Procrastination 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.
- It may be helpful to group similar tasks together such as phone calls, paper work, odd jobs around the house, etc.
- 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.
- 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.
- Write these five tasks down on a separate list.
- 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.
- You have now created your fully detailed ACTION PLAN. Start working on the tasks.
- Talk kindly to yourself. Give yourself encouragement along the way, until the task is complete.
- Celebrate a job well done. Pat yourself on the back. Feel the energy that this accomplishment gives you!
- 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!
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