Trouble With Transitions For ADHD Adults

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Topic: Trouble With Transitions. Starting Things, Stopping Them And Switching Gears. See the other Adult ADHD Issues.

Facilitator: Pete Quily

Thanks for Megan and Cara for taking the notes.

December 2012 Meeting Notes for the Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group

Mentioned the new online medication pharmacy price comparison tool Pharmacy Compass. You can use it to check the prices of ADHD and other medications.


We’ll Cover:

Why do ADDers have more trouble starting somethings?

How to deal with problems starting things

Why do ADDers have more trouble starting somethings?

How to deal with problems switching tasks

Trouble switching out of hyperfocus

How to deal with stopping tasks

Create a plan for something that you have trouble starting, stopping, or switching.



Why do ADDers have more trouble starting somethings?

All or nothing attitude

Appropriate plan

Appropriate preparation-low energy motivation

Becomes uninteresting when we have to do it.

Cognitive distortions


Divide into doable chunks

Fear of failure/success


Lack of clarity

No useful structure


People pleasing


Saying yes without knowing what yes means

See the whole elephant sometimes the whole herd, Overwhelmed

Too long of a task list

Unrealistic expectation

“Ya,ya,ya,ya,ya” = go away. Lying to self. When you just say to spouse “yeah, yeah, yeah I understand what you want me to do”, but I don’t take any notes, don’t remind myself to do it, and usually don’t get it done. Which just creates spousal frustration and lays the seeds for future nagging.


How to deal with problems starting things

Book Getting Things Done. The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen

Daytimer: palm desktop (u can colour code your tasks) Google Palm Desktop

Declutter (b/c physical clutter can cause mental clutter) to properly set yourself up for work

Differentiate between Tasks and Projects

Fun book:  A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder – How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place

Get Shame/Guilt out of your head, put it on paper

Good book for organization ADD friendly ways to organize your life. Also Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD, 2nd Edition-Revised and Updated: Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized By Susan Pinsky

Have Compassion for yourself/Encourage

Healthy self rewards

Increase energy level –exercise, meditation, fun,

Journaling to relieve brain chatter (shame, guilt)

Number One: Take regular non-electronic breaks!!

Realistically plan time, task, resources, divided into doable/small enough chunks, projects->tasks

Reduce frustration

Reduce Your Anxiety (subclinical levels of Anxiety can be comorbid w/ ADHD; also Depression)

Reduce Your Expectations (to what is realistic)

“Secondary processing is next to godliness, whether your God is God, The Flying Spaghetti Monster or anything in between”

Separating ideas of what you could do from committed tasks

Store in Vancouver for organizing items Room In Order


How to deal with problems switching tasks

ADHDers generally need more breaks

Answer to almost everything > it depends

Get clear on the benefit of doing the task

Get ready early

Having a launch pad where everything that’s needed to get out of the door gets put, keys, cell, notepad, etc.

Hyperfocus takes time to get out of – plan for it

Know when to give up

Plan for it! (I.e. it does take time, or you may actually need a break)

Plan some buffers

Question why you are avoiding tasks

Realistically plan the transition

Reframing perception of the task – clarify or remind yourself of the benefit of doing it.

Transition Time (Plan for that!)


Trouble switching out of hyperfocus

Do intermediate task (a bridging task)

Gentler alarm clock. Gradual Multisensory Wake Up Alarm Clock

Get Ready Early

Having some Buffers

Hyperfocus is nice, pleasant feeling but it’s hard to break out of. So set an alarm BEFORE you do something that you might hyperfocus on. Far, far away from your desk or wherever you’re doing the activity

The task of figuring out what works for me seems hugely overwhelming – probably because it is huge. > understanding this is a trial and error process.

Top Ten Most Annoying Alarm Clocks. ADHD Strategic Management



How to deal with stopping tasks

Alarms (put them away from you)

Become Present and Conscious (makes life easier), quick grounding exercise

Book The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD

Clear benefits, reward or punishment

Having Structure (you need an actual plan)

Human Alarms (if you ask nicely)

Listen to Guided Meditation, essential oils…

Mindfulness has existed pretty much as long we have.

Mindfulness: (not a religion) created/popularized by John Kabat-Zinn, originally a Buddhism meditation technique, he took out the religious component out of it so it was more acceptable for the west

Play with your dog or cat.

Sensory perception/meditation/anything to be more present.

Structure -plan for what’s next or how to stop


Create a plan for something that you have trouble starting, stopping, or switching.

1. What will you do?
2. When will you do it? (Later = never)
3. How will you remember to do it?
4. How will you reward yourself when you’ve completed it?
(Break into small groups to discuss)

Related Adult ADHD Issues Posts

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