ADHD and Procrastination: Why Do ADHD Adults Procrastinate?
Have you emptied and cleaned the refrigerator? Tidied that room you’ve meant to do for ages? No? Does any of this sound familiar?
It does to me; I used to mentally beat myself up, and start to think I was weak, or lazy, or just no good at the tasks I was attempting, often even before I had given it a try. I had put myself through a huge range of emotions. Eventually, I always came to the same conclusion… “What was I thinking? ‘I was never going to be able to do this, so why even try!”
It all sounds very dramatic, so just to clarify: this battle was an internal one. The self-doubt, frustration, and sadness were never witnessed by anyone else. It was my fault. It was no-one else’s problem. Everyone else was doing just fine.
Of course, none of this was actually true.
I was diagnosed with ADHD six months ago. My ADHD medication does help me to focus now, but I have had 43 years before diagnosis to battle against both ADHD and procrastination. Lots of bad habits I need to break. Some very low self-esteem to try to get over. A history of failure to battle against and a great deal of fear to face.
You know you need to get on and focus, you have got everything ready, and then you are about to start and “Oh, I will just check my emails…” Forty minutes later, I’m hunting on eBay for something I have just realized I really, really need!
Every time I sit down to tackle anything, I am completely committed to actually seeing it through. I do try, it is not an intentional way I go, I just find I am so easily distracted.
My job is to write books for children. I have to work to deadlines. Each day, I used to start the day with the intention to complete a lot of work. I wrote a lot of lists; lists that were always totally unmanageable and unrealistic. Every day the list grew. It grew to the point where I just gave up. It was too big to even tackle.
Here are some of the things that I have found to work for me for battling against ADHD and procrastination:
Stop Making Lists
I have stopped the lists! Some people, I know love their lists. For me, they just seem to end up as a record of all the things I should have got done. They become so distracting that I struggle to do any of them. So I do not impose any set ‘lists’. However, I have learned through experience not to trust my memory. Whenever you say, ‘Oh, I’ll remember that!’ – you don’t.
I have two ways to deal with this. Firstly, I have a notebook. Just a small one, and it goes with me everywhere. I know most people would use their phone for this, but for me, phone leads to the internet, the internet leads to hours of distraction, and then nothing gets done.
The second is also old school: a wall calendar, one with big day sections so I can write in school stuff, work deadlines, any bills to sort out, etc. It is in the kitchen where everyone in the family can use it. It is simple, but it works. Everyone knows that it is a shared responsibility to add to it so nothing is forgotten.
Next page: The ‘five-minute rule’ and other ADHD and procrastination tips.