February 10, 2022

How to beat the "getting started paralysis" that so many ADHD'ers experience

A lot of the time, I'd rather grab a cookie (or ten), look at Instagram, or sweep the floor I just swept an hour ago instead of doing what I need to do.


It's been said that chunking helps in situations like this. And it does work - because even doing a little gets the brain juices flowing.

Still, even that can be hard sometimes - finding that simple first step isn't always easy.

Over time, I've found a few things that work when I feel like this and am excited to share them with you.

I think they're a great example of first steps when you're feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed.

1. Get the project or task details

There are times when I have to do something for a client, but I don't remember all of the details. This makes me procrastinate because I'm subconsciously overwhelmed.

I've found that when this happens, searching for the email (or whatever) containing those details is a good starting task.

By making this its own task I am reducing the emotional barriers related to doing it.

2. Organize the project folder(s)

Most of the time, I'm engrossed in what I'm doing, so forget about my file-saving conventions. Then, when I pick up where I left off, I'm overwhelmed because I know it's going to be a hassle looking for things.

In these cases, I always make it a separate task to organize the project folder. The purpose of this step is to make it easier to get into the project another time - because it too reduces the anxiety that creates the paralysis.

3. Chunk it up (even laundry!)

Even as I'm getting the laundry out of the dryer, I can feel my heart pounding just at the thought of putting it away.

It's ridiculous, buts that's just how it is for me.

Now, to make things easier, I usually put the laundry away in three or more steps.

  1. Sort the laundry into piles (socks, underwear, things to hang-up, towels, etc.).
  2. Pair the socks together
  3. Put things away (often 1 pile at a time over the course of the day)

These days, my laundry is usually put away within a day or two. In the past, we would just pick things out of the pile until all of the items were back in the "to-wash" pile.

So now what?

You're probably thinking one of two things right now.

  1. This is BS. This won't work for me.
  2. I need to start doing this all. NOW!

I encourage you to pick one to try, either way. If you can't decide, just decide randomly. There's no right or wrong.

Ohhhh... I just thought of another thing you might be thinking after reading this.

- You might be thinking, "This is useless because I already do all of this.". If so, you are awesome 🙂 Give yourself a pat on the back.

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