How Do You Get Things Done?

Today is October 11, 2016.

I have things on my to do list today from January 1, 2016.

OK. Maybe that’s an exaggeration.

Or maybe it’s not.

See, my youngest daughter got engaged on New Years Eve 2015/16.

That’s my excuse.

I was the mother of the bride.

I had to help plan a wedding and fly across the country numerous times.

I couldn’t possibly schedule an appointment or two in between.

So now it’s October and I need to catch up with at least 4 appointments. Silly things like mammograms, eye exams, and dental visits. Plus the dog needs to go to the vet.

So why can’t I bring myself to make a few simple phone calls?

And while I’m at it, why can’t I clean out a closet or two, mop the floor, or mail my daughter her stuff?


You want to know why?

Cause none of those things are fun.

I did manage to pull off a wedding, decorate for the holidays, make my grandson a Halloween costume, and spend time with my friends. Oh, and I got my hair done a few times too.

Cause those things are fun.

So how do you learn to be an adult and get the adulting stuff done?

Clearly, I’m no expert.

But I do know how to research and share.

You need to start by making a list; a ginormous list of everything that you need to do. You’re not going to think of everything and that’s OK; just begin.

Ideally you could put this list in your planner but at least put it where you can find it again. That means not in a “safe place”. 🙂

Once you’ve got your list, go through it and:

  • Cross off anything that you have either had as a “to do” for more than 6 months or really doesn’t need to be done – emphasis on need rather than want.
  • Look for things you can delegate to someone else. You might want to use different colors or symbols to tell things apart.
  • Make note of anything that has a due date. If you’re making Halloween costumes, that needs to get done soonish. Or it could easily be crossed off or delegated – your choice.
  • Look for important things that need to get done, like maybe making an appointment for a mammogram.

Once you have your list prioritized, find one or two important or date relevant items and put them on your schedule.

Now here’s the hard part: actually doing them.

Remember the fun factor? Mammograms are no fun, but the potential consequences are worse.

Put your big girl panties on and do them. Doing them first thing in the morning is best, cause then you will good all day. And when you feel good about getting things done, you’re more likely to do more.

Or maybe find an accountability partner – a good friend, your spouse, or even your kid – someone who will check in, make sure you do whatever it is, and help you through when you don’t.

Still having trouble?

A few things to think about:

  • Are you depressed? It’s common with ADHD, and even if you’re taking medication, it may not always help. Look around at the bigger picture of your life. What’s going on? Maybe there is a stressful situation, or it’s the time of year, or even the weather. If you think it is depression, you need to seek help. At least find someone to talk to, even if you choose not to see a professional. Give yourself some time to rest and recover and do what you can to get things done in the meantime.
  • Are you trying to do too much? As ADDers, we often take on more than we should. Again, take a look and regroup. Learn to say no. Really.
  • Are you afraid? The reason many women don’t do things – like get mammograms – is because they are afraid. My mom used to say, “If I’m sick, I’ll either get better or die, so there’s no reason to see a doctor”. Don’t you love it?
  • Are you overwhelmed? Being overwhelmed is not the same as trying to do too much. Rather, it is a state of paralysis because you don’t know where to begin. My advice? Just start.

What about you?

How do you get things done?




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About Brenda Nicholson

I am an ADHD Expert, Coach, and Consultant. I want you to learn how to celebrate your life with ADHD too.


  1. I do not believe that the fun factor is relevant. I think that what you have missed is that the things you accomplished had deadlines and other people provoking you to do them.

    I say this because I find fun in many of the things I need to do and still don’t accomplish them. I think that some other factor works itself into my mind that I have yet, after 61 years, to figure out.

    It “feels” like a mind fog, or block. A wall that separates me from a project.

    I’m also not a morning person, never have been. Read a lot recently on this being another factor for many of us ADDers. Now, when I had to for work or when my children were young I could do the morning thing. It was never easy, I was never up an hour or two before those deeds had to be done. I actually amazed myself that I made my kids a hot breakfast before school for all those years and they arrived at school.. (most of the time) on time. Work was the same. Luckily I was in management most of my life and did not have to punch a clock. Now, I could and would stay for hours after working hours were over for some but I never managed to come in an hour early. I was lucky to get there 10 minutes after the working day started. Another “brain wall”. I’m still perpetually late. Sometimes I think it’s because I hate waiting more than I hate being late. Sometimes I think it’s because I just can’t figure out how long it actually takes me to get “ready”… Sometimes it’s because I just KNOW that I know where all the stuff is that I need to take with me, like shoes and keys until … SURPRISE, my mind’s eye was wrong again. And, you would think I would learn. According to many around me, I should learn.

    Mind you, I am far from dumb. I’m smarter than the average bear.. or human… or smart person. Confidence? Waxes and wanes with how many times I can find the stuff I need at the time I need it. I may have place something somewhere a minute ago and suddenly it is lost. I have spent a lot of my time beating myself up over the years. Many times I feel I deserve it and that somehow if I reprimand myself enough it will stick. I mean, how can I feel good about this stuff? The only thing that helps me is that I know how different I am and most times I simply accept it. If it weren’t for other people and time… I might be cool with the entire thing.

    That all being said, I just wanted to say that for me, fun has nothing to do with the things I avoid or forget, or block, or don’t get done. None of it makes sense and I’ve thought about it for many, many years. I avoid fun as much as I avoid pain or boring tasks. Go figure.

  2. And in regards to your list of ‘reasons”… I see someone for my ADD and am totally not depressed. I am not afraid, I’m more afraid of not doing the things I need to do actually. I am not overwhelmed because time is not an issue.. I’m not trying to do too much, I don’t do enough.

    Frankly, the feeling for me is that of having some kind of pathological brain lock and lazy seems much more appropriate for explaining it than any of the above reasons. But lazy is not an appropriate word for it. Beats me.

Tell me what you think!