Stressed at the Speed of Life?

Are you feeling stressed today? The pace of our daily lives is so overloaded with choices, decisions and must do’s that we can easily feel overwhelmed. We are influenced to different degrees by everything that is around us. The weather, the news, the traffic, our boss, our family obligations and responsibilities and all the options and choices we are bombarded with takes up brain bandwidth and contributes to our stress level. There are some things that are beyond our control, but there are also things that we can control, that can lessen the pressure or stress we feel. First, let’s figure out…

What’s Stressing You?

  • Communication happens 24/7
  • Online ordering done in one click
  • Less staff so more work – is it any wonder you feel like you can never do enough?
  • Less control over your own calendar
  • Unlimited choices
  • Distractions everywhere
  • Interruptions
  • Lack of boundaries around work and home time
  • Lack of sleep – have your hours of sleep decreased? That can cause difficulties with focus, working memory and other executive functioning skills needed throughout the day

What Can You Control?

Stress is defined as, “ a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” (Oxford). How can you reduce that tension?

  • Stop tolerating things that you do have control over. As mentioned in our July newsletter, change is hard but sometimes we don’t even recognize that we should or need to change something that is causing us stress simply because we don’t take the time to look at it. Is it fear of change, is it an old limiting belief that is no longer true or just a big “BUT” that gets in the way? ( I would do that but….).
  • You can say “NO”. This is a tough one because there are so many choices, but are you really making a choice going along because it is easier?
  • If you are frequently distracted by your phone, (it’s a quick dopamine hit) you have the power to decide how often you will check it. Keep a tally of each time you pick it up in one day and you will be surprised. Set a reasonable number of times to check it (if your job communicates that way, this might not be possible). Turn off the general notification sounds and pick specific tunes for text messages from important people that you don’t want to miss. Most notifications can be sent to your fitbit or smart watch, so you really won’t miss them. You are also less likely to be distracted if your phone is not nearby. Also, you can set up the “Do Not Disturb” for an evening free of “squirrel!”
  • Interruptions from people can be politely deferred for a short time if you are in the middle of something. If you allow the interruption, know that it may take you 50% longer to complete your task and you may make more errors (Brain Rules by John Medina p. 87) If interrupted by your own thoughts, write it down and get back to work rather than running off to do that “one” thing.
  • Stop multitasking – you are actually switching between things and losing attention to details and adding time onto each task
  • Declutter – that’s right, clutter can increase your stress. Click here for more insight.
  • Create a simple, nightly reset plan to prepare for the next day and start fresh
  • Lessen the strain on your memory by setting specific days for certain tasks. A basic week plan might have a laundry, grocery, bills, cleaning and/or decluttering day.
  • Take time to take care of yourself. Exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep and reduce the stress you can control with clear boundaries.

A stressed brain does not think as easily as a non-stressed brain and learning can become more difficult. We all know the health impacts of chronic stress. For those with a neurodivergent brain, you may need to work harder at controlling your environment to make it work FOR you and not AGAINST you.

Taking time to look at what you can control and doing something about it, can really make a difference. The world is stressed enough, do we really need to allow it to impact our health and our homes?

Please share your strategies on my Facebook page.

What Is Bugging You?

UpLevelI recently read UpLevel Now by Ursula Mentjes and it made me stop and think about a few things. The book is divided into chapters that are major life categories like health, friendships, money, spaces, time, etc. The author asks questions and gives examples of things you might be tolerating without really realizing it. She shares her experiences in each category with suggestions to help you “uplevel” or kick it up a notch. At the end of each short chapter, she asks three questions.

1. What are the top 3 things you are tolerating in this area?

2. What are the top 3 things you would like to change about that area the most?

3. What is one step you can take right now and when will you take it?

Change is hard but sometimes, we don’t even recognize that we should or need to change something that is causing us stress simply because we don’t take the time to look at it. Is it fear of change, is it an old limiting belief that is no longer true or just a big “BUT” that gets in the way? ( I would do that but….).

Up-level according to the Free Dictionary is an idiom, meaning “to make progress or improve in a specific skill or area of one’s life.” So, for instance, if you wanted to UpLevel your life you might consider ways to get healthier, have less stress, maybe you want to consider switching jobs, end a relationship that drains you, or just get organized enough to be able to find your keys every day. Whatever it is, you first need to figure out what is holding you back?

Maybe you think it will only happen that once, but then weeks or even days later, it happens again. Or the “It’ll go away” pain that doesn’t and you realize you have been tolerating it for 3 months! Or is there some fear from your past that keeps getting in the way? Sometimes it does take frustratingly long to finally realize a change is needed.

