I Know What To Do, But I Don’t Do It

Posted on by Kevin.

This post is inspired by Russell Barkley’s contention that the problem with ADHD is not one of information.  ADHD people know what to do, Barkley has so often contended, but they don’t do what they know.  This certainly rings true in my life.  After all, I am a published author and speak about ADHD all over the world, vigorously dispensing advice on how to succeed with ADHD, and extolling the creative, imaginative, and risk-taking powers that ADHD-ers possess.  Yet, more frequently than I care to admit, I do not follow my own advice.  I get trapped into inaction, and fight powerful inertia to find the motivation to carry out the steps that I “know” will get me what I want.  I tell people, “You just have to mix it up,” but sometimes I fall prey to the same helpless despair that I daily coach other people out of.

I know that ADHD-ers have great difficulty with low intensity situations and mundane rhythms and I help other people find creative ways of staying engaged.  But I still struggle to stay engaged myself.

One of my problems is writing regular blogs.  It’s old hat.  It’s no longer exciting.  It feels painfully boring.  How did I manage to tame my inner procrastinator today, you might ask?  Because I am sitting in a hotel in Phoenix, Arizona and there is nothing good on television, no one seems to be posting much on Facebook, and although I have clicked “refresh” on my email inbox 243 times in the last half hour, no one is sending me any messages!  I am out of town, out of my element, and that’s when my brain seems to work best.

One Moment Please:  I have just heard the ding of Facebook, telling me someone has messaged me.  I feel a slight rumbling of curiosity in my abdomen, and if I was hooked up to a functional-MRI machine, I think you would see that the frontal dopaminergic networks in my brain have become more active.  Be right back.

[20 seconds later] It was my old friend, Chris Evangelista, telling me about this horrible music store in Ferndale, Michigan [USA] known for its poor service.  He relayed a recent bad experience.  Now, it’s not that I don’t find Chris interesting, but I was hoping for a long-lost acquaintance, someone with a fantastic business proposition, or, better yet, a TV producer wanting to make a deal with me for a reality show.  I am somewhat deflated.

One Moment Please:  Facebook has dinged me again.  Likely, Chris has replied to my 4-word response: “Writing now, can’t chat.”  I still have a slight anticipation of something new and exciting, but I am 99% sure that it is just Chris again.

Chris’ reply to my prior response:  “OK, sounds good.”

I resisted the temptation to stay and surf the net.  This is a good day.  On a bad day, I would have taken a three- or four-hour “break” from writing.  So, here I sit in my hotel room, bereft of cyber-based novelty.  However, I am still 1800 miles away from home!  I know I am going to finish this post because when I am traveling, I am always productive.  In fact, I am also productive in the day or two before I leave town.  Last Thursday, the day of my departure, I made a bank deposit, hung up a new towel rack in my bathroom,** ran to the pet store for cat food, washed my sheets, made my bed, changed the kitty litter, and researched a wrinkle-free packing method for suits that ended up not working.  So, yes, I am extraordinarily productive before, during, and after I travel.  But, this productivity always peters out, paving the way, it seems, for those prolonged periods of inaction that have lately been plaguing me [I know this sentence is too long, but I couldn’t resist the alliterative impulse bursting within me].

I have two unfinished books, and another two that I have outlined but not started.  I have no time to procrastinate.  The daily grind wears me down, though. Infusions of excitement and novelty sometimes seem hard to come by.  Two things are indispensable if I am to have any hope of staying on track:

1)      I have to honestly open up to others about what is happening.

2)      I have to reach out and ask for help and support.

Community is the only remedy that ever works for me.  I have to stay plugged in and ask for support.  I suppose that is what I am doing today!  I cannot travel every single day, so I need to continue to cultivate supportive connections with compassionate people who understand me, see my gifts, and care enough to challenge me to keep giving those gifts fully to the world. But I do want to travel more; for now, it is my most potent, stasis-busting elixir.  So, if you really want to help me, send me a message and let’s schedule and market a workshop together in your hometown; the farther away from me you live, the better.  Anyone in Australia reading this?  Mongolia would be even better.

**[UPDATE] I took a short-cut for the towel rack, and attempted to use the holes from the prior rack. It was unstable, and fell off the wall last night. I have learned another lesson. I patched the holes and will attempt again later today. Yes, as my neighbor, George Hauke, used to say, “Short cuts often make for long delays.”


  1. Kevin, just read your blog. A friend sent me your link about 20 mins or so ago … I got straight onto this as anything about ADHD interests me. I have a young Son who has ADHD. I think my Husband may have it too and some days I think I may be ADD (no ‘H’) but not sure, I was never diagnosed but procrastination is my middle name (if there is such a word as procrastination … but I do it anyway!) … constantly! HA! Just wanted to say I was so in tune with all you said here. Glad I read this. I asked my GP to refer me as I’d like to find out for sure if I have ADD or not. My GP told me that ADD was a ‘childhood thing’ and he couldn’t possibly refer me anywhere for ‘help’ as I was an adult! … I changed my GP. Just about building up to ask my new GP the same thing. I already have the GP’s confused look in my mind already. HA! I live in London, England, UK. My email is carolgough2005@aol.com and I am on Facebook (Carol Johnston Gough). I have to reach out and GRAB any help or support immediately I get to hear of any or else I go under … that’s why I read your blog immediately and typed this on impulse but feel I have done the right thing! Thanks! Keep up the good work!

    Posted on by Carol Johnston Gough
    • Carol, thanks for reaching out. Yes, it is good to have a professional evaluate you. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. To continue the dialogue, I have been doing better the last few days, primarily because i have been asking for and getting a lot of support.

      Posted on by Kevin (Author)
  2. Kevin,
    I understand and I try to distract myself by singing or thinking about what fun thing I could do after I finish the mundane thing I need to do. I get distracted and off course also, but try to allow a little and then move on to what I need to do. Sometimes Prayer helps. God can focus us like no other. Just some thoughts.

    Posted on by Cindy Jurosek
    • Thanks Cindy! I certainly support a deepening of the spiritual journey, and that has been of great benefit to me!!!

      Posted on by Kevin (Author)

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