By Barbara McRae, MCC
As an ADHDer, you are naturally present-time oriented. The here-and-now holds your attention much more than what might or might not happen in the future.
Homework is an apt example. Given the choice between doing what’s right in front of you (video game, iPhone app, or texting friends) vs. working on a boring project that isn’t even due yet, the bright shiny object wins!
Much has to do with the perceived pleasure of doing the task. Fun and interesting trumps boring and difficult projects. And, if you’ve had trouble with a certain project in the past, there’s added reluctance to attempt it again.
In order to better support yourself, identify the specific challenges you’re facing before moving to the solution, as shown below:
Challenge: Getting Started
Without a good reason or desire to get started, it’s easy to procrastinate.
Solution: Turn a “should” into a “want to.”
Get clear about what’s going on. Ask yourself: How am I thinking about this task? How is that impacting how I feel about it? How could I think about this in a helpful way to make it easier to get started?”
For example, you might not want to read a boring book for class. If you think about how much you dislike reading, you won’t begin any time soon. If you think about how GREAT it will be when you’re DONE reading it (or any other motivating thought that works for you), you’ll be more inclined to start.
Challenge: Feeling Overwhelmed
When it’s a large task, such as reading an enormously thick book, you could get stopped by thinking, “I’ll never get it all done, so why even try!”
Solution: Break a large task into smaller, manageable pieces.
Break it down by starting with just one chapter or get a timer and read for 15 solid minutes. Once you gets started and feel a sense of accomplishment in meeting your initial commitment, it’s easier to keep going!
Challenge: Staying Focused
Accept that it’s natural for you to get distracted or restless. The key to getting better at focusing is knowing what to do about it.
Solution: Capture Distracting Thoughts
In order to stay focused, write down your distracting thoughts, as they occur, on a separate notebook page. This allows you to keep on task by telling yourself, “I’ll think about this later,” without fearing that you’ll forget! After each chapter, you can review your list to see if there’s anything really pressing that needs to get handled before continuing on to the next chapter.
Now, some of you might be thinking, “I know this won’t work” without even trying it. Don’t fall into this self-defeating trap. Instead tell yourself: “I know I can do it. I’ll tweak this method to make it work for me.” Not only are you encouraging yourself into one of your strengths, you’re also paving the way for ease and success.
~ Barbara McRae, MCC
20-Somethings ADHD Expert, Campus Calm™
© Barbara McRae