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ADHD Adults

Tips for getting things started?

So yeah, I’m looking for tips on how to start doing things.
I can plan my wholde day in advance, have a list of things to do, and so on, but as soon as I find myself unnable to start one thing, I pretty much can’t get anything else started for the rest of the day.

Any and all advice is more than welcome smile


i plan the essentials only. They are on my Jorte calendar on my phone with alarms set to remind me. Regular things like leaving the house have reminders in my clock alarm on my phone too.
But on the whole i go with the flow within the structure of essentials and start time at work. Im lucky to work in a preschool and i can plan tbe day the way i want.
Usually not all the things i planned hapoen but the kidsstill have a great time and experiences.
I suppose it will depend on you job and what your tryi.g to achieve each day.

Posted by TheLadyNC on Nov 18, 2013 at 3:25am

I tell myself, “I only have to do it for 15 minutes. If I get into it, I can do it longer.” That sometimes gets me started, and once I start, I can keep going.

If I’m sitting down, for instance, at the computer, I tell myself “Just get up and start MOVING. Go brush your teeth, get a drink of water”... ANYthing to just get me up.

Inertia is the enemy - and the friend. “A body at rest tends to stay at rest. A body in motion tends to stay in motion.”

I struggle with this every day. Good luck.

Posted by pnwsuzie on Nov 18, 2013 at 3:30am

I use my calendar on my phone but it I still forget to act on it. I find it difficult to get out of the house. I use all sorts of excuses to avoid or get out of social events. I have really struggled the last 18 months particularly.  It seems to have got worse since tthe onset of the menopause. I found my job became too much for me and my GP said I am in deep depression.  I too can plan my whole day but it may take till 3.30pm or later to act on it. I don’t remember ever having been this bad before. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to help with a solution for you. It’s difficult to open up at times and your question prompted me to do that so thank you!!!  I do not have a diagnosis but my 11 yr son was diagnosed ADHD 18 months ago.  I’m not sure what to say to my GP.

Posted by Angelic on Nov 18, 2013 at 9:03am

We are reward-based creatures so I often make “deals” with myself like, “If I finish the laundry, I can go get (insert favorite treat here).” Sure sometimes it takes longer to get things done, but at least they get DONE! My days used to be spent on the couch with my to-do list rolling around in my head over and over…ultimately accomplishing nothing.

I 100% agree with pnwsuzie about just getting up and moving! Excellent point there.

Unfortunately I was unable to control my symptoms so had to begin medication but it was the BEST decision I had made in my adult life. (Severe ADHD-C for 30+ years) But medications are never a cure-all and management of ADHD takes multiple approaches.

Congratulations @ Angelic for posting smile Getting a definitive diagnosis is very important. I know how expensive treatment can be unfortunately but going to a licensed therapist is imperative. Sure some people have had success with their GP docs but that’s the exception, not the rule.

@Nacho you have made an excellent start for posting here! That takes courage. Hope you find all the help you are looking for!

Posted by BonzaiKitty on Nov 19, 2013 at 5:46am

Here is the thing… There are some things that just need to be done daily.  I put those on a short list so that I have a morning and an evening routine.  Morning routine gets my day off to a good start and the evening routine finishes off my day and has me somewhat prepred for the next day’s start.

I use a planner to keep things visible.  My phone is great, but when the screen is black, I don’t look at it.  The planner can stay open on my table or desk—where I am working and can see it.

I simply show the two entries now for morning and evening routines because I know what needs to be done.  Other tasks, errands, and such are listed on the page along with reminders for things that I want to do if I have time in my day.

It took some doing, but I finally got things down to a level that leaves me a few “open” packets of time so that I am not making myself crazy with “things to do” and that goes a long way toward reducing stress. 

Do not overload your time with stuff that could be planned over a douple of days or another span of time.  Work on large projects just a little each day or week and it gets done.

You are only one person, so remind yourself often of that fact.  start slowly building your routines so that they become habit, then add other things to build up your ability to go with your priorities.

You are off to a great start, so let me offer one important piece of advice.  We all have had to “start over” numerous times to get to the point where life is moving in a better pattern for us.  What other people do can provide idea, but you need to make your own way.

