So I have a thing where I can get really excited about doing something. It can be totally unprompted and completely my idea. But the moment I commit to doing it and someone else is expecting me to do it, I don’t want to do it anymore. Suddenly, this exciting thing I was gonna do is the last thing I want to do.
Is this an ADHD thing?
This isn’t fun and I was worried that it would come up at work and make me want to quit my job. I was right to be worried but I don’t want to quit my job. I want to find ways to work around my quirks and do the good work I know I’m capable of.
One thing I’ve recognized is that for work, I benefit from a semi-structured work environment. I don’t want anything overly rigid but if I’m mostly left to my own devices, I find ways to punish myself in doing the work. I want to be nicer to myself and avoid situations where I create stress unnecessarily.
Get good at saying no.
Saying no can’t always be the solution especially when it comes to working. A real example was I was given a chance to choose a project to do at work and I struggled the entire time with it. It was my choice what to do at that time.
Get good at accepting you’ll fuck up sometimes.
There is a great book/course on Coursera called learning how to learn. I agree to do some small part…like outline the article or stub out the unit tests. Once I do that more then half the time I finish it.
Learning how to learn covers the neurobiology of procrastinating and how to address it.
Lol. Working on that.
No ADHD diagnosis but I can 💯 relate to this feeling.
For me, I think agreeing to do something morphs the thing in my mind from “something I choose to do” into “something I have to do”.
Most of my trouble is in starting the related tasks because I’m dreading the idea of them.
With that in mind, I use some Atomic Habits tactics to get myself to start on it.
Mostly just lowering my expectations for what I expect to accomplish before starting!
“I have to finish this feature, ugh”
“I’m going to spend 15 minutes thinking about this with the IDE open”
Of course, once I start the IDE up, I’m not going to just sit there for 15 minutes. I usually end up spending at least an hour doing stuff!
This tactic has helped me reduce my need to be excited about the idea of doing a thing in order to make progress on it. Hope this helps 🤞
Thanks, Matt, I think that’s a helpful tactic.
Feel the same way. The only way I’ve found to get better at it is to forget deadlines and just focus on the motions, a little at a time. Like making deposits on the progress of something. If I make a small deposit, I feel better. If a crunch hits later, it’s much smaller.
I don’t know how ADHD gets tangled in with this feeling, but I definitely get it, too.
Some good advice here, already. 🙂
My approach is to map out the full path in more detail, and keep re-synching with what’s real for me… for the hard steps (there are *always* hard steps), I break them down as small as I possibly can, push them to the front, and involve other people to help me.
E.g. for any project there are unknowns, technical problems that may have hidden dragons, and steps that …should be fine, but I personally don’t know how to do them, yet.
I chase those first, and there should always be a next step that’s 100% do-able in a short amount of time. A job like “add Prometheus metrics to this service” might take someone who’s done it a dozen times on similar services a couple of hours, including needed collab with others…
Knowing that feels bad if I’m still learning the codebase, haven’t used Prometheus in this language before (or at all), don’t know who can identify the important metrics, am intimidated by the statistics jargon in the docs I found…
But step 1 can be “outline a rough plan with questions & concerns” – okay, I can do that. Step 2 can be “ask on slack who’s free to help with questions, and tour me through any relevant code we have”.
Wait, I’m still worried about the schedule – step 2 can be showing the team lead my initial plan and that it’s all unknowns for now, so I can make zero promises about timeline, but after my first goal (several steps away…. just get *the simplest possible* metric collected) I will know more.
If I have mental resistance to the next step, I either break it down still further (“open a browser and collect 3 URLs that look useful for step 4”), and/or I get help.
Actually… what I do most often now: I have an open slack channel that’s just my notes on what I’m thinking, what I’m working on next, and problems I’ve run into. Sometimes actual people read it (probably while taking a break from their own tasks!) but much of the time it’s just rubber ducking.
It works really well for me, and it feels valuable for the team (I can share breakthroughs when they happen — it’s all already written out) and I can expose detours I went down and keep open the chance for someone to notice early on.
I find it much easier to help other people problem-solve, rather than solve my own 😀 … and somehow it also sort of leverages that.
I.e. I write out where I’m stuck.
And now other people are (in theory) watching, and wondering how to solve this problem: can I propose something to try? A good next step? Usually, I can, even if 10 minutes before I was feeling overwhelmed, and my brain was “saving” me by throwing distractions & escapes in my path as fast as it could.
Thanks, Rob for your detailed response. You’ve given me some ideas to try out.
When you figure out the answer to this holy grail of a question can you hand me the map?
I saw someone tweeting about this yesterday in connection to ADHD. I’ll find the tweet. It IS a thing.
Feel the same