How to Deal with Procrastination if You Have ADHD
Are you forever wasting time when trying to finish a task, or even struggling to start it?
While everyone can procrastinate at times, it is a very common occurrence for those with ADHD. They can do this on a daily basis, which can lead to reduced productivity and anxiety in all aspects of their lives.
The good thing is that reducing this excessive procrastination is possible. It will just take practice and hard work to change your habits.
What is ADHD?
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a common mental health disorder that affects both children and adults. Symptoms include hyperactivity, a limited attention span, organisational difficulties, forgetfulness, fidgeting and more. This can also lead to anxiety and depression issues.
There are three different kinds of ADHD, which are defined by the following actions:
- Predominantly inattentive
- Here people have difficulty in focusing on performing (and finishing) tasks, and in general, just follow instructions.
- Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive
- If you have the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD, your behaviour will include fidgeting, interrupting others when you’re in conversation with them, and being incapable of waiting your turn.
- Combined hyperactive-impulse and inattentive
- As the name suggests, this is a combination of the first two types and is also the most common type of ADHD.
How to Lessen Your Procrastination
If you have ADHD, you’ve probably experienced delaying a task till just before it was due – and putting yourself under unnecessary stress. With a limited attention span, a lack of focus – or interest in the task at hand – you’re going to need an added push to get going.
Delaying the tasks won’t help, and chances are you will probably give yourself more reasons, later on, to not get started. That’s why, for each project or task you undertake, you must set an exact deadline (even if there isn’t really one). This can help you finish work ahead of time, and have enough free time afterwards to spend on other activities you want to do.
You can use lists to structure your day and complete all your activities. Also, add a timeframe for each of them so everything is easy to follow, and remember to be realistic about the time that each task will take. It’s easy to get demotivated when you reach the end of the time slot and the task isn’t close to complete – be realistic and don’t set yourself up for failure.
You can also use time management tools to help you along the way, like a pomodoro timer to help you focus for a set time, and have a small break afterwards.
It’s too easy for people with ADHD to get distracted (and especially if they’re busy with a task which you find boring, and it’s not grabbing your attention). Try and only take on one job at a time and clear your head, don’t think about the other tasks you need to do later that day. It’s too easy to get lost in your thoughts if you’re not 100% focused.
Also, it’s easy to get overstimulated when you’re in an environment with noisy or distracting elements. Find a quiet place to work from, put your phone away, and switch off those email or message alerts – and work in peace. If you’re still struggling, you can listen to music (the less lyrics the better, to give you even less to focus on).
Break up Large Projects into Smaller, More Manageable Tasks
Large detailed projects can feel extremely overwhelming, which is why it’s a good idea to break a project into smaller tasks – and tackle it one task at a time.
Check Your Daily Rhythm
A circadian rhythm is our natural 24-hour cycle – your internal process that regulates your sleep patterns and other activities. You might find that with ADHD, you tend to lose focus within certain times of that cycle during the day.
Make note of the times that you are most productive, and schedule your most important (or most mundane) tasks for that period to get more done.
Don’t Punish Yourself
Low self-esteem is also a common trait in those with ADHD. And procrastination can lead to failing to complete projects in time, with people berating themselves and leading to even more self-esteem issues. While others might see procrastination as laziness, it’s actually a very real challenge that is difficult to overcome.
Set Rewards For Yourself
Besides giving yourself a good dose of dopamine for completing a task, it’s good to have more motivation to get your tasks done. Set yourself a reward for finishing each point you complete, and have more reason to get everything done.
Take Time to Exercise
Exercise has a profoundly positive effect if you’re suffering from ADHD, giving your mind a break, a refresh – and focusing your energy on something else.
Every now and again you should take a break to do a few simple activities, like walking or stretching.
Remember, procrastination is an extremely common behaviour if you have ADHD.
This doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you, your brain is just wired differently. To get your productivity and focus back on track, it will take work and practice – which will be much easier with the tips we’ve outlined above.