One of the wonderful things about having ADHD is that when you care deeply about something, or find it incredibly interesting, you are able to complete that task in record time without breaking focus. The issues come when a task is mind numbingly dull. You have to do that maths homework when you could be playing violin? Or maybe you have to practice violin when you could be doing the maths extension work. Whichever task is more interesting will be done first, resulting in an overwhelming backlog of dull tasks. While this can happen to people without ADHD too, the extent to which it happens in someone with ADHD is far more severe as we simply can hardly ever bring ourselves to complete those boring tasks.
I have devised a list of my top 5 most helpful tips for dealing with this, some I have developed myself over 19 years of life and others were given to me by either the internet or another ADHDer. I am sure these can be of use to people with ADHD, and probably for those without it as well.
1) REWARD REWARD REWARD
When you feel rewarded, your brain releases Dopamine. This is one neurotransmitter that the ADHD brain lacks, and so, even more than a neurotypical person, the ADHD brain craves reward. Did you just pick up all the dirty laundry in your room? Awesome! Have a piece of chocolate. It is important to find a reward that works best for you. Personally when I complete something dull I will reward myself by having a small sweet. It is also important to reward yourself for the small stuff, picking up all that laundry is a task in itself. You do not need to wait for the room to be totally pristine before having a reward.
2) Little, but often
This issue is at its most powerful when the tasks become so numerous that its just too much to even think about. To combat this it is important to stay on top of the tasks to at least some extent. I find it easier if I break it up into super small 5 minute mini tasks and between that put half an hour or more of things I actually want to do. That way I can keep the boring stuff to a minimum length that my attention span can actually manage.
3) Make it interesting
Something I seriously struggle to do is tidy my room. Its just so dull and really, what does it do for me? Well, actually quite a lot. I am much happier and at peace when the space around me is tidy. There is far more truth in the phrase ‘Tidy room, tidy mind’ than I would like to admit.
So how do I make this dull task interesting for me? Music. I absolutely live for music. I put on one of my carefully curated playlists for each mood I have and I dance around my room, making up harmonies and singing along. Suddenly, the laundry disappears, books appear on shelves and bins empty themselves. Find something you can do simultaneously that you find interesting so that the task becomes interesting to you. A podcast on biology or musical theatre (check out my list of podcasts on EVERYTHING that I have made to make it easier for you to find one that will interest you), or you could call a good friend, or like me you could put on a great playlist of songs and have a little boogie. There are so many things that can work, you just have to find the one that works for you.
4) Get help with the task
Its ok to ask for help. Personally, I find that having someone come in and help me tidying up my living space makes me feel a lot more on top of life overall. This can be a friend or you can hire a cleaner. If you cannot bring yourself to file your taxes, pay someone to do it for you, It may be an extra expense but it will be worth it in the long run if you feel more on top of life, because you will be able to tackle the other tasks that the looming one was preventing you from getting to. There is absolutely no shame in needing occasional help.
5) Find a reason
Going back again to the example of tidying up, if you can’t find the drive to do it then create one. Invite over a friend who you wouldn’t want to see your room in the state that its in. If it is homework that you are struggling to do, ask a friend to post an embarrassing photo of you if you haven’t done it in two hours. Your friend will almost definitely enjoy the opportunity to publicly embarrass you and you will be MUCH more likely to finish that dull essay. I am sure that there are more ways to motivate yourself to do stuff, so go find them!
The ADHD Bee
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