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What To Do When You Can't Get Started!

Do you ever feel like you just can’t make yourself do something?

This can be physically and mentally uncomfortable. It’s especially difficult when the task you are trying to get yourself to do is not interesting, boring, or feels really big. It can take more energy for people with ADHD to get started on things like this than it does for neurotypical people.

What you are dealing with here is a problem with the executive function skill task initiation.

This skill helps us to get started on tasks. It can feel like you are procrastinating or lacking in motivation, which can make you have thoughts about yourself or the circumstance that will cause feelings of dread, shame, overwhelm, and anxiousness.

Now you really don’t want to do the thing, and you are less likely to want to do it next time because of the feeling you attribute to that task.

Something many of us will do that is less than healthy is to rely too much on urgency to motivate us. Waiting until midnight to do the paper that is due tomorrow morning. Is the paper going to get done? Probably, but at what cost?

Is it worth the stress or how we feel about the fact that we once again put ourselves in this position? Was the quality of work what it could have been? Probably not?

One solution is to add some creative problem-solving by adding what the task is missing for our ADHD brains, and that is interest, novelty & challenge.

Interest -

  1. Pair it with something interesting. Folding laundry with your favorite podcast.

  2. Add a reward to the end. The task may not be interesting, but you are interested in getting your favorite coffee or watching a YouTube video.

  3. Listen to your favorite playlist. Like I am right now as I’m writing this.

Novelty -

  1. Do the task in a way you never have before.

  2. Task switch every 10-20 minutes. I used to do this by setting a timer in a space. Say a really messy kitchen and when it went off I had to go clean another space. I would circle back around.

  3. Try out a new genre of music.

Challenge -

  1. Make it a game. Race the timer. How much of the task can you get done before it goes off?

  2. This may sound opposite, but challenge yourself to find ways to make the task easier.

  3. Set a deadline and challenge yourself to meet it.

Watch for your escape behaviors. These are the go-to things you do instead of getting started on tasks. YouTube, Netflix, food, lounging, scrolling on your phone. Sometimes they are even things you really don’t enjoy, but you do so you don’t have to do the other task.

Use Momentum -

Once we stop it can be hard to start something again, so doing the dishes when you walk in the door, for example might be helpful. Just be kind to yourself and make sure you aren’t overworking and are getting the rest you need.

Or pairing the task you struggle to start with something that is easy for you to do. You can check out this week’s video where I give you some several practical tools and how to implement them, so you can get started on those things you struggle with.

Remember that if you are weak in task initiation, it is a skill and skills you can improve upon. Do you need some help? Working with an ADHD Coach gets you personalized help by giving you the tools, accountability, and support as you learn.

As you practice, it gets easy. That is what we do here at Learn to Thrive with ADHD, we help you make your life easier. You can book a consultation call below.

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