into home base. How ready were you to engage in the task before you?
Even if getting to places on time has felt like a fire drill up until now, you can change this.
Use the suggestions below to the degree that you need. Of course, if you are going to a job interview, you will want to do a lot of preparation. But, if you are meeting a friend for coffee, you may not want to put in as much effort.
The first step is to visualize and write down everything you need to do to get ready for your appointment.
For example, if you are going to a meeting, the following are examples of what you may need to have ready:
clean clothes, stockings, etc.
purse/wallet with keys and phone
documents for the meeting
phone number (you never know when an unforeseen incident may delay you)
money for the meter
time you need to leave
The second step is to check and make sure you have what you need. Do this a few days in advance, so you have time to get what you don’t already have at hand.
The third step is to schedule when you intend to accomplish what you need to do to get ready. When are you going to get ink for the printer, iron your shirt, get quarters for the meter, etc.?
Yes, I know it may seem like a lot of effort. But I think you will enjoy the peace of mind that will come with preparing.
Estimate the Time Needed
As estimating time is a challenge for many with ADHD, determining when to leave for an appointment can be a bit tricky.
A helpful strategy is to think about how long it could take for each step along the way, such as:
programming your GPS
driving in traffic for that time of day
finding a parking spot for that time of day
walking from your car to your appointment
going to the washroom, if you are going to an interview.
In Boston, where I live, traffic is more of a factor than the distance. And there is almost always traffic. According to my GPS, it “should” take about 20 minutes to drive Downtown. But I will add as much as a 1/2 hour to my travel time to make sure I can get to meetings on time.
If it is critical that you get to the appointment on time, try overestimating the time needed. I heard your gasps of surprise at this suggestion! And I know you may get bored easily. So, bring a book or some other work to keep yourself occupied in case you arrive early.
It is true. Preparation and intention may not be enough to get to your destination on time.
You still need to stop what you are doing and get ready to leave. Not always an easy feat! If transitioning between tasks is a challenge for you, as is true for many with ADHD, not giving yourself enough time to transition may still torpedo your plans.
Stop what you are doing at least 15 minutes early so you can give yourself time to clear your head and get ready to leave. Use a timer to cue you, if you need a reminder.
Actually Getting out the Door
One last hurdle is actually getting out the door on time.
You may, however, suffer from the common affliction of “one more thingitis.” Those who suffer from this ailment often suddenly remember things they “have to do” at the most inconvenient times, like when they are leaving to go to an important meeting.
Does the scenario below sound familiar?
As you are walking out the door, you decide you really need to take out the recycling. Then you drop it. As you drop the recycling, a glass falls. You need to clean it up so the kids do not cut themselves. Ten minutes later, you are still not out the door.
It is a slippery slope, to be sure.
The antidote is to resist the urge by using some type of self-talk, like, “If I don’t go now, I’ll be late and that will not look good. The recycling can wait. It would not be the worst thing if it went out next week.”
ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line
If you want to get to places on time, you can optimize your chances by adopting some or all of the steps above:
Prepare in advance
Estimate the time needed to get to your destination. Better yet try over estimating!
Have a plan to transition from your previous activity.
“Exercise is a vital component in the treatment of ADHD.” ~ Russell Barkley, Ph.D.
“For a very small handful of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD ADD), it may actually be a replacement for stimulants,” says John Ratey, M.D., an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “But, for most, it’s complementary — something they should absolutely do, along with taking meds, to help increase attention and improve mood.” When you excercise your brain releases several important chemicals that elevate the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels. These brain chemicals affect focus and attention, which are in short supply in those with ADHD. (1)
I found a great article by Leo Babauta with an approach to developing an exercise routine that you can stick to without losing the habits you’ve already put into place. Even if you’ve tried in the past and failed, you CAN make a major shift in your diet and exercise habits. You don’t even need much motivation. Change is possible when you approach losing weight as changing your lifestyle one small step at a time. Don’t rush it! Make small, gradual changes, barely challenging yourself at each level. These tips are perfect for people with ADHD. Take the time you need to get comfortable each step of the way. Believe in yourself and work the steps. They work.
“I know a lot of people who want to lose weight but are stuck – like I was in 2005.
They want to get healthy and fit, but can’t seem to stick to a diet or exercise plan. They start, and then fail, and then feel bad about it.
This was where I was 10 years ago, and I’m happy to tell you that it’s possible to change.
The secret lies in leveling up.
Like a video game, the way to changing your health habits is by starting out at the first level, and only going to the next level after you’ve beaten the one before that. The problem is that most people start at Level 10 and fail, and wonder what happened. Most of us want to skip several levels, but we’re just not ready.
