Archives for February 2009

How to Beat Procrastination

adhd and procrastinationProcrastination is one of the key ADHD behaviours and one that most adults with ADHD would love to combat.  Life is full of exciting choices. It’s easy to get distracted and do the fun, enjoyable tasks, and leave the boring or difficult ones for tomorrow. The problem is that every day there are new enjoyable things to do and tomorrow never comes.

The upside of procrastination is that when we decide, consciously or subconsciously, to leave the task for another day, we feel relieved because we don’t have to do that task, at least for the moment.

Unfortunately, there are multiple downsides to procrastination. There’s anxiety of feeling overwhelmed with so much to do and no idea of when we will have the time to do everything. Our confidence is reduced as we feel we can’t depend on ourselves. Then there is negative self-talk when we remember all the tasks we keep procrastinating on, like “I am so bad!” or “I never get anything done.” Negative self-talk in the long term is probably the most damaging effect of procrastination, because it will eventually lower our self-esteem.

In contrast, the sense of accomplishment we experience when we finish a task is huge! This energizes us and we want to do the next task on our list.

The tasks we have been putting off are rarely as difficult or time-consuming as we think. The anxiety that we create by not working on the task is far greater than actually doing the task.

Don’t worry it is possible to combat one of the key ADHD behaviours,procrastination. Here is a nine-step Anti-Procrastination ACTION PLAN to gently, but effectively, help you blitz through all your procrastination items.

  1. It may be helpful to group similar tasks together such as phone calls, paper work, odd jobs around the house, etc.
  2. Post your “Ultimate To Do List” on a wall where you will see it often and make sure that it is dated. This will serve as an excellent baseline to measure your progress. Have a red pen close by to put a line through every task that you complete.
  3. Now look at your “Ultimate To Do List” and decide which five tasks you are going to work on first. You might choose the most pressing five tasks, the five tasks that are going to be achieved most quickly, the five tasks that seem the most appealing, or the five least appealing tasks. It does not matter how you select them. The main thing is to just pick five tasks.
  4. Write these five tasks down on a separate list.
  5. Now grab your kitchen timer and set it for five minutes. Use these five minutes to create your ACTION PLAN for your first five tasks. If a task looks overwhelming, then break the task into smaller steps so it won’t seem so daunting. Also, think of what materials you might need – telephone number, a garbage bag, etc. This step is to help you break the resistance you have been feeling towards the task.
  6. You have now created your fully detailed ACTION PLAN. Start working on the tasks.
  7. Talk kindly to yourself. Give yourself encouragement along the way, until the task is complete.
  8. Celebrate a job well done. Pat yourself on the back. Feel the energy that this accomplishment gives you!
  9. If you have time, go back and repeat steps seven to nine, otherwise do this process again tomorrow.

You will find it fun to see your “Ultimate To Do List” shrinking! Good luck and enjoy the process!

Impossible Achievements

Last weekend, I did something that I thought was impossible. I broke a piece of wood into two pieces with my bare hand. I was in total shock afterward, but a good kind of shock. Breaking that wood was such a stretch for me that afterward, my mind started to play tricks on me. I wondered if I did really do it. Luck for me, there was a room full of people watching me and could verify that I did actually do it. AND I have the piece of wood to prove it!

People with ADD are very good at achieving things and not acknowledging them, whether it’s a university degree, a new job, pay raise or a personal accomplishment. Often they believe that they are undeserving, that it happened by luck or that people believe they have more skills and talents than they actually do. They often feel like a fraud and that one day they will get found it.

Of course, you do deserve these things because you worked hard and the skills and talents that are required. It could be because you have struggled behind the scenes to do what others seem to do more easily. It doesn’t matter how you achieved it, the biggest challenge is making it real for yourself.

So what can you do to make it real for yourself? To really acknowledge to yourself what you accomplished:

1. Never belittle your accomplishment by saying, “Oh, well, it’s just a…” (Masters degree, middle management, etc.)
2. Never contort your face or shrug your should while you say your achievement. Instead practice saying it with a straight face and no sighs or shoulder shrugging.
3. Save all your positive feedback in a “Brag Folder.” If friends send you a card to congratulate you, or you get an email from a happy work colleague, etc., print it out and pop it in your “Brag Folder.” Then you can refer to it when you feel low and are questioning yourself.
4. Always celebrate big events. Never just let them slide by without acknowledging them. Have a party with all your friends and family to celebrate your success. (It’s fine to throw yourself one.) For smaller accomplishments, say, “Cheers,” over a glass of wine with a friend.
5. Share all your “wins” with people that care about you.
6. For big achievements, write a list of all the things that you did in order to get there, then when doubt creeps in, remind yourself of what you wrote on your list.
7. Create a wall of fame for yourself. Have all your certificates up on a wall in either your home or place of work.
8. Take photos of you performing or celebrating these achievements and buy pretty or stylish frames and pop them round your house. These act as a constant reminder of your successes.

We want your achievements to really sink into your body and your brain so that you can stand tall and say what you accomplished with a smile on your face and the knowledge that you earned it. If you have any other habits that have worked for you in the past, keep on doing them.