Handling the Dogs of ADHD

Routine Tasks that Inspire Procrastination

ADHD Boring Dog Tasks

What are your dogs?

First of all, this column is not about dogs of the canine variety. I’m using the phrase “dogs” in the sense of “dog days,” referring to dull, routine, uninspiring tasks that you tend to procrastinate on. Your “dogs” are the day-to-day necessities that aren’t interesting, but are necessary to you or your business’s survival. We ADD / ADHD Adults have the most trouble getting started and following through on these unmotivating dog tasks.  This season, wouldn’t it be great to handle those dogs with a fresh approach?

What Are Your Dogs?

The kind of tasks that you procrastinate on and consider dogs are those that are tedious to you. Another person may consider your dogs exciting, or a motivating ritual.

Has last year’s passion become this year’s dog?

People with ADD / ADHD tend to get easily excited by new things, but then become bored quickly once the novelty is over.

When she started her first job in marketing communications, Sami was excited to be assigned to write a one-page biography about the new company vice-president. But after a year of experience covering more complex topics, writing a bio page of this type was a “dog” for her. She still had to approach it with her best effort, even though it no longer excited her.

Dog tasks may be dogs to you because they’re dull and easy, OR because they’re tedious and difficult.

Andre faced two dogs at home. One was the project of creating and installing shelves for the garage. Andre had done enough renovation work to find this simple; he put it off because it was boring to him.

Andre’s second dog involved his promise to set up a new home computer system. Andre avoided this task because he knew it would require hours of reading the manual and trying to figure out the technology – it was challenging, but something he did NOT enjoy.

Andre’s daughter, Claire, on the other hand, had a knack for technology. She would enjoy setting up the PC, so it would not be a dog for her.

What are your dog tasks? Please let us know in your comments!

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Categories: Blog,News and Views,Planning and Scheduling,Procrastination

Author: Bonnie Mincu

Senior Certified ADHD Coach, Founder of "Thrive with ADD," Bonnie has been coaching adults with ADD / ADHD traits since 2001. She has developed numerous training programs to help with the challenges of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.

27 Responses to "Handling the Dogs of ADHD"

  1. Barbara C Posted on February 22, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    My dog tasks are: paperwork, medical bills, housework, organizing the basement, painting interior rooms.

    • Nan Posted on February 23, 2012 at 10:57 am

      wow, Barbara….your comments are the same as mine. Some of the other comments, to me anyway, sound like regular things that anyone would procrastinate on, but i am probably all wrong. I don’t mean to say that they don’t sound ADD but i guess that i don’t know all of the symptoms. The hardest part for me is that two of my sisters are VERY focused and organized and intelligent and i don’t know why they don’t see that my brain is not cicking the same as everyone elses. My one sister thinks i am supposed to think like her but i’m just lazy. Been going on for 40 years. It’s exhausting, don’t you think. Nan

      • Nan Posted on February 23, 2012 at 11:12 am

        Sorry, Nan here again. I did not follow instructions, did I? :)
        My biggest Dog is paperwork. piled, not paid, bagged, boxed. Just bought a scanner to help alleviate. Returning phone calls is another. I feel so very irrisponsible and apologetic all the time. Does anyone else? I am new to this. Should i be using this site as a forum or should i go somewhere else. Thanks for any comments.Nan

        • Bonnie Mincu Posted on February 23, 2012 at 12:13 pm

          Good question Nan. It looks like it’s becoming a forum, doesn’t it? I think it’s great to have dialogue, just to stay on topic of the particular blog post you’re responding it.

          I am creating a training program that WILL include a private forum!

  2. Sherry Riesner Posted on February 22, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Hi Bonnie,
    Love that photo of dog laying around bored…!

    Expense reports and laundry are among things I procrastinate on most…

    • Bonnie Mincu Posted on February 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Sherry!
      Expense reports will get you every time. Lots of my ADHD Coaching clients find me because they’re SO behind in their expense reports.

  3. Cindy Posted on February 22, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    my dogs…

    1. having to keep my counseling sessions to 45min so I can do the data entry and progress notes within 60min.
    2. only scheduling 6 clients a day so i can do 2 hours administrative duties daily.
    3. cleaning house
    4. clearing out closets
    5. study time for a major state licensing exam in only 2 months, poor study habits, test anxiety, out of school long time.

  4. sharon Posted on February 22, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    My areas of procrastination are in technology and money. I know i have to stay on top of the cash flow and make sure banks are doing the job, but i get physically sick when i have to go over my finances and check it with what I have spent. I will write down everything i have spent money on but then fail to go online and do the banking. I need help because this ADD problem has cost me so much in my life. I do not do first things first. I spend hours filing things instead of just taking care of the business at hand.

