10 Ways for Adults with ADHD to Improve Motivation & Increase Productivity
If you have ADHD, chances are you have a tendency to procrastinate about tasks only to find yourself rushing to get them done at the last minute. While you may meet your deadline and chalk it up to “performing better under pressure,” you may then find out your work is riddled with mistakes you unknowingly made in your haste.
If all this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Many people with ADHD find it hard to get things done because they feel unmotivated to begin their tasks and become distracted easily when they do begin. Researchers believe this happens because people with ADHD have difficulty with the set of mental skills associated with executive functioning. These skills include planning, problem-solving, memory, self-regulating, and self-motivation. Brain imaging studies have revealed that people with ADHD are most affected in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, where these crucial skills live.1
Luckily, there are ways to decrease ADHD symptoms like lack of motivation and procrastination. From breaking your to-do list into small chunks to moving your body, here are 10 ways for adults with ADHD to improve motivation and increase productivity in the workplace and at home.
1. Make Your First Task Something Pleasurable
It’s difficult to tackle your to-do list if you’re not looking forward to anything on the list. To get you motivated, try making the first task something pleasurable. Maybe this means listening to an upbeat playlist while you work or waiting to have your morning coffee until you sit down at your desk. Novelty is another way to tap into the pleasure center of the brain and enhance learning, so if you’re used to starting your work in the same way, try mixing it up by solving old problems in new ways.2
2. Break Your To-Do List Up into Smaller Tasks
We’ve all heard the old Chinese proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It suggests that, however difficult a task may be, you can only complete it if you begin, and then proceed piece by piece. Sometimes, a project or to-do list can seem impossible to complete because of its enormity. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and give up before you even begin. But if you only focus on the first actionable step towards the overarching goal, chances are momentum will carry you through. For instance, if the first task on your to-do list is “clean the house,” try picking one room. Say you pick the kitchen; break it down even smaller by only focusing on the dishes. Once you complete this small task, the next one won’t feel so impossible.
3. Overestimate How Long Tasks Will Take
Time blindness is a common trait for people with ADHD. It describes the inability to sense the passing of time and it can make multiple aspects of a person's life more difficult. Even more, many people who are unfamiliar with ADHD may think you simply have no regard for time instead of seeing it for what it is: executive dysfunction. To avoid the pitfalls of time blindness, start overestimating how long a task will take. Think it’ll take two hours to complete that spreadsheet? Schedule in three hours just in case.
4. Make an Ideal Organizational Strategy
For some people, using a portable day planner is enough to stay organized. For others, putting your important deadlines and events in clear view where you can see it every day is even better. You may find it even more helpful to set reminders by phone or email about those deadlines and dates to further ensure they won’t get missed. Staying organized takes commitment and consistency, but the results are well worth it if it means no longer scrambling at the last minute.
5. Plan Your Day the Night Before
When you know that you have a busy day coming up, you may find yourself worrying about it as you lie in bed the night before. You know that if you stay up any later you’ll have less energy to tackle all those tasks, but the clock keeps ticking as your mind grows busier and busier. To avoid this late-night rumination, try planning your day the night before (ideally before you hop into bed). Make a clear, actionable to-do list on paper just before you go to bed to assure yourself that you already have a plan in place that you will handle…just as soon as you get some sleep.
6. Set Intentions
Setting daily intentions is an effective way to reduce stress and feel more in control of your destiny. Less about achieving tangible results, setting an intention for the day is about aligning yourself with a positive theme, focusing more on possibilities instead of limitations. For instance, instead of focusing on the goal of hitting the gym, make an intention to live healthier to get you in the mindset of wanting to hit the gym. In lieu of the goal to finish your big report by the end of the day, set an intention to be productive or to be more present, and so on.
7. Work in Intervals
Everybody needs to recharge. If you go, go, go without stopping, you’re likely to get burned out and find yourself in a bad mood. Working in intervals means scheduling in structured breaks to retain your energy. One helpful tactic is the Pomodoro Technique in which you break down your work into 25-minute intervals, with five-minute breaks in between. To get started, decide which task you want to accomplish, (over)estimate how much time it will take, break your task into actionable pieces, and start your timer for 25 minutes.
8. Eliminate Distractions
From noise-canceling headphones to positive self-talk, there are numerous ways to keep distractions at bay when you’re trying to complete a task. If your triggers are external noise, put on headphones or post a sign on your door that lets others know you’re working. If your triggers are self-limiting thoughts or anxiety, remind yourself of your successes or visualize the task already being complete and it soon will be.
9. Move Your Body When You Can
If you were the kind of kid who found it difficult to sit still in class, you may have turned into an adult who finds it difficult to sit still at work. Hyperactivity and fidgeting can be extremely distracting for yourself and others, but finding a way to channel this energy can be all the help you need. From sitting-standing desks to short walking breaks, adding some movement to your day will help to free up energy and keep you on task.
10. Pace Yourself
If you have ADHD, you may struggle with patience. Always in a hurry, you want to get things done and you don’t want anything to stand in your way. But setbacks and unexpected delays are a part of life. By slowing down a bit, such inconveniences won’t result in a surge of anxiety, you’re less likely to make mistakes, and you might actually find something to enjoy in the interim.
How Homeopathic Medications Help Increase Focus
Homeopathic medication like Brillia can offer extra support for individuals who struggle with inattention, distractibility, restlessness, and anxiety. Available without a prescription or official diagnosis, Brillia’s unique active ingredient consists of antibodies to the S100B protein. This protein plays a key role in many different intracellular and extracellular brain processes, including various enzyme activities, calcium homeostasis, and communication between neurons. Gentle, impactful, and very targeted, Brillia is clinically proven to reduce symptoms of ADHD and anxiety without any harsh, synthetic chemicals or harmful side effects. And if you’re already taking medication for ADHD, Brillia can be safely added to your regimen to clear up side effects like anxiety (commonly associated with prescription ADHD medication) without any adverse effects. The medication will not impede your motivation with lethargy, drowsiness, or depression, nor will it affect your personality or appetite. Should you decide to stop taking Brillia, you can do so at any time without worrying about any “coming off” effects.
Find out more about how Brillia works and explore more resources on managing ADHD at the Brillia(nce) Resource Center.