Breakthrough Solutions

for Attention Deficit Disorder Adults

Bonnie Mincu

Senior Certified ADHD Coach

Get Training, Strategies and Insights:

Those Boring Tasks that ADD / ADHD Adults  Avoid

In the last post, I described the concept of “dog tasks:” the mundane, tedious type of work that give ADD / ADHD Adults such a hard time.  Without a strategy, we would put off walking those dogs forever!

Have you been waiting for a sudden burst of motivation to handle your dogs? This may work for a once-in-a-while dog. But what about dogs with deadlines, a promise to someone else, or an obligation to a client?  You usually can't count on motivation for a boring or unpleasant task.  With a deadline, we're often rescued by a last-minute rush of ADD adrenaline to get the work done.

The toughest dogs for most people with ADD/ADHD are open-ended projects, where there's no definite deadline to drive you to action.

Three Steps to Taming Dogs without a Deadline

1.  Create a deadline If you don't have a real deadline, make one up. Make a serious commitment to yourself to have the project complete by this deadline and put it on your calendar.

2.  Break the task into steps Creating a list of steps allows you to gain a sense of completion as you finish each one. Assign a deadline for each step, working back from the main deadline.

  • Don't forget to include pre-steps!  For example, if your project is to create shelves for the garage, you'll first need to measure the space and take inventory of what has to go on the shelves, before you cut the wood.  And before that, your pre-step may include looking for the tape-measure and saw!

3.  Schedule “DOG TIME” – Here is the key to your strategy. Create a routine in your schedule of certain hours that you assign to your dog tasks. Since these tasks are tedious, you shouldn't go beyond your attention span without taking a break.

Think about how you'd work best when assigning your dog time.  Things to consider:

  • What's the best time of day for dull, routine work
  • How will you avoid interruptions
  • What environment would be best for the task (home, office, café, music or silence, etc.)
  • Should you schedule a variety or single task at a time

What has worked best for you in handling your paperwork dogs? This time of year, you'll find me doing my taxes at my local Starbucks!

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.


Categories: Avoidance, Blog, Follow-Through, Productivity


    really good tips. i havent tried scheduling a regular time for that, things are so unpredictable and hectic sometimes, but i can schedule a time for one day
    “i will get on those #$%^@% taxes at 1:30 this afternoon” like making an appointment.

    Bonnie Mincu

    Yes, the key is making an appointment with yourself in your calendar and treating it like any other appointment.

    HINT TO ALL READERS: This would be a really good time to schedule TAX-related appointments with yourself!


    I now scan all my paperwork into my computer. I scan recipes, magazine articles, bills, statements, receipts, prescriptions, tax papers (the only ones i keep a hard copy of:). I scan anything on paper and try to put it into an appropriate folder. I always back them up as well. I was told that anything you scan can be used just like the original when printed back out, therefore letting you throw away the original without too much stress. I do get backed up sometimes on scanning things in because…from scan to scan..i forget how to do it :0) All part of the ADD game I’ve played for 45 years. By the way…thanks for this site. It makes me feel a tiny bit more like I fit in somewhere. Nan

    Bonnie Mincu

    Thanks Nan… love your participation. Our scanner queen!


    “…forget how to do it.” That’s just the worst, isn’t it?! Not mastering the process needed to save you time — and that takes just the time (and focus) one really doesn’t want to spend! And don’t you find it hard to practice a skill in the void? I only want to do it when I have a real need for it.


    Be careful what you throw out. In some cases, with taxes and other legal papers, the original is the only acceptable form of proof.

    Although my situation is complicated, my employer will only reimburse from original receipts in most cases. This policy came from their interaction with the IRS who pointed out that a copied (or scanned) receipt could be reimbursed twice (either intentionally or by accident); whereas an original can only be used once.

    I, too, scan almost everything; but, that’s mainly for my sake. I also keep the originals (or turn them in, if needed). And scanning does make things a lot easier.


    Although I know how to break down a task, it’s always helpful for the reminders. I keep a sort of checklist in my iPad (Evernote app) that I can refer to when I have down time. Then, if I have a project that needs to be broken into steps, I can pulll that checklist up and use it. I put the steps into another iPad app (OmniFocus) to keep me on task.

    The challenge for me is breaking down the project. I’m great at coming up with projects but sitting down to break them out is where is stall out.

    I like the idea of creating a deadline even if a hard deadline doesn’t exist. I’m going to use this strategy this weekend on some of my languishing projects.

    Thanks for this post.

