Time Management

8 Ways to Get Motivated With Adult ADHD

Eileen Bailey Jul 2nd, 2013 (updated Feb 16th, 2016)
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Many adults with ADHD have been called “lazy” or “unmotivated” throughout their lives. While most adults with ADHD are easily motivated when a task or activity is interesting, the mundane and boring tasks are ignored or put off until later, even when they are important. The following are ways to help people with ADHD overcome their lack of motivation,  or at least find ways to complete tasks even when they're not motivated.

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Set a time limit
Set a time limit

Sometimes you can get moving if you know there is a limit to how much time you must spend on a task. For example, if you need to rake the leaves, set a time limit of 30 minutes and plan something more exciting for the end of the 30 minutes.

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Alternate tasks
Alternate tasks

When faced with a long, arduous task, break it into small segments and give yourself time to do something you enjoy in between each segment. If you need to clean the house, start with one room and then take 15 minutes to do an enjoyable activity, then go on to clean the next room.

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Combine forces
Combine forces

Unpleasant or boring tasks instantly become more interesting if you are doing them with a friend. Even if you can’t work directly with someone, ask friends or relatives to share accountability; give them updates on your progress in exchange for updates on their progress. Use email or texting to share information back and forth to keep motivation up.

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Accept and overcome
Accept and overcome

Accept that you are unmotivated and do it anyway.  Everyone has to do things they don’t want to do. Most people don’t want to wash the dishes or take out the trash. You don’t always need “motivation” to complete them, sometimes it is a matter of doing the task anyway.

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Break it down
Break it down

Large tasks are overwhelming. It is sometimes hard to know where to start. Sometimes it is easier to simply not start at all. Break the task into steps and begin with the first step. It is often easier to motivate you to accomplish small steps and as you complete each step, your motivation may increase.

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Create a sense of urgency
Create a sense of urgency

Many adults with ADHD find that they become motivated when faced with a looming deadline. Create your own deadlines, for example, wait until it is almost time to watch a favorite show or leave to meet a friend to dinner. By giving yourself a deadline and a certain amount of time to complete a task, it may be easier to push yourself to complete the undesirable task.

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Understand your distractions
Understand your distractions

Think about what are your biggest distractions: are you drawn to the television, the computer or your IPhone? Give yourself reminders to stay focused by writing a note on your distractions – paste a large note on your television and computer saying “Stay away until you are done,” and wrap your iPhone in a similar note. You will need to think about what you are doing when you turn on the television or the computer or pick up the phone.

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Know what time of day you work best
Know what time of day you work best

Some people are “morning people” while others perform their best work in the afternoon or evening (or the middle of the night.) Complete tedious tasks when your mind is most focused. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your lack of motivation is because you are lazy, but remember it could be ADHD that keeps your motivation low.