Ask the Experts

The Frustration Factor: Tackling To-Do Lists With Tranquility

Q: “I am good at writing a to-do list, but when I make a mistake or get confused about completing an item — hitting traffic when taking clothes to the cleaners or not finding the report I was supposed to finish — I get frustrated. How can I avoid being frustrated so easily?”

A: Making a list is a great form of mental rehearsal, of going through the tasks and goals of your day. As you make your list, visualize each step and how it fits into your time frame. Your frustration happens when things don’t go the way you had expected.

The first step is to notice your building frustration and label it by saying, “I am getting frustrated because…” Then go back to your list, your mental rehearsal of how things were supposed to go, and consider the new path. Use your problem-solving skills to reason with yourself. “If traffic is backed up, I may not have time to go to the bank. I can move that task to tomorrow. But I need to buy the gift certificate today, so I will alter my route.” Instead of giving yourself failure messages, which many individuals with ADHD do, decide to re-visualize your plan.