Managing big projects with ADHD.
> 6/27/2005 11:11:31 PM

People with ADHD often find it difficult to handle large projects.  The task often seems daunting and the person may become overwhelmed.  Thismay lead to procrastination, which in turn leads to complications whichmake it increasingly difficult to finish the project, which leads tomore 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.  It’seasy to get to Step C once you have finished Steps A and B, but that isoften difficult to see if you are fixated on getting to Step C.  Makea 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.  Forexample, say you wanted to move, instead of making your first step“Find a place,” break it down further into multiple steps: “(a) Examinebudget and decide on a price frame; (b) Begin circling ads; (c)schedule times to look at places,” and so forth.

 Manage your time, don’t 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.  Anddon’t depend solely on your memory, make use of calendars, planners, orcomputer planner programs, and make a point to check it every day tomake sure nothing slips through the cracks.  Use alarms on you computer to remind you of meetings and deadlines.    

 Reward yourself. 

Sometimeswhen you are in the middle of a project, all you can see is everythingthat still needs to be done, and you lose sight of all that you havecompleted.  Congratulate yourself every time you have finished a step, and schedule mini-rewards.  Thesecan be range from something as simple as a latte from your favoritecoffee place, to a new CD, to a trip to the movies, just make thereward proportional to the accomplishment. Or share your success withsomeone who will praise you for your deeds. 

 If you don’t have to do it alone, why choose to?

Findingways to utilize the people around you to help you complete your taskdoes not mean having other people do the work for you.  Thismay be as simple as getting input as to what be reasonable due dateswhen you are creating your timeline, or, as mentioned earlier, let themreward you with praise to help motivate you.  Forprojects which involve you working with another person, find ways tosplit the workload to take on tasks which involve your strengths ratherthan weaknesses (i.e., organization). 

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

Lily Hung Ph.D.

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