Separate The Preparation From The Doing

procrastination productivity Jan 21, 2023

How many times have you approached a task and just couldn’t get yourself to jump in and get started?  If you are like me, and most ADHD people, the answer is more times than I can count!

Here is a quick and easy hack to try to help you get past this hurdle and jump right in on those tasks that you don’t want to do. 

Often times we will use the lamest excuses to avoid getting started.  “I can’t hang those pictures because I don’t have my hammer and the picture hooks and they are all the way in the basement… I’ll do it later”. Or, “I can’t do my expense report because my work laptop is in my backpack and that is all the way by the front door”. And so on.

One great way to get past this is to separate the preparation from the doing.  Frequently, the preparation part of the task is not too overwhelming and can be pretty simple, like getting a hammer and nails from the basement.

Divide the task into two tasks: Task 1 - preparation, Task 2 - doing.  Then intentionally plan on doing the two tasks separately. 

I will get the hammer and picture hooks now (task 1), then this afternoon I will hang the pictures (task 2). 

I’ll get my laptop out of the bag and get it booted up and I’ll even open my email app so I’ll be ready to gather the email receipts (task 1), then, after dinner I will do the expense report (task 2).

The preparation becomes a low emotional weight activity.  You are not committing to doing  the thing now,  you are just getting things set up.  At the same time you are making a specific commitment for the doing part of the overall task for a later time.  That’s important because without that commitment, it could be one of those unfinished tasks that nags at you later on. 

Ideally, set yourself a reminder on your phone, or set a calendar appointment for the doing part, just to be on the safe side.  I use Siri for this because it is the easiest and fastest way for me to capture the reminder.

"Hey Siri, remind me at 6:30pm to do my expense report."

For the parents out there, this is also a great way to help your kids who hate doing homework. 

As soon as they get home from school, have them get all the stuff they need to do their homework out of their backpacks - books, notebooks, pencils, etc. - and have them set them on their desk, kitchen table, or wherever they do their homework.  Then tell them “Awesome!  You have from now until (whenever) to do your own thing”.  

When their personal time is up, their homework preparation is already done.  Making one less hurdle to clear before they can actually DO the homework.

Give this a try!  And let me know if it helps you get past the hurdle of getting started on a some task you have been putting off.



Photo by Jonny Caspari on Unsplas

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