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ADHD and Over Commitment


Living with the symptoms of ADHD often leaves us in a perpetual state of crisis management. We believe that we can always squeeze new tasks into the time we have, despite the fact that we have already overextended ourselves and have underestimated the time things take to get done. We are then forced to deal with the most urgent matters first and hop from one deadline to the next without time to thoughtfully plan and manage our schedules.

When we function in perpetual crisis management, we are operating in fight or flight mode, and are constantly overwhelmed by what is happening around us. These levels of anxiety makes it impossible for us to use any higher order thinking to plan or to solve problems. In this state, we are only able to look a few steps ahead, leaving no room for the unexpected things that life always throws in our path.

We often find it uncomfortable to say “no” to a friend or college who asks for our input or assistance. This could be either because we are flattered by their faith in us or that we really find their project fascination and believe it will not take that long and that we can easily squeeze it in. Sometimes we don’t say “no” because we just feel obliged to say “yes”. Whatever the reason, we need to realise that saying “no” will allow us to focus appropriately on the things that are important to us and give us more satisfaction when we complete tasks to our exacting standards.

Crisis management is fine in short bursts, but it is an unsustainable way of life. It may be helpful to find someone who can help put boundaries in place and facilitate that you say “no” to over commitment and “yes” to the things that are fulfilling and important to you.

Skills around prioritisation, estimating and managing time can go some way to putting you back in control.

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