    Bonnie Mincu

    Breaking things down most effectively can be something of an art or a science. Isn’t Evernote wonderful? I didn’t know about their app.


    I find it sometimes help to enlist my ADD creative (fanciful) side. I used to work as
    a secretary and spent most of my time doing taking care of someone’s “dog jobs.” So sometimes I pretend I’ve been hired to come in (to my own house) and spend a set, scheduled time doing the housekeeping or paperwork, etc. I’m much more conscientious and focused when I’m working for someone else!


    I can relate to that. I am very detail oriented and will go above and beyond for someone I work for. Then come home and there is no more zip left. When I try to get family to understand, they want to stay in the weekend mindset. I want to be able to do just as much for me as I would for a person I am working for. Good idea to pretend you are hired!


    Breaking it down isn’t as bad for me (although I always make the chunks too big!)
    :-] But prioritizing– I can never figure out what comes first! Then some very logical non ADD person comes along and says, “Well if you do this first this will happen, but if you do this first it will logically lead into this.” Arugh!
    Has anybody tried this scanner thing on TV that automatically sorts?
    Greaat job Bonnie!

    Bonnie Mincu

    Secret for determining the first step: Visualization. Imagine yourself doing any step in the process. If you can’t because you realize something else has to happen first, then imagine yourself doing THAT step. Keep moving “backwards” in your visualization until there’s nothing else you can think of that has to be done first. That’s the first step!


    I bought a ScanSnap scanner. It is a really good product and I think I will keep the scans to an external hard drive.


    I think Bonnie could have a whole extra service called something like “STEPS” to help people walk their vision through the steps. The thought work is the hardest part. I can’t find people who like to do this ADD or no ADD!

    Judi Lebovits

    FANTASTIC blog!!!! (Walking your Wild Dogs). It just arrived at a perfect time, several
    days after poor sleep due to worrying about a very large coming project: shoveling through a home we’ve been in for 20 years, while taking care of an elderly relative and a handicapped spouse. Down-sizing is the goal, and moving will be required. After reading this blog, I finally have hope. THANK YOU!!!

    Bonnie Mincu

    Wow Judi: You’ve have LOADS of “dogs” to walk in your home in addition to so many other responsibilities. Just work one small area of the home-clearing at a time to see a visible difference in that area. It could be just a corner of a room or a shelf per session. The visible difference will matter a lot for driving you forward.


    Thanks to all of you for your tips and feedback. At a time where I need as much focus to do even the most simplest tasks in my own life as oppose to just my job. What frightens me is that eventhough I have appointments or scheduales, sometimes the frezze mode kicks in to meet those obligations and miss them making some excuse. Is there anyone that has any tips for just “getting” there?


    I have no trouble in visualising, it’s the doing that’s daunting.
    Also, I tend to miss almost all the deadlines I set for myself, because I make a distinction between self-imposed deadlines, and hard external deadlines.. 8(


    Same here, JJ. I’ve now become so accustomed to ignoring my own goals that I cannot maintain the level of performance I once had. It sounds strange to say, but I wish I had someone really mean in my life, that could help me be accountable. Lately everyone is so understanding that I have no motivation! LOL…hope this makes sense to someone other than me…I even cringe as I’m typing this.

    Bonnie Mincu

    I get it! But you’ll be better off learning strategies to get yourself to do things than to count on motivation — whether positive or negative. If you actually had someone mean forcing you do things, you might get them done but you’d be miserable.


    I love this blog! So helpful for ADDers like myself 🙂 Thanks, Bonnie.

    This is in response to Judi about trying to dig out from 20 years in her home, trying to downsize and move. Try asking a friend to help you a couple times a week, maybe, go through a couple especially difficult spaces for you to tackle. Then trade with her and help her in her home. Got this idea from I am going to do this with a friend who is really good at “throwing things out that you really don’t need” or helping you figure out who to give it to. We are going to start this week and I can’t wait! That seems really wierd to say, but at least I’m motivated! I bet it will help me do more of it on my own, too.

    Good luck!

    Bonnie Mincu

    Friends to help are great; I call them “body-doubles.” Friends can even help each other over the phone. Each can work at clutter separately and periodically come together to report progress, or stay on speaker phone while you clear your space.

    Have fun!

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Bonnie, there are no words to express how deeply I’ve been affected by your blog! I’ve only read a few things, but they have created such a complete mind shift that the tears shed have washed away my struggles forever!

For the first time in my life I feel understood and hopeful that I can put some tools and systems in place to help me overcome!”

—Michelle near Seattle

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