Managing big projects with ADHD
> 12/13/2005 4:18:29 PM


People with ADHD often find it difficult to handle large projects.  The task often seems daunting and the person may become overwhelmed.  This may lead to procrastination, which in turn leads to complications which make it increasingly difficult to finish the project, which leads to more feelings of being overwhelmed.  However, by applying some strategies to how you approach a task, you can work to stop the cycle before it starts.

 Making a plan of attack.

Any large task can be broken up into smaller tasks.  Itís easy to get to Step C once you have finished Steps A and B, but that is often difficult to see if you are fixated on getting to Step C.  Make a list of all the steps you need to take in order to get to your goal, but make sure each step is as clear and in as simplest terms possible.  For example, say you wanted to move, instead of making your first step ďFind a place,Ē break it down further into multiple steps: ď(a) Examine budget and decide on a price frame; (b) Begin circling ads; (c) schedule times to look at places,Ē and so forth.

 Manage your time, donít let it manage you. 

You should also try to map out a timeline to your project, giving each step reasonable due dates.  Make sure to give yourself some buffer time; most people tend to underestimate how long a task will take.  And donít depend solely on your memory, make use of calendars, planners, or computer planner programs, and make a point to check it every day to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.  Use alarms on you computer to remind you of meetings and deadlines.    

 Reward yourself. 

Sometimes when you are in the middle of a project, all you can see is everything that still needs to be done, and you lose sight of all that you have completed.  Congratulate yourself every time you have finished a step, and schedule mini-rewards.  These can be range from something as simple as a latte from your favorite coffee place, to a new CD, to a trip to the movies, just make the reward proportional to the accomplishment. Or share your success with someone who will praise you for your deeds. 

 If you donít have to do it alone, why choose to?

Finding ways to utilize the people around you to help you complete your task does not mean having other people do the work for you.  This may be as simple as getting input as to what be reasonable due dates when you are creating your timeline, or, as mentioned earlier, let them reward you with praise to help motivate you.  For projects which involve you working with another person, find ways to split the workload to take on tasks which involve your strengths rather than weaknesses (i.e., organization). 

 Remember, when working on projects that are complicated or are lengthy it is like running a marathon, you have to pace yourself, take your time, and not push yourself too hard, too fast, or you will not make it to the finish line.

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