How to Stay Motivated When Working Alone with ADHD

by | Mar 25, 2021 | ADHD Success Skills and Tools | 0 comments

Motivated When Working Alone with ADHD

LOL! I’m laughing right now. Why? Because I’m supposed to be writing this article about how to stay motivated when working alone with ADHD. And, guess what? I’m doing everything but write an article about how to get motivated when working alone with ADHD.

Here’s the chatter in my mind: Oh, my hands feel dry. Better put on some lotion. Gosh, better check how the stock market is doing. Hum…it’s time for another cup of coffee and a piece of dark chocolate.

So, in other words, like most other ADHD adults, I’m struggling to stay motivated while working alone with ADHD.

I am not motivated at all to write this. I’ve got better things to think about! It’s a beautiful early spring Friday. I’m going hiking in the woods after my last client of the day.

Enough of my whining. This article telling you how to get your ADHD brain motivated when you’re working at home alone is due on Tuesday.

My whiny teenager voice tells me to do it later. Start it on Monday. My mature, responsible voice says, “Dana, do it now! You won’t want to do it on Monday either. Procrastination is not your friend.”

The reality is, we have to do things even when we’re NOT motivated to do them. Even when no one is watching. Yet, our ADHD-selves somehow got the idea that we can avoid doing things we don’t want to do. And we even convince ourselves that everything will turn out okay.

Guess what, it doesn’t. Waiting for a spark of excitement before you do the things you need to do sets you up for frustration and failure. Shame and chaos. Some things are never going to be interesting enough to do, and you need to do them anyway.

Now, let me be clear. I’m not telling you to just try harder; to find some magic self-discipline. No. ADHD doesn’t get motivated that way. Especially working alone from home when no one else is watching you.

To get stuff done you need to outsmart your ADHD instead of waiting for that magic motivation to hit.

So, what do you do? When you’re working alone, how do you get stuff done that you aren’t motivated to do?

Here’s What I Do To Get Things Done

Accept that – even if you’re not motivated – you still have to do things. This is called adulting.

[Note – If your inner ADHD child just shuddered at the word ‘adulting’, you’re not alone. Mine, too.]

Adulting is important. It’s unavoidable. It’s essential…but it doesn’t have to be boring or bland or impossibly hard!

If you have to get things done, make it easier to do the things you’re not motivated to do. Remember, Easy Gets Done! 

My favorite trick to make things easier is to break them into smaller bits. 

For example, I know that if I think I’ll spend two hours writing a blog, I’ll avoid it. Two hours is too big a bite for me to swallow. I’ll procrastinate. 

That’s why this morning, when I planned my day, I said I’d write the blog for 20 minutes. (You do plan your day, don’t you? Join the ADHD Success Club if you don’t know how to plan). 

That small 20-minute bite makes it easier for me to do the next step in getting things done with ADHD when working alone. It helps me get started. That’s the secret. Not waiting for motivation to strike but just getting started. That’s how you get things done when you’re working alone.

ADHD gets motivated by fun and interesting things. But we often have to do things that aren’t fun and interesting. So getting started is the trick.

If Getting Started Isn’t Enough

Now, the truth is, you have more work to do. You need to get control of your ADHD. And just getting started isn’t the only key, but it’s, well, a start.

So remember to pull in the other lessons I’ve taught you to live easier with ADHD: Make the task interesting. Put on some music. Set a timer to try and beat it. You need to go about it a different way. You need to outsmart your ADHD. (See below for other tips or check out my Foundations of ADHD Success program.) 

…Now it’s been 20 minutes and.look at me! I’ve finished the first, messy draft of this blog. On Monday, I’ll work on it for another 20 minutes and get it to Meg to edit before my deadline.

Now I can get that coffee and chocolate. Best yet, I can go out and play guilt-free this afternoon and all weekend! That’s what I call living successfully with ADHD. Finding ways to get motivated even when you’re working alone.

Keep reading for more tips on staying motivated and getting things done:


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