If you live with ADHD, you might find it difficult to stay interested in certain tasks or activities, but there are ways to help you get things done.
Motivation is the driving force behind the decisions we make and the likelihood we’ll complete a task. It can affect how well we learn something and how we prioritize our day.
For people with ADHD, some tasks and activities spark their interest, while others do not. Symptoms might make it difficult to focus and maintain attention on those tasks.
But there are strategies you to help kick-start your motivation and keep it – even in tasks that seem boring or long.
Despite misconceptions, lack of motivation does not have anything to do with laziness.
Almost everyone has a day here or there where they don’t feel like doing much. Home stress, work stress – life stress, in general – can make motivation a challenge.
When you live with ADHD, the way your brain is hardwired might be what’s behind your lack of motivation.
In addition to brain chemistry differences, people with ADHD may inherently view motivation differently than people who don’t have ADHD.
A 2017 study found that adolescents living with ADHD often felt less motivated toward tasks that felt long-lasting or too slow. This same study noted that predictable, familiar activities were less appealing, while activities with social support and interaction were highly motivating.
While the exact reasons behind these findings are not clear, experts theorize the defining traits of ADHD, such as impulsivity and hyperactivity, may guide which tasks are motivating and which are not.
Living with ADHD doesn’t mean never completing projects or meeting deadlines. You can find ways to improve motivation without having to make sweeping lifestyle changes.
Set smaller goals
A large goal can be daunting for anyone and can make it easier to quit before you’ve even begun.
You may find increased motivation when you take large tasks and break them down into smaller, more achievable goals. This can also help prevent a lack of motivation over tasks that feel too long or boring.
Create a task list
Lists can be great ways to get organized and to define a starting point. They can also provide a visual checklist that can help progress feel more substantial.
Having someone else to help hold you accountable for tasks can help get a job done. Not only can another person make the workload easier, they can help the time feel as if it passes more quickly.
Having someone to be social with may also improve your desire to complete tasks.
Some research suggests that a competitive aspect to tasks may help individuals with ADHD feel motivated.
Don’t forget to treat yourself for a job well done so you’re more likely to complete the task in the future.
If you’ve set small goals, try doing something you enjoy after you’ve successfully checked off each goal. Maybe you enjoy spending time outdoors, talking with a friend, dancing or listening to a favorite song, or having a snack. No matter how small, consider rewarding your successes each day.
Take the pressure off
Thinking that you “have to” do something might make you less likely to do it at all.
Instead of telling yourself you have to do the dishes because it’s expected of you, remind yourself you enjoy the look of a clean kitchen or having clean dishes readily available.
Change the routine
Repetitive, familiar tasks might not easily motivate you. In this case, try doing those tasks in a new way.
If you always fold the laundry while you sit on the couch, try moving to the bedroom or standing at the dining room table for a change.
Visualize the result
Projects can be less intimidating if you have a clear goal in mind. This may also help you break down a larger project into smaller tasks.
Identify your productive time
Maybe you’re a morning person, or maybe you feel your best right after dinner. Knowing when you’re most likely to complete a task can help set you up for success.
Start your day with success
Feelings of accomplishment are directly linked to the brain’s dopamine reward system. By starting your day off with a successful simple task, you may be more likely to continue down the road of motivation.
If you’re living with ADHD and are having trouble getting motivated, consider trying one of these free resources from ADDitude Magazine:
ADHD is not an end to feeling motivated.
While there may be factors out of your control that contribute to a lack of motivation, you can still complete projects and tasks at home, work, or school.
Once you understand why you find it difficult to feel motivated, you may be able to find tips and tricks that work for you.
Remember, many other people live with ADHD or have a family member living with ADHD.
You’re not alone.
Support groups and forums can be a great way to learn what has worked for other people living with ADHD in need of a motivation boost. For a list of support groups and forums, you can visit our ADHD Resources page.