Ask the Experts

Become a Finisher — Finally

“I am a 35-year-old woman diagnosed with ADHD. I start several things at the same time and don’t finish any of them. Can you help me be a finisher?”

A woman’s work is never done! That adage is especially true if the woman has ADHD.

There are two ADHD factors at play: 1) difficulty with prioritization and 2) distraction. Start by being intentional about how you want to spend your time. What do you want to do first? Second? Third? Make a list and prioritize it. It’s best if you can have a single task management system with “everything you want/need to do” in it. That way, you won’t be derailed by the inevitable “oh, crap, I forgot to…” moment. I like to-do list apps that let you drag and drop tasks into the order you want: GTasks and Todoist are my faves.

The second issue is distraction. How to stick to your good intentions? It starts with being aware that you’re no longer following the plan. My colleague, Alan Brown, has a solution he calls “labeling.” The idea is that you have selected a task (“what you’re doing now”), and at periodic intervals you check in with yourself to see if you’re doing it. There are three possibilities:

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  1. You are doing “what you’re doing now.” Keep at it.
  2. You’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing, but what you’re doing now is important. Put it on your list and go back to your designated task.
  3. You’re not doing “what you’re doing now,” and it’s not important. Get back to what you’re supposed to be doing now.