Making ADHD work – Getting Stuff Done!

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This is ridiculous. About 6 weeks ago I wrote a series on making ADHD work (landing page) and the one with the title getting sh*t done ends up staying in draft till now (can’t tell you what ‘now’ will be yet).


Procrastinators Unite … tomorrow!

It’s the single most annoying thing about ADHD. Putting off stuff to do in five minutes – later – tomorrow. There are multiple reasons for procrastination:

  • It’s is so hard to concentrate on something that when we have focus, it’s impossible to allow something/someone to interrupt that. Once interrupted it’s gone. This is why I can signal you ‘the hand’ when I am typing that important email.
  • Since we fail / have failed at every big project, every next project feels overwhelming so you just don't feel like getting started.
  • Gotham needed me

Design for success

That being overwhelmed is a very big deal. I am behind on my expense reports and taxes all the time. And not just a few days or weeks. I filed 6 quarters in february. I entered my last expense report for Veeam 6 months after I already left the company. Just because I don’t see the end in the pile of paperwork.

Somehow I have this idea my accountant won t really like my procrastination issues

This also goes for tasks like cleaning the kitchen. If I don’t see the end of it straight away, the overwhelming part of not being able to succeed will be the reason for being triggered by other stuff that gets my attention priority. The trick I have found is a classic trick in project management: break down the tasks in as small as possible pieces. This gives two positive results:

  • every small task achieved gives a positive vibe in going for the next part
  • if one or two small parts of the entire task are not finished, you still accomplished quite a lot. If you don’t break the bigger task down in smaller ones, it will always be a complete failure.


Design for failure

That tip was an easy one and every project manager will tell you that. As I mentioned in previous posts: for you this helps, for me this is necessary. The next part is an important life-hack for true ADHD people to succeed:

Know the things you will fail at and share the responsibility. If you are working in a team on a large project, delegate the tasks you know you will fail at to someone that is better at succeeding that task. This even works in the kitchen project. Sometimes it’s enough for my wife to sort one or two things out to get me back on track.

Another key ingredient for me has been looking to find people that understand you and have an unlimited resource of patience for you. One of the things I have taught myself is to ask people to come back to me and tell me I have forgotten to do something for them. There are two types of colleagues I have encountered: the ones that got it and they got all my love and passion in return and we got along very well and finished great things. The other type blamed me higher up the chain of command for failing a project. Needless to say I focus my love to the former type.

If nothing else works

Yes, no matter how good we use the tools to focus, no matter how well we plan and schedule small tasks, there are just these days (sometimes multiple days in a row) that nothing will go as planned. For those days I have found another great life-hack;

As we always have 87 future projects in our head that probably will never get done if not something else is done first, these days are IDEAL for tackling any of those tasks you feel like doing. Just start doing something useful from the backlog. It doesn't matter what it is because it’s probably going to be more useful than what you needed to do and will never get done anyhow. And you get to cross some of that backlog.

One important note to make when doing this; make a habit of asking yourself “is what I am doing now still useful? And with a habit I mean maximum every 30 minutes. This will avoid being in a positive vibe and getting dragged away in other useless hyperfocus.

After a few years of negligence I finally gave my garden furniture a big treatment. Just because everything else that was planned would have failed anyhow.



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  1. ADHD or not, I always break activities in small pieces to avoid they lay down too long until they become too big. for the expenses example, I force myself to register them after every single trip i do, being it half a day or a week. In this way, it only takes me 5 minutes each time, and I feel great because I’m not backlogging and I can immediately focus on something else.
    And for tasks in general, I love the kanban method, and one of the rule is that my “doing now” list has never more than 2 things in it. If something arrives with Priority 1, I simply place back in “to do” one of the 2 and start doing the new.
    Oh, and for smallest tasks, it’s always GTD: if it takes less to do it than writing it down, go do it 🙂

  2. You are right. I forgot one of the best tips for me being the “top priority only” tasklist. It is a great way indeed of not caring about what’s next and not feeling overwhelmed again.

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