Starting multi-step tasks as an adult

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    • #172618

      I love my car. But it needs me to do like ten things to it, many of which I’d be capable of doing with my existing level of knowledge and tools. But I’m having an enormous problem getting started on it because it’s going to be a long, complicated task. I know when I get on a roll with it I can be more successful and feel pretty good about myself but it’s really hard to get down there and prioritize what to do first and to actually pick up a wrench and stay there a while. What do you do to motivate yourself?

    • #172624
      It’s A New Day

      I always try to focus on the end result of any task or project. I do a lot of home improvements and even the smallest project can seem overwhelming. So I concentrate on the end result then breakdown the task into smaller “tasks”. All the while remembering the feeling of accomplishment when it’s done. It’s not always that easy but it helps to get me into the hyperfocus. Hope that helps. It’s always more enjoyable to drive/ride in a clean well running vehicle. Good luck!

    • #172634
      Penny Williams

      Getting started can be the hardest part, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of a project. I agree that breaking it down into smaller tasks and prioritizing those tasks is key. Envisioning the finished project is sure to help too.

      Here are some more ideas for talking big projects when you have ADHD:

      6 Ways to Get Started on That Project

      Make Short Work of Big Projects

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Coach & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #173052

      Hi! Here’s one more thing to try. Sometimes if I say to myself ‘I’m just going to set this up.’ or ‘I’m just going to start this today, not finish it.’ or ‘I’m just going to spend 10 minutes on this today.’ it takes the pressure off of me. Without that pressure, I find I can start and I often get more done than I thought I would. You have to mean what you say though. If you do what you set out to do and you feel done, then you are done. Even doing that little bit can give me a sense of accomplishment and make it easier to work on my project next time. Example: Maybe for this car project you could start by looking over the first repair you want to do and figure out what tools and parts you need? You wouldn’t want to start taking stuff apart and find out you are missing a socket or screw bit you need. Hope this helps!

    • #173514

      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.


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