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Readers Respond: Motivational Difficulties?

Responses: 33


Updated May 09, 2010

From the article: ADHD and Motivation
Do you ever experience a sense of paralysis associated with a task or project – wanting to get started yet unable to make progress forward in any manner? And if you do get started, do you have difficulty maintaining your drive and persisting in your effort? It may begin to feel nearly impossible to get anything done! This can quickly lead to overwhelm, procrastination and avoidance and ultimately results in problems with productivity.

What strategies have you found helpful in getting started and sustaining focus on a task that is overwhelming or just plain boring? Please share your own experiences and ideas.


One thing I find helpful is...for example...if I look at the kitchen table and it's usually filled with things that need to be put somewhere else..I get discouraged and overwhelmed...but if I just pick up one thing and do something with that one thing, and don't think about the whole table, eventually the whole table is cleaned up, just focus on one object at a time.
—Guest mandy


Now I'm going to play psychological warfare with myself (telling myself positive things whilst I think negatively) and attempt (yes attempt) to 'just do it'. Sorry about spelling or grammar errors, I decided to just type this instead of using spell check or similar. idk if this will help anyone, but at least I think someone can identify with this.
—Guest ProcrastinatingPrincess

Oh So True!!!

I am doing it at this very moment, while in my head, I'm thinking, 'you have stuff to do'. I have recently been diagnosed as, get this, having 'the cognitive functioning of someone who has ADD/ADHD'. Further more, I'm reading this, shaking my head in agreement. (yes shaking, not nodding). While typing my side comments, I'm thinking 'you are doing it again'. I am trying to con myself into believing this is the last blog I will check about procrastination. I know very well it is not. Then I find myself in an anxiety circle, where u procrastinate, worry because u know what u need to get done and ur procrastinating, then worry that you will not get it done, and I know what to do!!!! As much as I know 'just do it' it wont get done if u don't 'do it'. Things may help, things may make things easier, but the bottom line is if you don't do it it wont get done! So I have just told myself I have an hour or else...(or else what @ self). lazy, lack of self discipline, ADD/ADHD, (mental health) or any other 'reason you have, it's on you! (Sometimes you can get help, but all the time?)
—Guest ProcrastinationPrincess

Faked it all through school

Although I wasn't diagnosed with ADD until well into my 40's I always suspected something was wrong as far back as I can remember. School was a total nightmare. I'm positive some of my teachers passed me to the next grade because they felt sorry for me. This was in the 1960's-70's when ADHD, ADD, etc. weren't even recognized & we moved constantly so I was always in a state of flux. Reading the comments here is so helpful, esp. drawing some weird kind of comfort in knowing I'm not alone. I have been on Adderall for 3 years now and it has helped me keep my job. For parents, spouses, family members, etc. - PLEASE know your loved one is not forgetful, scatter-brained, lazy, etc. on purpose. If you could read their minds and feel the angst, confusion, & crushing despair - it may make you try to understand & be patient a little more. Above all, please see a doctor for a diagnosis - medication & life-style modifications are very helpful. I'm grateful to find a forum w/others like me.
—Guest Guest


It seemingly does not matter if the task at hand is interesting or boring; the paralysis of my will is... paralyzing! As I type, I have been sitting in the bathroom reading these comments (well over an hour), when I should be getting into the shower to get ready for work, since if I'm late even once more I'll be fired. I just "can't" move. Oh, once I see the clock and panic sets in, off n running I go, but dinner hasn't been made, dishes not done, oh the list goes on and on. I say "it's just a shower" but it's this frozen, dead feeling that has this grip on me. ADD meds help with my brain swirl but not with this "frozen will" that won't let up!!  Sooo frustrating!
—Guest Stacy


I’ve never been diagnosed with ADD, but my aunt and brother have. I don't believe medicine is the answer. I show all the signs of having ADD too but am trying to fight it all the time which gets frustrating, even depressing. I can think about doing something I really have to do or want to do for hours until it’s too late to get it done. I like to think I'm motivated and have a positive mind as much possible but I'm not when it comes down to taking action. What makes my brain pause and get overwhelmed over nothing? I hate it. I don't want to be weak. I want to be able to do what I have on my to do list, to be who I want to be, who I feel I am. Something in me holds me back.
—Guest Candangle

Do I have ADHD?

I am lazy, lethargic, and demotivated to the core. I can’t focus on any task to get started, much less to complete it. I procrastinate performing even activities I enjoy, such as watching a genre of movies I like. I have successfully procrastinated watching movies in the comfort of my home for several months now. I sleep too much too, and last week I slept a full 24 hours. That's right, a full 24 hours. My brain was churning with crazy dreams but I could not get myself to sit up, and cast the blanket aside. I want to do a number of things but have a certain kind of mental paralysis that prevents me from taking any meaningful action. I am on medication for depression, but after chancing upon this article, I am wondering if I am suffering from undiagnosed ADHD.
—Guest Harin


I've always struggled with my ADHD. I was diagnosed in second grade, have been medicated ever since, and now - ten years later - I'm still trying to figure out how to effectively get stuff done. For the past two years I have been homeschooled and that only made dealing with ADHD worse. Though, through that I found one way that I can get homework done - going to the library. For some reason, the calm and focused atmosphere of the library helps me get stuff done. I still struggle even when I'm at the library, but it helps. I often feel blocked when trying to get stuff done, right now in fact. I'm supposed to be writing a paper for one of my school classes (I'm no longer homeschooled, by the way), and instead I'm sitting here typing this on my iPod. Why I can write this and not my paper, I've no clue. One other thing that helps me is a friend of mine who supports me, understands that I'm struggling and doesn't think I'm lazy or unmotivated. Just him saying "I believe you can do it" helps.
—Guest Misty

