It is common for people with ADHD can have productivity challenges. It is hard to get started, stay focused, and complete tasks. Depending on the challenge, there is an ADHD Friendly solution to your productivity obstacle.
Challenge: Having trouble getting started
Executive function challenges can prevent you from starting a task. Initiating a task requires a “warm-up” to the task. It could be using a timer that is set for 15 minutes, organizing the stuff or space you are working or reviewing materials for the task. Writing a note where you left off helps start up the next work session.
Challenge: Gathering too much information for a project
Many people are “information seekers” and love researching information. Often that leads to more information than needed for a project and disorganized information that is hard to use. If you are a paper person, write the information on note cards or post-it notes to organize later. Evernote works well for digital people to gather information in “notebooks.” Call this information into your messages and dictate it verbally to capture it. Set a guideline for how much information you need, such as how many websites to visit or sources to quote. With a “rule” in place, it is easier to gather less data.
Challenge: Getting distracted while working on a project.
External and internal distractions are part of the lives of everyone with ADHD. Make a plan for yourself to lessen distractions. Make a list of quick finish tasks to feel the joy of finishing a project. Establish a power period for deep work at your best time of day. Matching your chronotype to your work lowers distractibility. For external distractions, use headphones while working or move to the quietest space at work.
Challenge: Getting bored with the project while in the middle of it
When projects drag on, there are many updates or details, or project scope changes, the thrill, and interest in a project can wane. Reclaim your interest by checking “why” you are investing time and energy in the project. That “why” can be something related to the greater good too.
Challenge: Not prioritizing your To-Do List
The best list is a prioritized list! Knowing the most important tasks for that day helps you feel accomplished. For those with impulsivity, it’s tempting to jump right in! Many people with ADHD use urgency as a prioritization tool. Take a bigger look at your list for the week and the day and color code or number your priorities. Remember, the only task you can count on working on in any day is the first task of the day.
Challenge: Scheduling a task and ignoring it
The reminder chimes and you ignore it, over and over again. A better strategy is to schedule mindfully and match your task with a time block. Give yourself ample time in your block to get started and do a deep dive into the work. Time blocks should also match your best times to work.
Challenge: Finishing a project late
Those with ADHD lack time awareness and do not know how long it takes to complete a task or project. Overestimate the time it takes to complete a project. Work backward from the due date to set intervals for project progress.
Challenge: Being overwhelmed by a project
Overwhelming projects are a part of home and work life. Just thinking about these may be paralyzing because of the planning, executing, and doing the work itself. Use sticky notes or a mind map to jot down all the parts of the project. Then write in who can help with each step. Make a note of which steps have deadlines. Keep these notes in a notebook for reference as the project moves forward. Write only the first steps on your To Do list. Adding in help makes the project more fun.
Challenge: Too much paper around
People with ADHD have a love/hate relationship with paper. Highly visual people like to see information in print, rather than digitally. Kinesthetic modality people like to write notes to keep information and to keep focused. Printing often feels like the right step to not lose information. Set up rules for paper management. That might be never open junk mail or keep all paper in a basket rather than on your desk. Paper management systems include a command center or file cart near your workspace to keep the paper organized.
Being intentional about your ADHD -productivity challenges is a starting point. Productivity may occur more in spurts than seamlessly. Choose one of these optons to find your own solution for your best workflow.