Here are three ADHD-Friendly strategies we love.
1: CHUNK IT UP: Overwhelmed by a big, complex task?
Break it down into doable pieces. Manageable chunks.
“The kitchen is a total mess, it will take days to clean!”
Okay, can you do 20 minutes? No? How about 5? Great. Just empty the sink, toss the recyclables, or get that big pan soaking.
Commit whatever you are sure you can do and start. Sounds ridiculous, right? Especially if it’s huge task.
Experience shows at after 5 minutes I almost always feel motivated to keep going for another 5, 10 or 20. It’s amazing.
If, after 5 minutes I do stop, I am left with a sense of progress. I know, it may sound trivial, but that small accomplishment makes it easier to start again later.
Chunking things up has allowed me to renovate an entire basement, co-create 700 episodes of radio and television, and, yes, even tidy the kitchen after a big party.
- SHORT TO DO LISTS
I know from years of experience that a ‘To-Do’ list with a dozen small tasks on it (or several dozen) is a mistake.
In the past I’d start the day by listing all the things I wanted to get done, adding in lots of little quick jobs. It soon became clear my list would take several days. Rather than cut back, I’d add a few more items, “Might as well plan out the whole week.”
I have started a list of ‘Today’s Jobs’ and ended up planning out the whole month! By time I was done, I was bushed. And it was lunchtime! The joke is I’d never refer back to the list. Instead, the next morning, I’d start a new one.
The solution: pick one thing and don’t do anything else until it’s done. (Or use Tip Number 1 and chunk it up, doing as many chunks as you can in one day.) Do one thing that matters. And yes, if you get it done, by all means jump into something else.
It’s great to keep a list of what needs doing, who I need to call, and so on, but trying to fill my day with 1,000 quick victories rarely works. I feel good, finishing a lot of quick, easy tasks, but I avoid the one that really matters.
We can be forgetful. As one doctor who has ADHD said, “I experience life intermittently.” We’re tuned out. Lost in thought. Half listening, mind racing off on a tangent.
Forgot the book you promised to bring for a friend? Next time lean it against the front door.
Forgot your lunch in the fridge? Tomorrow put your keys on top of your lunch in the fridge. That way you can’t leave without them.
Ate breakfast, showered, got dressed, and then remembered you were going to do yoga? Lean the yoga mat on the fridge so you can’t miss it. Or put a huge post-it on the fridge, and one on the coffee maker, and heck, one on the cereal box.
A child who kept forgetting to take his ADHD medication would climb into bed, throw a pillow against his bedroom door, so that every morning the sight of the pillow would remind him to take his medication.
Sounds silly right? Maybe. But it works.
And I am all about doing whatever works for me.
WANT MORE SOLUTIONS?
The ADHD mindset means we can have unusual strengths, but mess up on simple things. Our documentary ADD & Mastering It! lays out 36 strategies that work for the ADHD mindset.