I bet you’ve said to yourself plenty of times, “Why can’t I just finish this?!”
I know it is particularly frustrating when it is something that is important to you, not just something you think you should do. Maybe you’ve created a plan with deadlines, no less. And there isn’t even a gremlin (inner critic) lurking about, getting in your way.
But you still can’t make it to the finish line…
You start again. Maybe you just have a little bit more to go to finish – the last 10%.
And then you might move on to something else.
You may even forget about the task.
When this happens you might be at a loss when trying to answer the question, “Why can’t I just finish this?!”
Maybe you are bored…
Why Are You Bored?
Yes, there are times when you are not able to attend because the task does not have meaning for you, and you might say, “I’m bored.”
But what about the times when a task does have meaning (importance) for you and you still feel bored?
You could have this feeling, and not able to attend and perform well, because you are not aroused or alert enough. That is, you do not have the energy to follow through.
Possible reasons for this waning energy, feeling of boredom, are that…
- you are sleep deprived.
- the task is tedious, though important.
- you are hungry.
- there isn’t a sense of urgency because you don’t have a lot to do.
- you are just worn out.
- your environment is not interesting / stimulating enough.
- the task does not have a sense of reward or punishment near enough in the future because the deadline is too far off.
- the dopamine levels in the “reward center of your brain” are low.
You are just not feeling it!
More About Dopamine and ADHD
Dopamine levels in the “reward center of the brain” increase in response to an expectation of a reward, releasing the energy you need to pursue something you have determined you need. You get the good feeling before you even get the reward.
So, you are motivated to pursue the goal, whether it is finishing your marketing plan for your business, going for a run or grabbing the box of doughnuts.
Dopamine helps provide the stimulation you need to follow though.
Though the research is not definitive, it is believed that adults with ADHD have abnormally low levels of dopamine in this part of the brain, leaving you feeling understimulated and unmotivated to follow though.
One of the results of too little dopamine is that it can leave you craving food, sex or other forms of stimulation. (At the same time, too much can cause addictive behaviors.)
This is counteracted in part if you take stimulant medication to treat your ADHD, as your dopamine levels increase with the medication.
What Happens When You Are Bored?
When you are feeling bored because of any of the reasons noted above you will have a harder time following through, even on your important tasks.
So, instead you may…
- use drugs or alcohol.
- hyperfocus on whatever draws your attention.
- engage in conflict.
- surf the internet.
- watch TV.
- work on a hobby.
- flit from activity to activity.
Sometimes this may be an effort to seek out stimulation. Other times, it may be just because you don’t have the energy you need to tackle a particular task.
And you are not following through on the tasks that are important to you!
Your attention is on something, but is it where you want it to be?
Dealing With Boredom So You Can Follow Though
The first step is to acknowledge that there are going to be times you are bored.
Be able to recognize what it feels like when you are bored. Maybe it is low energy. Alternatively, it could feel like a sense of restlessness.
Then make decisions in advance about tasks that you know bore you and have strategies for those times when the feelings of boredom arise like….
- making a game out of a task, such as “beat the clock.”
- learning to tolerate some boredom by reminding yourself of the importance of what you are doing in the long run.
- setting a timer for the amount of time you think you can tolerate working on a particular task.
- delegating a boring task, when possible.
- timing when you do a boring task to when you take your stimulant medication.
- deciding not to follow through on the task, intentionally.
- taking a break and doing something else. Then coming back to the task when you have more energy
- bartering with someone. You agree to do something for them and they take on your boring task.
- taking notes during a meeting.
- using an unobtrusive fidget “toy” during conversations / meetings.
- increasing dopamine levels with foods, prescribed medication, small steps toward a goal.
What other strategies do you use to counter boredom?
Question For You
What is one strategy you are going to use today to deal with a boring task on your plate?