Unlocking ADHD writer Natalie Ho sits down to listen to Jessica Heimsoth, the mind behind Every Thought Captive Coaching, about procrastination and how to overcome it.
Ah, procrastination. To a busy soul, it is a familiar devil. Procrastination is not uncommon, in fact it is very far from it. Perhaps rather ironically, I had procrastinated starting this article. Truly, it is a common struggle, but even more so for ADHDers.
Inability to effectively regulate Emotions
According to ADDitude Magazine, procrastination in people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is prevalent due to an inability to effectively regulate emotions, particularly negative emotions surrounding a task. The way you are watching an episode of your current favourite bingeable show instead of writing that report due next Monday? It is simply another method to avoid an anxiety inducing task.
But, as anyone who has put off their work could tell you, procrastination is not a solution. More often than not, deadlines become looming and fast approaching, and you end up with not just the task itself but the added anxiety of a lack of time.
I had the opportunity to sit in on a support group session for women run by the Society for the Promotion of ADHD Research and Knowledge (SPARK), where the theme for discussion was procrastination. As a life coach specialising in the struggles of having ADHD, Jessica Heimsoth was invited to talk about procrastination and how to overcome it.
“ADHD doesn’t cause our behaviours, but influences our behaviours,” Heimsoth said. “Where ADHD comes into play (in procrastination) is that it makes certain thoughts much easier to think.” The brains of those with ADHD do not filter out what is important, be it the surrounding sounds or thoughts not related to the current situation.
How do you overcome procrastination?
- The most important hurdle you have to overcome is your mindset. Procrastination stems from a desire to avoid anything that would take effort, particularly in the long term.
- Think about the thoughts that make you procrastinate and ask yourself how often that the thought is true. Usually, the answer is rarely.
- If that is a habit that you would not want to continue, offer an alternative to counter the procrastinating thought.
- Make decisions ahead of time. These decisions don’t just include actions, but also thoughts.
- A common excuse to avoid doing the things we need to do is “I’m going to do this later”. One of the ways you could avoid this is to give a concrete date and time for this hypothetical “later”.
- Break down how you are actually going to complete the task. What are the parts to the task you need to complete?
- By breaking down your task into smaller, easier to complete sections, you may find yourself less prone to procrastination as you know what you need to do next.
- Some may find they do not procrastinate at all as they do not have the same intensity of negative feelings when completing the task section by section compared to tackling it as a whole.
As Heimsoth puts it, “stress isn’t all bad”. If what you’re doing works for you, there is no reason for changing what you’re doing. This is especially so for those who feel pressured to change because of what society tells us should be the “right way”. In the end, we are all different people, working in different ways, and we should not conform to another’s standards. However, if your procrastinating habits are something that you want to change for yourself, perhaps you could give these tips a try.
All it could take is a little change of perspective.