As I talked about a few posts ago, there’s no shortage of ways to be unproductive with ADHD. From procrastination to distraction, ADHD has plenty of tricks for sabotaging your productivity.
The good news is that there are a few tools you can use to fight back. One is setting goals. I believe that being clear about what your goals are is one of the most effective things you can do to stay productive in the face of whatever obstacles ADHD throws your way.
There’s one way of thinking that says you should enjoy the journey, not focus too much on the destination. The hell with that. If you’re doing something you really enjoy, then being in it for the process and not the end result can be rewarding. But people with ADHD can be very focused on rewards, and the best way to stay on track is often for us to keep in mind what we’re going to get out of whatever we’re doing – even when we’re doing the things we love.
When we talk about setting goals, we can talk about small, day-to-day goals or big, long-term goals. Usually the trick is to find the right mix of short-term and long-term goals that keeps you motivated.
For example, when it comes to everyday goals, try starting every day with one small goal you plan to accomplish. It could be getting a work project done, cleaning your refrigerator, whatever. The key is to make sure it’s something you know you’ll be able to get done.
The idea behind having at least one goal every day is that accomplishing goals doesn’t just get stuff done. It makes you feel good. And it gets you in the mindset of getting stuff done, so it’ll make accomplishing other goals easier. Just setting one thing you have to get done every day, even if it’s a weekend or a holiday can simultaneously keep dozens of little chores from building up and keep your mood up.
That said, larger, long-term goals are important too. The things you’re doing will have more meaning if they’re contributing toward some significant big-picture goal. For example, when I started building up my writing business, my goal was to get enough remote work that I could comfortably travel and work at the same time. Having my mind on this long-term goal kept me motivated applying for new work and pushing through some writing jobs that weren’t very personally fulfilling.
Different people will have a different ideal balance of short-term and long-term goals. But my experience is that it’s easiest to stay productive when you both get in the habit of accomplishing one small thing every day with no exceptions and establish long-term goals that keep you focused.
Of course, setting goals isn’t enough to make all your ADHD symptoms go away, but that’s not the point. If you have specific, concrete things you’re working toward, it’ll be easier to bounce back when problems with concentration, organization and so on throw you off track.
What are your experiences with this? D’you have any tips for setting effective goals? Please share!