In my last post, I suggested using David Allen’s Six Level Model as a starting point for answering the question, “What work should I do?”
And, if you’ve used this model before, you may have had an easier time answering the questions at the higher levels than at the 10,000 foot and runway levels.
This should be no surprise.
As an adult with ADHD creating a “big vision” typically comes easier than making more immediate decisions about what you are going to work on now. You may even on occasion have said about yourself, “I’m a big vision kind of person.”
But how do you get to that big vision?
10, 000 Foot Level – Projects
Part of what leads to overwhelm for adults with ADHD is having a constantly running loop of “I should / need to…,” running in your head all day.
Let’s look at the example of Bob.
Bob was clear on his vision for this life, which included being a great Marketing Director, spending active time with his family, providing a comfortable home, being physically fit, etc.
And his vision really did inform this partial list of his to dos:
- work on the social media plan – due by the end of the quarter.
- get ready for the conference in the Fall
- paint the deck before the start of summer
- refinance house… soon
- bike more with the kids
- plan birthday party for Tori
- train for 10k run
But, while the list of projects kept getting longer and longer, he often felt stuck and overwhelmed. Many days it just felt like an endless loop with not enough forward motion.
Knowing Your Objectives and Next Actions
What often kept Bob from moving forward was not being clear on the objectives and next actions for his projects.
For example, while keeping fit and spending time with his kids was really important to Bob, the bike riding was just not happening.
Every time he looked at the bikes he thought, “We really should start riding.”
Then he would remember that the bikes needed tune-ups, as they were not in good enough shape to ride. He really wanted it to be fun and safe for everyone (his objectives). “I really need to take them in someplace,” he would think. But he didn’t know where to bring them. So, that is as far as he got in his thinking. And he stayed stuck.
Then he was having a conversation with a neighbor, who reminded him that their other neighbor, Tom, was an avid bike rider and he would probably know a good place to go.
So, he took “bike with kids” off his to do list. And replaced it with the next action, which was “email Tom to ask for a recommendation of where to bring the bikes for a tune up.”
He was getting one step closer.
What are your projects? Are you stuck moving forward on some of them? Do you know the objectives and next actions?
ADHD and Next Actions
Like other adults with ADHD, if you find yourself stuck, your inaction / procrastination may be attributed to immobilizing confusion over what to do next.
Answering the questions below can help you see a path forward and help you get unstuck.
- What is the next action?
- What are the objectives of the project and next action? You should always be able envision the outcome you want so you know where you are heading.
But, as an adult with ADHD, figuring this out may be a challenge for you. And you may be reticent to ask for help because you feel you should be able to do this on your own.
The cost, of course, is remaining stuck. By asking for help you can build this muscle over time and get better at making decisions about next actions on your own.
First a reminder that projects include any task that is more than one step.
Review your projects, both those you have written down and those running around in your head. If you are stuck moving forward on any of these, ask yourself:
- Do I know the very next action?
- Is the next action a discrete step or do I need to break it down even more?
- What are my objective(s) for the project and next action?
- Can I answer these questions myself or do I need help?
- If I need help, who can I ask for help?
Stay tuned for the next post where I’ll cover strategies to help you make day to day decisions about tasks on your runway (which include your next actions).