Getting Things Done Without Getting Bogged Down

What's keeping you from crossing things off your to-do list? The biggest productivity problems ADHDers struggle with — and solutions to accomplish more daily.

More Problems and Solutions


It often doesn’t matter where you start a decluttering task. Begin at any spot in a room. After you start, though, continue in some kind of logical order. If you start on the left side of the room, keep going to the left, in a circle. If you start on the top shelf of a cabinet, work your way down. Have a process that is orderly, but don’t worry about where you start or when you start, because there is no ideal time to tackle clutter.


There are many reasons why organizing systems break down. Sometimes, ADHDers get bored with their system. They need more variety. Have a system that you will stick with for three months. If you revise it every month, it will drive you crazy. You may not have to overhaul it completely. You might just have to tweak it. It’s not unusual for ADHDers to revamp their systems more frequently than other people do.


As you start your day, do the first three things that worry you the most, to get them off your plate. The internal distraction of worry plays more on ADHDers than on other people and prevents them from getting things done.

If you do any part of what is worrying you, you’ll break the anxiety. Say, you have a report to do, and it’s hard to get started, and it’s causing you anxiety. Start the footnotes, do a little research, speak to one expert. If you break the inertia caused by your anxiety, you can keep moving forward.


Just take a shot at doing it. If you use 1s, 2s, and 3s, and that’s too narrow, add 4s. If you use A, B, and C, and that’s too narrow, add a D. Adding colors is good for setting the priorities of your to-do list. Don’t use more than four colors because that will make you nuts. Use yellow, green, and red because we know what those mean.

I like having a three-column to-do list. One for “now,” another for “soon,” and a third labeled “fat chance.” “Now” could be this week or within the next two days. Making “now” mean “today” to finish a task is too rigid. “Soon” could mean the end of the week. “Fat chance” could mean “whenever.”


Schedule extra time to finish a task. Rather than trying to precisely estimate how long a task will take, just say, “Screw it. I’m going to need 30 percent more time for everything I plan, no matter what.” Just pick a number. Twenty percent more, 50 percent more, and allot that. The worst that could happen is that you finish it early.


> To cut off junk mail at its source, log on to and have them alert marketers to stop sending you stuff.

> Have only one place for the day’s mail to land, maybe the dining room table. Yes, it piles up quickly, but at least you know where it will be when you decide to tackle it.

> Don’t open junk mail. It can contain four to seven pieces of paper. Junk mail goes, unopened, right into the recycling bin.

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TAGS: ADHD Time Management, Deadlines and Procrastination, Get Organized at Work, Focus at Work

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