People often associate procrastination with being lazy or disorganized. But for adults with ADHD, procrastination is about an inability to self-regulate emotions and mood. You know putting off that important task will cause problems – but the whole process of planning, prioritizing and organizing to get it done may seem overwhelming and even painful. The combination of difficulty with emotional self-regulation and problems with executive function skills that come with having ADHD can make getting started on important, but not necessarily interesting tasks really hard.
Unfortunately, chronic procrastination can wreak havoc in your career, at home and with your relationships.
Your Procrastination Personality Type
There are many coping strategies you can use to overcome these issues. But first, it helps to understand what type of procrastinator you are.June Silny, a certified ADHD coach, lists the following personality types:
- Emotionally Exhausted – Intense fears, worries or anxiety about unrelated situations or the outcome of the project stop you from starting.
- Dopamine Desirer – You need something that stimulates you and gets you motivated before you can start. Some fun before you bear down.
- Focus Finder – The jumble of details is obscuring the big picture. You need to have a good idea where you are going with the task.
- Deadline Driver: A close deadline is the only way you can get motivated to finish.
- Paralyzed Perfectionist – You are afraid of failure and self-critical. You can’t start until everything is perfect. So you can’t make progress.
- Overwhelmed One – This is a case of too much – too many options, choices and decisions to make. It seems the job will never get finished.
De-fang the Procrastination Monster
Your particular type of task avoidance may involve a combination of these. Understanding what type of procrastinator you are can help determine what coping strategies to use. Such strategies can work better if you first understand the emotions that block you. Then you can develop ways to lessen the intensity of negative emotions and increase the motivation for doing the task.
For example, if you find you are overwhelmed by options and decisions, a good coping strategy is to learn to break complex projects into smaller sub tasks that you can get a better handle on. You may want to get the help of a friend or coach to help you with this at first, until it can become second nature. Using a technique like mindfulness meditation to clear and calm your mind before you start can help the process go more smoothly.
If you require something stimulating before you can tackle a project, arrange to engage in a limited amount of something fun before tackling the less interesting work. Then arrange to reward yourself once the task is completed.
No matter what coping strategies you ultimately decide to use to control your chronic procrastination, understanding the “why” of your procrastination is the right place to start.
You will find numerous tips for getting past procrastination in the sites listed below.
Why We Procrastinate and How to Fix it