ADHD and Tracking Tasks


ADHD and tasks

Is your mind is swirling with ideas? Are there so many projects you would like to do, but they are all running together? Perhaps there are also lots of small but very important unrelated tasks, which never seem to be at the top of your list. You’re not sure what to do or where to keep your tasks and ideas.  You need a task list or tracking tool to capture this.

According to ADDitude Magazine, “personal productivity is not a matter of coming up with ideas for what to do. The problem lies with poor sense of time and inability to gauge how long it will take to complete a given task. Then there’s trouble with setting priorities, and tendency to get distracted and forget what we were trying to do.”  If you are ADHD and struggle with getting tasks done, you may need some strategies that help you prioritize and focus. Here is a list of some ideas that can help you get more done in your week.


Capture your tasks and ideas

  • Be sure to list all your tasks in one place. This can be on paper or in technology.  The list starts with just a brain dump, getting everything out of your head.  This step makes the biggest difference in clarity!
  • Paper options are a post it notes, simple notebook or TUL notebook.  Date the top of each page as a reference for yourself later.
  • There’s tech tools too! Favorites include Evernote and Trello. Not only can you capture your ideas and tasks, you can track your progress with each.
  • Choose just 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) for you complete.  Prioritizing these 3 MITs can be difficult. However, any 3 completed are 3 less tasks to do.

Tips and tasks

  • Set a timer to get started on your tasks.  Initiation, that is just getting started, can be your biggest challenge.
  • Give yourself ample time to complete a task. If you think it will take 10 minutes, give yourself 30 minutes. It may take up to 3 times longer for completion.  Give yourself some “warm up” time too.  That is about 10 minutes to get oriented. Prioritize and get into the mindset of the work at hand.
  • Find someone to assist  you with verbal processing.  Verbal processing is talking the ideas that are swirling in your head.  “Talking”  through the work is a processing tools for you. It helps you be aware of what is most important and cull out the first action step.
  • Get started with a body double. Ths is a person who is with you, virtually or in person, to just be in the moment with you. The person is just there, not giving you advice or being an expert, just in the space with you.

Set a great foundation

  • Know how important self care is and practice it. We all work much better with a good night’s sleep and good lean protein in our diet. Be sure you are at your best to get your best work done.
  • Track your tasks either each evening before you head out, each morning before you start off and weekly with a weekly planning time.

What’s most important is to choose a tool that will work for you!  If it’s paper or digital, choose what’s easier to use reguarly.


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13 replies
  1. Margaret Lukens
    Margaret Lukens says:

    All of these techniques are really helpful for those of us who are just “garden variety” distracted, too. I use a timer for many of my projects, and when I have a big writing project, I like to have a body double. If I can’t have someone in my office (and that’s usually not possible) I can still have one on speaker phone. Thanks, Ellen, for a great round-up of ways to settle down and get some things done, with ADD or not!

  2. Linda Samuels
    Linda Samuels says:

    These are effective strategies that you’ve shared, Ellen. They are all based in improving focus either through specific tasks like using a timer to activate or vigilant self care. Thanks for sharing these great tips.

  3. Seana Turner
    Seana Turner says:

    I use a dated “to do” book. I find it really helps me to plan and hold myself accountable. I love the vibe of this post. We actually have too many good ideas and plans – actually a nice problem to have… like a field of strong and wild cattle. How much better to need to figure out how to corral them and direct them than to have a barren field!

  4. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    We do have so many good ideas, especially if you are creative. I love theidea of a to do book because all the ideas are captured in one spot. Thanks @Seana!

  5. Janet Barclay
    Janet Barclay says:

    I’m curious about the concept of a “body double.” I’ve heard the term before but am not really clear how that works. I guess I have some homework to do!

  6. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    Thanks @Janet! This is a true psychology term. It’s when another person is in the space, working or sitting in parallel work, lending your time, energy and enthusiasm to the project. The person is acting as a mirror, a coach, or simply sitting in the space. It’s a remarkable way to be productive!

  7. Kim
    Kim says:

    Love the brain dump idea – just getting it all out onto paper out of your head can make it more real. And then to narrow it down into more manageable steps. I think this would be so helpful to people who are overwhelmed.

  8. Olive Wagar
    Olive Wagar says:

    Adding in a before & after buffer time makes for a much more realistic schedule! Nothing beats that extra dose of confidence you feel when you arrive early because you planned it that way.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] you record all the details. It’s the spot for all ideas, whether actionable or not.  The task list evolves into the 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs). Those the tasks that are assigned by date and […]

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