Pause Life Coaching

“Lost time is never found again.” Benjamin Franklin

If you have ADHD and/or are a chronic procrastinator, you’ve probably wondered why you can’t just get things done before the last minute. It’s not like you want to procrastinate; it’s this thing that just happens. And it keeps happening, no matter how many times you tell yourself it will be different next time.

Procrastination is a passive habit, which is partially why it is so hard to break. You have to be really creative and clever to outsmart your brain’s desire to avoid a project in front of you.

You want to be successful. And I want that for you too. So today I wanted to share with you some strategies that really do work. These tips work because they help you get around your urge to procrastinate. You don’t have to try to change who you are. Instead, you just need to change the way you work.

1. Always know what you will work on next

For me, the worst procrastination happens when I finish something and I’m wondering what I should do next. Big projects on my to-do list can start to seem like such a big commitment that I don’t even know where to start. So I don’t start, and the day gets away from me.

This won’t happen to you if you are prepared.

Every night, look at your to-do list. Decide which goal or goals are most important to work on tomorrow. What work will be the most meaningful?

Put 5 tasks on your to-do list, so that when you get to work tomorrow, you have 5 choices for where to start. When you finish one, now you have 4 choices of what to do.

You can even get more specific and rank them in order of importance. Start with the most important thing, and work from there. Don’t give yourself any option to deviate from the list — this is your plan, and this is what you will do.

2. Create super specific to-do tasks

If you procrastinate on big project because you are afraid to start or afraid to fail, try turning the project into as many tiny steps as you possibly can. Maybe you don’t feel confident that you can give a huge proposal to your company’s executive team. But I know you have the ability to google examples of good executive proposals. I know you can open a Word doc and write a paragraph about your idea.

Small steps are easy to do. They aren’t scary. And once you do one, the next one seems even easier.

It’s easy to go days without making progress on a big project because when you look at a task that’s too large, you know there’s no way you’ll be able to complete it today — so there’s little motivation to start chipping away at it.

You can fix this by turning every big project into a series of really small steps.

Spend time once a week (or even daily) turning your to-do’s into really specific actions. Close your eyes and visualize these specific actions.  Instead of “edit blog post”, you might write:

  • read blog post
  • make changes in the doc
  • send feedback/notes to the writer
  • create title
  • add blog post to the content calendar

Just like the last tip, this one is about leaving yourself no choice but to make progress. Every task should be so small that you can clearly answer yes or no if you did it.

3. Change your environment

If a place that you “work” frequently has become more of a place that you procrastinate frequently, you are more likely to fall into procrastination mode out of a kind of muscle memory. If you can, leave that place and go somewhere new like the library, a coffee shop, or another office or conference room in your building.

If you’re in an office where you can’t leave your desk, there are small ways to change your environment and make it easier to start working.

Instead of typing on your computer, see if there are steps you can do with on paper first. For example, outline a report you need to write using a pen and paper before typing it up on the computer. This accomplishes two things:

  • it gives you an easy task to start with
  • it changes what you’re looking at, so you approach the project with fresh eyes

4. See the value in certain kinds of procrastination

Do you ever use negative self-talk when you’re procrastinating? Do you think about how you’re lazy or stupid or how you always leave things to the last minute? This ADHD mind chatter is deafening.

That perspective is not motivating. The worse you feel about yourself, the less likely you are to feel ready to do the work you need to do.

Instead, consider this: sometimes procrastination is actually part of the process of doing amazing work.

When our minds are clear (like they are when we do things like taking a shower), our brains start using that free space to make connections. Information starts to fall into place. This free space is where great ideas come from.

So the next time you’re choosing to do a little task before starting on your big to-do, don’t get down on yourself. Acknowledge that this is part of the process. It is just one of many steps you will take in completing this project. Know that when you are done with this task, you’ll move on to the next step of your project.

Your confidence and new perspective will help that to actually come true.

5. Think about why you procrastinate – and work with it

Do you procrastinate because you need the pressure of a deadline? We know for the ADHD brain, that pressure increases dopamine and adrenaline and allows you to get stuff done. In fact, while neuro-typicals often crumble under this pressure, the ADHDer engages in hyper-focus and meets the deadline. If this works for you, try setting smaller deadlines for yourself over the course of a project. Break the project down into steps that you can complete in the weeks leading up to the due date.

Treat these deadlines like you would any other – even if that means working up to the last minute. The idea here is that by getting things done along the way, you have more overall time to do a better job than you would trying to do every single thing under the gun.

