“I have to unpack my suitcase,” I thought after returning from a camping trip. I used to dread unpacking my suitcase so much that I’d leave it open on the floor for weeks and rummage through it as needed.
Of course, not unpacking was counterproductive, but people with ADHD put off boring tasks. We don’t tell ourselves we’re avoiding the task because it is boring; we tell ourselves we don’t have time. Really we’re drawing out the anguish and creating more work in the end.
We can change this. ADHD Coach Alan Brown advises people with ADHD to shift their language and mindset around so-called boring tasks. For example, we often see ourselves as victims forced to do something when a task is considered a “have to.” Saying that a task is a “will do” — instead of acknowledging it as something we hate doing it — transforms our mindset. An even bigger shift occurs when we think, “I choose to do this onerous task because it needs to get done.” Then, imagine how your attitude and life might change by adding, “I choose to do it to the best of my ability.”
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When I need to unpack a suitcase I think, “It has to be unpacked sometime, so why not now?” I know that completing the task makes me feel better about myself. It makes the room look better. It allows me to have the items I need readily available. When we dislike a task, we imagine how long and unpleasant it will be to complete. Surprise! Unpacking took me 10 minutes.
As a reformed do-it-later person, I notice how hard it is for people with ADHD to complete boring tasks. A niece wipes up a spill then leaves the paper towel roll on the floor. A friend doesn’t open her mail and won’t learn for weeks that she’s overdrawn on her bank account. A son works on his tax return the day after it’s due. A friend’s child plans to sell car parts on Craigslist but never posts them. The car parts sit rusting in his yard.
What tasks are you avoiding? What harmful habits need to go? Then ask yourself, “What am I willing to do to change?”
Get Stuff Done: Next Steps
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