Four Strategies to Overcome ADHD Procrastination

Man and woman negotiate

Man and woman negotiate

People with concentration issues naturally gravitate toward things that are fun, exciting and capture their attention. On the other hand they want a distraction or tend to procrastinate when it comes to doing activities that are mundane and boring. Getting distracted for hours, lost on the internet, stuck on the couch with the remote control flipping channels, or texting just one more friend can cause mayhem and destruction in the lives of people living with concentration issues. If you have this issue, or live with someone who does, then you know what I am talking about. It’s the inability to pay the bills, opening the mail, do laundry, or organize piles of papers in comparison to our ability to easily jump on the internet for an hour only to realize that 4 hours have passed! By then we are late for any number of appointments. Perhaps you have seen your affected partner say something like “just 5 more minutes” only to find an hour whiz by. This is just another day in the life of people like me who live with and learn with  procrastination issues.
This article talks about four strategies for doing what is fun and exciting while still getting the boring things done that are just part of life. If you’re familiar with the procrastinationI encourage you to read on and see which of these strategies can be incorporated into your life.
These four strategies are:
1. Know your “hot buttons” – using what you enjoy as a reward! 2. Negotiate a trade – establish a valuable trade to make tasks more interesting! 3. Just one per day – break big tasks down to 10 minute mini-tasks. 4. What’s in it for me? – turning the unbearable into a bearable activity!
Let’s get started!

Know your “hot buttons”

Face it, the reason that many people who procrastinatedon’t attend to the things that need to be done is because those tasks are often boring and no fun. Who wants to organize a stack of important papers when there’s internet surfing to be done?
To minimize procrastination you have to KNOW YOUR HOT BUTTONS! Hot buttons are those things that get us motivated to act, they excite us just thinking about them. Now don’t get me wrong, these don’t have to be extravagant things. They are just those things that you really enjoy most and you would be willing to reward yourself with them if you do something boring like opening up the piles of mail that wait by the door.
For example, some people love to take a cat nap during the day. I am one of those folks. For me there is nothing better than some sunlight coming through a window along with a gentle breeze and 20 minutes of free time in a squishy chair with nothing to do but let my mind wander. It’s the procrastinator’s version of power napping. Others may like the internet and would take on a task for say 20 minutes of unbridled surfing on the net or catching up on Facebook. By first knowing what your hot buttons are you have tapped into a powerful resource for getting things done in your life. Take a minute and ask yourself “what are my hot buttons?” and then use them as a reward for doing the not so fun tasks of life. With your personal hot buttons identified, you have a powerful bargaining chip to assist in another strategy in the battle against procrastination. The second strategy is to negotiate a trade with yourself in advance of taking on a necessary but easily delayed task.


Think of it like the situation in an open air market where you see something that really catches your eye. You ask the merchant “how much is that amazing treasure?” to which he replies “it costs 2 hours of doing laundry to purchase this”. Inwardly you say to yourself “2 hours of laundry is way too much to pay for that”! You respond to the merchant “how about 10 minutes of laundry, would you take that?” To which the merchant says “if you give me 20 minutes of laundry you can have this treasure!” “SOLD” you proudly exclaim. That treasure is your hot button activity and it has just been purchased by doing the necessary tasks of life that you tend to procrastinate doing.
In my case I would be able to take a 20 minute nap for every 20 minutes of doing laundry. That is how you negotiate a trade with yourself for doing something as boring as laundry. I challenge you to try this technique. Some of my client’s say they have become masters at negotiating themselves through great self-bargains. But what if there isn’t time for a bargaining session? What if you just have to get a really big job done? Well that is where the next two strategies come into play.

Just one-per-day!
This strategy is used when you feel like the task at hand is just too big to handle. To even begin the discussion of self-bargaining would surely cause immediate overload. For me this would be a task such as cleaning the house. This is something I appreciate when it’s done but I procrastinate getting started. I just don’t seem to delight in it like my friends and colleagues do. So what do you do when you’re faced with a big “have to” task.


That is when I pull my emergency procrastination buster ripcord and commit to the “one-per-day plan”. The idea behind one a day is to break the ominous task of house cleaning down into mini-tasks that I can do in as little as 10 minutes a day. By doing some small part of the big task, I end up making great progress by the end of the week.
For example I might say to myself “O.K. you only have to do one 10 minute house cleaning type activity today and I’m off the hook for the rest of the day!” I like being off the hook and it’s a great antidote to Procrastinator’s guilt! So in my case I grab the laundry basket and begin the hunt for dirty dishes. Yes, I did say laundry basket for dirty dishes. I have found that a plastic laundry basket is the ideal holder for cups, glasses, plates and other dishware that finds itself into the most unlikely of places. It’s usually big enough to hold my dirty dishes as I move from room to room, and yes, it’s a little quirky, but that makes it tolerable. Plus it decreases the likelihood I will drop something or have to endure a disaster! My plastic (washable with a hose I might add) laundry basket protects me.
So with my basket I collect dishes for about 8 minutes, I then take one minute to put them in the sink and run some water over them and finish up by throwing my laundry basket back in the garage. There - my once a day obligation has been fulfilled and I am free from guilt for the rest of the day. Each additional day of 10 minute activity results in a clean house by the end of the week and minimizes procrastination!

What’s in it for me?