What are you tolerating that if you weren’t you would be happier, healthier, richer, better organized or more productive, or whatever it is for you?

If you have ADHD you may have learned early to adapt and change on a whim, you may not have taken the time to look at a problem long enough to think about changing it, instead you end up continuing to tolerate it and just accept it as the way it is.

Yes, ADHD can get in the way and make some things more difficult for you but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something to change it. A big part of coaching is helping people figure out what is getting in the way of them leading the life they dream of. Then breaking it down into manageable parts so that they can come up with strategies, habits, routines and ideas to make it work for the way THEY think. Other people’s suggestions don’t necessarily work for the way you think, but you have to stop and really think about what will work for you.

Also, sometimes lower self-confidence can also play a role. Maybe you feel you don’t deserve to get rid of that problem once and for all – but you do. Read that again….YOU DO!

Three coaching questions:

      1.  Think about what impact it would have on your life, if you were no longer tolerating “x”.
      2.  What is it costing you to do nothing about it?
      3.  Make just one small change at a time (when will you do it?) and watch what happens.

Looking for more help with this – Email to set up an introductory call to see if coaching is right for you.

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Attack Procrastination….Here’s How

Late againProcrastination is something everyone has experienced. Although there are many reasons for it, understanding why you do it won’t necessarily help you get things done.

Delaying or putting things off until the last minute can sometimes work to motivate as there is nothing like a hard deadline to bring on the hyperfocus. Hyperfocus can be helpful, and many people falsely believe that they work best when under that kind of pressure. The problem is they don’t remember how awful they felt for the next three days. When you depend on your adrenaline to get you through a project you are using up your reserves and sometimes there is a price – your health.

One idea that I am thinking of using is declaring one day a week as Anti-Procrastination day. I believe it comes from the Fly Lady but I found it on Diane in Denmark. Wednesday is Anti-Procrastination day and she suggests completing one or more things that you have been putting off. She typically focuses on small things so there is a feeling of accomplishment. Just taking 15 minutes can make a huge difference but I’ll need more. Keep a list going so that you can get right to the tasks on Wednesday.

Since we are talking about procrastination, I have to ask….are you reading this because it is of interest or are you procrastinating on something else with a higher priority? No judgement here. You make your own choices. Let’s talk about 5 common procrastination pitfalls.

  1. I don’t feel like it right now, I’ll do it later

This is sometimes called “discomfort intolerance” when you think about the task you need to do and your body tenses or you suddenly feel overwhelmed and realize you can’t work on a task because you don’t “feel” like it.

      • Admit it….you are never going to “feel like” doing it. Now figure out why. Is it boring, difficult or time consuming? Are you clear on the steps to completion? Are you afraid of failing or succeeding?
      • Schedule a time to work on it – even if just a little piece of it. When that reminder goes off, get to it.
      • Time yourself. Often time estimates of how long things take can be really off.
  1. Too many things to do and I want to do it all
      • Figure out what is really a priority and what is not rather than what is just easier or more interesting to work on.
      • Limit your to do list to 3 things that are important to you and keep the rest of the items on another list.
      • If nothing is a priority, then nothing will get done. You should be looking at quadrant 2 activities/tasks not quadrant 4 (Eisenhower matrix).
  1. Distractions are everywhere
      • According to one article, each time you hear a ping or a ding from your electronics, you are losing 10 points off of your IQ even if you don’t give in to them. Turn off all notifications or go on airplane mode and/or use focus mode which limits the distractions you can see on your device.
      • When internal thoughts distract you, while you are working, take time to write them down instead of jumping up and dealing with them. Each break in your focus can add 20 minutes to your project/task while you regain the level of focus you had before you were distracted.
      • Check in with your body before you start working. Do you need anything? Should you bring a drink or small snack with you so you don’t need to get up from your work?
  1. Instead of “now” and “not now,” think of “present you” and “future you”
      • Handling things in a timely manner helps “present you” stay calm and prevents “future you” from becoming frantic. What can you do today that will make “future you” happy or less stressed?
      • Take a look at your systems and processes – are there any improvements you can make, that will make your life easier in the future?
      • Learn from your struggles. If you faced a challenge and solved it, document it for the next time. Learned a new skill, found a helpful app – keep track of them for next time.
  1. Change the negative into positive
      • Science says our brains tend to focus on the negative as a safety measure, so we need to be aware when that happens and up the volume on the positives. Create a victory list of what you did accomplish instead of a longer to do list for tomorrow.
      • Stop the negative self-talk. It doesn’t help you get things done, instead it stresses your brain and makes it harder to think.
      • End the day on a positive note. Cross off those things you accomplished and celebrate. Add to your victory list and then go do something that makes you happy. Life is not about what you did or didn’t get done. It’s about who you are becoming.

Let me know what you have been procrastinating on over on my Facebook page. Let’s get a conversation going.

Got 5 Minutes?

Time timerTime is our most precious commodity. If we don’t use it, we lose it and it is one thing we can never get back. Sure, we can try to pack more into a day but often that leaves us feeling overworked, exhausted or stressed. Ever feel cheated that you didn’t get to do what you REALLY wanted or needed to do?

Instead of cramming more into our day, look for a few spaces between tasks, errands or transitions. I am sure there are several five-minute blocks somewhere in your day. For today, let’s assume you found 3 blocks of 5 minutes = 15 minutes total. You decide what works for you. Just don’t overdo it  trying to get one more thing done and make yourself late.

Now how will you use those 5-minute blocks? You can decide your three big categories, and then list ideas under each. My three categories are listed below with some ideas to help get you started. Use your imagination and make it work for you. I have seen how having a specific time limit can help motivate us for unpleasant tasks every week during Work It Wednesday when we use 3, 25-minute blocks to get things done (contact me for zoom link to join us at 10am ET). Let’s use these blocks to improve our lives.

Self-Care

  • Drink a glass of water
  • Go outside and breathe
  • Stretch my muscles
  • Call or text a friend
  • Meditate (yes, even 5 minutes is beneficial)

Declutter/Organize

  • Put away the winter jackets and boots
  • Clean out and organize a drawer
  • Remove 5+ things no longer needed or wanted
  • Toss/recycle today’s junk mail and catalogs
  • Declutter a shelf or clear a counter of all non-essentials

Family

  • Spend 5 minutes with each child and listen
  • Plan a family activity for the weekend
  • Make a meal plan for the week
  • Go outside (take a walk, shoot hoops, swing, etc.)
  • Do a 5 minute (maybe longer) reset to be ready for tomorrow

Creating routines and habits that keep the family organized impacts the level of stress in your home. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish in five minutes. Feel free to build onto the momentum as we have seen how clutter and disorganization can impact mood, weight, stress and health.

Let me know what you are most proud of doing in your 5 minutes over on my Facebook page. Let’s get a conversation going.

Is it a Routine or a Struggle?

Routines not struggleThere are numerous theories about how the brain works, but what I have come to believe is that we can think of the brain as having three parts or personalities. They are the “robot”, the “Yoda” and the “monkey” brain.

The monkey brain is the emotional part of the brain, it is what happens when our self-control is gone and our emotions take control.  It is the brain that doesn’t think before acting and is often full of movement and impulsivity.

The Yoda brain is the brain we use for learning and making decisions (when emotions are not involved), it is the rational, thinking brain.

And lastly, the robot brain is the brain that controls our habits and routines. It is preprogrammed to do things automatically with little or no thought involved. The robot brain does not create habits on its own, especially if ADHD is involved. It takes training and practicing and often some tweaking before a set of actions can become a habit. Once there is a habit, the brain can relax and just follow through the motions without having to use up its decision-making energy.

Routines that use the “robot” brain can save you time and brain energy. When a habit or series of steps becomes automatic, you no longer have to think about what to do next. You probably already have several routines that you do each day.

ROUTINES

  • Does your morning start the same way each day?
  • How about your evening, does it have a routine?
  • Does your work day have a routine?
  • Bill paying?
  • Dinner routine?
  • Tax routine (Quarterly taxes or April 15)
  • Laundry routine?
  • Weekly reset routine?
  • Planning routine for the week?

You get the idea. There are plenty of opportunities to create a routine that helps you get through your day without using up valuable brain bandwidth.

Where Could You Use A Routine to Save Time and Energy?

  • Are you frequently late for work or appointments?
  • Do you need to get groceries before you can cook dinner?
  • Have you ever missed a bill payment or paid a late fee?
  • Is your home cluttered and/or disorganized?

If you answered “yes” to even one of the questions above, then a routine can help.

Create a Routine

First, pick a problem to solve. Why is that a problem? Now, think about what it would be like if that was no longer a problem. How would your life be different?

Next, pick three steps (yes, just three) that you think are important for this new routine you are creating. It may not be the entire routine, but it is the 3 most basic steps to get you started. Now close your eyes and run through those steps in your mind. Does it flow smoothly or should you do the steps in a different order?

An ADHD brain can struggle to remember the order of steps which makes each day a new pattern. This doesn’t help create a routine and actually uses MORE brain power and decision-making energy. The idea of the routine is that when it is automatic, you are saving brain power and energy because there is no thinking involved.

Finally, find the order of steps that works best and “practice” doing it until it becomes a habit. Then you can slowly add more steps to the routine, making sure it works for you and the way you think.

It has been suggested that linking a new habit with an already established habit can make an effective “trigger” to start the new habit. Is there something you already do that you can link this new routine to?

Once you feel the first routine is working you can either expand it (although don’t make it complicated) or you can start to develop another routine to help yourself solve another challenge.

Habits are tricky things but once they are established – the benefits far outweigh the struggle at the beginning. Keep at it. We are here if you would like some coaching to help you design and navigate establishing new habits and routines.

Calm or Chaotic…What is Your Choice?

As soon as you wake up, what do you see? Is your bedroom space a sanctuary from the stress of daily life where you can easily and calmly start your day or is it a cluttered reminder of all you’re not taking care of and making you feel overwhelmed and frustrated each and every morning?

Now, think about how you would like your master bedroom to function. Do you need it to be a “home office” space as well? Is it a TV room where your kids can go or do you pile the clean laundry on the bed with the hopes of folding it and putting it away? Or is it a place to “hold” your clutter so it is not in the rest of the house? What do you want it to be?

Clutter and Disorganization can:

  • Make getting dressed a hassle
  • Impact your sleep
  • Interfere with romance
  • Waste time
  • Increase your stress
  • Make things harder and/or take longer

What is the impact?

The truth is we cannot expand our spaces to fit all of our things so we need to either reduce how much we own or redefine what is really important to us. By removing those things that you no longer want, need or use or that do not belong, you can begin to free up some space. In the master bedroom, both parties need to share their hopes for the space. In a child’s room, they need to have input as well.

Biggest impact in a master bedroom….electronics! The TV, the ipad and even the phones all impact your sleep cycles and serve to distract you from the true priorities of that room. “A new study from Brigham Young University examined how technology interferes with relationships. The researchers concluded that “technoference” can be damaging not just to a relationship but to your psychological health as well.”

Clutter and disorganization can also interfere with your morning and evening routines. Those routines that are supposed to help you calmly end your day and prepare yourself for sleep can be totally thrown off if you happen to step on a lego. (You know what I mean)

Various studies also mention the effects of clutter on children. Everything from scoring lower on tests of cognitive ability and self-regulation to learned helplessness and withdrawing from academic challenges. Also, being overwhelmed by the number of options can prevent kids from using their time creatively.

Ideas to Help

  • Declutter – seriously….declutter
  • Reduce your clothing so that it fits in your storage spaces when all the laundry is done (dressers and closets)
  • Organize by grouping like things together
  • Hooks for tomorrow’s outfit and things that can be worn again
  • Bins inside drawers to hold things you don’t need to fold (pjs, socks, etc.)
  • Clear off all flat surfaces so only the necessities are there
  • Remove extra pillows and décor
  • Label clear bins in kids’ rooms to help with organization
  • Make the master bedroom inviting (and not kid friendly????)

And lastly, when you get up in the morning, make your bed. It changes the way you think about your room and gives you an automatic win for the day. So, calm or chaotic – the choice is yours.

Photo by Steven Ungermann on Unsplash

Planning for the ADHD Brain

There once was a Mama Bear who felt like she was part “day planner, authoritarian, and task master.” Every day she would go through the calendar and the to do list. She would gently remind the little bears what activities they had or what they needed to “get done” and also prompt the Papa Bear of what he needed to remember too. Often the Mama Bear would mention a task or problem that needed fixing, and unless it was urgent, or Papa Bear had free time at that moment….it often went undone. This continued for years until the Mama Bear realized she was doing all the remembering and everyone was depending on her to think for them and still things were not getting done.
So, Mama Bear, being the “organized” one decided to teach the big bear and the little bears how to plan for themselves.
Here’s what I learned from her:
            • Create a list of all the tasks you want/need to remember. Often our brain will wake us up in the middle of the night because it doesn’t want us to forget something. Often, we think we will remember in the morning, but we don’t. List everything you can think of. Yes, I know it can be overwhelming, but your brain is trying to hold onto all of it anyway so, why not help it. This is commonly called a “brain dump.” Don’t let the undone to do’s keep you up.
            • Put everything on it, even that project you “hope” to get to someday but make sure that it is in the form of the smallest action you can take. Redo the dining room is too big of a project, so you should write down the steps that are involved. (Helpful apps: color noteEvernoteTrellotodoist, etc.)
            • Write down any deadlines or due dates and be sure to highlight those things that need to be done in the current month.
            • Estimate how long those things will take – be realistic.
            • Pick the three top things you want or must do tomorrow
            • Now either add them into your calendar or set aside a “block” of time (preferably each day) that you will tackle those tasks.
            •  Create a planning habit where you look ahead at your week, add in any appointments and then pick 3 tasks off of this master list. Don’t cross them off your master to do list unless you ACTUALLY complete them. Don’t add more than 3. When you do complete them you can go for more but 3 is a successful day.
            • Celebrate your successes. Remember you will always have a list – just make sure it has what is important to you. Life will get in the way….so start each day fresh and don’t carry things over from the previous day unless you really have to.
            • Pick the important things to do and not the “easy” things if you want to really work your plan and not just engage in “Procrastivity”.
Papa Bear now has his own master list, and he and Mama Bear discuss the upcoming week (and the to dos) each Sunday over breakfast. And that makes Mama Bear very happy:-)
If you struggle with task management and completion, give coaching a try. You guide the process. Baby steps in the right direction will still get you there. Good luck!
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Look Back Before You Leap Forward in 2022

Farewell 2021 – Although I would like to say I am happy to see you go, the reality is that I don’t remember much of what happened in 2021. What do you remember from 2021?
I took some time to go through my journal from last year and skimmed through the photos on my phone in order to bring it all back into focus. Don’t you just love it when Google reminds you of what happened last year on this date?
The more often we recall those events, the more likely they are to stay in our memories. My planner is another place I look for past events, ideas and recurring themes. You get the idea. I searched for the high and low points of last year and the special moments that occurred and noticed some of the challenges that were sprinkled throughout.

For me, those covid added pounds and blurry work boundaries showed up throughout. For you, it might be disorganization, financial stress or negative self-talk or any number of other concerns. Whatever your top two are, I’m suggesting that you not make a resolution or a complex plan to tackle it this year. We know resolutions don’t work and we end up with more negativity and feelings of failure for something that we “feel” we should be able to do.

Let’s take another approach. It is a fact that the brain tends to focus on the negative rather than the positive side of things (it’s genetic, to protect us). Now let’s add in this new thing called, “Covid/Pandemic Fatigue” which is, according to an article on Healthline, completely natural, yet leads to being “demotivated and exhausted with the demands of life during the Covid crisis.” You don’t need me to tell you that there is more fatigue and negativity all around us – why should we promote it if we don’t have to?

New “rule” for 2022, let’s focus on the positives! Change just one thing- your approach to each day. There are lots of options, which ones resonate with you?
• Ask yourself, “What can I do today to be more positive or that will add to my day?”
• What can I do today to take better care of myself?
• Keep track of your successes with a Victory List
• What one thing can I organize today? (You know I had to put that in)
• Keep out the ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) that creep in
• Take a photo to capture a positive in your day
• Read an uplifting quote
• Start a gratitude journal
• Go to bed on time!
• Walk away from your work – keep clear boundaries
• Turn off your screens and tune into those around you

If you do have something you want to improve or work on this year, then do it in a positive way and 2022 just may be your best year yet!

 

Graphic thanks to: ‘https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background’>Background vector created by BiZkettE1 – www.freepik.com</a>

Three Keys to an Extraordinary Year

Each year we start out with the best of intentions. Sometimes though, those intentions can turn out to be so much extra work that we quickly give up. Let’s take a look at three things you can do to make sure you are doing things for the right reasons.

First up, create some boundaries (borders or limits) so you can make logical choices for you and your family. A family meeting is a great way to hear what is important about the year from each person’s perspective.

Also:
• Decide if “x” is worth your time, energy or effort before you say yes. Sure, you may want to do it all but at what price?
• What is fun for each person? Can you incorporate that into a plan?
• Handle or prevent those interruptions and obligations that you can control and find a way to limit or cut short those that have you at the mercy of someone else.
• Turn off your alerts and decide when you will be available.
• Get everyone involved and listen to their input. They will be more invested in the outcomes.

