By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
For people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), procrastination tends to be a stubborn problem. “I don’t know anyone with ADHD where procrastination is not an issue,” said Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
That’s because this is the nature of ADHD and its neurological underpinnings. It’s difficult for the brain of someone with ADHD to get stimulated unless the activity is interesting, there are major consequences or there is a sense of urgency, he said.
“For people with ADHD, there are two time zones: Now and Not Now. If it is not happening now, the ADD-er will tend to procrastinate until it gets closer to the ‘Now’ zone.”
Individuals may feel stuck about where to start. Kim Kensington, PsyD, a procrastination expert and psychologist and coach who specializes in adults with ADHD, gave the following example: “I haven’t scheduled my annual physical exam because I keep thinking I want a new doctor, but that requires researching on-line which entails… and then I stop.”
There’s also issues with working memory, she said, or “constantly forgetting the thing I just meant to do before I started doing something else and on and on!”
But behavioral strategies can help. Below, ADHD experts who also have ADHD share how they push through procrastination and get things done.
Setting up mini goals
For Olivardia creating mini goals helps to move a task into the “Now” zone. For instance, if he has one month to complete a book chapter, he schedules a block of time every week to work on it.
Psychotherapist Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D, NCC, uses the app “Errand.” It lets her manage tasks and projects, set alarms, set priority statuses – low, medium or high – pick deadlines and put tasks in specific categories.