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  • Writer's pictureJonathan French

When Small Tasks Become Too Large

ADHD is complex and affects people in numerous ways. One of the ways it can show up is big picture thinking. This is awesome in a lot of situations: we see connections others might miss, we have ideas and very out-of-the-box solutions to problems, and often have a remarkably keen intuition in specific areas. In the wrong situation, though, seeing all the connecting dots can keep us stuck when mixed with other ADHD traits like distractibility and forgetfulness.

Take, for example, a situation where you run out of dish soap. All you need to do is go to the store and replace it, right?

Now, you’re going to the store and you’ve been meaning to get some pictures printed there to put up around the house. You don’t want to waste time with too many trips to the store so you hop on your computer to choose some pictures to print out. But where is that one picture of your favorite holiday?

Oh, that’s right your friend emailed it to you. You go to your email to download the picture and you notice that email you’ve been avoiding, and now you’re focused on the fact that you didn’t reply, and now that it’s been a few days it might be too late.

Now you’re in a state of stress, your cat comes over and you start petting it, you get distracted, and voila… it’s four hours later and you remember you were going to grab dish soap but the store is now closed.

Even if you notice it’s happening, it can be hard to identify which steps to prioritize. It’s easy to get caught up with whether you should just ignore the photos, grab the accessible ones or keep diving into more tasks that come up.

I’ve actually found success in not worrying about being efficient. If there’s something I need to do, I try to jump on it, without worrying about the added steps. Sometimes I’ll remember all of the things I needed from the store, and that’s amazing when it happens. But I’m still ahead of the game if I get 50% of the things I needed, rather than being at home trying to figure out everything I need and not managing to accomplish any of it.

Even if I only get 50% of what I needed, I still feel more productive. Which makes me want to do more things. If I struggle with a task for too long without making any headway then I feel unproductive, overwhelmed, and a pile of negative emotions. These don’t make me want to be more productive, they make me feel like giving up and watching Netflix because what’s the damn point?

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