Do I Have ADHD or Do I Just Procrastinate?
Updated: May 3
Everyone, at some point in their life, procrastinates. It’s a challenge we all face. Untreated ADHD, however, presents an increased level of challenge. With ADHD procrastination is far more serious.
For people with ADHD, procrastination is relentless, causing problems at work, at home, and in personal relationships. Completing or even starting tasks may feel impossible, and frustration is inevitable.
If you think your procrastination is beyond the usual foot-dragging that most people experience when faced with difficult or annoying tasks - and if you think it might be caused by ADHD - then read on. And if you’re seeking a professional diagnosis, it has never been easier. Start by taking this free 2-minute online ADHD test; if indicated, you’ll be connected with a medical professional for an official diagnosis and start getting treatment for your symptoms.
Overview of Adult ADHD
Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, chronic procrastination, and/or impulsivity that interferes with and impacts work, home life, and relationships - especially if left untreated. While long considered a childhood disorder, it is now recognized as a lifelong condition that persists well into adulthood.
Normal procrastination is choosing not to get around to something in a timely manner. This temporary condition can be due to a number of factors, including fear or anxiety, higher priorities, misunderstanding of urgency, not being prepared, or reluctance to do the task. Everyone, at some point, for some reason, finds themselves procrastinating.
ADHD procrastination is a far more serious matter and may completely stall any progress toward completing a task. Procrastination is an avoidance behavior. Imbalances in motivation can occur in people with ADHD, as they tend to hyperfocus on tasks they deem interesting but procrastinate over tasks they deem tedious. And that procrastination can become chronic.
Tips for Combating ADHD Procrastination
If ADHD is the source of your procrastination, there are evidence-based strategies that can help you manage the thought patterns underlying your work avoidance and develop concrete strategies for meeting your work (and life) goals.
As an adult with ADHD, it’s easy to get derailed by internal and external distractions. You may even find yourself using these distractions to avoid a task. Removing distractions involves taking steps such as using site blockers on the Internet to help focus, turning off your phone and email notifications, and taking care of personal issues before getting started on a task.
Organization is key to avoiding ADHD procrastination. While there may be many tasks on your list of things to do, a great way to start is to prioritize these tasks in a way that makes sense to you. Then, break up the task (which we’ll cover more later), organize the tools, resources, and other supplies you’ll need to do the task, do your best to estimate how long it will take, set a timeline for the task, then begin! The first step is just to get started; from there, you’ll be able to organize your task in a way that’s best for you.
Set an Early Deadline
It’s no secret; if time isn’t an issue, it’ll make procrastination far more likely. In addition, effective time management can be extremely difficult with ADHD. Even if your task doesn’t have a deadline, setting a deadline will keep you on track to complete it. Setting an early deadline allows you to complete a task in a timely manner.
Break Up Larger Tasks
Big projects can often feel overwhelming, and when you’re overwhelmed by the size of the task it’s far harder to start. To make things easier, try breaking up large tasks into smaller, more realistic chunks. Write out the tasks required for each job and tackle them as individual jobs, each with its own separate deadline.
Create and Use Lists
Lists can help you visualize what steps to take and allow you to record progress in completing tasks and moving through your day. Break down each day’s list of tasks and responsibilities by the hour and allot a timeframe for each. Time management and creating lists can be invaluable for structuring your day’s activities, staying on task, and sidestepping procrastination.
Thinking you have to complete many tasks at once can make starting on any one of them daunting. Streamline your workload by sticking to a process of doing one thing at a time rather than trying to tackle multiple tasks simultaneously. Avoiding multitasking can help you maintain your focus as well as your concentration.
Tackle the Hardest Part First
Sometimes the hardest part of completing a task is just taking the first step - other times, another part of the process is the most challenging. Rather than trying to get yourself to get through a project and all the while dreading the difficulty to come, try tackling the hardest part first and get it out of the way. After that, the rest is far easier to work on and complete.
Take Exercise Breaks
Stepping away for a bit and clearing your mind can be extremely beneficial. Besides being great for your health, taking a short break for walking, stretching, or exercising is a great way to jumpstart your thought process. If you’re having trouble getting started, exercise is a great way to jumpstart your energy so that you can return to the task at hand feeling renewed.
People without ADHD tend to encounter less trouble with procrastination because their brain naturally rewards them when they work on tasks - even doing the dishes can feel good. Without this natural tendency, it’s helpful to give yourself a small reward after the competition of tasks. This could be anything from a short nap, a hot bath, or a leisurely stroll in the park.
Do You Suspect You Have Adult ADHD?
If you find yourself struggling to complete tasks that your peers have no problem tackling, and your procrastination is unmanageable, you may have adult ADHD. The good news is that you can get a judgment-free evaluation, a diagnosis, and a treatment plan all from the comfort of your home.
Schedule an Online Examination with a Licensed Professional
Don’t procrastinate! Contact Klarity today to schedule your online examination with a licensed professional. Providers on Klarity are dedicated to help you live with, manage, and ultimately take control of your adult ADHD. Take this free 2-minute self-evaluation to learn if you’re a good fit for online ADHD diagnosis and treatment services.