Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is often associated with rapidly switching from one task to another. However, transitions and task switching can be very challenging for those living with ADHD. Task switching is the process of smoothly switching between activities. It’s a part of the brain’s executive function and involves organization, planning, and goal-oriented behaviour. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that can affect a person’s executive functioning, therefore making it hard to access these skills. If you have a hard time with transitions and task switching in your daily life, the following information may help.

Why are transitions so hard?

ADHD affects each person differently. Not everyone will have trouble when switching tasks or have noticeable issues with executive functioning. However, symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are common for many people living with ADHD and can make it tricky to move on from an activity when needed. You may spend a great deal of time hyper focused on one task while others fall to the wayside or you may be inattentive at times, leading to less long-term planning and a sense of confusion when deciding which tasks would push you toward your future goals.

What is ADHD task paralysis?

Task paralysis is a feeling of being “stuck” and not being able to switch from one task to another. It is often very overwhelming and may come from overstimulation, anxiety, or too many expectations at once. It can look like:

  • Constantly avoiding or delaying tasks
  • Feeling overwhelmed when thinking of a task
  • Experiencing anxiety leading up to the activity
  • Wanting to do something, but being unable to start

To outsiders, task paralysis may seem like you are being lazy or procrastinating, but this is not the case at all. It can happen to anyone, but studies show ADHD results in task paralysis happening more often.

Tips for task switching

Your ability to transition between tasks can be improved by working with your brain, not against it. This looks like reflecting on how your brain operates and tailoring strategies to meet your needs. This may include:

  • Prioritizing the most essential task
  • Creating structured breaks, such as working for 20 minutes followed by a 5-minute break
  • Minimizing distractions
  • Setting a timer for when you need to switch focus
  • Reminding yourself you can come back to a task if you do not finish it all at once
  • Creating a routine of daily tasks
  • Breaking larger tasks into manageable chunks
  • Practicing mindfulness to help improve your awareness of the moment

If you get stuck in a task, recognize any feelings of perfectionism that are there. Remind yourself you can start anywhere and still be productive.

If you feel that transitions and task management are difficult for you or if you would like more information on strategies for navigating life with ADHD, please reach out to us. We offer services for neurodivergent clients, including ADHD coaching and support groups. Our knowledgeable staff can help tailor strategies to your unique personality, life, and goals.

Written by Cat Zydyk


Gilette, H. (2023, Oct. 26). How does ADHD affect task switching? Healthline.