Procrastination is a challenge for adults with ADD/ADHD. Procrastination can easily lead to unpleasant consequences, including fines and penalties, lost opportunities, and even broken hearts.
These seven tips are proven to bust through procrastination so you can complete boring or unpleasant tasks and get your life under control.
First of all, it’s important to reframe procrastination for what it is – an ineffective way to avoid unpleasant or overwhelming tasks.
You can take an active stand! Use these effective strategies for pushing through the tendency to let procrastination determine your fate.
“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
― Karen Lamb
Analyze the reasons behind procrastination.
Understanding why you’re putting off a task gives you important information about what type of strategies to put in place to overcome procrastination.
- Does the task have fuzzy boundaries which prevents you from really understanding what needs to be done? If so, get clarification on the requirements.
- Are you having trouble knowing where to start because you’re finding it difficult to break this complex task into parts? If this is a reason behind procrastination, consider working with someone who can help you identify the subtasks necessary for completing the overall task and help you make plans about how to get started.
- Are you concerned that you’ll do a poor job and perhaps be criticized? Our past failures and embarrassments can haunt us and make us doubt our ability to handle what we need to do. It’s useful to stop and question whether your fears have a real basis in fact. If you can handle the present situation by using smart strategies, reframe your internal dialogue to acknowledge your current abilities and put the past in its proper perspective.
- Do you expect the task to be boring or unpleasant? Fight off these feelings of anticipated boredom and annoyance with the tips below.
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
― Pablo Picasso
Our most powerful ally in the war on procrastination is our ability to think about consequences and make a choice in line with our values and needs.
When we choose to put off tasks, we usually feel bad about ourselves, leading to self-criticism. Self-criticism and blame not only drain us emotionally, they also weaken our bodies, causing stress-related illnesses.
The “discomfort” associated with performing an unpleasant task only lasts for a short time. However, choosing to complete the task brings with it powerful benefits in the form of pride, self-esteem and a sense of self-efficacy – the knowledge that you can “get the job done” in your life.
Our body responds to feelings of pride by releasing chemicals that strengthen our immune system, improving our health. Feelings of pride also trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes it much easier to tackle boring and unpleasant tasks. Since the levels of dopamine in the brain are lower in people who have ADHD, an increase in dopamine levels reduces the challenges associated with adult ADD/ADHD.
Harness the power of social connection to stop procrastination in its tracks!
Reach out to a friend, colleague, or buddy. Many people find it easier to complete tasks they find disagreeable when they work with someone. There are several ways to harness the power of social connection to your advantage in the war on procrastination.
- Enlist someone to work on the task with you, for example, you and a buddy wash and dry the dishes together.
- Invite a friend over to complete her annoying task while you work on your unpleasant activity.
- Set up a communication system with a colleague or friend. Make a commitment to complete a certain amount of the task or to work diligently for a specified amount of time. Check in with your accountability buddy to report on your progress.
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
― Abraham Lincoln
Push through procrastination by pairing an unpleasant task with a pleasant one or alternating between them.
Our brains release dopamine when we enjoy ourselves. Dopamine increases our ability to fight off boredom and to concentrate. Find creative and exciting ways to alternate between interesting and less-interesting tasks so the “spill-over” effect of dopamine in your brain increases your ability to tackle the tough tasks and enjoy them more!
Stop procrastination by putting your goal in plain sight.
On a Post-It or attractive piece of paper write the words “Right now I am (name of task).” Commit to honoring your decision to work on only this task right now.
Eliminate procrastination by delegating as many unpleasant tasks as possible.
Creative ways to delegate include trading tasks with a friend and dividing up work along lines of skill sets and interests. For example, if you don’t mind vacuuming and your husband doesn’t mind putting away clean dishes, split up the household chores to fit your interests.
“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”
― Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
Work with an ADHD coach and bring procrastination to its knees!
If you are struggling to complete tasks and need a friendly, supportive partner who is knowledgeable about strategies for beating procrastination when you have ADD/ADHD, a specially trained ADHD coach can help you develop long-term strategies to get going and keep going on difficult tasks.
Want some other great tips for getting a handle on “boring” and “annoying” tasks so you can get control of your time and feel good about how much you accomplish? Download my free guide for better attention and concentration skills – including tips for busting through procrastination.