Reply To: Starting multi-step tasks as an adult


Hey Mate,

just a few day ago I had a conversation with someone about achieving Multi-Step-Tasks in context of ADD.
He told me about this friend of his who had a camper van and in order to be able to use the car according to its meaning there are plenty of routine maintaining and repairing tasks.
He achieved it with the technique of breaking down the task – as mentioned above. The trick is to make the tasks small enough to be able to gain the drive to do it and big enough so that there’s satisfying progress in a practical amount of time.

E.g. with the task of changing the water in the tanks he knew there would be a chain of steps till it’s done.
He broke it down to essentially starting the preparation steps. In a moment of motivation he brought the tank where the old water would come into from the garage and put it under the drain valve and then went back to other things.
This way he did an important first step in having done the first physical step of the task. Now it’s way more “real” than five minutes before when it was just an idea/plan/task.
And by not putting the tank somewhere near the van but right under the sink he did a second important step.
If you close an action on a step of a task in a way that it’s instantly ready for the next step (without doing further preparations) and you leave it, it will be waaay easier to use the drive of a “Motivation in the Moment” because an ADD-Brain usually tends to perceive even the slightest preparation as a full second step of the task. So it can be “tricked” by preparing in a way, that the next thing to do is a “milestone” in the project. In this case just open the valve and the tanks will empty (which is a significant step in the “Fluid Changing Project”.

Another way to weave the continuing of a task into everyday life is by combining it with tasks that you do anyway. For instance if you’re a smoker, change one tire during one cigarette. Or if your listen to audio books, work one chapter at the car. Or if you bring out the trash, you can easily change the wind shield wipers when you’re outside and near the car anyway. You get it.
This way doing something at the car doesn’t feel like completely deviating from your daily routines.
This will be endlessly easier for you, if you do a little session where you prepare multiple steps in advance. For instance if you don’t know where the windshield wipers are it can be way harder to start the task (because the brain values searching for them as a full additional step in the task.
If you haven’t done it already bring all stuff you need for the work at the car to one place. Have the stuff you need for certain tasks together and easy at hand. This way you make it tremendously easier for your future you to use momentarily drives.

Also if that works for you, set milestones for time periods (e.g. one a month) that have to be achieved. You can communicate your goals with a person to create more obligation. (People you trust and who are familiar with the struggles of living an organized life with ADD are especially suited for that). You can set rewards for achieving the goals (only makes sense, when you’re able to resign from “having the reward” regardless of achieving the goal).

I gotta go, there are many more things I would love to write. If you’re interested or have any questions, I’d be happy to give it a few more minutes later on.