Focus-on-One Technique for Adult ADHD

When you think about all the things that need to be accomplished in a day it can feel overwhelming.  There never seems to be enough time to get things done!  Some people feel defeated and go on plodding through the day hoping to keep their heads above water.  This is especially the case for adults with ADHD.  Most people don’t give second thought to mustering the mental energy to get started on and completing tasks, but it’s not so easy for folks with ADHD who might perceive work or other tasks as one hurdle after another that must be jumped – or an unclimbable mountain in some cases.  In my work with adult ADHD clients in Michigan and Tennessee I use a simple technique to help them deal with this situation called “focus-on-one.”  If you have ADHD you might consider giving this a try.

The idea of the “focus-on-one” technique is to think of one thing – one specific thing – that you would like to accomplish during the day.  Sure, you have plenty of things that need to be done, but this is something that you will intentionally decide to “move to the front of the line” for whatever reason is important to you.  It’s something that needs to get done (OR started if it’s not possible to complete it in one day) and because you have designated it as high priority it is not only deserving of your attention, but demanding of it.  (Tip:  If you have difficulty getting started on the activity then make a deal with yourself to do it for at least two minutes as this is will usually be enough to “jump start” you.)

When using this technique for the first time you shouldn’t tackle something too difficult.  Choose something small and doable so it’s relatively easy to “score a win.”  It could be something like taking out the garbage, cleaning car windows or even leaving a note for your partner telling them that you love them before you leave the house.  If you complete that one activity then you can either select another activity to focus on and complete at some point during the day OR wait until the following day to complete an activity – the same one or a different one – once again depending on what you consider to be important to accomplish that day.

Using a calendar in which you schedule this one thing and/or setting alarms will prompt you to follow through with it.  If you wanted to you could create these as repeatable events in your calendar to remind you to complete them – once again, one thing per day.  The things you plan on doing one time a day could be repeated for a week or two if it’s something you’re trying to develop into a habit.  The key is to be persistent in your efforts. (Tip: Think about the potential flaw of this technique as it applies to you, e.g., “Oh, this will never work because…,” and develop a practical way of jumping that hurdle, “Yes, but this is what I can do if that happens.”)

Christopher Quarto, Ph.D., PLLC is a licensed psychologist in Tennessee & Michigan.  Do you suspect that you have Attention Deficit Disorder?  Dr. Quarto provides quick & convenient in-person and online/”Skype-like” psychological evaluations.  Click here for details.

Tennessee & Michigan

209 Castlewood Drive Suite D
Murfreesboro, TN. 37129
(615) 403-5227

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