Around 95% of my ADHD clients struggle with Procrastination. Despite their Uber-Creativity and Enthusiasm for their ideas, they sadly aren’t able to consistently action them.
By the time I get to see them, they’ve often tried multiple ways to fix this problem without success.These failures aren’t due to a lack ‘Head Knowledge’ or strategies. “They know perfectly well what to do”- as Dr. Russell Barkley says, but “They can’t Do what they know” And that, he explains is because “ADHD Is not a knowledge disorder, but rather a- Point of Performance Disorder” (P.O.P) In other words, many ADHD problems need fixing at that specific point in their lives where the problem is happening. ie; In their surroundings or environment. This then is the actual reason for many of our failures. The strategies we applied aren’t designed for ADHD, because they don’t address the problem at the Point of Performance.
A breakdown of our own Approach. We start the day feeling optimistic and decide to finally tackle that task we’ve been putting off. After breakfast we check a few emails/ look through our Social media streams and then we begin. Sounds good so far. But before too long we begin to come unstuck. We hit a challenging part of the task and we start to feel overwhelmed, or maybe it’s just plain ol’ boring! Either way, at this crucial point when we need some stick-to-it-iveness, our ADHD traits of Distraction, Overwhelm and Low Motivation kick in. Then as if on cue, our minds recall that earlier email or social media post. So what to we do? We take a ‘quick’ break from our task to deal with it, intending to come back to our task right after. Right! But as we’re so bad at Transitions and low on Intrinsic Motivation, getting back to that challenging point is now almost impossible, and we abandon it all together.
So Clearly what’s needed is a Strategy that deals with those disruptive ADHD traits– at the Point or Performance before they sabotage our intentions. That’s exactly what I want to share with you now
This strategy is something I call Momentum Mornings. It’s basically a Mash-up of a few strategies. Inspired by Julie Morgenstern’s book ”Never Check email in the Mornings. I took her idea and Hacked it for ADHD. The main thrust of this approach is that old Law of Physics, A thing in Motion- Tends to stay in Motion. Then folded into it are some tweaks/hacks that incorporate Dr. Barkley’s logic about the P.O.P.
How it works;
Firstly, Block the Dedicated Time needed for your task. Then, ( here’s the crucial P.O.P bit ) start on the task before you even look at anything else! Yes, that does mean No emails and No Social Media!!! Why?! Because if you even peek at that stuff beforehand, you set yourself up to become mentally distracted and pulled back into it later. Especially during the more Challenging, Overwhelming or Boring parts of your task. Which there will most certainly be!
Ideal Time Blocking Tips. Locking yourself in a room ( Ok, so no actual locks needed, but do close the door and make sure no-one comes in) Leaving your current environment for another ( like a Coffee shop or Library) or if your ‘go-to-distractions’ are on your desktop? Then make use of Internet or Site blocking add ons such as Cold Turkey or StayFocusd. Finally, turn off all pop ups and audible reminders on your devices, or place them elsewhere until you are done!
Below are more ‘Hacks’ to deal with the ADHD traits of Overwhelm, Perfectionism, Poor Transition skills, Low Motivation etc
The ADHD Hacks
- The Best time to do this is in the morning, when the mind is a clean slate and you haven’t seen your emails, pop ups or other distractions yet.
- Set a do-able time limit- People with ADHD are natural Sprinters not Marathon runners, so capitalize on that innate Sprinter energy, give yourself a time limit and stick to it!
- Use an Actual Timer to help you stick to that limit & maintain focus
- Set yourself a reward for the end of your time
- Let people know verbally, or with a sign on the door/desk that you’re not to be disturbed
- Accept that it may take more than one Momentum Morning to finish the task- Most of us overestimate what can be done in a morning, but underestimate what can be done in a week!
- Try to schedule at least 1, if not 2 of these mornings per week, you’ll be very surprised and happy with the long term results.
- Get all snacks, drinks or other stuff that helps you focus. eg: gum, music, headphones, upfront so you don’t need to leave and break your focus
That’s it. A simple strategy yes, but a very effective one. It’s been a game changer for my own work life and for many of my clients too. So why not try it yourself and see what happens? What’s the worse thing that could happen? Please feel free to let me know how it goes. I love to get your comments and emails!