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Systems for immediate rewards for compleating tasks

Cyrano_de_Bergerac
Cyrano_de_Bergerac

I'm working on ways to self motivate and keep me working on tasks even after they are boring.

Setting a timer and working while the timer is going, then swiching to a short rewarding task cycle has proven effective, but it's deciding on a task to work on then picking up the timer, and starting. It is too easy to just say it can wait and putting it off.. And always has been..

Shaming, anger, recrimination saying "it just NEEDS to get done" in a louder voice and disappointment have been predominant approaches by parents, loved ones and myself.

Unfortunately after 36 years these ideas still haven't worked.

What do you do, have you tried, or heard or read about to help motivation for that first step, and all the steps afterwards?

16 Replies
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I'm kind of new to understanding what my challenges are

but I have a notebook (several, oops) with an assortment of stuff in it

One page will be devoted as the

current

"to do" list.

I put things in categories,

circle things to pay closer attention to, priorities

and cross out

things accomplished.

If I go too long ignoring a task, I buckle down on it and say to myself:

if nothing else gets done today, this one thing must get done.

"urethane that stupid table top you were silly enough to think was a worthy task")

I did it yesterday. That was my one thing I must get done today or else...and I did it and was free to prance around lateeda, lateeda.

(It took me almost two weeks to decide what kind of urethane and that I didn't want to invest in anything more than a throwaway 50c brush for the project= breaking down the project)

if it's too big for me to do in a day, then I reduce it to an amount of time that I can be at peace with

at the end of the day, 10 minutes, half hour, whatever.

Sometimes I aim for 3 tasks to get done and only accomplish one or I may rotate so I don't have to dull my mind on the one task too long, but crossing that one off is a reward, it's like having someone remove 50 lb bag off my shoulders or the happiness that comes from ridding oneself of clutter.

might be easier to answer if I knew what kind of boring task. Some boring tasks, like vacuuming, get pushed to low priority. Dishes, they get done often enough so I don't have a mountain to face...paperwork, if it's spilling out of its container or drawer onto the floor into the cat's water bowl, i give it a little higher priority. Basically, if I can hide it from my vision then it's a back burner. If it's a mess that's building, like the one in my car, first it has to get enough priority to make it to my notebook. Then, I might just go look at it and let the impression seep into my subconscious. For the last month, i've been carting around empty water jugs, 50 dollars in pennies and nickels, house painting tools, tent, sleeping bag books to get rid of, plastic to recycle. Today, I got rid of the coins at the bank coin counter. Sunday, after two months of trying to remember to get rid of 5 gallon water jug recycles, I DID IT! that gave my head 10 gallons of head space that some would say I already have:) Painting tools made it inside the house...they still need to learn how to walk downstairs.

Sorry, I don't feel like I've been much help. If you remember to chastise yourself then you have too much working memory! ;)

Bullet Journal! Aquired! Now sticking tp the task of writing in it... Way to go on the house cleaning!! Every step, is worth it!

Dison
Dison in reply to lisariver

I am encouraged reading your post. Although diagnosed with ADHD over five years ago I have never admitted to myself the need to organize my life in such a way. I have told myself I can live life spontaneously. Thank you for posting. If you have more to share I’d appreciate you writing about it.

I’ve noticed lately talking to a friend and imagining what the outcome will feel/look like...explaining WHY airs important to me (even if it’s relief from stress) is a REALLY nice motivator. It’s more visualization than talking, but talking helps me focus on the motivation.

I'm thinking about adding this to the end of my daily meditations, the visualization and see where that goes! I've actually been meditating for more then 4 days in a row! This is huge for me, and has calmed some of my rampaging thoughts! Which cuts down on stress which makes me less anxious! It's a great cycle!

It was a great question because I wasn’t sure why I was feeling better until you asked. Now I can consciously add it to my toolbox.

I've been working on this for a while myself.

I use the timer method that you described fairly often. Sometimes it works but a lot of times I have a hard time obeying the timer when it's time to get back to work.

I also use a bullet journal which is probably similar to the notebook that lisariver described. I mostly use it like a planner to keep track of assignments(I'm in college), other tasks, appointments, and meetings. I also use it to keep track of my random thoughts/ideas that I often have. If your interested I suggest you check out How To ADHD's video(s) about it on YouTube. It's the only in-depth explanation I've found.

Another motivational tool that I use is a sticker page. Every time I check of a to-do I get to add a sticker to the front inside cover of my bullet journal. It sounds childish but it works for me so I'm not ashamed. I've always loved stickers(I used to put them on everything when I was younger) so it gives me satisfaction to add any sticker of my choosing to the page and watch it become ever more colorful and exciting.

I guess it's sort of like a reverse of the game hangman. In hangman when you guess a letter wrong the little man get one step closer to being hanged. With each step comes greater anxiety. For my sticker page, with every task completed another sticker is added. With every sticker added the beauty of the page increases and my satisfaction increases.

Theoretically this could work with any sort of parts-of-a-whole reward system. If you find something you would like you could work toward it by bringing yourself closer with every task completed. At that point, when you don't want to do the task just to do it, you will want to do it to add to your sticker page, coin jar, checklist, ect. in order to get closer to your goal, a full sticker page, a trip to the mall, a night out with friends, or whatever it is that motivates you. It's not foolproof but it can definitely help.

Wow, I did not intend to write this much. Anyway I hope this helps! Good luck finding something that works for you!

