I often work with clients who know what they want to do but just don’t do it. These clients understand perfectly well how to plan and manage their time. They know what is important and what isn’t. Yet they get up day after day and fail to plan, fail to review, fail to take action, fail to achieve their goals. They know why and what they need to, yet do not change. With ADHD it is so much harder than “just do it”.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
ADHD clients suffer from “bird in the hand” thinking all the time. With ADHD myself, I get this only too well. The key problem is that people with ADHD are neurologically challenged in valuing “future reward”, over immediate stimulation.
Can’t see the reward
The ADHD brain has insufficient dopamine for communication with the frontal-lobes, home of our executive-functions. When the decision making apparatus of our brain, fails to properly consider future rewards, it’s because our executive functions can’t get through properly about the importance of our future.
Any task without immediate reward is more of a challenge – even highly beneficial and interesting tasks are easily avoided when more immediate tasks beckon. Of course the hardest tasks are both low interest, overwhelming and distant.
To handle our faulty decision making apparatus and our low-activation, consider the following options:
- reward the activity – as immediately as possible – so we can connect the effort with the reward
- break everything up into small chunks – what’s next? Just do for twenty minutes
- mix bad with good – easier to “do” less attractive tasks, mixed up with attractive
- start with easy changes – to gain confidence and learn rewards from effecting change
- fool yourself – by increasing urgency, priority to the task e.g. keep clocks 10 mins fast
- remember it’s “not that bad” – on completing the “hated task”, realise it’s “not that bad”
- make a habit – make a repeatable routine of the task so you don’t have to think about it
I work with clients keeping all these points in mind, whenever they are making changes and getting better at doing.