    Sometimes it is the tedious tasks, but mostly with me it is the tasks that I know I will not understand, like financing, math, ( what a joke, this husband is a financial planner) keeping track of important documents when there are so many. My bed is covered at this moment with piles of my sons college financial records, my families health care bills, my credit union statements to go over, coupons for cheaper ink cartridges, mail that has to go out, notes on various things from music i want to record to good articles about marriage and relationships.

    I sit paralyzed sometimes not knowing how to proceed. It seems so simple, yet why is it so hard!!!!!!

    • Vi Posted on March 12, 2012 at 7:47 am

      Wow, Sharon! Your entire comment could have come right out of my mouth! Money/paperwork is all the same dog to me. Also technology that I have already bought. I will be diligent about one part of it, but not follow through, & then before I know it it has once again gotten totally out of hand. There always seems to be so much to keep track of. And with the technology, by the time I force myself to do it, it is out of date, the return period is over, sometimes the warranty has expired already! My husband gets so frustrated, & then I feel guilty & it gets worse.

  5. Marie Posted on February 22, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Cooking dinner after working all day. I get stuck when trying to think of something to cook. I have thought about hiring someone to help me get some momentum going-someone who would help with a weekly menu plan and also be on call during weeks when I’ve got a lot going on. Most people see this as excessive, but I think it could be a workable alternative to eating out all the time. The kids could learn some cooking skills as I will not be passing this valuable asset to my kids without some outside help. There are only so many hours in the day and with ADD, the working mom’s life can be overwhelming!

  6. larry viggo Posted on February 23, 2012 at 8:11 am

    that is an easy one,esp this time of year. Doing my taxes. I have gotten into big trouble because I have mostly been an independent contractor with no with-holding. I owe an enormous amount of back taxes and do not know what to do.

    • Bonnie Mincu Posted on February 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      Larry, a bit of advice: Hire and accountant and CALL THE IRS! I’ve had many of my ADHD Coaching clients over the years in the same situation with back taxes. When they finally called the IRS, they were always pleasantly surprised how cooperative the IRS agent was, and were able to work out a realistic payment plan.

      If you avoid calling and eventually they have to come after you (and they will!).. then the terms will be much harder.

      You will get points for being proactive about seeking a solution. But it’s best to have an accountant working with you who can help.

  7. BT Posted on February 23, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Dogs… Abundantly have them…
    and frustratingly failing for over 50 years to dispatch them, even yesterday, even today.
    Seemingly not for lack of ideas or trying an incalcuable number of techniques a short time each.
    Sustainable interest/ execution, for all practicable purposes has been impossible.
    Literally thousands of hours lost on thousands of days lost.
    No issue identifying the problem – at least at a “productive results level.”
    Elusive to date is a satisfying ‘result-full” solution/an acccessibly, implementable, sustainable strategy.

    Today is another day, more notes into the file about attempted strategies that likely will fail.
    Feels like most days could be utilized “if only not for… what…?” dopamine, prefrontal cortex blood flow, anxiety, fears, or a set of things like sleep, nutrients, stress, exercise, B complex vitamins, calcium, potassium, and I could go on and on… were understood and able to be coaxed into some indeterminant (at this time) level of normalacy…

    Whatever r-e-a-l solutions people have would be appreciated, really appreciated – for this, seemingly my life long issue

    • Nan Posted on February 23, 2012 at 11:32 am

      Wow, you put into very eloquent words, exactly how i feel as well. Wish I could help. Like I said a few minutes ago…it is just plain mentally exhausting. I will say a little prayer for you:0)

    • Carolyn Posted on February 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      I can relate. Try varying it up — sometimes set a time limit (maybe 10 minutes) or a space limit (just one corner) or a container limit (fill one bag with paper, or something else to toss).

      TIP: I got myself out of a the “I can’t do it” clutter clearing rut by MAKING IT AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE. I decided I would pick up just 10 items. My motto became “If you can count (to 10), you can clean.” It can also be helpful to imagine you are giving this instruction to a child. They would be so excited to see that it works! So, let yourself take on the (playful) role of the child.

      My dogs: Getting things (e.g., technology) fixed when they break down. Also, laundry, among others. Exercising is certainly one. I’ve begun walking places (easy in the city) and I’ve found it a painless way to do it. Last week I was shocked when I added it up – I walked over 9 miles!

      Bonnie, as always, I am loving your communications.

      • Bonnie Mincu Posted on February 23, 2012 at 2:28 pm

        Carolyn: I love the idea of “explaining the instruction to a child.” I’ve actually suggested that on occasion to people who are experiencing extreme writer’s block — who know how to write well, but absolutely don’t feel like it. If you start out writing as if to a 3rd grader, with very simple sentences, it makes it easier to flow into the writing.

        TECHNOLOGY has bred all kinds of new dog task puppies. I’ve purchased an iPhone 2 weeks ago and haven’t yet opened the box, not yet ready to take the time to set it up and learn to use it.

