Procrastination is a common trait for adults with attention deficit disorder. I don’t think most people put things off just because they don’t want to deal with it. In my experience as an ADHD coach, procrastination is usually connected to an executive functioning challenge. Here are some reasons why we procrastinate:
- ADHD symptoms can lead to feeling overwhelmed because everything feels equally important. If you don’t know how to prioritize, it would be easy to feel paralyzed, give up, and not get anything done.
- Some people actually work best under pressure. So they tend to wait until the last minute because they know they won’t be bored and things may get done more quickly.
- I’ve noticed that often my clients procrastinate because the task in front of them is a heavy blur to contemplate. But if they can break things down into manageable chunks and finish one step at a time, it does get done. And it feels a lot less stressful.
- One executive functioning trait is a skewed sense of time. If you don’t know how long a task will actually take, how can you start or even plan for it? Many of my clients practice a time sense exercise to help them gain a more realistic perspective on time.
- Sometimes people procrastinate because it is something they dread, like calling a business where they are likely to get put on hold forever. Or making a dentist appointment. And that makes perfect sense, ADHD or not!
- I’ve had clients who have put something off for years that they really wanted to do. They weren’t sure why until they investigated the situation, then discovered that a crucial piece of information was missing or something they hadn’t yet identified was getting in the way.
- Another reason is just plain boredom. People with ADHD are often driven by interest rather than importance. So if something is redundant and boring, it is very difficult to muster up the discipline to get it done. The key is finding a way to make it more interesting, like listening to music, inviting a friend to keep you company, or racing against the clock.
- Sometimes a task is emotionally heavy. Maybe the thought of doing it brings up feelings of sorrow, grief, or even anger. People with ADHD sometimes have a hard time with self-observation and it can be challenging to recognize that those emotions are holding them back. The act of naming the feelings brought up by the task can be helpful in moving forward.
- Self-talk can stop us in our tracks. Learning to pay attention to our negative internal messages and changing them to something more positive can make a huge difference in our ability to get things done. If you were putting off a necessary task, think of what a friend could say that would motivate you to start it. Can you be that friend to yourself?