lint trap ADHDNobody wants to do something that’s boring or uncomfortable, so it comes as no surprise when we put off unsavory tasks such as cleaning out the lint trap in the dryer. But what if the only way you could achieve happiness and success was to clean out the lint trap 50 times per day every day for 5 years? Until then, you’re expected to remain bored, unfulfilled and just tough it out. After the 746th time of cleaning said lint trap at the end of day 15 (yes I did the math), exactly how motivated are you going to be to clean the lint trap again?

There may be a few hardy souls out there still enthusiastically picking minuscule fibers out of the clothes dryer into week three, content in the knowledge that their stoic persistence will pay off in 59 months and 1 week. I am not one of those souls. I have ADHD, so the motivation tank in my dopamine-deprived brain is on “E” to begin with. Ask me to endure some good old-fashioned delayed gratification and years of hard work before I can be happy and proclaim success and I’m not likely to score very high on my lint picking performance review. Just saying.

Now imagine someone begins standing next to the dryer to make sure I commence lint picking at the designated time and evaluating my technique. I wasn’t exactly motivated to show up on time for my fabric dust extraction regimen in the first place. Now, I actually have a reason to expressly avoid going to the laundry room! Guilt and shame are introduced into the equation which would normally discourage someone from showing up late or performing poorly. However, individuals with ADHD seem to be more susceptible to emotional procrastination so negative events can trigger a downward spiral of negative emotions.

Big-picture” Thinking Versus “Compartmental” Thinking

Many people would argue that putting your socks on is an isolated task. You simply put your socks on in the morning because it’s part of getting dressed and that’s just a part of daily life, right? Except “big-picture” thinkers don’t see things in “parts.” To us, putting your socks on in the morning is part of a larger process. Getting dressed in the morning involves thinking about my job. Therefore, if I associate my job with feelings of guilt, shame, worthlessness and unhappiness, then even the simple act of putting on a pair of socks becomes a motivational struggle. As a result, I’ll subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) avoid getting ready for work because the tasks involved in getting ready are tied to an event that isn’t just “no fun,” it’s actually fraught with emotional land mines. It’s a wonder anyone makes it to work with socks on.

Not everyone believes in the “work-hard-and-someday-maybe-you’ll-get-to-be-happy” notion. In The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, psychologist Shawn Achor explains we’ve had it all backwards: “It turns out, happiness actually fuels success, not the other way around.” According to Achor, “When we become more positive, our brain becomes more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, healthier, resilient and productive.”

Basically, feelings of happiness produce a dopamine response in the brain which acts as an incentive for us to repeat the behavior. We’ve now created a positive feedback loop to propel us upward towards success. It’s to our advantage to create positive, satisfying aspects to as many parts of our lives as possible. That’s definitely good news for those of us who are motivationally challenged!

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to go interview a 10-year-old about a lint-picking job.

How do you turn boring tasks into positive experiences? Tell us about it in the comments!

Sunny Aldrich About Sunny Aldrich

Sunny Aldrich is an adult with ADD and the mother of three children with AD/HD. Her coaching approach is based on the philosophy that ADD is the product of a unique brain-style that comes with a set of common characteristics. Sunny believes the “gifts” associated with ADHD are powerful and advantageous, in spite of the challenges they cause. Visit her online at


  1. Hey very nice blog!

  2. I find myself doing everything and anything at work except what I am supose to be doing. I don’t know how to stop myself and just do what needs to be done….

  3. Maria Luebke says:

    I do the same thing Emily above does, this is the reason I don’t take my breaks or my lunch and work late every day, to catch up from my mind being distracted. I did use to enjoy going to work but I started hearing others muttering around me on how I missed something or didn’t do something right. Which to what you said is so true, I find it harder to stay focus when I see these individuals (they’re in the same office as me). My mind starts telling me ” your not doing it right” or ” you can’t do your job”. When they leave and I stay late, I can focus and get caught up. Right now I should be getting for work, I dread it but would never quit. And yes, if I see someone else needs help, even if i have plenty to do, I will walk a way and help them (even my persecutors). There’s a part in my Brain that says you can do it if you can stay focused. I do love this job in a way because this job keeps me busy from the time I get three til the time I leave. I can always find something to do. I’ve had the jobs that are easy money very little to do, I found myself volunteering to help out in all other departments, learn new jobs to help out. If I’m not learning something new then I’m bored. I see the plus sides of having ADD, but it also seems like a curse.
    Thank you so much Sunny for letting us know that we are not alone and to remember the plus sides. I am going to try your techniques of walking away for breaks to give time to be refreshed and try refocusing.