My wife is getting me stickers! They're called "I adulted" stickers for grownups. I was unsure at first and had a monetary thought of it feeling belittling, but really it's more for highlighting my achievements, right? I think I'll give this a try. Thanks.

Maybe make more of a game out of it.

Hey Cyrano_de_Bergerac! What types of tasks are these that you are, most often, referring to? Are these things at work? At home?

We are not much different in age and, though I get frustrated sometimes when I don't complete things because I'm bored with them, I usually find that "spicing up my interest" in those things helps. That trick has gotten me through grade school. I found ways to map things that I found not so interesting into my life in a meaningful way that would add value and thus I was able to re-establish some interest in them.

It's been a challenge at work for me- however good leaders look out for their peers and I've had some good leaders through the progression of my career who have recognized my tireless abilities. What used to be a problem completing things has evolved into an opportunity to be a "frontier-man". I'm a data scientist & software engineer by trade and these days I'm usually the creative guy dreaming up new ways to solve extremely complex problems, making quick prototypes of those solutions, and having teams of engineers downstream putting the prototypes into production. My point here is that I believe your ADHD traits can be viewed as a super power- we are the thinkers, dreamers, creators, visionaries, and even the doers. We are pragmatic and tend to enter an almost zen-like state when we are stimulated properly.

Home tasks, however, have gotten really hard for me. When my wife and I first bought our current home, I was all excited about the gardens surrounding the house. For the first couple of years, each Spring through Summer, I would be out weeding, feeding, planting, shaping, & mulching every single weekend. Nowadays it's hard to go out there and even pick the weeds, much less do the pruning and shaping. Our gardens are starting to look overgrown. It's boredom- the "I came, I saw, I went" problem that we so commonly face.

I believe that this quality, alone, is what creates Edisons, Galleleos, DaVincis, and Walt Disneys. We constantly evolve our skills and knowledge- yes it's generally for stimulation, but this is a super power we can harness in incredible ways. Sometimes if I'm uninspired in a topic, I can force my interest in it again by doing some research on the internet. I do like inventing things at home, especially being able to dream things up with my kids and then actually build them. My oldest son & I wanted to build a hover car track and so we dreamed up a way to do it with magnets and began building it.

Unfortunately, the mundane tasks DO remain hard to think through sometimes because I'd prefer to be problem solving on the harder tasks but that's something I've been overcoming by keeping myself grounded in the "now" through mindfulness.

So much is finding first steps or remembering past mistakes and not repeating them with rudimentary household tasks and on the job. I get bogged down with the negative and will focus of a problem spot to the point that i don't do it (house work) or i miss a step and need to re-work the set up because i was hyperfocused on a problem spot that comes at step 4 or 5 (at work)

I need to pay bills, so i do it and i am trying as hard as i can, like i usually do, and have always done at past jobs.

Being written off as a lazy worker or a space cadet has been the usual result, and that's what i have believed too.

Turning this (me) around. And changing my frame of refence from "I'm a moral screw-up because i can't do things right" to "what can i do to help my brain work more efficiently and successfully and especially safely at work and home?" (I work with some REALLY hazardous chemicals... It's a job... It pays well, the most money I've ever earned... Don't think it's really meant for me, but I'm being careful.)

Has been what I've been trying to pick-up and read and learn about. And really, it has only been recently that I've taken it seriously.

I want to move my ADHD brain from feeling like a detriment, to a positive force. And for that i need stratagies, and constructive and hopefully positive feedback!

I'm interested in finding strategies that work, too, since I'm so new to this. I've been reading so much, I'm beginning to get overwhelmed by all the info. But I need to find something, because (AGAIN!) I've started a project--writing a book (again, too)--and am now stuck, stalled, doing everything else--like responding to this--but writing.

Like was mentioned look up "How to ADHD" on youtube. Bite sized info that has really helped me get a little bit more of a grip on what's going on in my head! Setting a timer for objectives, and the stickers idea i am totally going to try myself, same with maybe turning tasks into a game of some kind! I know how timesucking goes, as I'm suposed to be getting ready for work... And have not yet..

Keep trying writing your book! But cut yourself some slack! My Play is still not down on paper yet for myself, but we can keep trying

I’m struggling too. When I have all these things I got to do, I put it in my icalendar/ schedule. It was hard remembering to do. But then put in my schedule plan for today or tomorrow and first thing in the morning review daily plan. By scheduling myself for example work on paper pile every Saturday at 12 o’clock for an hour, it helps me I don’t have to waste time contemplating which task should I do know. I was afraid to schedule my tasks in the beginning because I was so worried well what if I do feel like doing it when im scheduled too? I had to force myself to just decide how I’ll schedule my day and as you do it you will know what’s working and what you can change. Hope you decide to try it. And I hope it helps you

I've never really kept to a scedual, other then work... And yeah, that's my fear too. What if i want to do something else... AHHHHH! I'm in my own way. I will try

I look forward meeting with my Therapist who also had ADHD. He affirms me by calmly stating I chose to come to therapy even when I have “accomplished” little since our session. I affirm you for being present and making me aware of your struggles. I see it as a positive step helping you tip toe forward.

I kinda do the same things you do. I try my best to keep up on my errands and chores but I don’t always have the energy, drive , motivation focus whatever to tackle it all as it comes. Like I don’t like dealing with my mail and I will sometimes not open anything for two weeks which isn’t good especially when I get something in the mail that’s time sensitive.

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