Rituals to Transitions: How to Get From One Task to Another | ADDA


How do you go from a fun activity to studying? How do you transition from studying for one subject to moving on to the next? In order to make these moves, many people have what we call transition rituals, or certain behaviors, that they go through between different tasks.  This is particularly important when it comes to shifting from an enjoyable activity to something that you need to do, but don’t really want to do it.  Remember, the ADHD brain is wired for interest and operates in the “here and now,” so it is important that you identify what will help you get to work on the things that are necessary for your school and job success.  It is these behaviors that signal to the brain it is time to start a new task.

So, what is your transition ritual?

You may not know it, but you probably have something you do regularly before you start working on homework. Take a moment to think about the behaviors you already do before starting a new task.

Some examples:

  • Get a healthy snack
  • Get something to drink
  • Set up your playlist
  • Text a friend
  • Take a quick walk or run up and down the dorm or library stairs
  • Move to a different location to start a new task
  • Listen to a certain energizing song

Some students stop and grab a coffee on the way to the library or their favorite study location.  With coffee in hand, they feel ready to tackle the next assignment.  Others need to take a quick break to move around and grab a healthy snack to munch on while working on the next assignment. There is no “right” way to transition between activities.

How do you create a transition ritual if you don’t already have one?

It doesn’t have to be a complicated highly engineered plan. The primary goal of a transition plan is switch between activities. Your transition ritual will be as individual as you are. Do what works for you.

To establish a transition ritual, you need to:

  1. Stop to think about what you already do when you successfully move from one activity to the next. You might have a couple of things that you already do.
  2. Make a point to do the behavior(s) regularly between activities. You might need different rituals for different activities.
  3. Rinse, wash and repeat.

Don’t get discouraged, rituals take some time to be established. If you need, set some reminders in your environment to practice your ritual. These reminders could be sticky notes in prominent places or reminders on your phone.  Timers, such as the Time Timer, are good ways to monitor your time and remind you to take a break and engage in a transition ritual between your assignments.  Similarly, timers are important to signal that your break is over and it is time to begin the next task.

College is an amazing time of life. However, in an atmosphere of distractions it is a good idea to send a signal to your brain that it is time to buckle down and hit the books. Happy studying!

Word of caution: Checking email or surfing the internet might not be the best choice for a transition ritual.  You want to make sure that the behavior you choose as your transition ritual, does not become a distraction.


Kristine Shiverick, M.Ed., ACG, CACP is a professionally trained ADHD and Executive Function Coach. Kristine received her B.A. in Severe Special Needs Education and her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education. She received her basic, advanced, and family ADHD coach training through the ADD Coach Academy.  Kristine provides coaching to help students, adults and families impacted by ADHD learn about the unique wiring of the ADHD brain, discover effective strategies, minimize the challenges of ADHD, and live the life they want to live. Kristine believes in taking a strength-based approach to help her clients grow in all areas of their lives. Kristine runs an ADHD parent support group in her local community, and co-facilitated a virtual college support group for ADDA. Kristine is a member of ADDA, ACO, CHADD, and PACC.


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