Adult ADHD: Finish That Project!

By: Tellman Knudson

Ok, so you've got Adult ADHD, and you've got this unfinished project. Or more probably, several unfinished projects! And you only have about 10-25% left to do to finish it...but you just can't seem to do it. What can you do?

First of all, you've got to picture what it will be like when it’s complete. What is this project going to do for you when it’s done? How are you going to feel? What is the end result? People with Adult ADHD tend not to focus on accomplishments once they're done, and that can be very de-motivating.

Maybe you're creating a product, or writing a book. Maybe you're creating a new system. What is the benefit to you? If you hate creating a system (common to Adult ADHD) in your business or life, focus on how much more time you'll have to do what you want when you're at the end of it.

If you're writing a book and you have Adult ADHD, you're probably having trouble finishing that last 15%. Think about all the people who are going to read it and appreciate it. Picture it as vividly and specifically as you can. Imagine yourself in an arena with 30,000 people in a stadium opening your book, your piece of information that you put out to the world, smiling, loving it.

If you have Adult ADHD, you need to be looking at not only what it’s going to be like when it’s done, but you have to imagine it in the most exciting way humanly possible.

You can exaggerate. Make the picture larger, brighter, more exciting.

That works well for all the "visual" people with Adult ADHD. Interestingly though, only 20% of the people out there with Adult ADHD can actually picture anything in their heads when they close their eyes. That leaves 80% of Adult ADHD people who can't.

How can a non-visual person with Adult ADHD visualize? Imagine what it would look like if you could picture it. Or what it would sound like, or what it would feel like, or what you know about it conceptually. Those are all different ways of imagining something that work well with Adult ADHD.

Another thing Adult ADHD people can do to motivate themselves to finish a project is to create a reward.

What is it that you really want, that you can hold off for yourself, as kind of a carrot for finishing the project? This has worked very successfully for me, and others with Adult ADHD. I use a book as an example because this was a project that I personally had a hard time finishing.

It was a highly technical content book on TCP/IP with lots of numbers and figures. It was 1,400 pages long. It was a big, fat book, but I was under contract and I had to finish it.

There was a deadline, which usually helps with Adult ADHD, but that still didn't give me the motivation. Having someone hold a stick over you with a deadline, that can be de-motivating more than anything. However, at that particular time in my life, there was one thing that I really wanted.

I love dogs, and I wanted a puppy. So I went, in the middle of writing the book, and picked out my puppy. I left her at the kennel. I took her picture and I put it on my desk.

I still have that picture today. Underneath the picture, it says, "Write a book and get a puppy." My puppy’s six years old today; the day I finished writing my last words, and sent them off to my publisher, I called my aunt and said, "Come on. We're going to go get the puppy." That was a great motivator, a reward, that worked for me, and could work very well for you, if you have Adult ADHD.

Interestingly, again, rewards don't always work for people with Adult ADHD. Maybe you have a childhood block against them; but regardless of where you're at, if rewards work for you, use them every single day, and if they don't, then do something like visualizing your project finished.

You can make your internal picture more real by writing about it, even taking pictures that remind you of your goal and putting them up around your house or office, like I did with the puppy.

There are three more techniques you can use to focus and finish a task: Mini-Deadlines, Egg-Timers, and Sensory Stimulation. To find out more about these and other techniques for overcoming Adult ADHD, see below!

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