When ADHD Leads to Lack of Motivation: How to Get It Done

Some people assume that having ADHD means that you will automatically have a lack of motivation. Thankfully, this isn’t true. We ADHDers have the desire and have the motivation and the want to. It is the other problems with certain tasks, and we are not aware that they are lurking in the background of our minds that keeps us from getting things done. The key to getting motivated, is figuring out EXACTLY what’s keeping you from starting your task. Once you know what’s causing you trouble, you can put on your problem-solving hat on and find a solution. Here are 5 reasons why you may be struggling to get motivated and ways to overcome them

You Don’t Know Where to StartIt is not a secret that having ADHD also means that you have difficult with planning and setting priorities. When it comes to figuring out where to start, you need both in order to identify the right place to begin. It’s no wonder that not knowing where to start derails our attempt to get motivated!

Tips to Starting A Task/ProjectAsk yourself if this feels true of your task? Do you know exactly where to start, or does that feel vague or ambiguous? Or do you know places to start and that’s really the problem? Sometimes, when I realize that this is what’s causing me the lack of motivation, I can spend time writing everything I can think of about the task out on paper and deduce a solid place to start. Sometimes I can’t. In those times, I’ve found that the most helpful thing I can do is ask someone who’s good at planning (and a generally supportive person) to help me think it through.

Related Resource: How to Build Better Habits: Three Steps for ADHD Adults http://www.neverdefeatedcoaching.net/how-to-build-better-habits-three-steps-for-adhd-adults/

You Haven’t broken the Task Down into Small Tasks

As an individual with ADHD, we tend to see the task or project as one huge task and miss the smaller tasks involved. For instance, when we see cleaning the entire house, we tend to get overwhelmed and that flood of emotion on the brain shuts you down. We then miss the smaller tasks like taking out the trash or wiping down the kitchen counters.

Tips for Breaking Down A Task

The main point to get motivated with this challenge is to break down your task in smaller steps. I’ve found it effective to look for the smallest, easiest, fastest task I can find and push myself to do that. Sometimes that’s as simple as taking a piece of trash to the trash can. Often, once I’m up, I can do another small task.

Free Resource: Chunk It Down worksheet https://tinyurl.com/y3gm3cbd

Focusing on A Task Than Your Current Mental State Allows

One of the defining symptoms of ADHD is difficulty with focusing which can take up a lot  of your mental energy which can leave you mentally drained once you are done. When you are in that state and trying to get yourself to plan or prioritize a task that doesn’t feel 100% obvious can take more energy than you have. And your poor brain is like “dear God woman, give me a rest!” And while that feels like a lack of motivation, it’s also a pretty understandable one. Ask yourself if it feels like this task, or some part of it, requires a lot of thinking or focus. Does it feel like too much in this moment? Then it might be.

Tips to Focusing on a Task

To assist with this, I usually give myself time to rest. I find that is helpful when I am trying to do something after a long day, or I have already tried too hard to focus. Then I look for a day that’s less likely to be so mentally overwhelming and try to plan it for that day. If that day comes and my brain is still struggling, I do things that help restore my energy levels. Take a walk. Eat yummy, healthy food. Do something that doesn’t require mental energy but brings me a lot of joy or is super interesting. Take a nap, especially if I’ve gotten little sleep. I find these things help restore my mental energy and I have a higher reserve of concentration power afterward which helps me get motivated!

One of Many Priorities That All Feel Important

Again setting priorities is one of the biggest challenges an individual with ADHD can have especially when you have loads of tasks that all feel important, even when you are 90% sure that the task you are struggling with is the place to start, it can still get completely overwhelming. It feels like everything is swirling around you and you just can’t nail anything down. It’s not so much that there’s a lack of motivation as it is your brain is shutting down from all the overwhelm. Though getting motivated when you’re in this place seems like an impossibility, right?

Tips for Setting Priorities

I’ve definitely been in this place and if you are here, I feel your pain! What I’ve found helpful is to list out all of the priorities that are causing the swirl. Sometimes just seeing it written down is enough to help me feel more grounded and prepared Other times, it doesn’t. When writing it down doesn’t lead to feeling a little better, that’s usually an indication that I really am trying to do too much. So, I start looking to see if there are things on the list that aren’t urgent. Can some things wait? I look for things that I can delegate. Who else could help with this? And sometimes I ask someone else in my life to look at the list and give me feedback on whether or not each task is as important as it feels like it is.

It’s a REALLY Boring Task

Of course, another defining feature of ADHD is the interest of the task/project.  We’ve talked about the difficulty we have with prioritizing things above, but the interest of the task/project is another complication to that problem. The lack of dopamine in our brains makes things boring things feels unimportant or at least less important. People rely on the feeling of urgency or importance to accurately prioritize their tasks. That obviously gets pretty complicated for us…And that’s why, when a task is really boring, it’s like pulling teeth to get motivated to do it.

Tips Boring/Mundane Tasks

To get motivated when my task is really boring, I start by asking myself an important question: What would make this task more interesting? Sometimes that means I change up where I’m doing it. For instance, if I have to write something really boring, I want to do that task more if I take it to a coffee shop. I love getting coffee so that works for me. Other times, I’ve found it helpful to look for a novel way of doing the boring task and that has helped me counter my lack of motivation. Ask yourself that question and try whatever comes up!

It Doesn’t End with This List…

This is far from a comprehensive list of the things that interfere with getting motivated when you have ADHD. You may find that what’s creating your lack of motivation isn’t on this list.

So, start with asking yourself the question: What about this task makes me feel resistant to doing it? Pay attention to what you discover. Then you can find strategies that work for you!

Connect with Me

If you’re asking yourself that question and you’ve discovered something creating your struggle to get motivated, sign up for a free ADHD coaching discovery session http://www.neverdefeatedcoaching.net/discoverysession/