So the secret is to start at Level 1 and to advance only when you’re done with that level. One level at a time, you’ll master the game of losing weight and getting healthy.
Here’s my guide to leveling up.
Please, for goodness sake, don’t make the mistake of skipping this level because it sounds too easy. The easy levels are where you gain your skills.
You need to do two very easy things at this level:
Start walking just for a few minutes every day.
Reduce your eating by a little bit. A very little
The walking should be as simple as walking around the block a couple times, or going to a nearby park for just 5-10 minutes. It should seem so easy that you feel a little dumb not doing more.
Why should it be so easy? Because you’re not ready for higher levels yet. You might think you are, but if you haven’t been regularly exercising for awhile, you aren’t.
The eating could just be as simple as putting a little less on your plate at dinner, or having one less soda a day. Make it almost unnoticeable.
Only progress past this level after you’ve successfully done it for a week.
Remember, don’t go to this level until you’ve had a streak of 7 days of doing Level 1.
Here are the two things to do at this level:
Walk every day for a few minutes more. If you’ve been going around the block twice, make it three times. Or add 5 minutes to your walking.
Eat a little less than in the previous level. Just a little less — not really noticeable.
You’ll slowly adjust to the new levels of walking and eating. Do this for another week before going to the next level.
If you’ve successfully done Level 2 for another week, you’re ready to add more:
Walk a little more.
Eat/drink less of something that’s empty calories — less soda, sugar, bread, pastries, sweet coffee drink, chips, cookies, pizza. Don’t drop any of these completely, just eat less of it.
Slowly, you’re adapting to a new level. Again, spend a week here.
Now we’re going to change things up a little!
Add a minute of faster walking to your walks. Just one or two intervals of walking at a pace that makes it harder to have a conversation. So walk for 5 minutes at conversational pace, then speed it up for a minute, then back to the regular pace. You can repeat that a couple times if you feel like it.
Add some veggies to your food. Just a little, and something you might like. Greens are the best, but if you’d rather eat carrots or cauliflower, go for it. Don’t make it a lot, just a little.
Spend a week at this level.
Basically, this is a repeat of Level 4 — add a little more fast walking to your daily walks, and add another veggie to one of your meals.
You can repeat this adding each week for 2-3 weeks. You’re getting the idea by now: basically, you started out by eating a little less each week (barely noticeable) and then adding some vegetables to your diet. You started out by walking just a little each day, slowly adding more, then adding some faster intervals. Keep increasing this progress slowly, one week at a time.
Now we’re going to add some harder challenges:
Add some hills or stairs to your walking routine. Find a hill to walk up for at least a few minutes, or if you have stairs in your building, do a few flights at the end of your regular walk. Don’t make this too hard!
Try finding and making a new healthy recipe online each week.
Stay at this level for 2-3 weeks, until it seems easy.
Only do this level once the previous level seems really easy!
Add some pushups. Just 2-3 sets of fewer pushups than you think you can do.
Find a healthy breakfast and eat that.
By now, you’ve been walking, doing walk intervals, added some stairs/hills, and some pushups. You’re in much better shape than before.
You’ve also slowly started eating less, adding vegetables, trying out new recipes, eating a healthy breakfast.
That’s a major shift in your diet and exercise habits, and you did it slowly, barely challenging yourself at each level. You didn’t rush it.
Now that you understand how this leveling system works, you can create your own levels beyond Level 7. Some ideas for higher levels — but be sure not to make any of the levels too difficult:
Add more bodyweight exercises
Add a little bit of running to your walks if you want
Try some pull-ups
Try some dumbbell weight exercises
Eventually, try some basic barbell weight training (squats, dead-lifts, bench).
Do a few yoga poses on some days
Eat more veggies
Reduce empty carbs
Add whole grains
Eat less junk food
Slowly eliminate fast food
If you can slowly change your diet and exercise to include these levels, I can almost guarantee you’ll have weight loss over time, and most importantly, you’ll be much healthier over the long run.
Leveling up isn’t easy if you’re impatient, but it’s the smartest way to change, and it works.”
About the author: Leo Babauta of Zen Habits shares his work freely, without copyright. If you appreciate this approach to gradually improving your health through diet and exercise, feel free to pass it along. Originally posted on Zen Habits – August 11th, 2015 – http://zenhabits.net/levels/
(I added the first two paragraphs and highlighting. Note: I’m proof that this approach works, having gradually lost 30 pounds using these tactics. The best part is that I have been able to maintain that loss. Joan Jager)
“Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva