The To Do List Solution for Adults with ADHD

Many adults with ADHD have very long to do list, lists that are scattered in different notebooks, can’t find their to do list, and have tasks that go from one to do list to the next, can’t find their to do list, and have tasks that go from one to do list to the next.  I have seen these patterns in my coaching clients and sometimes in myself. I have ADHD.  The answer to why adults with ADHD are not getting anywhere might be found by taken a closer look at your to do list.  Your to do list can actually show a lot about yourself by going through these steps and you will see yourself in a whole new light.

Step 1 – Make a list of all the tasks/projects you have started but have not finished – To begin you will need to have a to do list. If you are an ADDer who likes to keep everything in your head, make an exception and write down everything that you need to do. Include all the little things as well as the big. Also include the short term and long term projects you have in your mind even if it is a “someday I will do it” thought.

Step 2- Write down a reason why they are not done – Now that you have your to do list, make another column and then go though the list and write down why you have not done the task.  You can use the following categories or come up with your own

  • Time - how much time do you need to complete this
  • Money – if it requires money, how much will it cost
  • Confusion - you are not quite sure what you need to do to start/finish this project/task.
  • Doubt – you doubt whether you are able to do it, or worry that is not the right thing to do.

Step 3 – Which tasks/projects on your to do list are the most mentally draining?  Go through your to do list again and notice how you feel when you go through the list.  Which tasks/projects are the most draining? Mark those off on your to do list. You may want to add why they are draining. Which ones are always in the back of your mind and telling you that they need to get done? Or could it be something that is not getting done because you get frustrated or overwhelmed.  For instance, if you have a drawer that needs to get fixed and it is difficult for you to open and shut it. So this would be a tasks that could be frustrating to you every time you come across it, it wastes time and effort because it is not getting done.

Step 4 – Which tasks/projects can be deleted?  This step is important question to ask yourself especially the tasks that make you tired just looking at them. Decide whether this is really important to you. Some of the tasks on your to do list could be deleted or delegated to someone else.  Do you remember why they were put on your to do list in the first place? Your tiredness could be a sign that deep down you don’t think it is a good idea. Listen to yourself, you may take a huge weight off of your mind and you will be able to concentrate on the more important things.

Step 5 Are you procrastinating on any of the tasks/projects? When you look at your to do list, especially the tasks that seem never to get done, is there any tasks that you really resist working on?  When you find those tasks and you think about doing them, you suddenly find yourself doing other things that are not on your list you can avoid doing them. Ask yourself why you are resisting them? It is important to figure out why you don’t want to do them. It could be that the task or project needs to broken down into smaller steps as opposing to just telling yourself that you need to complete the project in one day.

Step 6 – What do you spend your time doing?  It is easy to make a to do list but never getting around to doing the tasks/project because you are busy doing other things. So make a list of all the things that you do during the day. What do you spend your time on during the day? You may be surprised at what you have chosen to spend your time doing. This is because you haven’t taken the time to get the big picture of your direction.  You need to take the time to know what it is what you want to achieve so that you can think about how you will achieve that.

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