I wish I had been homeschooled

It would have made all the difference in the world, no distractions, no peer pressure or competition among classmates (who finishes the test first and who was last). Not only that, I was in elementary-middle school in a small town, but in high school I was in a suburb to a big city. The quality of the learning aspect was completely different. In small towns they want you to learn and do not care about competing with other school districts. Suburban upper middle class schools strive to teach as fast as they can to keep the standards high to appeal to people starting families looking for a good school to send their kids to. Moral of what I learned through my own difficulties, I will not send my children to public or private schools.
—Guest TRB777

Procrastination, time mngmt!

I too have ADD, procrastinate, leave things till the last minute. The only thing that gets me running is the adrenalin rush I get from the fear that I won't make it to work on time. I care very much about others. I don't want to let them down, or have them think I don't care, or am narcissistic or feel entitled to do what I want. I am highly respected at work, hardworking, very resourceful, intuitive, think out of the box. I value and respect my coworkers and to let them down or have them think I don't care would be awful! Despite my successes, keeping things organized at home is often an insurmountable task. Even when I work hard at this, it is short lived. The guilt, utter frustration I felt in the past when my ADD compromised the lives of others, was intolerable! The relief, happiness of living on my own now, is wonderful!! I am finally free to value all the good I am, enjoy being me, not be so hard on myself and love life, even during days of utter chaos!
—Guest www.add.about.com

Mantra or Broken Record

In frustration of my seemingly endless lack of will to begin tasks I began searching for a thought or mental mantra to motivate improved performance. I stumbled on some words of wisdom by Hillel, and ancient Jewish Philosopher. His quote was, “If I am not for myself, then who is for me. If I am only for myself then what am I? If not now, when?" It was the bit at the end that stuck with me. I thought how perfect, I'll channel this thought of, "If not now, when?" into a greater demand for action. Unfortunately this proactive mantra became not real motivation but a broken record in my head that became a form of self administered meta-mental/verbal abuse. As I continued to lack production I would be repeatedly beat down by myself questioning of, "If not now, When?" I DON'T KNOW DAMNIT!
—Guest Sallen35

Reply to Frustrated Father

"My son has ADD and I deal with it but show my frustration. I was never aware that the laziness and lack of motivation was connected to ADD. I have not turned to medication yet and don’t want to, but I am considering it. -Frustrated Father" My brother was exactly in your situation - working so hard to help my nephew and just so frustrated with lack of improvement. One day I called. "How's he doing?" I asked. "We finally decided to put him on medication," he said. "How's he doing?" "Like night and day - like night and day." He's a college graduate now after years of drug problems, school failures, and all the rest. If your son had diabetes would you not put him on insulin first and THEN work with diet, exercise, and so on to keep the dosages as low as possible? So why not think of ADD the same way? Your son has a MEDICAL condition - not enough neuro-transmitters are getting to the executive function areas of his brain. Do both of you a favor - see a good specialist doc. Now.

Contrarian view of "chunking"

Many articles suggest "chunking" a large project into bite-size pieces. Sounds good - seems obvious. However, I think there's a big issue that makes that approach simplistic. We all know that ADDers hate facing tasks that are "boring," "don't present a challenge," are "uninteresting." But what is a chunk? A short stand-alone task needing minimal thought or effort. My personal experience is that such a task can be completely solved/completed IN MY HEAD at which point it's almost impossible to actually EXECUTE it. What fun is that? So CREATING a chunked list can be fun - but DOING the chunks? Not so much. Do I have a solution? Yes, but I'm fortunate - one not possible for most of my schooling/career nor, I'm afraid, for most ADDers: I assign the task to one of my (non-ADD) employees with exact instructions. Takes me a minute; might take them hours. OR THEY task ME with small chunks one-at-a-time when necessary ... we enjoy working together like that. But as a GENERAL strategy? NO.

Highschool ADD Bites

Hey, I'm 17 and in my junior year, the year that counts, and I have no motivation what so ever to do anything. As a result I’m currently failing four out of eight classes and TWO of them are electives that I find awesome. My parents have tried everything from positive to negative punishment and nothing keeps me going for long. I really feel bad, but neither my parents nor I know what to do. I don't think we can handle me taking any more medication, but if this keeps up, I'm really worried, scared even, that it will really hurt my future. And it's really embarrassing to have your friends doing so well in school and there you are left behind with your parents breathing hell-fire down your back and just about ready to throw everything I own to keep me from getting distracted. I'm trying, I really am, but NOTHING keeps me on track for long, and I just feel lost...
—Guest Junior

Research / Sleep / Write

I can't say how much I'm struggling with my MBA. Every class I have to ask the professor to understand why I didn't finish my paper. My main problem with paper is that I get overwhelmed by the research part. It is so much information and I can't decide one to pick or how to organize them. Recently, I discovered (by accident) that, if I make the research at night, and then after a good night I write in the morning, I get the writing done less painfully. I think the reason why is that the best results from the research are the firsts I'll remember. Plus, I can do my brain hygiene at night and come back in the morning with an uncluttered brain. I also agree with the music strategy (but not for writing!!!) :)
—Guest Francine
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