5 Tips to Breaking the ADHD Procrastination Cycle

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Procrastination is when you delay taking action on your high priority tasks and do something else instead. That ‘something’ might be a fun activity, a task that is more comfortable, or lying on your sofa, worrying about the important task.

People with ADHD experience higher levels of procrastination than the rest of the population. This is because the executive functions of the ADHD brain are impaired.

Breaking large tasks into smaller chunks, feeling motivated, being able to start a task, are all skills that are needed to take action and not procrastinate. They are also skills that involve the executive functions.

The frustrating thing about procrastination is that, as the deadline approaches, you can do what it takes to get the project done. It might involve pulling all nighters, cancelling other plans and eating take outs. However, the deadline is met. Afterwards, you forget the stress and worry that the procrastination caused and carry on with life; until the next project appears. Then the cycle starts again.

Don’t worry. There is a lot you can do to break the procrastination cycle so it doesn’t rule your life. Here are 5 steps.

1.     Make a decision 

It doesn’t matter how long procrastination has been part of your life, you can change! It starts with a decision to end procrastination.

Then, breaking the project down, planning, goal setting and reflection will help you to change your current habits.

2.     Break your project down

One of the main reasons people with ADHD procrastinate is because they don’t know where to start on a project, because it feels overwhelming. Set a timer for 10 minutes and on a big piece of paper, brainstorm all the actions that you would need to do for your project to be complete.

Don’t worry if you don’t know every single action. Write down the ones you know at the moment, and the others will become clear as you work through your list. This list is the cornerstone to beating procrastination.

3.     Plan

Grab your day time planner and map out when you are going to do the smaller actions that you identified in 2). Time travels differently when you have ADHD, so it's important to link the actions with a calendar. By doing this, you get a realistic estimate of how much you can achieve in a day; plus, you can meet your deadline without a last-minute panic.

4.     Look at your goals

People with ADHD find it hard to prioritize. Knowing what tasks to do doesn’t always come automatically. When faced with a high propriety task, many people suddenly get really busy doing other tasks. For example,if you usually hate housework, but suddenly find yourself cleaning for hours, you are procrastinating. This can be frustrating because even though you are working hard, you are taking action on a low importance task, not the high one. Reminding yourself of your goals, helps you to prioritize.

5.     What worked?

To break your cycle of procrastination, it's important to spend a little time reflecting every time you finish a project.

Reflection or reviewing doesn’t need to take long. Still, it’s often the missing part of the puzzle when you have ADHD. You might prefer to be busy doing. Nevertheless, think about what worked, so you can do it again next time. Then, think about what you could improve on in the future. This will really help to stop the all-nighters and last-minute panics. Make a note of your discoveries, so you will remember them next time.

Good luck!

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