Indecision is paralyzing for ADHD Adults
I took 4 days off for the long July 4 weekend last week. Four whole days with no obligations (except fireworks!) Loads of free time to work on my website, organize my office, create videos and produce a webinar. Or throw in some hobby time with painting.
Four free days of possibilities!
Did I do any of these things? No, of course not. Instead, I focused for hours on shopping for a chair, following a tangent that wasn’t even close to my Top 10 Important Things to Do.
If I had treated myself to one of my own ADHD Coaching sessions, I would have coached myself to narrow down my options and commit each day to ONE specific accomplishment or activity. Because having too many options of things to do, and open time to do them in, was a sure way to get very little done at all.
With ADD / ADHD, we are quite familiar with the concept of too many options. In our case, the options are often the many thoughts and “to-do’s” swimming around in our brains. There are so many things we could do, so many projects we should do, that it’s hard to decide which is most important, or what to do NOW.
So we often do nothing.
Less is More
An often-cited study was conducted in 1995 by Professor Sheena Ivengar, author of “The Art of Choosing.” The study found that people were far more likely to buy jam when they were given a sampling of only three flavors, than when they were invited to sample a large assortment of 24. The conclusion was that, although people find the idea of choice appealing, in reality, too many choices become debilitating.
Further refinement of the study led to the conclusion that a lack of information about the choices was a deciding factor in people’s not taking action.
The dilemma of choice can be even more acute for ADD / ADHD Adults. Many of us already have challenges with overwhelm and ambiguity, coupled with a bit of shame and perfectionism. When there are many possibilities of actions to take, and no clear direction as to which is most urgent or important, our brains freeze up.
ADHD FORMULA for INACTION:
(Lots To Do) + (Too Much Unassigned Time) = Unproductivity
The irony is, our tendency is to try to get more time, when we would actually do far better with LESS time and fewer choices. You have probably proven this over and over to yourself: you are most productive when right up against the deadline for ONE particular project. Then it’s clear what must be done right away, and you can finally focus and do it.
So next time you find yourself paralyzed with indecision of what to do, narrow down the choices. Then pick just one action that will move things forward and get started on it. Don't worry about it being the right choice. Sometimes the easiest action is the best to start with.
By the way, in case you're wondering about that chair… I finally snapped out of it on Sunday night and realized I wasn't ready to buy that chair right away. But the hours of shopping time weren't wasted. I have narrowed down my choices, filed them in Evernote, and might be ready to make a decision in time for the Labor Day sales.
What one decision or action will you take this week? Please share!