How to Prioritize

“I’m So Indecisive Now!” On ADHD and Analysis Paralysis in the Pandemic

Has the pandemic made you more indecisive? Less confident in your ability to make a choice? Or more resolute and decisive thanks to extra breathing room? Yes to all of the above, say ADDitude readers who report ongoing analysis paralysis and decision-making breakthroughs today.

Pensive man standing and making decision.
Photo by Mykyta Dolmatov

Making a choice — whether inconsequential or life-altering — is a mundane task made impossibly hard by ADHD and its racing thoughts, hyperfocus tendencies, and self-regulation challenges. The resulting analysis paralysis can harm self-esteem and exacerbate anxiety in adults, many of whom found that their lifelong strategies no longer worked during the pandemic.

Recently, we asked ADDitude readers whether their indecisive tendencies have gotten worse (or better) during the pandemic, and how they have felt the impact. Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.

Are You More Indecisive Now?

“During work-from-home lockdown, I had very few decisions to make. Now that I’m back at work, I find my personal priorities have shifted, and I am re-inventing my daily life. I have to separate what decisions or intentions are driven by the trauma of the pandemic, and which are driven by my actual needs and desires. I am making an effort to simplify my routines and my interests. So far, so good.” — An ADDitude Reader    

“I can see all the small details of an issue but often not the bigger picture. I get so stressed about making the right decision that I can’t think clearly. I’m like a grasshopper, hopping from one blade of grass to another!” — An ADDitude Reader

“I typically find myself doing one of the following: I rush and impulsively make a decision because I’m afraid I won’t make one at all, or I ruminate for days on decisions that need to be made. I ask others’ opinions, read studies and articles, weigh pros and cons, and ultimately spend way too much brainpower on the process. I’m all upside-backwards!” — Jennifer, Virginia

[Download: The Eisenhower Matrix for ADHD Decision-Making]

“I struggle to make the smallest decisions. I’m always in fear of making a mistake. Most times, I end up not acting on something until it’s too late or the decision has been made for me.” — T.G., Pennsylvania

“I am quicker at making decisions during the pandemic, but only because I’m more ruthless due to stress.” — Demelza, UK

“My indecision got worse during the pandemic. There are lots of variables that must be in place for me to decide how to move forward. The pandemic robbed me of that [structure]. I am newly acknowledging my recent ADHD diagnosis, but it feels good to know that there is a reasonable explanation for my being different. Now that I am aware of myself, I can work with my brain better instead of colliding with it all the time.” — Gift, Nigeria

“I’ve actually become more decisive during the pandemic, possibly because I’ve been given the time and space I need to process.” — An ADDitude Reader

[Read: What If ‘Back to Normal’ is Terrifying — and Counterproductive?]

“My ‘decision paralysis’ has definitely gotten worse during the pandemic. Aside from my typical obstacles, I now also fear changes outside of my control. Last year, I planned a vacation in the summer for my family. It took me weeks to buy the plane tickets and book the hotel. Then, a month later, the city was shut down again due to COVID. This year I wanted to reschedule the trip, but I can barely bring myself to look for hotel or flight options.” — An ADDitude Reader

Whether it’s what to make for dinner or what I should do with my life, I wait until I’m forced to decide and then do so impulsively. Sometimes it works out, but mostly it leaves me feeling like I’m still a child, even though I’m now 50.” — An ADDitude Reader

“I have always struggled with indecision. I think it’s partly fear of missing out (if I pick this, I don’t get that), partly people pleasing (I’m only comfortable when I know others around me are happy with the choice), and partly divergent thinking with a lack of convergent thinking (being able to equally see and appreciate each choice but not about to decide which is better). This shows up for me as not being able to decide what movie to watch, what restaurant to go to, etc. The most debilitating indecisiveness for me, though, is what career path to choose. It’s haunted me and caused anxiety for almost twenty years, and I still don’t know what path to take.” — Mandie, California

“I find myself needing to investigate every single option to make sure I make the best choice. Sometimes it takes weeks to make a decision that really isn’t all that critical, like what kind of light bulb to buy. That one was a doozy…” — Jacob

“Big things aren’t an issue like decisions for work, my child, or the house. But small things like being asked where I want to go for dinner? I freeze and will always give the same answer. I can’t answer questions regarding my personal preference without a lot of forethought.” — An ADDitude Reader

“The only actions I take that don’t require a decision are those that are part of a well-established routine. Otherwise, I can get paralyzed trying to decide whether to hang up my towel or the bathmat first; whether this carrot will be better for the soup or the pot roast I’m making; which glass to remove from the dishwasher next. As a consequence, I frequently suffer decision-fatigue, both mental and physical. I haven’t noticed any change during the pandemic. The big change came with retirement, when I went from a structured, routine-bound job to a home where I needed to create my own routines to eliminate as many decisions as possible.” — Mary, Ohio   

“I find decision-making one of the largest casualties of ADHD. The amount of brainwork that can go into seemingly small decisions, especially ones laden with fiddly details, is tiring, draining, and frustrating. A particular bit of hell involves an intersection of taking action and making a decision. Both the difficulties with task initiation and decision-making compound into a messy ADHD situation.” — An ADDitude Reader

Analysis Paralysis and ADHD: Next Steps

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