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Nov 19, 2013 at 9:07pm

Struggled my whole life and in late 40’s finally diagnosed after being sick of walking in circles all day.  Found the aluminum foil in frig one day and had absolutely no recollection of putting it there…so I googled “memory issues” and it was bombarded with ADHD information. 
Got on Adderall and though its not perfect and I’ve had my issues with it, it definitely beats the alternative.  My marriage, my life have improved SIGNIFICANTLY.  My daily thoughts used to be something along the lines of “whatever….he never does what he says”....“that person gets on my last nerve”....“why is this happening to me?” negativity and really in my mind, little hope for a happy ending for myself….just going through the motion of getting through the day. 
Now I just don’t think like that….and even more…I think to myself as I’m cleaning or cooking or piddling around the house….“I am so lucky and so fortunate in my life”....“kids are healthy, husband is doing well, nice home, etc.”  So, needless to say…..this is well worth the investment we make ink the medication each month (no health ins).
Additionally, my family dr. kept encouraging me to be on an anti-depressant and tried me on several (which was hard for me since I tend to give up too soon) before finding one that I feel actually makes a difference.  Its subtle, but I do feel it helps. 
Find a dr. that knows and understands the disorder and will work with you.

Posted by oneleggedduck on Nov 19, 2013 at 11:08pm

Thanks for all the comments guys!
I think what pnwsuzie said about just getting up and moving is probably the best way to start anything, even if you have to sit down again in order to do it lol.

@Angelic It makes me happy that my thread helped you open up! smile We all know how difficult that can be at times, but you can rest assured this is the right place to do it. As you can see, there’s lots of people willing to help however they can.

Posted by Nacho on Nov 19, 2013 at 11:44pm

Reading your posts has reminded me that this symptom is ADHD and not just lazy , hopeless me.  I guess it would help to remember to take my medication on the days I don’t work!  Any other suggestions?  I know a schedule and structure is what works best, but doing it is another.  Sometimes I wish that someone would just come over and say, “let’s get going.  Do this now, etc.”
Oh boy, does that ever sound disturbed.

Posted by Jennjenn on Nov 20, 2013 at 12:09am

Wow, this is a great thread!  Thanks for bringing up the topic, Nacho.

As for what pnwsuzie said, I’ve learned something similar, and it’s to JUST START.  Anything!  I get too overwhelmed with all I have to do and freeze. I also have a really hard time prioritizing.  A psychologist told me to “just start…anything” and that it doesn’t matter if it’s not essentially what a “normie” would consider the top priority, at least SOMEthing gets done!  I’ve found that helpful.

Dianne in the Desert made a good point about routine.  Someone taught me to schedule certain chores on certain days of the week.  That’s how I got started on motivating myself and keeping up with household chores, while finally finishing unpacking after moving 7 1/2 years ago! (lol)  I schedule laundry on Mondays, cat litterboxes and sweeping the house on Tuesdays and Fridays, taking out trash and straightening around the house on Wednesdays, and dishes on Thursdays.  Doing that helped tremendously.  After I did that for a couple months I found myself doing other chores in addition to my one chore a day!  I was astounded, to say the least!  I didn’t even realize I was doing productive things until I’d sit down and I’d be like, “Wow! Look at all I’ve done today! Holy sh*t!” I’ve been a little out of the loop lately, though, but I’m going to get back on track starting with this simple plan with one chore a day assigned the same day every week.

Jennjenn, that does not sound disturbed at all!  There’s actually a name for having someone come over and do the things you said…it’s called a “body double” and I’ve done it countless times.  I’d have a friend come over, and just them being there would get me motivated and keep me on task (especially since I get sidetracked and distracted a lot, and most of the time it’s with the wrong thing, like checking email or whatever). My friend would play on the computer or read a book (some friends even volunteer to help!), but just her being here made me accountable. If I said I was going to take a 5 minute break, she would hold me to it.  “Okay, your 5 minutes is up; go back and finish what you were doing.” Doing that helped tremendously, especially with chores I found it really difficult to do.  I also considered myself lazy, but it’s not true…I’m not a lazy person, I just couldn’t channel my energy on the right things. Another thing I’ve done that’s similar is meet up with other people online and be “cleaning buddies.”  We chat for 15 minutes or so and then go do stuff for 15 minutes, come back and chat for 15 minutes, and then back off to work for another 15 minutes (or 20 minutes or whatever time frame you choose).

