ADHD - How to pick up a piece of work after moving on to something else

Head with a scribble inside it suggesting confusion

Something which is really challenging for people with ADHD is working on long term projects, particularly returning back to a piece of work after some time. It is difficult to get back into the headspace to carry on.

"whatever inspiration I had found previously is now gone. So, each time I return to the project is like starting the project all over again. Ultimately, this means the projects take me longer." @RoganWright via Twitter

This has been problematic for me in the past. I have found some strategies to make this easier. I hope these examples are helpful.


Writing over a number of days is very difficult as it is easy to lose the thread of your argument or your motivation to continue.

I start by thinking about the question I want to answer and try to make this as clear as possible.

I would then create an outline by brainstorming the structure of my writing and creating an initial order.

I try to visualise my thinking as much as possible as I finds this helpful and so I might use mind mapping or a tool such as Miro to get as much as I can on one page and give it some structure.

I will then begin to research anything I need to and add detail linked to the visual in a Zettlekasten (a tool for creating an interconnected web of thought), I use graph network tools such as Roam Research or Tana.

Finally I will begin to bring the ideas together in writing. As I do I will write a note to my future self explaining what I am thinking about and where I should start the next time I begin to work on the document.

All of this should help if I need to return to the document after a period of time.

Book keeping and VAT return

I run my own business and have to submit receipts and invoices for my accountant to add to the accounts and answer queries about VAT for the quarterly VAT return. This is exactly the type of boring admin task which my brain hates and I have terrible stress around money and so this is a task I will put off as long as possible. The VAT return is quarterly and so each quarter I have to start thinking about this from scratch as I will have forgotten how it works.

What I have done:

I created what I call my VAT return runbook. "The goal of a runbook is to provide a consistent and reliable approach to IT operations, ensuring that critical systems remain up and running and that incidents are resolved quickly and efficiently." The goal of my runbooks is to provide a consistent and reliable process for me to follow when completing a particularly tricky (for me) task.

My VAT return runbook is a very simple list of steps including links where useful. It is deliberately very basic and step by step to help when I am struggling to start.

Here is an example:

VAT period MM/YY - MM/YY
Download invoices from the following services
 Service link
 Service link
 Service link
 Send to Dext receipt tool
Open resources
 * Open Dext receipt tool link
  Check items in tool inbox and add details as required
  Select all and publish (to FreeAgent)
 Open FreeAgent link
  Go to Banking, Bank Accounts and click on the number of unexplained items
  For each match with receipts imported from receipt tool
  If none seach for invoice in mail
 Open mail link
  Search for missing receipts
  Add to Dext receipt tool
  Return to *
 Open PayPal link
  Download a list of transactions for period
  Check invoices are in FreeAgent
  Check Mail
  Any receipts missing from last Qtr?
  Find and add to Dext Receipt Tool
  Return to *
Send any required notes and documents to accountant with explanations of anything which is not as it should be.

What do you struggle with? Might a coaching session help you to think it through?

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