Procrastination? I’ll Read About It Later
Putting off a task that we perceive to be unpleasant, overwhelming, underwhelming, or difficult is a common behaviour, but for people who struggle with ADHD it is often a daily challenge that can snowball over time, exacerbating stress, creating problems with productivity, and contributing to low self-esteem. That’s because people with ADHD are frequently more impulsive than others, making them more susceptible to distracting diversions, and their inattentiveness can make it difficult for them to return to the task at hand.
The Root of the Problem
But inattention and impulsivity aren’t the root causes of why we postpone the things we need to get done. It’s not about being slothful, either. According to Tim Pychyl, retired associate professor of psychology at Carleton University and an expert on procrastination, people who put off completing tasks aren’t lazy, they’re just trying to avoid the negative feelings associated with those tasks. He calls procrastination “an emotion-focused coping response.” By eliminating the task, he says, we are also trying to eliminate our anxiety around completing it.
Perhaps you are afraid of failing at a project, or you feel you can’t complete a task properly, or maybe you dread the boredom it brings you. That emotion is a powerful motivator, and since our brains process emotion very quickly, our feelings tend to overwhelm our executive functions, which are there to help us initiate, organize, and self-monitor during tasks. People with ADHD often have executive function deficits to begin with, and that contributes to the problem.
Have you ever found yourself taking care of everyday chores or simple projects instead of getting started on a more challenging task? Need to finish an essay? Let’s organize the spice cupboard instead! Our brains are attracted to “busywork” as a way of avoiding unwelcome assignments because those types of activities are less challenging, easy to complete, satisfying, and finite. The trick to overcoming procrastination is to make the high-priority tasks just as appealing.
To manage our task-avoiding behaviour, we first need to understand it. What are the reasons why you are struggling to begin and complete important projects? How can you align the task with your goals and priorities to fuel self-motivation? ADHD coaching can help.
ADHD coaches can give students a more detailed understanding of the reasons for their task-avoiding behaviour and suggest steps they can take to manage it more effectively. Working with an ADHD coach helps people identify the barriers that contribute to task avoidance and learn strategies to help them initiate and accomplish important assignments, reduce stress and anxiety, and become more productive. Contact us to learn more about how Evoke coaching can help you become familiar with the science of procrastination and start getting things done.