Everybody procrastinates. But when you have ADHD, you usually put off everything that’s uncomfortable. Whether it’s a work project or a phone call to make a doctor appointment, ADHDers are good at putting necessary tasks out of their minds (until they’re in excruciating pain or have their electricity shut off- yes, even bills make you squirm).
Here are some reasons why ADHDers procrastinate:
1. You’re not interested.
You work best when you’re sparked. The ADHD brain gets involved (and hyper-focus kicks in) when the topic is exciting. Boring is painful. You feel sluggish, stare at a blank screen, and distract yourself by decorating your selfies with adorable animal faces on Snapchat.
2. You don’t know how to work through it.
Honestly, you don’t know how to begin. You picture the finished product, but you have no idea how to get there. You can’t organize your thoughts. You’re overwhelmed. All you see is a massive wall in front of you, and you can’t figure out how to climb over it. You ignore what you have to complete and pretend that it doesn’t exist, hoping it will go away. But it doesn’t.
3. You’re afraid.
You’re frozen by fear. You procrastinate because you’re scared. The obnoxious voices in your head are telling you that you’re not good enough. Or you’re worried that people won’t like your work. And of course, you’re afraid of the dentist (isn’t everybody?). Calling for an appointment is at the bottom of your to-do list. It’s much easier to make an appointment when your tooth is throbbing, and the pain is unbearable.
HOW TO STOP PROCRASTINATING:
Know your processing style.
How do you learn best; through audio, visual, sensory, kinesthetic, or conceptual processing? If you don’t know your processing style, work with a counselor or an ADHD Coach to help you discover it. Every project will be easier when you work with your processing style, not against it.
Know what supports you.
Some people work better in a group, some with a partner, or some prefer isolation and silence. The environment you work in determines how well you concentrate. Noise can be distracting or beneficial. Does background music help you or annoy you? Is your chair comfortable? Are you too hot or too cold? Your physical environment can interfere with your ability to concentrate. Change your location if you can. You might start your project in one place and then move to a coffee shop later that day. Be aware of what supports you, so that you can do your best work.
Know what you’re afraid of.
Face your fears. Take time before each project to think about what’s stopping you from starting the job. Ask yourself what you’re afraid of. Then name what you feel. Fear is the main reason most people procrastinate. Work through your fear with positive self-talk. Talk to yourself like your best friend is talking to you. Become your own cheerleader. Be encouraging instead of self-sabotaging. Stop beating yourself up and start building yourself up.
Set a deadline.
If you have ADHD, you probably wait until the very last minute to complete a task. An impending deadline doesn’t register in the ADHD brain. Only when the time is near (a day or a few hours before) can we frantically push ourselves to finish the job. We tell ourselves that’s when we do our best work, but frantic doesn’t feel good, to us or the people around us.
Get a large calendar and place it where you can see it. Write what you have to do, and the due date. Work on your project every day before the deadline (even if it’s for ten minutes). If it’s not finished, move it to the next day on the calendar. Break it down into small pieces. ADHDers are easily overwhelmed. A big project can cause mental paralysis. Small tidbits are manageable.
When you procrastinate, you put the project out of your mind and (attempt to) forget about it. Don’t let that happen. Admit that it’s going to be hard but keep it in the front of you every day. If you use a calendar on your phone, don’t forget to open the app, obey Siri when she talks to you, or set four reminder alarms. Don’t let your project digitally disappear.
If you try these hacks and you’re still procrastinating; find an ADHD Coach, therapist, or counselor who can help you work through the obstacles that are blocking you from working efficiently, productively, and with a lot less stress.
Tell me right now, what are you avoiding.