I have spent much of my life with a sense of having so much to do, so much that I want to do, but little sense of what to do next.
And this is fundamental. Dreams, plans and todo lists are only effective when they direct our actual actions at a specific point in time. To turn something from a hope or general intention into a reality, it must translate to an actual physical action, something that I do in the world.
You may be different from me. Knowing what you’re doing and when comes naturally to some – to the sort of person who isn’t likely to be diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder. And that’s great. To me that’s like a superpower, so use your superpower and do great things.
For those of us who don’t do this naturally (and this could include your child, partner or colleague), be patient and understand that we need a good strategy rather than judgement, supportive reminders rather than impatience, and affordable questions to identify our true priorities, rather than words like “just try harder”.
And a good strategy is key for people like us. At the core of that strategy, for me at least and for many clients seeking anti-procrastination coaching, is this:
Know what comes next.
Put down your next few actions (or otherwise reminding yourself) in a way that you’ll definitely see. For me that can be achieved several ways.
- Writing my next 3 tasks on a sticky note, ideally a coloured sticky note with a felt tip pen for boldness. Or…
- Having them in a short list that’s super easy to access on my phone (not buried in a notes app, but accessible on one tap). Or…
- Putting a physical reminder in my way. E.g. if I need to take something with me when I leave the house, I put it on my “launch pad” by the door that I’ve learnt to always check. (My first version of a launch pad was the doorway of my bedroom – I just knew that it worked for me, long before I had any concept of ADD/ADHD.) Or…
- For a simple sequence of actions, deciding on the next three items and committing them to memory. This only works for me when the actions are straightforward and each can be represented by a short word or two.
One or more of those might work for you. Maybe they’re all terrible for you. Doesn’t matter. What matters is this:
When you want to get things done, decide what you’re doing next and make sure you have a way to stay focused on it.