Getting Things Done with ADHD

“My son is not getting his homework done!”

“I am behind on projects at work.”

” I always have to ask for extensions on my class papers!”

Having trouble getting things done? It’s a common ADHD complaint.

In her book The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD, Dr. Lidia Zylowska identifies four steps to the process of getting things done:

  • Choosing
  • Starting 
  • Doing 
  • Finishing

ADHD can cause glitches in any – or all – of these steps.

So, if you (or your child) have trouble getting things done, it can help to look carefully at factors involved in each step of the process. The following questions may help you see where your personal glitches lie.

1) Choosing:

  • What helps you keep track of due dates? ( Do you use a to-do list and/or calendar?)
  • How well do you estimate the time involved to complete a task or project?
  • How do you prioritize among activities? 
  • How well do you plan ahead?

2) Starting:

  • How do you handle lack of interest or reluctance to do the task? 
  • What approaches have you used for motivating yourself?
  • What helps you energize yourself for a task? 
  • What strategies do you use to get started?

3) Doing:

  • How often do you break a project into manageable “chunks”? 
  • What strategies do you use to maintain alert engagement?
  • What helps you notice when you get off track?
  • What are your common distractors, and how do you manage them? 
  • What strategies do you have to get back in gear when you get off-track? 
  • What external structures help you keep on task?

4) Finishing

  • How well do you manage ending tasks or projects? 
  • What emotions do you notice as you finish what you’ve planned?
  • What do you do to acknowledge and celebrate completion?
  • How often do you savor your successes?

Once you’ve got a better picture of exactly what your challenges are in getting things done, you will can begin brainstorming or researching strategies that will help. Dr. Zylowska’s book is one of many ADHD resources that provides ideas you may find useful. Looking at your personal strengths and past successes can also help you consider what types of approaches might work best for you.

If you need extra support in pinpointing your challenges, identifying your strengths, and/or designing strategies that work for you, consider ADHD coaching. An ADHD coach partners with you to work on the goals you set and to help you develop your personal path to success.

photo credit: Stuart Miles at

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