Why are You Putting Things Off?
You know you do it. But do you know what you are really putting off when you procrastinate?
Or maybe a better question is why are you putting things off?
You know I’m going to say it.
ADHD and Procrastination are BFFs
We are masters at procrastinating. In the amount of time we spend procrastinating, we could have had the thing done five times or more.
We put it off.
And our ADHD has something to do with it.
Well what a surprise.
I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll keep saying because it’s just so hard to believe: we are perfectionists.
Yes, I’m aware that nothing around your house looks perfect. Mine either.
But the thing is, we spend so much of our lives being imperfect – in everything – that whenever we get a chance, we want to do things right for once. We want it perfect. We want others to see that we are more than they think we are.
So we put it off.
So Putting it Off Makes it Better?
That’s the theory.
If we wait until the time is right, we have everything we need, we have plenty of time to do it, the stars are aligned in the sky just right, and all of the unicorns and rainbows are breathless with excitement, well, then, it will be perfect.
So we wait, we procrastinate.
Now, you have to understand, not all of this is happening at a strictly conscious level. I mean, who would deliberately decide to try and make something perfect.
Perfection, by definition, really doesn’t exist.
But we want to do a good job. We really do. We always do.
But what happens is we procrastinate for so long that we begin to run out of time. And what we end up with is not our best effort, but what we could slap together last minute.
Is That All There Is?
Of course not. There’s more to procrastinating than just perfectionism, but it still all relates back to ADHD.
- We’re forgetful, so things slip our mind. Sometimes until the last minute, sometimes after it’s too late, and sometimes just all together. We just completely forget to do something. That’s not a character flaw, by the way, although some people may make you think so. Forgetting is a legitimate problem if you have ADHD.
- We are very poor judges of time, and time passing. Believe it or not, people who have ADHD experience time the same way, regardless of what they are doing. Sure, it may seem to drag a little when they’re bored, but they never experience it the way we do. Glaciers move faster than time when we’re bored. And when we’re interested, absorbed in something, to say time flies would be portraying it as much slower than it feels. Time simply disappears when we’re involved in something we like. So time gets away from us, and we still haven’t done that thing we’ve been putting off.
- In another aspect of being poor judges of time, we also have trouble estimating how long something will take. We think we can whip something out in 30 minutes, when 4 hours is more reasonable. That’s not necessarily procrastination, but it contributes to the problem.
What Are You Really Putting Off When You Procrastinate?
What you’re really putting off by procrastinating, even though you don’t realize it, are the feelings that come after you’ve completed something.
Studies have shown that those of us with ADHD are not successful goal setters. The specifics of that are for another day, but one of the reasons is that, even if we achieve our goal, it is followed quickly by a let down. A negative reaction.
We either have not completed the goal to our satisfaction, or if we have, we now have nothing left to look forward to.
Completing a project is much like reaching a goal.
When we procrastinate, what we’re really avoiding are the negative feelings that will follow.
What Can You Do?
There will always be things to be done, projects to complete, maybe even goals to strive towards.
You can’t avoid it, and you can’t procrastinate your way out of it.
But what you can do, now that you know a little bit more about why you procrastinate, is to try and change your attitude, and your outlook on things.
Work towards a more positive frame of mind, and learn to see some of the things that you struggle with as a person with ADHD as simply that: things that you struggle with.
They’re not excuses for why you can’t do something, but instead, things that challenge you.
And you are up to the challenge.
There’s An App for That
In researching this post, I found an interesting article about apps for procrastination.
By the way, she mentions Focus@Will; I’ve tried it and it worked for me. I’m just not willing to spend $10 a month on it.