ADHD and decision making

How do account for decision making in your productivity? Do you account for it? Perhaps you should. Here’s the case for why. In my experience, when my clients are struggling with something on their to-do list and avoiding it, one of the biggest contributors is that there is a decision that needs to be made.

How can you do a thing, if you haven’t decided how to do it? How can you do a thing if you’re not sure what the steps are? And how can you do a thing if you haven’t really decided if you want to do it? I would argue that you can’t do something under those circumstances. And my experience bears that out to be true.

So what’s with ADHD people and decision making? Well, I believe that decision making is the perfect storm of all of the things that we’re not great at. In order to make a decision we have to pay attention deeply, use our executive function, specifically are working memory to weigh the options, we have to manage our impulsivity, and many of us have to manage anxiety that may or may not be an overcompensation trying to deal with the aforementioned impulsivity. All of this conspires to make decision making a thing that many of us struggle with.

So what’s the answer? I believe the answer is to simply account for the decision making as a separate task. We need to have time, attention, and mental space to devote to that decision. Most of the time, if we simply see a task on our list that has a decision behind it our brain sort of short circuits. We may be mentally and attentionally available to do the task, but not make the decision. Because the decision may actually be a more taxing thing then the actual task.

But given the time and space to make that decision as a separate line item, we are generally much more effective and efficient at doing the thing that it’s connected to. Not to mention, a lot of the time, once I talk through those tasks and those decisions with my clients they decide they’re not that important after all. That’s kind of a wonderful thing to realize. I can take stuff off my list, often stuff that’s been haunting me, cuz I’ve made the decision that I don’t actually need to do it. Crossing stuff off your list without having to do anything except make a decision. Kind of beautiful.