Frustrated by the gap between knowing what you should/want/need to get done and the reality of what you are actually accomplishing? For many people, this is a chronic struggle – especially those with ADD/ADHD/EF issues (myself included!). Even when we are at the top of our game there’s still a backlog that can approach critical mass.  I often wonder what the top of my game would be if I could be more Niki-like and ‘Just Do It.’ Fortunately, there ARE strategies that help me, and that I’ve used to help my clients succeed:

  • Begin with Clarity – Know exactly what you plan to do AND why you want to do it.  Maybe it’s because you need to get something done, but byphrasing it as something you want (even if the reason is to keep your job, pass a course or stay on speaking terms with your partner), it becomes your CHOICE, and our motivational circuits work a lot better when we choose to do something. So convert your ‘have-to’s’ to ‘want-to’s.’

    Confusion by Susan Lasky

    Confusion by Susan Lasky

  • Think ‘Task’ NOT ‘Project’ – Often, what we want to do is too big to accomplish in a single sitting, leading to a feeling of overwhelm.  For many of us, overwhelm is a trigger to shutting down and doing less, rather than ‘attacking’ the project to get it done. (Our brain perceives the situation as threatening, and shifts into the protective ‘fight or flight’ mode.)  Avoid overwhelm by identifying the PROJECT (redo the files, create a newsletter, plan a vacation, organize the closet, write the thesis, ‘do’ the taxes) then breaking it down into the multiple small steps (TASKS) that are needed to complete the project.  It helps to begin each project with a Project Sheet that specifies everything you’ll need to get it done, step-by-step, with approximations of the time you’ll need for each step – then double it.
  • Set a Conscious Intention (Commitment) – Once you are clear about WHAT you will do, decide WHEN you’ll get it done.  Put it in your calendar or planner as a Task-Appointment, which is an appointment with yourself to work on a specific task at a specific time. Saying ‘yes’ without saying ‘when’ is a typical precursor to not getting things done. Consider posting a reminder with the specific task you have prioritized, in a place that will draw your attention back to it when it begins to wander.  You might want to expand your declared focus to prioritize an entire day or a week, “This week I will finish …”  This doesn’t mean you won’t do other things, but it helps to swing you back to your key priority when your attention drifts or your interest wanes.
  • Make it Do-Able – It often helps to set a timer for a short amount of time so you don’t feel ‘trapped.’  It is easier to start something if you know you only have to stay focused on it for 20 minutes (or 15… or 10!).  If you don’t complete the task, that’s okay.  Congratulate yourself for having done what you said you would, then set additional Task-Appointments to finish what you’ve successfully begun.  Take breaks between scheduled appointments.

– CONTINUED in PARTS 2 and 3. Read part 2 here.   Want to know more?  Ask about my program, “Get Out of Your Own Way: The 7-Step PowerPlan to Success.” I’m curious. What do YOU find helps to get things done?

Tagged: ADD, ADHD, EF Executive Function, organization, productivity, self-care, time management

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