Do the Hard Part First? — ADHD Tip O the Day 750

Life is complicated, especially with ADHD

One of my favorite  tools, a slogan or motto, is, “Do it now; do it right; and do the hard part first.”  This has been extremely useful for me, and I highly recommend it.

So I was shocked, shocked! when I read Michael Hyatt’s new post. I recognize Michael as someone who gives good advice and good information, and yet here he was, recommending, “Do the easy part first.” Oh, my!

So I read more than the headline, and tried to keep an open mind.  Yes, I did try.

It’s complicated.

If you are stagnated, stuck, and looking at a list of big tasks or projects, it could be a good idea to pick the easiest one first.  But then you break it down into small steps, and then, start with the hardest step first. Okay, if you’re still paralyzed, go to the easiest one. But, in general, always break things into small steps and start with the hardest part first.

The reason is, if you have ADHD, you are prone to procrastination. And, one of the reasons for procrastination is that the task seems too hard and overwhelming. But if you can do that first small step, the hardest one, and get it behind you, get it done, cross it off, then it will seem smooth sailing from then on.

The same principles  would apply to a list of tasks or projects. It can look overwhelming, and that can cause paralysis. But if you can complete the hardest one, life looks easy from then on, and you won’t feel pulled to procrastination.

So, sometimes start with the easiest, if you’re really stuck, but in general, “Do it now; do it right; and do the hard part first.”

That’s my tip.



Michael Hyatt

Michael’s explanation

The hard part

Do it now

Whiny Question O the Day:

Can anyone tell me why facebook cuts off my pictures?  Is there a way to fix it?




@addstrategies  #adhd  #add  @dougmkpdp

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, or (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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12 Responses to Do the Hard Part First? — ADHD Tip O the Day 750

  1. Pingback: Three Most Important ADHD Principles —ADHD Tip O the Day 991 | ADDadultstrategies

  2. Stig says:

    Interesting, I’m largely with Hyatt here. One of the first things I started doing after I got diagnozed was give myself permission to start with something easy, just to get going. This was real progress: Being active and getting something done gives me energy and makes me feel a bit better about myself as well as about all tasks, even the tough ones. And it’s usually easier to focus on hard tasks when fewer of the small, easy tasks are still in the air, unfinished, since they will no longer distract me from what I really need focus to do. There was a saying in my family when I was young that you should always start with the hardest part/task, but for me this has often led to a vicious circle of procrastinating on the hard task, being harshly self-criticial for not getting going, and hating myself for not even getting the easy things done. As well as never getting to real free time and fun, at least not without a big pile of guilt. I could spend days “just about to” do the first, unpleasant task on my list. Today I realize that in some situations it really would be better to start with the hard part. I’m still looking for the best strategies for tricking my brain into action even without gearing up with something easy. But in most cases there’s a clear benefit and not much harm in checking off one or two easy, time-limited tasks first, if it’s something I would eventally do anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • stig – we are each different. your approach makes sense, but isnt what works for me. so we all need strategies, but we need to design the ones that work for us.
      thank you for commenting


      • Stig says:

        Yes, to each their own. If I was able to do the hard part first, I would have much less of a procrastination problem to begin with. Your solution is my problem, in a way… Starting easy to get activated and motivated for more is a strategy found in both the ADHD, procrastination and depression literature, so I think you’re right not to rule it out entirely.

        P.S.: Thank you for writing books filled with practical tips! I shamelessly mix and match any strategies I can get to work from you, Ramsay/Rostain, Tuckman, Barkley and others.

        Liked by 1 person

        • stig – i don’t rule it out. 1. it is fine for the people it works for 2. it works for me when i am stuck and stagnant and can’t get started on the hard part at all
          i think one of the issues may be the difference in starting on a project vs starting on a step of a project. still, for me, hard part first, usually
          no shame at all, we need to use whatever works for us
          thanks for your comments


  3. holdthatthought says:

    doug–tell me a little more about your issue with Facebook cutting off your pictures.

    is it the way it’s “cropping” it?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Teresa says:

    I agree with your reasoning! I was actually listening to an ADHD podcast yesterday where a person suggested starting with the easy part first, saying that it gives you a boost of dopamine to keep going. For me personally, I would do the easy/fun stuff in a breeze and then my brain would shut down when it came time to do the “hard” part. So I like your idea of focusing on the first small step of the hard part first, that definitely helps me, mostly because it makes me realize that the thing I was dreading isn’t as bad as I was making it out to be.


  5. This is so true!
    I like doing the hard part first because it has all my attention, i haven’t started getting distracted. One of my problems though is it takes the challenge out and I’ll find myself procratinating 5 minutes worth of work for 3 years…
    Great article thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • billie
      this is a very insightful comment. I hadn’t thought of those two points. Doing the hard part is challenging, so it helps us focus on it and avoid distractions, but then, if we’ve mastered the challenge, maybe it will be harder to focus on the rest. Interesting. I may use it in a post. If you don’t object.
      Fits in a little with the next post on self-esteem, which I hope to do today.

      Thank you for commenting


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