top of page
  • Writer's pictureMatthew Lunsford

How to Overcome Task Paralysis in ADHD: Tips and Strategies for Increased Productivity

One of the most common concerns that I see from my patients with ADHD is what is commonly referred to as "task paralysis." Task paralysis is where someone with ADHD essentially becomes overwhelmed by the task, no matter how big or small. There are two ways that I can conceptualize this:

  1. Behavior analytically, this is avoidance behavior.

  2. Through a social work lens, this would simply be from being overwhelmed.

You're probably thinking, "Great, so what does that do for me?" That opens up the floor to exploring exactly why you avoid tasks. Is it overload? Is there a sensory component? Regardless of the root cause, there are several different strategies that one can employ to assist with overcoming task paralysis. Some of my favorite approaches are outlined below:

  1. Have someone in the room with you or nearby. This can act as a form of grounding so that you don't feel that you're doing this totally alone.

  2. Take a deep breath. This helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and gets you back to baseline.

  3. Start with the part of the task that feels easiest to you and work your way up.

  4. Don't approach your task from a perfectionistic lens. There is always time to go back and edit the small details.

  5. Find a distraction-reduced area to work.

  6. Do some gentle stretching or other movements. This helps to "activate" the brain and can help increase motivation.

  7. Start a timer and work in cycles of 10 - 15 minutes. My typical recommendation is 10 minutes of work with a five minute movement break in the middle of work cycles.

  8. Find a way to reward yourself for task completion, even if it's just a small component, and/or find an "accountability buddy."

  9. Don't put it off! Finding the "right time" is just reinforcing the avoidance behavior.

  10. Reinvent the wheel: Make two lists. One list should have the most important tasks that need to be addressed and the other should have the "little things."

Everyone is different, so these suggestions may or may not work for you. If you'd like help finding a personalized system to help you overcome your task paralysis, don't hesitate to reach out.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page