Secretary overwhelmed

Why is it so hard to get started on a dreaded chore or project? Why do we keep putting it off and putting it off? The sad thing is, by putting things off, we end up spending even more of our time and energy worrying, obsessing and feeling awful about it, then the actual time it takes to finish the chore! What gives? Why do we do this to ourselves?

In my online coaching group, The Queens of Distraction, we tackle all kinds of projects, from clearing off the cluttered dining room table to paying bills to getting dinner on the table every night. Time and time again, I hear the same concern: “Why can’t I get started? Where do I even begin?”

With ADD, when faced with an unpleasant task or one that seems to be too taxing on our brain, we end up procrastinating- waiting until the last minute until that bolt of adrenaline finally hits as we realize we have (1 hour, 1 day, etc.) to get something done.

You’d think we’d know BY NOW that the stress of waiting until the last minute takes its toll on us. We intellectually KNOW better, yet…we repeat this behavior over and over again.


If you have ADD, then you have an aversion to boredom. Menial tasks are unbearable. Pair that with distractibility, poor sense of time, fatigue (often seen in inattentive women with ADD), and impaired executive functioning (where do I start? What happens next? How do I DO this?) and it becomes an almost impossible feat to do seemingly simple tasks.

It helps to know why you have difficulty managing chores and other activities you avoid, but…what can you DO about it?

Terry’s Top 5 Secret Tips for Getting Things Done

  1. Yea, yea, yea, you’ve heard this before: make a list. But this list is different. Instead of just listing all the things that need to be done, try this:
  • List only the things that need to be done for that day.
  • Instead of prioritizing, like all the organizing books instruct you to do, read each item and put a star next to the one that is making you feel anxious, sick or just plain crappy about. Think: which of these to-do items would make me feel GOOD- no, ecstatic and relieved-  once it’s done?
  • Go through the list and continue marking the items that are making you crazy. In other words, go from the inside out. Whichever tasks would make you feel GOOD or at least a lot better- THOSE are the things to address first- not the things you see around you, like piles, unfinished chores, etc.

       2. Now that you have a few items on your list that need your immediate attention, try this:

  • Write down in your planner a specific time to work on your project.
  • If you have more than one thing pending, color code or use other symbols cuing you as to which needs to be done first, second, etc.

3. Take a deeper look at why you are avoiding the task. Is it that you need to buy supplies before you start? Are there any other obstacles getting in your way? Note them, attack them and move forward.

4. Remind yourself, again, of your feelings- think about HOW YOU WILL FEEL once the chore/task is done, VS how much you are hating the idea of doing it. You’ve read a million times to reward yourself for a job finished. My take on that is you’ll already be rewarded because you’ll feel a zillion times better.

5. Break it down in to chunks. You’ve heard this one before, too. So let’s take it a bit further: look at the big picture and have a plan. Work 10 minutes at a time, with plenty of breaks (or if you find you can’t stop the momentum, go with it! Keep going until it’s done!). Set a timer and make it into a game of beat the clock.

There’s lots of ways to help you get through the banality of chores, especially those that seem never-ending, such as laundry, dishes, housework, paperwork.

What works for you? Share your tips in the Comment section below.