Overcoming The Later Lie: 3 Key Steps To Help You Minimize Procrastination

Truth be told, we all procrastinate!  Not just folks with ADHD.  

In some scenarios, procrastination can be a good thing. Having more time to consider or think through how an action plays out can have benefits. With ADHD, leaving a task until it’s more urgent can also help to get into action with strategic habits and implementation.

There are other scenarios where procrastination can take its toll. Think of a task as a complete circle you draw from beginning to end. Completing that circle (task) calls on the executive function skills around task initiation, persistence, and follow-through to completion. There could be some reasons for resistance at any point in the circle. Knowing what to do with ADHD isn’t always the problem. There can be many reasons we get stuck…emotions, fear, overwhelm, and shinier objects, to name a few. Sometimes, even unplanned interruptions or setbacks. When that happens, the temptation is to think, “I can do this later,” which can trigger the cycle of task sabotage. The risk is that when later comes, something else has likely popped up to interfere with using the time as intended. Whether a shinier task or a more important priority, even the best intentions may quickly fall through the cracks.

Overcoming The Later Lie: 3 Key Steps To Help You Minimize Procrastination

Can you relate?  If so, you are not alone! It happens to the best of us. With ADHD, it can happen more frequently. Hence, the cycle of task sabotage and pushing things off continues.  Over time, this erodes our sense of accomplishment and well-being as examples like these may play out:

  • Depending too much on urgency and deadlines adds to stress and overwhelm.
  • Less gets accomplished than planned when time runs out, which is super frustrating.
  • Feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt build as we note the visual pile-up on the to-do list.
  • Boundaries fade between work and life as we work longer to catch up.

Initial reactions may be to focus on what feels like a failure and battering of emotions to follow.   But that doesn’t help someone move forward, does it?  Next comes the quest to find better skills and strategies! This exploration will have you heading in the right direction. And, as you do, don’t forget these three essential steps for beating procrastination that are often overlooked.

Step 1:  Build on Self-Awareness

How do you know when you are procrastinating? We all likely have some go-to behaviors. Self-awareness requires slowing down, becoming more mindful of what you are currently doing about the day’s intentions, and noticing when you are off track. One example is picking up our phone to check for the umpteenth time to see what we might have missed. Another is fixating on another task that is less urgent or less important as another alternative. A third might be an excessive dive into researching opportunities and information. What are your go-to behaviors?   The more we recognize our versions of procrastinating, the better.

*** Here is an idea: Write a point-of-performance prompt to question and reflect on whether you are on track with your intentions or pushing what’s essential aside. Keep that posted where you see it often throughout the day.

Step 2:  Be Curious About The Space of Resistance

Understanding what’s in the way helps you focus on the root cause of what keeps you stuck instead of attacking your character over the situation. Your solutions will be more effective when you target the root cause. Some reasons for procrastination are lack of clarity, fear of failure, boredom, disorganization, overestimating or underestimating the time. There are at least a dozen more reasons to feel stuck. The key is understanding your patterns and preparing strategies to avoid derailment. Why do you get stuck?  As you catch yourself procrastinating, lean into the space of resistance with curiosity and self-compassion. What are your root causes?

*** Create a list of what fuels your resistance and pick one root cause to start working on. Consider alternative actions that can help you work through it. Or brainstorm options with a friend. The key is to be ready next time resistance shows up to push through it.

Step 3:  Shifting into an “Activation Brainspace”

An activation brainspace is simply cognitive work that makes it easier to get into action. You may have already heard about Growth and Fixed Mindset, the work of Carol Dweck, which relates to our beliefs in our qualities, abilities, and possibilities. And we all agree that a growth mindset is more likely to propel us forward, while a fixed mindset is more likely to hold us back.  An activation brainspace builds on the ideals of a growth mindset with the cognitive flexibility and strengths of creative and curious thinking. An Activation Brainspace hones in on the motivation and envisions the action, connects to interest and novelty, and leans into strengths to strategize around streamlined implementation. An Activation Brainspace is up for the personal development and honing of new skills to minimize the impact of ADHD.

*** Did you know that some of your hard-wired ADHD traits can actually help you overcome feeling stuck and stalled? Which of your superpowers might be useful? Folks with ADHD naturally have superpowers in perseverance, curiosity, creativity, and love of learning, to name a few. Which of your traits could be used in helpful ways?

As I mentioned earlier, everyone procrastinates a little. Don’t aim for perfection; aim for making small increments of progress that will build into more momentum over time. Start with these three steps.

If you would like more support, I offer a few options.

Consider joining my “If and Then: Procrastination Busters Clinic” happening Friday, April 12th at 1 pm – 2:30 pm Central where we build on your awareness, reasons for resistance, and a step by step approach to leverage your Activation Brainspace to get stuff done. Email me at  Robin@ADHDCoach.life to receive follow-up details and the registration link.

Imagine what it would be like if the frustrating moments of feeling stuck and stalled had less and less power over you and your day. Pretty nice, right?

Here’s to you and your journey ahead!

Robin Nordmeyer, PCAC CLC

Robin Nordmeyer, PCAC, CLC

ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach, Owner/Founder

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