Many of my clients often wait for the perfect time to start something, that is a moment when all the planets will align perfectly and they will feel the urge to activate. Unfortunately that rarely occurs when one is affected by ADHD. Instead we have to find ways to get ourselves going. And this can be hard. Unfortunately there is no one answer. Different things work for different people and different things work at different times.
A method that works for a lot of people is breaking the task in small chunks and tackling each chunk one at a time. It is important that each chunk is small and achievable – that there is a clear beginning and end. An example I use often is taxes. Doing your taxes is overwhelming and big. It is hard to know where to start which makes it harder to start. Instead of writing down or deciding to “do your taxes” break it down. Make a list breaking the project down to doable tasks.
In the example of the taxes, make a list of all you have to do. This includes:
Gathering all receipts
Dividing the receipts by categories
Gather bank records
Gather charitable contributions
Gather medical expenses
Gather investment tax documents
Making the list helps activate you because small chunks are more doable than a big project such as “doing your taxes.”
Then start by choosing a task that is small and seems doable. Do it and then check it off the list. This helps build momentum to do another small task from the list. The key is to make each task or chunk specific so you don’t have any ambiguity of what you are going to do. Open-ended tasks are harder to get started on because you don’t have a clear sense of when it will be done.
Another way to get activated on a task is to have a buddy, someone who will sit with you while you get to work. You feel responsible for not wasting their time and they encourage to keep going. The combination helps get you started and going until you finish. Just remember to offer to help them with something so that there is reciprocity. One of my clients has a regular appointment with another person also affected by ADHD. Once a month they get together to pay their bills and do paperwork that comes up. They keep each other going.
It is most important that if you wait for the perfect moment to start – you will never start. Remember, you simply have to start from where you are because an imperfect start is better than not starting at all.
“You will never be completely ready. Start from wherever you are.” C.J. Hayden