Most of us can relate all too well to the frustration of completing a project. For those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) it can be even more of a struggle. Beginning a task and going forward with it may be the first hurdle. Then there could be challenges with remembering all the pieces, various distracting stimuli, and the feeling like time is slipping away from your grasp. All this may lead to a loss of motivation and heightened frustration, which could then derail the project entirely. Let’s hit the brakes on this cycle. We have these ADHD-friendly tips on how to get your project started, then moving, and finally, finished.
1. Break the big piece into smaller pieces.
Most major projects are comprised of several small pieces that need to come together, like a jigsaw puzzle. Breaking it up into smaller chunks also makes it less daunting.
2. Prioritize these ‘pieces’ with a timeline.
Writing out a timeline for your process is a great way to have a visual reference for how your project needs to flow. Put the most important and urgent ‘pieces’ at the beginning of your timeline. Important items keep you moving forward, while Urgent items are time-sensitive.
3. Write out your To-Do lists.
The physical act of writing out your tasks engages your brain in a much more cognitive way than merely typing them. For each ‘piece’ of your project, write down everything that will need to be done—even seemingly mundane, little tasks like driving somewhere to pick up something, ordering an item, or making a phone call.
4. Use a visual calendar for reminders and deadlines.
Seeing really is believing! Keep a desk or wall calendar with your timeline, To-Do list, and deadlines. If Post-It Notes work better for you, use those. Use colorful pens, paper, stickers, tabs—keeping it visually stimulating and engaging is great, if it helps you.
5. Keep track of your time.
An analog clock lets you “see” chunks of time better than a digital one. We are also big advocates of the Pomodoro Technique for keeping track of your work time and giving yourself needed breaks, while also staying productive.
6. Eat, move, and sleep.
When you’re hyper-focused it can be easy to forget what your mind and body need. Definitely take needed breaks to eat, move your body, clear your mind, and get a good night’s sleep. Naps are awesome, too.
7. Use an app.
If you find technology to be helpful with managing your time and tasks, by all means go for it. Keep this app on a separate screen of your device—away from your social media, communications, games, and other apps. Here are some well-regarded time management apps for ADHD minds.
8. Limit distractions.
Make sure your work area has as few distractions as possible; this includes your desk and your computer desktop (for instance, move that Sims 4 icon into a deeper folder). Let those around you know you’re in “work” mode—close your door, or put up a sticky with “Do Not Disturb”.
9. Don’t multitask.
For some, multitasking is not the most productive way to go—it can actually increase the time it takes to complete your tasks.
10. Know that it’s okay to ask for help.
Getting overwhelmed is absolutely okay and normal, whether or not you’ve got ADHD. Step away from your project and do something else completely different—walk outdoors, work in the garden, take a hot bath. If you return to your project and start feeling overwhelmed again, it might be time to ask for help. “Help” covers a wide range—from asking a co-worker for advice to moving a task off your plate and handing it over to an expert on the topic.
Completing a project can bring one a fantastic sense of accomplishment. We hope these tips help you reach your project goals!