Stop Procrastinating

Why Do I Procrastinate? ADHD Excuses — and Solutions

We’ve heard all of your excuses and we know what they really are: ADHD procrastination incarnate. Learn how to create deadlines, play music, and even conjure incentives to get the job done.

Notepad with checklist and pen, useful tools for helping people with ADHD get organized
Notepad with checklist and pen, useful tools for helping people with ADHD get organized

Why Do I Procrastinate?

Maybe you procrastinate because you don’t enjoy a task or you find a job too challenging. Or you may not know how to get things started.

Procrastination, of course, has many causes. The roots of procrastination can be especially difficult for people with ADHD to overcome. Here’s my list of some of the top reasons that prevent you from getting things done, along with solutions to stop procrastinating.

1. Procrastination Cause: “I dislike doing the task”

  • Look for ways to increase the task’s appeal.
  • Make it into a game and keep score, or compete with others doing similar tasks.
  • Listen to upbeat music while working.
  • Give yourself a reward after you complete the task.

2. Procrastination Cause: “I am overwhelmed”

Use a “divide and conquer” approach:

  • Break a large task into separate, short-term, easy-to-achieve segments.
  • Check off each segment as you accomplish it.

3. Procrastination Cause: “I have difficulty starting a task”

  • Create something to react to. Reactive tasks are easier to begin than those that you must initiate yourself.
  • Work on the task with others. Answering their questions or responding to e-mails is a good way to get – and keep – you moving forward.
  • Establish a deadline with your supervisor.

[Take Our Quiz: How Seriously Do You Procrastinate?]

4. Procrastination Cause: “I’m not organized enough to start the task”

If you don’t know where to start, try the following:

  • Think through the task.
  • Talk through the steps with your supervisor.
  • Break the task into do-able segments.
  • Create a list of resources and supplies needed to accomplish the task.
  • Create a timeline for the task; do the first segment.
  • Set e-mail or text reminders for each segment.

5. Procrastination Cause: “I find the job too difficult”

  • Ask yourself why the task seems so hard – is more training, more practice, or more assistance from others needed? – then get the help to succeed.

Apply a Solution

Select a task that you keep putting off. Then look at the list of solutions above and choose one that you think is helpful. Your new solutions will soon become habits.

[Free Download: Finish Your To-Do List TODAY]

Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D., is a member of the ADDitude ADHD Medical Review Panel.

8 Comments & Reviews

    1. I think what they mean is a task that you do as a reaction to someone asking for it, or something happening that spurs you into action. An example of turning a task into a reactive one would be scheduling a start time for something you know you have to do and then setting a reminder to go off at the time you planned to start it. That way you have something to react to.

    2. Hi! The turn a task into a reactive one was a great reminder for me. This is how it works for me- I create materials for teachers to use in their classrooms. So many times I need to write some kind of text, like a story or a nonfiction piece, and I have a million ideas (or none at all). My best writing comes when I react to something. Sometimes I look for a great photograph and use that as inspiration, so I’m reacting to the photo. Or I’ll read something and ask myself what might come next or what might have happened if…. another way I react to something. I haven’t thought about how to apply this to other careers, but you can bet my mind will be thinking about it all day!

  1. I have always considered myself as ‘re’ active, not ‘pro’ active, but didn’t know why? Now I do.
    If I’m asked to do something, I’ll happily do it (most of the time) However if I have to think for myself, or do something for myself, I just stare into space, or at the task itself and get overwhelmed with thoughts like “but where do I start? What’s the best approach? And then follows a whole myriad of questions that take me off into another realm entirely.

  2. My issue is not knowing my priority. Diasaster is my friend (knock on wood) because the priority becomes very obvious. I try making lists and asking what causes the most grief, but I usually check-out before I reach a conclusion. I’ve yet to find a helpful strategy. 🙄

    1. Yes! I too have problems with this. Because I can’t prioritize tasks nothing gets done. I think just do something! It’s better than nothing. Also, once you get started on something it gets the juices flowing. Now just to do it!😜

  3. I had to chuckle. If we’re talking housework, then I AM the supervisor! I prioritize just fine, but if I don’t feel well, nothing gets done. So with arthritis and sinus headaches almost daily, I have a very hard time getting started even if I tell myself, “only do 5 minutes.” This is a daily struggle. If you add on the fact that some of the high prioritized tasks are not fun, then it does become a bigger challenge.

  4. I think one of my procrastination issues is, often, “I don’t know how to do this.” It’s not even, “Where do I start,” but literally, “How do I do this thing?” I’m also finding problems with “I cannot physically do this by myself,” but that’s not really about attention, focus or concentration.

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