How to Get over Your ADHD When You Don't Actually Have ADHD (aka How to Get Motivated, Get Stuff Done, and Stay on Task)

Holy crap, I'm super bad at concentrating on things I HAVE to do.  Now, things I WANT to do, that's a different story.  In fact, people have used the words, "intense," "focused," and "scary" to describe me when I'm honed in on something I WANT to accomplish.  But stuff that NEEDS to get done?  I'm suddenly like my sweet little niece who used carry on these types of one sided monologues (loudly, always loudly):

"TWINKLE, TWINKLE LITTLE OOOOO, COWS!  MOMMY, COWS!  sssstttTTAR, HOW I WONNER WHAT YOU DORA! BOOTS! HOW I WONNER WHAT YOU AAAARRREEE.  UPPABUV THE WORLD SO CAT, MY CAT, MY DOG MY SHOE! POTTY! HIGH LIKADIMON IN DA SSSKKKY!"

Yes, she is very cute, but being scattered when it comes to our daily tasks and projects will ensure that we never really get anything done.  So, I've found that I if I employ a few tricks, I can be productive even when my non-ADHD ADHD kicks in.  Here goes:

1.  Set a Timer--Ah, the old timer.  My mom used this trick on us ALL THE TIME when we were kids.  It worked.  I mean, we usually put everything off until the last five minutes, and then scrambled around like monkeys flinging clothes and shoes and toys everywhere, but at least we got stuff done.  A timer forces you focus on something for a limited amount of time.  Here are a few tips for using timers:

  • Never set the timer for longer than 15-30 minutes.  You'll grow bored or stir-crazy for anything longer than that.  I think that 15 is ideal for most projects, whether it be cleaning your kitchen or writing a post or simply filing your bank statements. 
  • Never give yourself more than one task to do within the set time limit.  For instance, don't think, "I'll clean the kitchen, the family room and make a grocery list within this time frame."  Instead, just focus on the one room.  If you end up with extra time, focus on those little areas that sometimes get missed, like the top of the fridge or underneath the toaster.
  • Don't let yourself be interrupted.  If the phone rings, let 'em leave a message.  If your kids need a snack, they can wait.  If you're getting distracted from your writing because there's a giant dustball on the floor, nope, sorry!  Keep writing!  It's only fifteen minutes.  The world and that dustball can wait for that long!

2.  Do ONE thing--Multi-tasking is the enemy of true productivity.  Don't try to chat on the phone while you're cleaning or organizing, don't try to work on dinner while you're writing.  Just do one thing.  A lot of times for women, especially, this concept is a hard one.  If you're super busy, set the timer for smaller increments of time (five or ten minutes) and just do that ONE thing for that time limit.  You'll focus better and accomplish more!

3.  Get in the mood--It is hard to FEEL like doing the things we need to do, so I've found that adding fun music, treating myself to a ridiculous caffeinated drink, or even just rewarding myself with a nap after I've finished my task can help tremendously.  I actually have a station on Pandora that I always play when I'm cleaning.  Or, if I really, REALLY don't feel like doing something, I'll allow myself to relax for a bit on the couch with a latte...that contains a double-shot of espresso.  Whatever you need to do to motivate yourself, it's always better if you can add a little extra "oomph" to your willpower. 

What are your tricks for getting motivated, getting stuff done and staying on-task?