View Full Version : Dreaded Tasks
07-15-2003, 11:53 AM
I have a monthly task that I just dread. It isn't complicated, it isn't time consuming, it's just tedious. Every month I have to psych myself up to do this task, usually by promising myself some reward when it is done. And every month I heave a huge sigh of relief when it is completed, because this task always gives me tired head. It's not somethiing I can delegate to somone else, and I find myself putting it off as long as possible. Any ideas on how to handle tasks that you dread?
07-15-2003, 06:53 PM
Here are some ideas that I use. As a person with ADHD, I have had to invent lots of strategies to get things done!
- Find a way to make it fun, or at least have an element of fun. For example, I sometimes play music that is fun and gives me energy when doing a dreaded task. Or, if it's a computer task, I play a lot with fonts and colours. I create the most ridiculous looking documents with the strangest fonts (I download fun fonts) to get a dreaded job done. At the end, I convert it all to boring black Times Roman. Or, doing grocery shopping, I invent games to play. For example, if I bring in the groceries below a certain dollar amount, I get to buy myself a surprise for X dollars. You get the idea ... Be creative.
- Break the dreaded task down into teeny tiny baby steps. Then do one. Even if it's ridiculously tiny. It's amazing how just getting started on a dreaded task can give you energy to do the next step.
- I sometimes use a technique of using a timer and alternating activities on days when it's hard to get moving. I might have 5 or 6 totally different things on that list -- a dreaded task, a household task, an intellectual task, meditation, a second work-related task on another project. Then I make up my next actions list and alternate these tasks so that a dreaded task is sandwiched in-between two more pleasurable activities. I then set my timer in 5-minute increments and work my way down the list. The second round is then 10 minutes per task. The third round is 15 minutes. I've found this a good way to get through dreaded tasks, as well as just breaking through the "getting-started" barrier on a variety of tasks.
- I analyze the problem. Are there other conditions that get in the way? Am I tired when I try to do the dreaded task? Are there too many interruptions at that time? Am I doing it in the wrong place? Am I poorly prepared to start it? Am I afraid? Anxious? Then I creatively brainstorm and problem-solve. Sometimes this works.
- Attach the dreaded task to a reward. I sometimes take dreaded tasks to my favourite cafe or tea room -- a place where I feel great. Or I pack them into my saddle bag, go for a bike ride, then find a nice place to spread out my papers and work in a park or something (even have done this with the laptop).
- Which brings me to another idea ... Exercise first, even a short spurt. Or do anything else that raises your physical and psychic energy. 15 minutes on a stationary bike, a brisk walk ... Then immediately tackle the dreaded task, but with a time limit. With my ADHD, I can extend my normal time limit of 5 minutes for a dreaded task to 15 minutes ... and if it really goes well, I can hyper-focus once I get started and just finish the task at one sitting. But if I were to approach the task thinking I needed to get it done at one sitting, I wouldn't even be able to start.
I hope some of this is helpful.
07-15-2003, 06:59 PM
I forgot to add:
One ADD strategy is to have a support person in the room with you to keep you focused. The way I do this is I hire a 13 year old girl from next door to come in for 2 hours a week to help me with dreaded tasks (and she does my filing).
She doesn't have to do much. If it's a computer task, she just needs to sit beside me and hand me papers or read out one line at a time or whatever. It doesn't matter what she does. That's not the point. The point is that her presence close to me keeps me moving on my task.
Would this work for a non-ADHD person? I don't know but I think so.
A non-ADHD researcher colleague often likes to block off a day to sit and finish writing together that we are co-authoring. We sit side-by-side at the computer and just do it. I think it makes it easier for her, too, to get it done.
Anyway, I thought I'd mention that.
07-18-2003, 05:51 AM
Thanks for these thoughts. That has given me some new ideas on approaching these tasks.
08-13-2003, 09:10 AM
Well, it was time for that dreaded task again, and it went well this month. I did two things differently. One, I tried doing it faster than before. This was difficult because this task involves preparing a report with a lot of calculations and I can't really rush it. Two, I took a break in the middle of the task. That seemed to help. And I think it really helped that my attitude was changed. Not "Oh No, Not That Again" thinking, but "Get This Done" thinking. Thanks!