Taking care of yourself is the next key. It’s hard to let go of our own expectations sometimes but it is extra important to stay well this year. Self-care means making the time to exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, socialize and do the things that lower your stress level. Being organized makes your life easier too, why do things the hard way when you don’t have to?

Self-Care keys:
• Create morning and evening routines that serve you that include a specific bedtime and wake up time.
• Set aside some time for yourself. (Sometimes that means locking the bathroom door – do whatever it takes).
• Choose wisely grasshopper, as you are trading away time that can never be regained.
• What helps you feel recharged? Can you fit that in somewhere?

Lastly, Planning and Prioritizing are important. Prioritizing will keep the important things on the top of the list and having a plan will keep you on track. By creating an action list the night before, you have time to think about how important those tasks are to you. Without a plan your day can go in any direction but with a plan you are in charge of where it goes.

Ways to Plan and Prioritize:
• It’s okay to not be able to do it all – some things should never be done, and some can easily be put off as long as you are the one that decides. Get the family to pitch in too.
• Schedule in even the tiniest tasks, don’t list a project with multiple steps on the list just the next step.
• Estimate how long you think a task will take and then time yourself. Don’t forget to include travel time, prep time and clean up time.
• Be realistic in the amount you can accomplish in one day. Start small and build your momentum by getting the higher priorities or the more distasteful (but important) ones done
early.

Keeping these three keys in mind will help you focus on what is really important this year and hopefully it will help you feel less stressed-and that’s my hope for you.

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Do You Suffer From Procrastivity?

Stickies everywhereProcrastivity is part procrastination and part activity. We all know that procrastination is not a good thing. It means putting off things that you know you really should be doing. However, procrastivity is when you “put off” (procrastinate) on what you REALLY should be doing in favor of another activity that also needs to be done but is less brain taxing. Sure, the (less important) task needs to be done and you want to feel some sense of accomplishment – but, should it be the priority? Probably not. You will feel the cost of it later when the real priority is due. For example, doing laundry instead of the taxes.

Do you procrastinate, because….
• You don’t understand what you need to do?
• It is a boring task?
• It is too hard or complex?
• It takes “too much time” or you just don’t know how long it will take?
• It has too many steps?

So instead, Russell Ramsey, Ph.D., notes in his article in Psychology Today, that when you surrender to procrastivity, it may be because the activity is maybe more hands-on, or has a routine to it that you don’t really need to think about. It is often an activity where you can see the progress and know what the end point looks like. For example, you know when the laundry is done but not necessarily how long it will take for the taxes to be done (which usually feels like forever!).

What can help?
It is important that at some time you complete the task that you have been procrastinating on. If you have ADHD it might be when the deadline gets closer and you use that adrenaline/anxiety push to get you through it. But what does that cost you? Stressing yourself out to get something accomplished can have all kinds of serious effects – think stress, high blood pressure, fatigue, lack of sleep, weight gain (from feeding that cortisol monster) etc. That’s a high price! So, what can you do instead?
First of all, be careful what you put on that “to do” list. Make sure that you are listing tasks and not projects. A project is anything with multiple steps. That’s why kids can never “clean their room” because it is really a number of separate things to do and not just one thing. Keep that in mind when you want to write “do taxes” when you really mean, collect documents for taxes. Sure, it might make your list look longer but I would encourage you to only put down 3-5 tasks for the day. The rest of the list can “live” somewhere else and you can pick from it each day but don’t overwhelm yourself by listing everything you wish you could do today.

Ramsey also suggests making the task more manual or action oriented to get started. It may be collecting what you need to start the task and putting them where you will be working. Then decide what the next step should be. Once you get the task rolling you might see that it is not as bad as you thought and you’ll keep working. Be careful though, make sure you know the minimal amount of time you are willing to commit to the task. Then if you go over – hurray! If you don’t – at least you did what you promised yourself. Take pleasure in that.

If you are suffering from overwhelm and feel that you will get to the task after you do “x” or “y”, or when you feel better – I have to tell you it doesn’t work that way. You can’t wait until you feel better or get “x” done – so you should just set a day and time where you will commit to working on it. Then keep that promise.

Getting started or task initiation is one of the executive function skills that those with ADHD find the most challenging. Often the first thing that happens is that the “planning monster” takes over. Creating a long, but beautiful to do list doesn’t help you get to the action piece. It may in fact overwhelm and paralyze you. Breaking it down into its smallest steps and lowering your expectations to completing 3-5 tasks rather than 25 will help you build that action muscle. You might also discover that the feeling of accomplishment helps you complete more.