Avez-vous de la difficulté à rester sur la tâche?

december 17, 2019 0 Door admin


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An individual familiar with Albert Ellis’s Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) emailed me:

“I have always had a hard time focusing on tasks. I can only focus on my work for 5-10 minutes at a time before I need a break to walk around. This is true for things I like to do (such as playing video games) as well as for things I don’t want to do such as work. Do you have any suggestions?”

My response: 

Begin with the Problem Separation Technique: address your practical and emotional problems separately. Each require their own kind of solutions.

Emotional Problem

Identify the fundamental cognitive cause of your poor concentration: your demands (musts and shoulds), global evaluations, and low frustration tolerances (LFT). Then question, challenge, and contradict them. Again and again and again. Here are a few common ADHD demands 

Demand #1. It’s hard work to stay focused. I absolutely must escape these uncomfortable feelings.

My preference to avoid discomfort is reasonable. What is the evidence I absolutely must do what I prefer to do and avoid discomfort?

It would be heavenly if life were always comfortable. Unfortunately the human condition involves one discomfort after another. It always has, it always will, and there’s no reason it must not. I had better face, rather than compulsively escape, discomfort. 

Demand #2. Focusing for more that 10 minutes should never be so diffficult.

Where is it written completing important tasks should never be so difficult?

It’s not written anywhere except in my brain where I foolishly wrote it.  The facts are it is hard for me. Yet I’ve faced difficulty in the past and I can damn well face it this time. Compulsively escaping doesn’t help and only tends to reinforce and magnify the feeling of difficulty.

Demand #3. I must not feel bored.

Who says I absolutely must not feel bored? 

Most worthwhile endeavors will have their boring aspects so I had better accept this reality. Facing boredom is a good sign I’m sticking to my goals. Feeling bored is unpleasant, never awful, terrible, or horrible. I can look worward to accomplighing my goal wonce I complete it. 

Demand #4. I need a break

What is the proof I need a break? 

Passing up a break and meeting my objective will allow me more break time in the long term. If I skip breaks and get the work done I’ll avoid feeling guilt and depression later on. It’s not the lack of breaks that creates my compulsive break-taking, but rather in my needy thinking about it that’s my fundamentlal problem and I can change my thinking and lern to unconditionally accept working non-stop without a break.

Demand #5. I must get over my ADHD immediately.

Is my demand logical? No! It does not follow that because I prefer to cure my ADHD immediately, I absolutely must. This is a non-sequitor: I preference does not automatically translate into a demand. A preference is just that, my subjective preference never a law of the universe. 

It does not follow logically. 

It does not help to demand, makes it worse. 

Practical strategies

1. Gradually increase the amount of time you continually work, for example 10 minutes a shot the 1st week, 11 minutes the 2nd week, 12 minutes the 3rd, etc. 

2. Use target goals with rewards and penalties, for example, when you complete 11 minutes you get a point. 5 points earns you admission to the next Netflix episode of “Rough and Tumble.”

3. Use the Pomodoro technique: Allow yourself a break after working for 25 minutes. Use a timer to signal you when 25 minutes have expired. Give yourself a short break, then repeat the process. You can modify this by working for a briefer duration at first as in #1, or using rewards and penalties as in #2. 

4. Regard this as a procrastination problem, i.e., you are procrastinating on working longer than 5-10 minutes. Reread my chapter on procrastination in Three Minute Therapy and experiment with some of the recommendations. 

5. Use Premack’s principle, originated by psychologist David Premack.  It states a higher-frequency behavior reinforces a lower-frequency behavior. If you are typically more likely to make yourself a cup of coffee (a higher-frequency behavior for you) than to work (the lower-frequency behavior), don’t allow yourself to have the coffee until you do the work. This is a variant on #2.  Having the coffee, in this example, serves as the reward for doing the work and not allowing yourself to have the coffee serves as the penalty. 


4. Please let me know if you have questions and how it goes. 


Edelstein, M.R., & Steele, D.R. (2019). Three Minute Therapy. San Francisco, CA: Gallatin House.

CBD Olie kan helpen bij ADHD. Lees hoe op MHBioShop.com

Huile de CBD peut aider avec TDAH. Visite HuileCBD.be

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