There have been a few train derailments in the news recently. A Long Island Rail Road car and an NYC subway both derailed. One minute they were chugging along on their tracks and then something happened, they fell off their tracks, and everything stopped. Their derailment inconvenienced thousands of commuters. Expert crews were called in to get those trains back on track soon. Getting those trains running on schedule again was a high priority. It must have taken tremendous effort and planning to get those trains back on track within a day.

People get derailed as well as trains. One minute you’re working on a goal and then you’re not. Perhaps you’re trying to clean up clutter, maintain an exercise program, finish a report for work or school or return phone calls or e-mails and everything is going well and then you get derailed. You forget what you were working on, what you meant to do, and go off in another direction without explanation. You may not understand what threw you off track, and it happens to everybody, but people with ADHD get derailed more frequently and for longer durations than most people.

When you get derailed, just like the trains, you want to get back on track quickly.

Here are some tips for getting back on track:

  • Notice that you are derailed.
  • Remind yourself of your goal and decide if it’s still relevant and important.
  • Write down your goals. Be specific.
  • Dedicate a time when you can work on your goals.
  • Use visual reminders, calendars, to-do lists, post its, or white boards.
  • Set phone reminders.
  • Ask for help. Join a group, work with a coach, or hire an organizer. Have someone else hold you accountable.
  • Take a step, no matter how small, in the right direction.
  • Acknowledge your efforts.

It’s not easy but every time you bring yourself back from derailment you are building momentum and moving closer to achieving your goals.

Kathy Sussell is an ADHD coach in Brooklyn, NY. She helps teens, college students and adults with ADHD with time management, planning and prioritizing, getting started with and finishing tasks, organizing paper and objects and improving social skills. She is the organizer of the ADHD Women’s Meetup Group that meets every month in downtown Brooklyn. For more information visit her website: or email Kathy at

3 thoughts on “Derailment

  1. Without adhd meds I am derailed every single day over & over. It is extremely difficult to achieve anything. With meds I am much better. But I need therapy & coaching as well. Meds don’t correct decades of bad habits.


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