Blog Post | Did You Say Yes?


Did You Say Yes?
Notions of Choice and Follow Through


Several sources cite that the average adult makes over 35,000 conscious choices a day. And with each of those choices, we are likely saying Yes, No or Maybe to someone or something. Yes, 35,000 conscious choices a day, really! This got me thinking, noticing, and trying to track my choices as I made them…which lasted about 20 minutes before I thought…forget it, this is crazy! Some of them were easy, no-brainers with little to no impact. While others required some reflection and forethought to avoid unpleasant consequences.

When I say “Yes” it’s my choice and commitment to follow through on an intention, behavior or want. Right now, I am even choosing the direction this blog could go. So, let’s take it back to its relevance with having ADHD. Making choices and following through on choices relies a lot on our executive functioning; our brain’s abilities with self-regulation. 

Choices may require some fast-thinking and quick-acting impulsivity, while at other times further investigation and reflection.

Choices can be driven or undermined by our emotions.

Choices depend on actually remembering them and following through on intentions and commitments.

Choices may require some time-specific pre-work or planning and prioritization with what comes first and what follows.

Choices are about managing our time, estimating how long things take, blocking out time, organizing our time, and staying focused in time.

With ADHD, I have learned the importance of being more aware of what yes means, as distinguished above. Sometimes, I will pause long enough to reflect on my reason for saying yes at the start and consider the end goal and all that is between with commitment.  Here are a few lines that might help you understand why.

Did I say “Yes”? 
Like, Now Yes or Not Now Yes?
Like, I can really do this Yes, or I’ll just punt and find a way to do it Yes?
Like, I need to do this Yes, or I just really want to do this Yes?
Like, I am the right person for this Yes, or I will do it anyway to please you Yes?
Like, I say yes to this, and that, and then another shiny pop-up yes? 

If you can relate, here are a few tips to consider:

Set yourself up to remember the follow-through. We may resist the need to write it down. OOSOOM (out of sight, out of mind) is very real. I will either quickly park the commitment on my planner to help me with the follow-up or use a capture tool to manage priorities and timing. I often use that moment while fresh in my mind to hash out the steps involved so I can get a sense of how much time to allow. It also helps to build in reminders to look at the commitments with daily planning.

Keep commitments time-based. When making a choice and commitment due in the future, I find it very helpful to write out what’s entailed as the first step. I will note the due date, and reverse engineer when to work on a project or task to be done sooner than later. The Not Now bucket of commitments can build and build until you are caught in the cycle of everything is urgent. It will also help if you can find a good planning and prioritization system that allows you to see the bigger picture when making decisions. 

Evaluate if you are the right fit. Over the years I have become keenly aware of how long it can take me to do something compared to my peers. It has helped to explore how a new task or commitment aligns with my own strengths and abilities before I say “yes.” If I need to do it, I might look for ways to automate the task. If it doesn’t add value and is more like busy work, I will seek clarity around its importance and determine if there is an easier way to get the job done. If there is someone better suited, I might barter tasks with that individual. 

Consider feasibility. I like to be on the lookout for shiny tasks and the urge to procrastinate. This is why I can have required paperwork staring me down and still decide to surf for airline tickets or a better way to organize my tasks. It helps when I keep my day’s plan in front of me and pause long enough to consider: “How does this task align with my own needs and priorities?” Or make the choice more transactional: “If I say yes to this now, what on my list am I willing to say no to?

Watch out for people-pleasing. Many of my clients find themselves taking on the roles and responsibilities of others to keep the peace or make them happy. Or they might readily volunteer when not absolutely needed. The problem is it usually leads to overwhelm and stress. Create some graceful outs to avoid impulsive decisions and to safeguard your time and ability to follow through on your own responsibilities. For example, “I would love to go shopping with you next week, but first, let me check my calendar.

Put limits on decision-making. Our creative and curious beings can pull us into the weeds, researching all the options fast. Here are a few approaches that have helped: Envision the end result and your required needs and decide ahead of time on the limits to investigate. For example, In the next 30 minutes, I will find 3 suitable options and pick one (example – a new suitcase for a trip). Granted, some bigger choices may require more investment in time (example - deciding on where to go to college or a new place to live).

Here's to you and happy choices!


Robin Nordmeyer, PCAC, CLC
ADHD Coach | Center For Living Well with ADHD, LLC

More about Robin

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