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Task Completion Strategies for those with Neurodiversity:

People with Neurodiversity, including autism spectrum and ADHD process things differently. The executive functioning system of the brain does not work in typical ways. This can be very frustrating for many but there are ways to help if you take the time to understand how you function best. Here are some task completion strategies for those with Neurodiversity:

Step 1: Name the problem. Ie. I have a problem with __________.

Step 2: Think about some things that may be getting in the way of getting things done.

Step 3: Take a nice deep breath, try not to judge or berate yourself because if you start diving into the negative thoughts, you will never be able to problem solve.

Step 4: Take a look at some of these helpful strategies or think of other "hacks" for working around your neurodiversity. Others may think they know what you need to do to get things done, however, maybe they don't really know what you need like you do. If you really want to get things done, you need to figure out the best way to get things done and be patient with yourself.

What are some barriers to task completion for people with neurodiversity?

  • Time blindness (lose track of time)

  • Hyper-focusing: The ability to hyper focus on things that you enjoy or find interesting and locking into the task, sometimes losing sight of other things around you.

  • Poor organizational skills: Don't know where to start

  • Don't have the skills to do it. It is going to be hard, you need to figure out how to do it or ask for help and this is a barrier for you.

  • Low energy- you are dragging and don't have the energy to do the thing you need to do. You need a pick me up.

  • High energy- You are hyper, restless, can't focus or concentrate. Need to slow down and ground yourself.

  • Just don't want to do it! Right?!

  • Don't want to do it because others are trying to control how you do it.

  • Anxious that you may not do things right, will mess up, will let others down.

  • Meltdown: You are freaking out because you are completely anxious and stressed and spinning out on constant negative thoughts.

  • Shutdown: You feel stressed and overwhelmed and now you have completely shut down. You no longer have any energy and you feel completely disconnected from everything.

Here are some other strategies that may be helpful for hacking into your neurodiversity so you can get things done:

  1. Establish familiar routines for tasks that need to be completed:

  2. Doing things the same way each time

  3. Using visual reminders

  4. Using a calendar (paper or app)

  5. Asking others to remind you

  6. Chart with 3-5 activities to do in day

  7. Give yourself a timeline (ie. I will do this before 5 pm)

  8. Placing post-its everywhere

  9. Writing it down on your hand...

  10. Turn off/set aside all other distractions.

  11. Relocate to a better space to be productive.

2. Identify how to get into the Zone: What would make this task fun or tolerable to complete?

Identify “how to get into the zone” to complete difficult tasks.

  • How did I get into the zone in the past?

  • When do I work best?

  • What's the environment like when I am the most focused? (loud, busy, super quiet).

  • Often, it is helpful to do things around the same time each day.

  • Try to take advantage of momentum- the property or tendency of a moving object to continue moving. Ie. “I’m already in the bathroom using the toilet, I might as well get my shower done and get it out of the way”

  • Consider the amount of time needed to complete the task and be realistic.

  • Pay attention to deadlines. Do you work well under pressure or do you melt down or shut down under pressure? Build in the time you need and be realistic so that you can meet deadlines.

Other strategies:

  • Pick up your energy: stand up, stretch, drink cold water, turn on music...

  • Settle your energy down: Stretch, use white noise, weighted balnket...

  • Find a helper and make sure they know how you like to be helped.

  • Use postive self talk that encourages you that you can get things done.

For school:

  1. Make a list of each subject

  2. Pick the easiest one to complete first

  3. Cross out on the list as completed

  4. If you get stuck on a hard subject, move on to something else that is easier to complete.

  5. Chose to place messaging on “do not disturb” while trying to engage in school or other chore tasks that must be done at that time.

In conclusion:

Getting things done can be hard, especially if you would rather be doing other things. People with neurodiversity may have great intentions to complete a task, however, they are always working around the different functioning of their brain. Know that there are ways to get things done if you take the time to get to know yourself and accept the way you function best.

Begin Working With An California Mental Health Therapist today

Learning to live with Neurodiversity, ADHD, Autism, and anxiety symptoms is much easier said than done. Jillian Graham, LCSW would be honored to help you in overcoming the symptoms that affect you most. Jillian is happy to offer confidential teletherapy services from her California-based therapy practice working with clients across the state. To start your therapy journey, please follow these simple steps:

  1. Reach out to Jillian Graham, LCSW to have a free consultation for mental health therapy at (619) 850-5482 or email at

  2. Have your first appointment with A Better Understanding, Inc.

  3. Start receiving the support you deserve!

Other Services Offered With A Better Understanding, Inc.

Jillian Graham, LCSW has been working with neurodiverse populations for nearly 20 years and specializes in treating Autism, ADHD and other developmental disabilities. Jillian strives to understand you and your mental health concerns and is here to provide support and understanding so that you can start to feel better in life. Jillian is happy to offer a variety of mental health services including therapy for adult neurodivergent populations or their caregivers. In addition to anxiety treatment, trauma therapy, depression treatment, mood disorders, and bipolar disorder treatment.

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