Hope some of this can help someone!

Posted by LittleD1981 on Nov 20, 2013 at 7:43pm

What a great thread! Lots of helpful ideas…
I just read an article on “How simple mini- habits can change your life” at

It is really about getting things started. It isn’t very long and goes into detail about why setting very small “baby-step” goals can get you where you want to go.

Posted by pnwsuzie on Nov 20, 2013 at 10:54pm

I am 39 and was diagnosed a couple of years ago and, once I decided to hold off on meds, I “forgot” to pursue alternative treatments.  I have the opportunity to be a full time house wife for the time being and it has become even more glaringly obvious how much I struggle with managing my own time and getting “simple” housework done.  I have been seeing an ADD psychologist and he is helping me come up with ideas and tips to help me be more successful.  He suggested setting a timer for 45 minutes, working for that time, and then taking a 15 minute break, also timed.  He said to start with three cycles of this and then allow myself to do what I want after that.  The problem is remembering to do it, and sticking with it.  He also said breaking seemingly overwhelming tasks, like cleaning the bedroom, into smaller, more manageable tasks, like just focusing on the dresser, or the floor, or bookshelf, helps the tasks seem less Herculean.  It helps.  I find, being addicted to television, that having a show I’ve seen umpteen times on my iPad, in the background, gives me a fun treat while I’m working, without distracting me too much.  I sometimes prefer that to the radio because the movement and talking on the screen somehow give me the feeling of having “company” while working on a task that is tedious or challenging.  Does that make any sense to anyone?  I’ve also started working out and am on an elimination diet that has, indirectly, helped me feel and act more productive. I think with ADHD there is a lot of trial and error when it comes to finding what works/helps.  I get really frustrated with myself and the ADD, because it mikes life a little harder on me, but it helps so much to know I’m not alone.  I love this thread and website and am so glad I found it!

Posted by misshagrid29 on Nov 21, 2013 at 12:16am

@misshagrid29 Having the TV on for company totally makes sense to me. I actually picked it up from my mother, who has it on while she cooks. I do that too, don’t really watch it, but it’s nice “company” while cooking smile

Posted by Nacho on Nov 22, 2013 at 12:47am

I hyperfocus on everything showing up on my PC screen—news, e-mail, etc. but can’t get started on writing projects that are due.  I am a published author but did most of it in the office of the magazine where I worked. Now retired, I can’t make myself do my own freelance writing.
    Diagnosed with ADD (not hyper) several years ago.  All my life I have felt “lazy” and not lived up to my potential.

Posted by Junella on Nov 23, 2013 at 1:51am

I’m a coach and I work alone at home so I really need to follow my schedule, and before that I owned a marketing firm. I didn’t know I had ADHD until 2 years ago, but I knew I had some quirks that made some things difficult for me. When I can’t get started on something, I do a few things to trick myself, and for some reason they work for me.

One is to stay put where I am and not DO the thing, but decide that I’ll just IMAGINE that I’m doing the thing. I’ll go through different scenarios in my head about how I’d do it, and see myself doing it different ways. Usually that gets frustrating for me and makes me want to actually do it, and I have no idea why.

Another is to tell myself that I am not allowed to do the thing. This takes a tremendous weight off of me and makes me feel great. Sooner or later I start to get curious about my project, because I really do like my work. Then I get out the tools needed—maybe I’ll open the file and just LOOK at it. Or if it’s a writing project, maybe I’ll read the parameters and write gibberish—it feels silly and good. If it’s a design project, maybe I’ll choose random colors. But I know I’m not ALLOWED to start the work. With the pressure off, many times I find myself thinking about the work, and before long, I’m doing it.

Posted by marciah on Nov 28, 2013 at 6:50pm

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