ADHD and Delegating: How to Stop the Panic

Whether you run your own business, are involved in a college group project, have a crazy-busy home life, or want to involve the kids more, delegating helps you focus your time and energy on the activities that are meaningful to you. But this daunting task of transferring responsibility to someone else isn’t a skill you are typically taught. Augmenting the overwhelm, delegating requires planning and organization that doesn't always come naturally to the ADHD brain, and as a result, can be downright nerve-wracking to take on.

Delegating and ADHD Panicked Businessman at Desk

What makes people living with ADHD dread the act of delegating has a lot to do with executive functioning and the challenges you experience with planning, goal setting and task management. To allocate responsibility to someone else you need to have a sense of what you want to hand over, in what order, when you want it to happen, and to whom. You also have to decide what activities and tasks are most important to you so you can focus on what you do best and what brings you the most meaning in your life so you can delegate the rest. 

It all sounds pretty overwhelming and time-consuming, and as a result the default is “I might as well just do it myself.” In reality, you know that you or your loved one living with ADHD thrives when you focus on doing what you love. 

If you want to fill your time doing what you gives you the most satisfaction, you need to get comfortable with finding your optimal opportunities for passing the baton to someone else. 

Here are three ways to get the ball rolling with delegating when you live with ADHD.  

Be OK with Asking for Help Two Women Shaking Hands Smiling

After years of well-meaning feedback that you may have internalized as critical, you may be living with some inner voice, that you’re not capable. Something inside of you wants to prove that you are competent and that you "should" be able to do it all. You may feel guilty about saying "no," take on more than you can, and therefore feel overwhelmed. 

Quick Tips:

• Know that asking for help is a way to take care of yourself. 

• If you are holding onto an old message you internalized as critical, what are some other ideas that would serve you now? 

• Guilt is a natural feeling when you begin to say “no,” but asking for help is a way to get your needs met. You ultimately gain more respect from your team or your family for knowing and asking for what you want. 

Let Go of the "Right" Way Teen Doing Dishes Smiling

When you live with ADHD there’s a tendency towards perfectionistic thinking and decision-making. At the same time, although stimulating, you may get stuck in the weeds with details. Impulsivity can result in resorting to hasty decisions.  Fear of making the "wrong decision" can result in letting circumstances decide for you. The result is confusion and uncertainty and ultimately some rigidity to get back some control.

You take pride in your own business, or your clean home, or your dream project, and you may want things done a certain way. Understandably, it’s tough to let someone do something their way when it doesn’t mirror yours. But letting go of what one believes is the “right” way loosens one’s need to control. When you let go of the need to control, this frees up your time and energy to focus on what you love. 

Quick Tips:

• Analyze your needs by prioritizing what you’re passionate about, or by examining what’s taking up a lot of your energy. What are you noticing you could let go of to free up your time and energy?

• Give freedom to those to whom you delegate for how the goal is met, which builds trust. Getting too involved in the details defeats the purpose of delegating and discourages others. For example, an employee who has some breathing room to get the job done will have some ownership and take pride in being a part of the process. 

• Understand that wanting things to be perfect only gets in the way of completion. For example, if you’re constantly micromanaging your teenager about to how to clean the dishes, he will avoid your criticism and make excuses to put off getting them done. What he’s really avoiding is the criticism and the micromanaging. 

Communicate Effectively Young Male and Female Businessmen Communicating Smiling

As an ADHD’er it doesn’t feel natural to look into the future and visualize what you want, or when you want it accomplished. Communicating what you want and when you want it can be difficult when you live with mindset of "now or not now." Clear expectations, benchmarks and deadlines helps people prioritize and understand what you want.  

Quick Tips:

• When communicating, listen to understand, use questions to learn, and make statements to assertively convey your intentions.

• For larger tasks or important projects have agreements documented or bullet-pointed in writing for clarity. This is also helpful for compliance contracts between parents and kids signed by all parties. 

• Encourage ownership and teamwork by expressing to your team or family members how they are contributing to the bigger picture.   

• Build in feedback and check-ins to track completion and to keep communication open. For projects and tasks this can be in the form of email or visual charts. However, it’s also beneficial to keep the lines of communication open with in-person check-ins. 

 • For feedback for kids, photos can provide a visual benchmark. For example, you may try keeping a photo of a clean countertop next to the counter, which provides a way of neutrally communicating what you’re looking for while personally removing yourself.

 Delegating is tough when you live with ADHD. But you know that you or your loved one does best when you spend more time doing what brings you the most meaning in your life.  

To optimize delegating when you live with ADHD:

• Be OK with Asking for Help

• Let go of the “Right” Way

• Communicate Effectively

Experiment with some of these and let me know how it goes for you!





PS. Need more assistance delegating and making decisions about what matters most to you so you do your best work? 

Contact me for an ADHD Strategy Assessment and we can talk about some solutions you can put into place now!


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