        • Carol Posted on February 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm

          I can totally relate to your issue with your iPhone. My daughters were trying to get me to buy a new phone but I refused for just that reason – I wasn’t ready, willing, or able to devote the time needed to learn this new technology. I ended up accepting one daughters “old” phone and having her explain it to me on a drive from Texas to Atlanta – which gave me 13 hours to “get it”.

  8. Dani Posted on February 23, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Returning phone calls from office voicemail dull/easy Handling VIP admissions at psych hospital tedious/difficult Laundry/Housecleaning dull/easy until I procrastignore it for weeks then it’s tedious/difficult! Tips for making those tasks easy/interesting/exciting? Find new ways to log vm msgs and test out your new log creation daily. On the VIP client issue I get to practice my assertiveness by challenging my boss on ethical grounds and advocating for better patient care across theboard. And housekeeping – I make a big game of sorting laundry then go to a laundromat with wi-fi. I gave up on housecleaning, I have someone come in 2x month to clean.

  9. ADDicted to Stress Posted on February 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Housework. Editing.

    Identifying the dogs is an easy task. But what are some tricks for DOING something about it? How do you overlay something with a veneer of interest so that it is attractive and stimulating? I’d like to hear others’ strategies.

    • Bonnie Mincu Posted on February 23, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      Some answers coming up in the next post, and detailed in training beginning next month. Quick answer for stimulation: music, background TV, quick bursts with a timer. Look at past blog posts under “Procrastination” and “Productivity” categories.

  10. ADDicted to Stress Posted on February 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Okay. I did what I always do–Google! The website attached offers 13 tips for making a boring job more interesting. Some ideas I will employ for myself:
    –We are going through a renovation and I’m finding little hidden piles of laundry under drywall dust-encrusted areas. Compound this with the mass of laundry that piles up when you’ve got intermittent use of your laundry room and you get one giant pile. I’m going to take a picture of this giant mass and then I’ve got a more exciting problem to solve. Might even post it on Facebook for accountability.
    –I’m going to look beyond the actual task itself. Done laundry is nice but did I ever consider that there are clothes in there I haven’t even seen since we began renos? I’ll find things I thought I lost, I’ll organize things such that I have more room to buy more clothes, hahahahah!
    –Cooking: I looked up the proper way to cut an onion. I can hardly wait to try out the chef’s advice from the video.

  11. dougpuryear Posted on February 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    dogs – anything involving paper work, especially if it involves the government or insurance companies
    my strategy – focus on just one thing at a time, plug away.

  12. Iris Posted on February 25, 2012 at 5:26 am

    Oh dear, and I really thought I was the ‘master’ of procrastination, but happily relieved to see how many of us have problems similar to mine! In my family I’m the only one with diagnosed add and very few understand it :( My dogs are mostly replying emails, phone calls and deciding when and if to meet friends and family! Have to remind myself every morning that this will be ‘the day’ I’ll answer all waiting emails as the bad conscience keeps on growing, because I should WANT to be in touch with my family?, but somehow the days usually end without me replying or calling and I tell myself once again I’ll do it tomorrow! For me I cannot understand how something like keeping in touch with people I love can be a challenge?

    • Bonnie Mincu Posted on February 25, 2012 at 8:51 am

      I totally get it, Iris. I don’t look at emails at all on weekends. To me, a weekend means getting to be “off the grid.”

  13. Carol Posted on February 25, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I’m a quilter, and it takes days (even weeks or months) of “playing” with all my fabrics, looking on the internet and through all my quilting books and magazines trying to choose the right pattern, fabrics that complement each other, even dreaming about how I want to make the quilt. At Christmas I was still working on quilts for both of my granddaughters on Christmas day, and didn’t complete them until the day after Christmas. (I gave them both their quilts unfinished on Christmas day). My daughter helped me with them, which was a good experience for the 2 of us, but I need to get back to finishing things on my own. Now I’m working on a quilt for a friend who doesn’t have long to live, and if I don’t get it done in time I’ll regret it so much!

  14. JoJo Posted on March 8, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    My Dogs are doing dishes, laundry, and every single project I have at work. I can’t focus on the project once I’ve started it, and if it goes into a second day, it can easily go into a week on a project that should only take a hand full of hours. I’m a Drafting Technician, and each project I have goes through a series of checks with the engineer. I’m very lucky, I work for an extremely understanding and loyal company and my boss is amazing, but at the same time, that makes me feel even worse, because I feel like I’m consistently letting them down.

    The worst part at this point, is that I’d rather be at home to do the dishes and laundry than be at work to complete the projects!

    • Bonnie Mincu Posted on March 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm

      Yes, shame and guilt can make things worse. If EVERY work project you have is a dog, it sounds like you hate the job, despite liking the company and people. Time to look into a career change?

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