As an adult with ADHD you probably wait till the 11th hour to start working on a project. Then with the deadline so close, you have no choice, but to sit down, focus and work on it. There is no time to procrastinate, get distracted, or wait till you feel inspired, you just have to get it done. There’s a sense of urgency, you are racing against the clock, and you are doing what needs to be done. Even though you are pleased with your progress it is stressful. You aren’t totally sure you will make the deadline; (even though you do) you work through the night, cancel social arrangements, and barely have time to eat. When you hand in the project, you breathe a sigh of relief, feel victorious and vow never to let that happen again. You really mean it! However, when the next project is assigned to you, you feel it hanging over you, but just can’t bring yourself work on it…until the 11th hour.
This is very common when you have ADHD, and it happens whatever age you are, from students to 60 year old CEO’s.
One strategy (that rarely works) is to break the project down and give yourself little deadlines along the way. In theory, this is great; you definitely work well when you have a deadline. In practice, it doesn’t work; you know those deadlines you made for yourself are not ‘real’ and don’t count.
However, there is a help, and it comes from Jerry Seinfeld.
Jerry realized he came up with his best jokes when he spent time writing every day. However, forcing himself to write every day wasn’t easy. So he created a simple system that would motivate him to spend 1 hour a day writing. On days he wrote, he put red cross on a wall calendar. After a few crosses he became motivated to see the calendar fill with red. He didn’t want to break the chain of crosses so he kept writing. This strategy now has a life of its own its called ‘Don’t break the chain’.
‘Don’t break the chain’ is very effective for ADHD adults because takes emphasis off deadlines, that you might forget or procrastinate over. Instead it focuses on consistent daily effort. This might feel strange at first, but it really helps in 11th hour panic. It also gives self confidence because you know will be able to get the important things done.
Below are some tips to get started:
1) What one action a day would make a huge difference in your life? Jerry’s was writing, what is yours?
2) Print out your calendar http://budurl.com/8lpk.
3) Post it on your wall and put a red pen nearby.
4) You can use this method for more than one area of your life. However, for the best success rate start with one and you can add another after a month.
5) Good luck…and remember don’t break the chain!