Updated: Nov 3, 2021
You drag your eyes back to the computer. Reread the line. Sighing you click the tab to open social media. Sigh again. This day’s going terribly, and there is no way you’re going to get this task done.
We’ve all been there, staring at a task that seems impossible and clicking through every social media tab desperate for some distraction. If you’re stuck in a rut, here are some tips that can help you reset.
1. Break Down Your Task
Sometimes one of the reasons a task seems boring is because it’s hard to understand how it can be achieved. ADHD can make it challenging to tackle a job with many separate parts. Taking a moment to outline all the steps in a larger task can make it easier to take the next step. And don’t be afraid to write down tasks that seem simple (such as which document you need to open or which email you need to read next). We’ve all had those days when executive functioning is limited, and a list of small tasks can be a huge help to get started.
2. Get Some Green Time
Studies have shown that people with ADHD respond very well to getting amongst nature (Faber Taylor & Kuo, 2011; Foley, 2005). Taking a moment to sit in the local park or visit any nearby green space can help you feel refreshed and ready to tackle your next task.
3. Talk To Somebody
Talking through the task in front of you can help clarify any issues you’re facing. Whether you’re venting or gaining another perspective, having someone (virtually or face-to-face) who you can talk to when you get stuck allows you to unpack what’s going on internally. If you feel like you could benefit from this support regularly consider working with a therapist or ADHD Coach.
4. Try Taking Your Work Offline.
For many people with ADHD and associated neurodiversities, working on the computer can add another layer of difficulty. Not only are there more distractions, but the screen can mask that feeling of progress that keeps you on track. If you are struggling at the computer, consider if your task could be done offline? Maybe the document can be printed and highlighted, or the email could be drafted by hand and typed up later? Any progress is better than none so if you’re stuck consider fewer tech methods of working.
5. Move Your Body
Studies have found that people with ADHD who get some exercise feel more alert and ready to focus on tasks (Den Heijer et al., 2017). Moving your body can be anything from taking a walk, doing some stretching next to your desk, or scheduling exercise classes (virtual or otherwise) during times you feel less productive.
These strategies could be done separately or combined as needed. For example, maybe you head to the park with a notebook and draft your document by hand. Or perhaps you walk with a work colleague, talk through a task and then write out a list of subtasks. Having these strategies available can help you avoid procrastination and support your brain when you get stuck.
Let me know if you’ve used any of these strategies and any others you have for getting out of a rut at work.
Talk to you next week!
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Den Heijer, A. E., Groen, Y., Tucha, L., Fuermaier, A. B., Koerts, J., Lange, K. W., Thome, J., & Tucha, O. (2017). Sweat it out? The effects of physical exercise on cognition and behavior in children and adults with ADHD: a systematic literature review. Journal of Neural Transmission, 124(1), 3–26.
Faber Taylor, A., & Kuo, F. E. (Ming). (2011). Could Exposure to Everyday Green Spaces Help Treat ADHD? Evidence from Children’s Play Settings. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3(3), 281–303. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1758-0854.2011.01052.x
Foley, K. (2005). Experiencing Nature May Help to Quell ADHD. Clinical Psychiatry News, 33(2), 34. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0270-6644(05)70687-1