For example, someone with ADHD might wait until the last minute to start on a work project. That can lead to a number of consequences, like missing a deadline or getting poor feedback from a manager. But it’s not as easy as just “learning their lesson” from these experiences. It can be an inherent part of their ADHD symptoms that is very difficult to overcome.

If you struggle with procrastination due to your ADHD, it helps to understand what causes it. Learn more about the reasons behind ADHD-related procrastination and get a few helpful tips for finding the motivation to take action when your instinct is to put things off.

#1: Executive Dysfunction

Many individuals with ADHD struggle with executive functioning skills, such as time management and self-control. It’s hard for them to plan and organize, especially when dealing with multiple tasks or large projects. They may never feel like they’re ready to get started on a project, and it could be difficult for them to judge how long they’ll need to complete each task. These experiences with executive dysfunction lead to procrastination, which leaves them scrambling to get things done in a hurry later on.

#2: Attention Dysregulation

One of the most famous symptoms of ADHD is difficulty maintaining attention. People with the condition may have trouble staying focused on one task, particularly when it’s not something that interests them. As a result, it’s easy for them to be distracted by other things when they’re supposed to be doing chores or homework assignments. Even if they get started on a task, they might lose focus before they get very much work done.  

#3: Failure Avoidance

Many people with ADHD have faced a significant amount of negativity in their lives. It’s tough to have ADHD in a world that’s built for neurotypical folks. If you have ADHD, you may remember certain family members, teachers, or bosses who — because they didn’t understand or respect your ADHD diagnosis — criticized you for being too lazy, too energetic, or too distracted. Those kinds of harsh comments are hard to forget, and it can cause hesitation in those with ADHD. They may fear getting the same type of feedback if their work doesn’t measure up, so they avoid the task altogether.

One issue at play here is the expectation of perfection that individuals with ADHD may place upon themselves. They may feel as though they’ve failed if something they do isn’t perfect, so starting on a task or project can feel like a big risk. For example, someone in school might experience perfectionism procrastination if they have trouble getting started on writing an essay.

How to Stop Procrastinating

When people with ADHD are chronic procrastinators, it’s inevitable that they’ll face problems. It may cause stress in their family relationships or result in poor performance at work or in school. That’s why it’s so important to make an effort to overcome the desire to put things off and find out what makes you motivated. Here are a few tips to help you stop procrastinating, especially when it comes to the important things.

  • Set smaller deadlines. If you have a big project due in three weeks, don’t let that be the only deadline you set for yourself. Instead, break the project into smaller chunks and create deadlines for each part. This can help you stay motivated while also making the project less intimidating to get started on.
  • Minimize distractions. If you tend to get distracted when trying to get things done, create an environment that allows you to focus more effectively. Pick a quiet place with a closed door if possible and place your phone in another room.
  • Reward yourself. One great way to motivate yourself is to decide on specific rewards for completing tasks. When writing an essay, for example, you could enjoy a piece of candy or a quick dance break for every 500 words you write.
  • ADHD medication: If you’re experiencing serious levels of procrastination, make sure you’re getting the right ADHD treatment. Stimulant ADHD medications have been found to be more beneficial than nonstimulants when it comes to minimizing procrastination. Talk to your healthcare provider about finding the right treatment plan and whether stimulants may be a good fit for you.
  • Occupational therapy: Another ADHD treatment option that may help with procrastination is occupational therapy. This type of therapy can help you develop practical solutions for issues with time management, focus, and motivation.  Your therapist can help you improve your skills in these areas and provide you with helpful strategies to overcome the desire to put things off.