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You Aren’t Lazy Just Because You Have ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is commonly considered a childhood condition, but some people continue to experience symptoms as they age into adulthood as well. When that happens, there are certain stereotypes that go along with it.

One of those is that adults with ADHD are lazy. This stems from the difference in the way that ADHD sufferers make decisions when compared to the average person. If there isn’t a certain amount of interest, challenge, novelty or urgency to the decision, someone with ADHD might simply avoid doing something or making a decision about something.

This can translate into the appearance of laziness or procrastination in the eyes of other people. So, how do you change this behavior? It won’t be easy, but you can successfully live a productive life with ADHD. Here’s how.

Figure Out What Works

By sitting down and thinking about what does help you stay productive and get things done, you create an owner’s manual of sorts for yourself. People who have ADHD have productive periods during the day, and determining what spurs you during that time can help you.

Figure out what got your attention and what’s holding it. The trick here is that most adults with ADHD need novelty, urgency, challenge or interest to get them to focus on something. That means that you won’t be all that motivated by something you have to do all the time, like write a report for work or run on the treadmill when it’s time to exercise.

On the other hand, knowing that you like novelty means that doing a new workout every day can keep you productive when it comes to exercise.

Stay Realistic

This information is all well and good, but you have to have a realistic idea of what’s going to work for you and what’s not. In general, you can expect that your condition will make things take longer, especially if you aren’t all that motivated to get them done.

Plan for this extra time, and you should be able to get your end result without the crisis situation that things can turn into when you have ADHD and have put things off for too long.

Perfect Doesn’t Exist

As someone with ADHD, it’s necessary for you to let go of the idea of perfection. In fact, most people can benefit from realizing that perfect doesn’t exist. Give yourself a break and understand that being productive at work might mean letting certain things go at home.

Maybe you order takeout or wait until tomorrow to clean out that closet. The little bit of leeway can help you stay productive and get the important things done so that you don’t appear lazy and you’re happy with what you’ve accomplished during the day.

Prep Your Area

You know what conditions help you stay focused and on track, so prepping your area before you get started is a great way to keep yourself in the zone. You can do this at the office and at home so that anytime you need to tackle a task, you are ready when the urgency and interest hits you.

Next time you’re plugging away as you should, stop and take a look around to see what your surroundings are like. Those are the same conditions you need next time you need to be productive.

Go For Fun First

Most people are more productive when they get the boring and tough stuff out of the way first, because they are motivated by the fun that awaits them afterward. However, for people with ADHD, this process is often reversed.

By doing the fun stuff first, you allow your brain to spike with the feel-good hormone, dopamine. That feel-good stuff can help motivate you to tackle your tasks in an attempt to get back to the fun. Try breaking things up with breaks for something you enjoy, and you could find that you are much more productive.

Take Transition Breaks

People who have ADHD often have a hard time transitioning between jobs, so a built-in break can make this easier. Take a few minutes between tasks to go for a walk, do a couple of yoga poses or spend some time engaging in deep breathing.

This little break gives your brain a rest and allows you to get yourself prepared for the next thing on your list. Knowing that you have another break coming when it’s done will help motivate you to get through things.

Break Things Up

Because the very nature of ADHD makes it hard to stay focused for long periods of time, it’s best to break large or daunting projects into smaller chunks. You won’t feel as overwhelmed by the smaller chunks, and knocking them out one at a time can help keep you motivated and focused to get to the next thing that will help you complete the big job.

Write Everything Down

Because the brain of someone with ADHD has a difficult time not flitting around and getting distracted, it’s a good idea to write everything down. This way you can refer to your day planner or to-do list to remind yourself of what you need to get done and what your deadline is.

When you fail to keep written track of everything in your life, you could find that you forget things because your mind has moved on to something else. Make sure you carry paper and pen everywhere you go so that you can write down important things as they happen.

Deadlines Are Important

If you find that deadlines are hard for you, keeping them highly visible can help. Write down what’s due and what’s coming in dark letters and hang them in prominent locations. This serves two purposes.

It helps you remember what you need to get done, but it also motivates you because it’s staring you in the face all day until you get it done. You might also highlight certain things in your day planner or set a background on your phone. Whatever works for you is a great way to meet deadlines.

Quit Being Negative

Pin ItChances are you are well-aware of your limitations and flaws, and making them a prominent part of your routine only exacerbates the problem. Your unconscious mind doesn’t always read words like “no” and “not.” Change the way you talk to yourself and put a positive spin on things and you might find that your productivity and focus goes way up as you try to get things done at home and at work.

In addition to these techniques, the Mayo Clinic suggests talking to your doctor about medications and therapeutic treatments that can help keep your symptoms under control. Many things that don’t work for kids will do great things for you as an adult. Getting control of your ADHD is the single best way to live a good quality of life and feel good about yourself at the same time.

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Katherine Hurst
By Catherine Gordon
Catherine Gordon (PhD) has a background teaching and researching analytic philosophy. She is also a practising therapist who works with individuals and couples on issues relating to relationship difficulties, emotional well-being and self-improvement.

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