6. Hold yourself accountable – get an accountability partner

If you procrastinate because you struggle with motivation or accountability when you’re working on your own, try involving other people. Often, the pressure to not let other people down is far more motivating than the desire just to get the work done.

Ask a peer to help you put together an outline for your proposal, and set a date where you will have all of the necessarily materials ready for them to meet with you and help you.

Identify what’s really causing your procrastination, experiment with any of these strategies and soon you will make progress towards your goals, one step at a time.

College drop-off day is around the corner – Again!

Two years ago I hugged my oldest of 3 daughters goodbye at college and watched her walk into the next chapter of her life.

It was hard.

Really hard.
It was one of the hardest, most dreaded days of parenthood I’d ever experienced.

Sounds dramatic. I know I was sending her off to college, not war.

And still, the memory of that day is seared into my brain, along with some unexpected painful moments that snuck up on me in the weeks and months that followed.

And now only two years later I have another child packing up her room to head to college.

Recently, I’ve been rehashing what I learned the first time around. What I know for sure is that looking back and feeling sad robs me of being present for the moment I’m in now.

This time I give myself permission to feel sad, to miss them and then to get on with finding my new normal.

From drop-off day to the months that followed, this is how finding my new normal went down the first time.

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You suspect that, “I may have a bit of that ADHD.”

Perhaps you took my ADHD quiz.

Or you read an article. Someone showed you a checklist.
Maybe a family member has been diagnosed.

Now you’re worried. Wondering, “Do I have this mindset? Or could it be something else?”

Adult ADHD is real. It is estimated that 85% of adults living with ADHD are undiagnosed.

The general public is often surprised to learn that adults can have ADHD. While most people are aware children have ADHD, they don’t realize it also affects adults too. However, ADHD doesn’t disappear on your 18th birthday!

ADHD changes into adulthood. Hyperactivity lessens with age, and adults develop coping strategies; both consciously and unconsciously to help them succeed in the world. It means that ADHD is less visible to the casual observer.

Some adults have known since childhood that they have ADHD. However, what they are now experiencing are different challenges. Learning skills on how to do well in school, are now replaced with the need to learn how to do well in a work environment, manage a household and take care of finances etc.

You may wonder what’s the point of getting a diagnosis? You’ve made it this far in life, why bother?

You think the only reason to get a diagnosis is if you want to use medication as a treatment and you’re not interested in medication.

Fact, if you are an adult with ADHD, getting a diagnosis is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

Here’s why: Read More

Feeling crazed and exhausted every day? I know the feeling. The fix sounds simple…make self-care a non-negotiable priority.

It’s likely if you’re not recharging your battery every single day, you’re walking around haggard, crabby, and resentful.

The first step in self-care is to be gentle and kind to yourself. Practice self-compassion.

Next, give yourself permission to get support around your self-care. Yes, you can ask for help. It’s a positive healthy part of life.

Now, make a commitment with your spouse, a friend, your sister, anyone who loves you a lot and scares you just a little to hold you accountable. Ok? You got your person? Good.

Lastly, be realistic. I know you have superhuman powers. After all you’re a woman. It goes without saying. Choose just one of the following hacks to start. Not all of them. Once you’ve made one of these part of your life, add on another. Read More

Looking back I cringe, “Why did I waste precious time struggling alone? Why didn’t I see that other women go through the same thing?

Mostly, because I either wasn’t listening, or women are not talking enough or at all about this.

As an ADHD Coach I witness everyday how ADHD undermines your planning, organizing, prioritizing, tracking progress, finishing tasks, and managing time, right? We know these symptoms are a result of low amounts or sluggish dopamine and norepinephrine (neurotransmitters in the brain).

Well, there’s another culprit that drags women down. It’s hormones. Read More

So you got ADHD and you want to start doing things differently. Good for you! Deciding to work with an ADHD coach is a big step. It takes tremendous courage to admit conquering ADHD all alone is, well…it’s hard! Many often feel unsure of what ADHD coaching is and even more unsure of what to expect from an ADHD coach. Here’s what to  look for in an ADHD coach.

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Are you a good multi-tasker?

Think you are awesome at your work because you’re doing two things at once? Nope.

You just make yourself look bad. Or worse – stand to disappoint others and yourself.

We think multitasking is good or, at best, necessary, to help us be “productive” and get as much done as possible. Multitasking makes us feel very busy, like we’ve been productive. So why are so many of us strangely panicked at the sight of our scantly completed to-do lists?

Because multitasking is a constant interruption – a constant distraction.

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