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ADD and Commitments - Keep Those Commitments...

and Improve Relationships


Updated February 24, 2009

ADD and Commitments

Do you ever make commitments, yet fail to follow through? Perhaps you promised to do something that you really didn’t want to do -– maybe a tedious task, something you need to do but honestly just don’t want to do. It may be that in the midst of the conversation with someone it felt right, but later as time passed the task just didn’t seem so important so you lost track of it. Perhaps you even find yourself saying "yes" to too many things until your pile of things-to-do becomes impossible.

Adults with ADD/ADHD often find themselves caught in this negative pattern. Following through with or even remembering these commitments can sometimes be a struggle. Unfortunately, when you don’t follow through with your commitments you let others down and hurt relationships.

Here are a few tips to help you do what you say you are going to do:

Say “Yes” Only When You Mean “Yes”

Commit to only those things you are honestly willing to do.

Know that it is OK to say “no.” Sometimes we say “yes” to please others or because we are uncomfortable setting limits and saying “no.” If saying “no” outright is hard for you, try something like “I am so sorry that I can’t help with this, maybe another time.”

If you worry that you will feel pressure from others to say “yes,” be prepared for this. Stand in front of the mirror and practice your response. You can also roleplay with a friend, practicing what you will say.

If you find that you have committed to something and later change your mind or realize you just can’t do it, contact that person as soon as possible, explain to him that you won’t be able to do the task after all and apologize.

Following Through With Your Commitment

Once you have made the commitment, write it down immediately in a daily planner or on a central calendar in big bold color.

Use visual reminders like a bright adhesive note and stick it on your bathroom mirror or some other place where it will be seen.

If the task you have committed to do is complicated, break it down into smaller steps. For example, if you have promised to make costumes for your children’s school play, simplify the task by separating the job into smaller chunks.

Use your calendar to schedule each small task so things don’t pile up until it is impossible to complete the task in the required time period.

  • Day 1: Make list of needed items.
  • Day 2: Collect items from store or house.
  • Day 3: Draw patterns for costumes on the material.
  • Day 4: Cut material.
  • Day 5: Sew costumes.

By breaking the task down into smaller tasks, you simplify the job to make it less overwhelming. There is also a wonderful sense of accomplishment with the completion of each small task. Give yourself a pat on the back as you cross each successfully completed step off your list.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Make the job fun!

Additional Reading:


Lynn Weiss, The New Attention Deficit Disorder In Adults Workbook. Taylor Trade Publishing. 2005.

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