Willpower #4 —- ADD Tip o the day 267

add adhd, coping with add, coping with adhd, living with add, living with adhd, adult add, adult adhd, willpower I’m reading a great book, Willpower, by Baumeister.  We start each morning with a pool of psychic energy, which gets depleted during the day each time we resist a temptation or make a decision.  So we become more and more vulnerable to impulses and poor judgement as the day progresses.  Fortunately, the energy can be replenished by a nap, a break, meditation, or glucose, and then by sleep at night.    If you use willpower for a task, your will power will be weaker for the next task, and so on.  All of this is supported by experiments.

I’m reminded of buying a car, which involves many decisions and where the salesman leaves you sitting in a small room while he “consults” with his boss  over and over, until you’re so tired and frustrated and bored  you’ll agree to almost anything just to get out of there. Next time, I’m not going to sit there, but get up and walk outside, and eat a snack, and play with my iphone while I’m waiting.

 I was startled to find that many of the ideas are from David Allen’ s book, Getting It Done, and are very similar to mine in my book. Allen talks about lists and other strategies. I especially like his idea of NA, next action, which is similar to my ‘small steps’. He doesn’t allow just listing an item on the to do list, but you have to write down the next action, what you actually need to do to get moving on the task. This is like my example of not writing down ‘d0 the taxes’, but instead, ‘gather up all the checks’, which is the first step, or the next action.

More coming.


About doug with ADHD

I am a psychiatric physician. I learned I have ADHD at age 64, and then wrote two ADHD books for adults, focusing on strategies for making your life better. I just published my first novel, Alma Means Soul. Your Life Can Be Better; strategies for adults with ADD/ADHD available at amazon.com, or smashwords.com (for e books) Living Daily With Adult ADD or ADHD: 365 Tips O the Day ( e-book). This is one tip at a time, one page at a time, at your own pace. It's meant to last a year. As a child, I was a bully. Then there was a transformation. Now I am committed to helping people instead abusing them. The Bully was published in January, 2016. It's in print or e book, on Amazon.
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10 Responses to Willpower #4 —- ADD Tip o the day 267

  1. Pingback: Willpower – with ADD ADHD? Who are you kidding? — ADD Tip O the Day 685 | ADDadultstrategies

  2. Pingback: More ADD ADHD Strategy— ADD Tip O the Day 569 | ADDadultstrategies

  3. Haha, yeah, I was about to comment somewhere that my thoughts were, when I was reading your book, is that you basically reinvented GTD: and that _is_ a good thing: I guess it proves that the general idea of GTD is so good.

    Finished the book btw, loved it. Loved the fact that it’s feels so… human, so personal.


    • thank you so much, glad you loved it, makes me feel good. and it certainly is personal alright. i was really surprised when i read the GTD ideas, and i agree, it really validates the strategies.
      thank you for commenting


  4. Aha! I’ve frequently been told to “break down” writing assignments into “small steps” for struggling students (many who have ADD). Everyone said the same thing, but no one ever taught me what the small steps were. I would break the assignments down the best I could, but I could tell the students didn’t always get it. I’m going to have to read that book–both books–and I especially like that idea of the NA. Breaking things down into NAs is definitely the smaller steps some students need.


    • yes! i’ve had that experience many times,being told something to do without any clue of how to actually do it. need clarifying.
      thank you for your comment, and i hope you like the books


    • shannonell says:

      A tip I picked up in another book, related to Doug’s strategy, concerning figuring out what the steps actually are. Which for me, figuring out those steps, well that’s always freaked me out. Because…ADHD. There are so many different sizes of steps you can break things down into!!! How are we supposed to know what size steps to use?! We have ADHD! We lack talent in the prioritization and sequencing departments! This added strategy helped me out a lot, and that’s Finding the Smallest First Step of Behavioural Engagement, from Ramsay & Rostain’s The Adult ADHD Tool Kit.

      Essentially it’s this:
      1. If, in the moment you had decided to start a task you find yourself procrastinating and/or feeling anxious or overwhelmed, then your task is still too big.
      2. Keep breaking down your first step into a smaller step until you have a task you feel certain you can do right then. (sometimes for me it’s as small as “stand up”, and when I’m at my worst, I can even need help to accomplish that)(note that the “help” I need in this situation is often just someone to stand up with me, or take my hand while I stand up——this translates in all sorts of situation; with students it’s often enough to have you sitting at the table with them, same with adults and doing work, I’ve found)
      3. ******IMPORTANT PART*****You’re only going to know if it’s too big when you’re in the moment, so don’t worry about it when you’re drawing up your original task breakdown. Just write down the steps as if you were instructing someone else to do the task.

      So if you have ADHD students who are still having trouble after you break down a task for them, it may be that that first step is still too big. (And what was fine one time may not be fine at another, ditto from person to person) Maybe try breaking it down more with them in the moment, or teaching them to do that. And maybe teach them it’s ok to ask for help in order to get going. Even if you already have done the later – you probably have, I’m sure! – I find it’s something you have to reteach A LOT, even with adults, even with myself. There’s so much shame to overcome, especially with late diagnoses. And it’s tough to learn what kind of help is ok to ask for and what it’s better to do for yourself – when to stop trying to push through on your own, y’know?

      There’s my rambling ADHD, severe, combined type input 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Bully says:

        Shannon – this is wonderful! I’ll probably use it as a post if you don’t object. My thought has been just break it into the smallest steps possible but this approach is better. I may also use it in my new edition of Living Daily – giving credit – if that’s Ok.
        thank you for your contribution.


        • shannonell says:

          Absolutely! Use it however you like. I’d be honoured. Sorry for taking so long to respond…um, I’ve got this neurological condition that makes it hard to keep track of stuff sometimes 😉

          Liked by 1 person

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