The reasons we procrastinate as adults with ADHD are deep and complicated. In today’s blog, let’s talk about why we procrastinate and how we can make progress in the procrastination struggle.
In my experience, many of us judge ourselves heavily for procrastinating. We don’t know how to stop putting things off and we get really hard on ourselves about it. Some of us even think that we can force ourselves to stop procrastinating through sheer willpower, but in reality, that’s not really how it works.
Before we can make any headway, we need to do something really important first — take care of our bodies. One of the key reasons we avoid important tasks until the last minute is because we don’t feel good.
Tip #1: Take care of your basic needs
Sometimes we straight up procrastinate because we aren’t meeting our basic needs. If we aren’t drinking water, eating enough, going to the bathroom when we need to, moving our bodies, or getting enough sleep, there is no way we are going to want to do anything productive.
Our brains go into self-preservation mode when we don’t take care of our basic needs, so there isn’t any more brain space to do anything else. So, if you feel like you struggle with procrastination, make sure you’re taking care of your basic needs first.
Tip #2: Feel your feelings
Another reason most of us procrastinate is because we are avoiding hard feelings. When guilt, shame, boredom, overwhelm, or frustration happen and its associated with a task, our brains try to make us feel better by getting distracted on something more interesting. Our brains don’t want to feel those emotions, so it pressures us to do something else.
For example, I might procrastinate on calling my mother-in-law because I often feel judged when I talk to her. So as a result of wanting to avoid feeling judged, I put it off indefinitely. If I face my feelings and am willing to feel judged, the resistance goes away and I will simply call her.
So tip #2 is all about letting yourself feel your feelings, no matter how uncomfortable or hard they might be.
Tip #3: When in doubt, just do the next easiest thing
Many of us procrastinate because we get “analysis paralysis”. Sometimes we just can’t decide what to do next out of the countless things we feel like we need to do everyday. We procrastinate because we start putting off making decisions. So the best way to get through this issue is to simply do the next best thing. Whatever is easiest and whatever is next on the to-do list, just do it.
Make it simply, choose one thing to do, and let the other things go for that moment.
Tip #4: Believe in yourself
One of the biggest barriers we face when it comes to procrastination is that we don’t believe in ourselves. We believe we are stuck, and that we can’t decide what to do next or deal with the hard feelings that come up.
Believing in yourself and that you’re doing your best is the key to getting through procrastination.
Let’s say you want to talk to your boss about getting a raise but you’re afraid to ask. It’s been two years since you’ve gotten a raise and you’re putting off bringing it up. Sometimes the narrative in our heads go: “Oh, I can’t ask for a raise. I don’t deserve it” or “oh i’m too afraid to ask, I can’t do it.”
The key to getting past this hurdle is to believe in yourself. If you believe you CAN ask for the raise, then you will.
Procrastination is super common for ADHDers like us. It can get in our way and make us feel bad about ourselves, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. If you take care of your basic needs, feel the fullness of your feelings, simply do the next best thing, and believe in yourself you will be on your way to stopping the procrastination cycle.