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ADHD and Motivation Part 2: Using Momentum

adhdbraininterestThe title probably gave it away, but this is the second part in a series of articles. In the first article of the series , we talked about injecting interest, novelty, challenge and sometimes urgency to make a boring task more enticing.

Today, we’ll look at a way to motivate you to do a task you find boring or difficult (and not in a fun, challenging way) and which you just can’t make interesting.

First, let’s stay away from guilt. You are not the problem, the task is. It’s boring, or worse. Guilt doesn’t work, and the negative feelings guilt leads to can throw you into a whirlpool of negativity.

You can recognize the dangerous slope to guilt when you start asking yourself, “Why?” Why can’t I do this? Why can’t I just focus? “Why” is not a productive question, and even if you had the answer, you’d be no closer to getting your task done.

There is, however, a guilt-free way of getting that challenging task done. In fact, this approach is so powerful I often refer to as an ADHDer’s “secret weapon.” There are two different ways of using momentum to tackle any task; we’ll look at one in this article, and the second in Part 3 of this series.

A physics law states, “An object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rests tends to stay at rest.” If you can’t get started on a task, it’s very likely that situation is not going to change. If you can get moving, however, it’s much easier for you to keep moving.

Adults with ADHD often struggle with motivation because, unlike neurotypicals, when a task is boring, your brain doesn’t activate at all. While neurotypicals may find the task equally boring, they’ll still be able to activate their brains enough to focus and get it done.

ADHDers facing a boring task struggle to get their brains energized, and without that energy, you are unable to block out distractions so you can focus and get it done. Instead, you notice every stimulus and if anything is more enticing, before you know you’re doing anything but the boring task.

You can use momentum like a booster cable in a car. You can jumpstart your brain using a short, interesting or energizing task or activity. Do something you enjoy, like playing a musical instrument, drawing or taking a brisk walk outside. Once your brain is “in motion,” you can stop the activity you enjoy and move quickly to work on the boring task for as long as your brain can take it.

If you find yourself struggling again, move back to the short energizing task, a bit like putting your foot on the gas to keep a sputtering motor from dying.

Try it. I’m sure you’ll find it very effective. I’ll see you back here soon for part 3 of this series on ADHD and motivation, where we’ll look at another way you can use momentum to get more done.

In the meantime, please share your ideas for short, energizing or interesting activities you use to jumpstart your brain and activate your secret weapon, momentum.

3 Comments
  1. Hello, I’m really enjoying your words and advices. I’m a 19 year old man diagnosed with ADD, and I’m taking pills of 80mg stratterra daily. I’ve been reading lots of information about it’s unique benefits but also, i’ve been pretty conscious of it’s controversy dealing.
    3 monts ago, I was interned on a hospital because of a serious problem of a brain tumor.. everything’s allright, and I want to tell you my story:
    I was 2 months interned at the hospital, I used no internet nor television.. I read many books but specially, I meditated and was very calm, and I have to admit.. those days, where the best days I’ve every experienced in my entire life.. both in a productive and healthy in profesional and personal way.

    I don’t know what else to say haha it’s the first time I’ve written my experience.. so, I’ll get directly to my point a
    What do you think of Stratterra? “I forgot to say, those days I was in the hospital I was medication free and felt GOOD..”

    Greetings!
    it’s nice to find a website/blog speaking about this subject.. you’re on a highway to success!
    Rashid Azarang

    • Wow Rashid, a brain tumor… I’m glad you’re better. I know about ADHD medications but am not a physician. Medications for ADHD are helpful to 75 to 80% of adults with ADHD at the right dose. If you felt better without the medication, is it possible you are not at the right dose. Stimulants like methylphenidate are usually a first line treatment before Strattera; however, it has helped a few of my clients who have side effects with stimulant medications. That’s as much as I can tell you

      I hope you’ll keep up some of the good healthy habits you began in the hospital now that you’re out.

      To your Focus Action Success

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