Trouble With Transitions For ADHD Adults. How To Manage Them. Starting Things, Stopping Them And Switching Gears


Many adults with ADHD have trouble with transitions. I.e., starting things, stopping things and switching between tasks. Here are notes from The December 2012 Meeting of My Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group.  Here are more notes from past Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group meetings.

Topic: Trouble With Transitions. Starting Things, Stopping Them And Switching Gears


Facilitator: Pete Quily

Thanks for Megan and Cara for taking the notes.

Mentioned the new online medication pharmacy price comparison tool Pharmacy Compass. You can use it to check the prices of ADHD and other medications.

What no middle path?

by miheco

Why do ADDers have more trouble starting somethings?


Becomes uninteresting when we have to do it.

See the whole elephant sometimes the whole herd Overwhelmed


Fear of failure/success

Too long of task list

No useful structure



Unrealistic expectation

Lack of clarity

“Ya,ya,ya,ya,ya” = go away. Lying to self & others when you just say to spouse “yeah, yeah, yeah I understand what you want me to do”, but I don’t take any notes, don’t remind myself to do it, and usually don’t get it done. Which just creates spousal frustration and lays the seeds for future nagging.

Over committing

Saying yes without knowing what yes really means. Without engaging

People pleasing

All or nothing attitude

Cognitive distortions

Appropriate preparation-low energy motivation

Appropriate plan

Divide into doable chunks


How to deal with problems starting things


Realistic plan-time, task, resources, divided into doable/small enough chunks, projects->tasks

Differentiate between Tasks and Projects

Reduce Your Anxiety (subclinical levels of anxiety can be comorbid with ADHD; also Depression)

Number One: Take regular non-electronic breaks!!

Increase energy level -exercise, meditation, fun,

Reduce frustration

Healthy self rewards

Get Shame/Guilt out of your head, put it on paper

Journaling to relieve brain chatter (shame, guilt)

Have Compassion for yourself/Encourage

Declutter (because physical clutter can cause mental clutter) to properly set yourself up for work

Fun book:  A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder – How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and on-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place

Book Getting Things Done. The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen

Daytimer: palm desktop (u can colour code your tasks) Google Palm Desktop

Separating ideas of what you could do from committed tasks

Reduce Your Expectations (to what is realistic)

“Secondary processing is next to godliness”

Store on Davie Street for organizing items Room In Order

Good book for organization ADD friendly ways to organize your life


How to deal with problems switching tasks


Plan for it! (I.e. it does take time, or you may actually need a break)

Transition Time (Plan for that!)

ADHDers generally need more breaks

Answer to almost everything > it depends

Question why you are avoiding tasks

Get clear on the benefit of doing the Task

Reframing perception of task – clarify or remind self of benefit.

Realistically plan the transition

Get ready early

Plan some buffers

Know when to give up

Having a launch pad where everything that’s needed to get out of the door gets put, keys, cell, notepad, etc.

Hyperfocus takes time to get out of – plan for it

Trouble switching out of hyperfocus

Hyperfocus is nice, pleasant feeling but it’s hard to break out of

Eg: set an alarm BEFORE

Alarm Clock Sonic Grenade For Serious Oversleepers

Top Ten Most Annoying Alarm Clocks.

Gentler alarm clock. Gradual Multisensory Wake Up Alarm Clock

The task of figuring out what works for me seems hugely overwhelming – probably because it is huge. > understanding this is a trail and error process.

Do intermediate task (a bridging task)

Get Ready Early

Having some Buffers


How to deal with stopping tasks


Alarms (put them away from you)

Human Alarms (if you ask nicely)

Having Structure (you need an actual plan)

Book The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD

Mindfulness has existed pretty much as long we have.

Mindfulness: (not a religion) created/popularized by John Kabat-Zinn, originally a Buddhism meditation technique, he took out the religious component out of it so it was more acceptable for the west

Become Present and Conscious (makes life easier), quick grounding exercise

Listen to Guided Meditation, essential oils…

Play with puppy

Clear benefits, reward or punishment

Structure -plan for what’s next or how to stop

Sensory perception/meditation/anything to be more present.


Create a plan for something that you have trouble starting, stopping, or switching.


1. What will you do?
2. When will you do it? (Later = never)
3. How will you remember to do it?
4. How will you reward yourself when you’ve completed it?
(Break into small groups to discuss)

What ways have you found that helped you deal with transitions? Either starting things, stopping things or changing tasks.

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