This last technique is used for those most dreaded of tasks. You know the kind; they are the tasks that no matter how much self bargaining you try to do, there is no hot button big enough to make them worthwhile. So you pull out all the stops and reach for the “what’s in it for me” strategy. The strategy is just like it sounds. You stop for a moment and ask yourself, “If I were to do this awful task, how could I possibly make it even reasonably bearable...what’s in this for me?”
In our house a most dreaded of tasks is cleaning the carpets. This is especially tough for because it requires planning, skill, forethought, and absolute follow through or you end up with wet carpets and furniture that has to stay outside because you didn’t plan your time well and the carpet doesn’t have enough time to dry.
So really ask yourself what could I add-on to make this task bearable? In our house that usually means running my time table by my  coach or if she’s not available, calling my partner to make sure I have thought the project through all the way. Once I am cleared for “lift off” I use “add-ons” to create an atmosphere that will make this formidable task bearable. You might be wondering what my “add-ons” would include. Here’s a short list: first the stereo gets turned up really load playing my absolute favorite CD (on repeat of course). Next I put in my two favorite videos into the player in the living room as well as the adjacent family room. This creates an added incentive to move from room to room and is my insurance policy that assures I won’t just do one room and then quit. Finally I get the dog involved. My 9 lb min-pin looks like a Doberman Pincer in a Chihuahua’s body with the spirit of a terrier. She gets hilarious when we start to move furniture and likes to growl at the carpet cleaning machine when it gets turned off. She insists on “protecting me” by following me everywhere while I am cleaning carpets. Add my favorite pair of shorts, a few ice cold coolers, and all of the sudden this once insurmountable task is getting done by answering the question “what’s in it for me?” Using my favorite things like great music, great video, one-on-one time with my dog and yes, a few ice cold coolers, creates a fun environment that makes it enjoyable to finish off a job.

To Summarize

So there you have it! Four strategies that help eliminate procrastination. It’s important to remember that when you’re living with or loving someone who procrastinates expect life to look a little different. That is what makes having this condition exciting. Learning your hot buttons, knowing how to negotiate a trade with yourself, breaking big tasks down into mini-task and answering the question “what’s in it for me?” will help you not only do what you love but also what you have to do. You will then be able to stop the frustration of procrastination.
We hope this article helps you put a different spin on the “have-to” tasks of life.

 

 

couple negotiating in a cozy cafe

couple negotiating in a cozy cafe

With your personal hot buttons identified, you have a powerful bargaining chip to assist in another strategy in the battle against procrastination. The second strategy is to negotiate a trade with yourself in advance of taking on a necessary but easily delayed task.

Think of it like the situation in an open air market where you see something that really catches your eye. You ask the merchant “how much is that amazing treasure?” to which he replies “it costs 2 hours of doing laundry to purchase this”. Inwardly you say to yourself “2 hours of laundry is way too much to pay for that”! You respond to the merchant “how about 10 minutes of laundry, would you take that?” To which the merchant says “if you give me 20 minutes of laundry you can have this treasure!” “SOLD” you proudly exclaim. That treasure is your hot button activity and it has just been purchased by doing the necessary tasks of life that you tend to procrastinate doing.

In my case I would be able to take a 20 minute nap for every 20 minutes of doing laundry. That is how you negotiate a trade with yourself for doing something as boring as laundry. I challenge you to try this technique. Some of my client’s say they have become masters at negotiating themselves through great self-bargains. But what if there isn’t time for a bargaining session? What if you just have to get a really big job done? Well that is where the next two strategies come into play.

Just one-per-day!

This strategy is used when you feel like the task at hand is just too big to handle. To even begin the discussion of self-bargaining would surely cause immediate overload. For me this would be a task such as cleaning the house. This is something I appreciate when it’s done but I procrastinate getting started. I just don’t seem to delight in it like my friends and colleagues do. So what do you do when you’re faced with a big “have to” task.

That is when I pull my emergency procrastination buster ripcord and commit to the “one-per-day plan”. The idea behind one a day is to break the ominous task of house cleaning down into mini-tasks that I can do in as little as 10 minutes a day. By doing some small part of the big task, I end up making great progress by the end of the week.

For example I might say to myself “O.K. you only have to do one 10 minute house cleaning type activity today and I’m off the hook for the rest of the day!” I like being off the hook and it’s a great antidote to ADHD guilt! So in my case I grab the laundry basket and begin the hunt for dirty dishes. Yes, I did say laundry basket for dirty dishes. I have found that a plastic laundry basket is the ideal holder for cups, glasses, plates and other dishware that finds itself into the most unlikely of places. It’s usually big enough to hold my dirty dishes as I move from room to room, and yes, it’s a little quirky, but that makes it tolerable. Plus it decreases the likelihood I will drop something or have to endure an ADHD disaster! My plastic (washable with a hose I might add) laundry basket protects me.

So with my basket I collect dishes for about 8 minutes, I then take one minute to put them in the sink and run some water over them and finish up by throwing my laundry basket back in the garage. There - my once a day obligation has been fulfilled and I am free from ADHD guilt for the rest of the day. Each additional day of 10 minute activity results in a clean house by the end of the week and minimizes procrastination!

What’s in it for me?

This last technique is used for those most dreaded of tasks. You know the kind; they are the tasks that no matter how much self bargaining you try to do, there is no hot button big enough to make them worthwhile. So you pull out all the stops and reach for the “what’s in it for me” strategy. The strategy is just like it sounds. You stop for a moment and ask yourself, “If I were to do this awful task, how could I possibly make it even reasonably bearable...what’s in this for me?”

In our house a most dreaded of tasks is cleaning the carpets. This is especially tough for people with ADHD because it requires planning, skill, forethought, and absolute follow through or you end up with wet carpets and furniture that has to stay outside because you didn’t plan your time well and the carpet doesn’t have enough time to dry.

So really ask yourself what could I add-on to make this task bearable? In our house that usually means running my time table by my ADHD coach or if she’s not available, calling my partner to make sure I have thought the project through all the way. Once I am cleared for “lift off” I use “add-ons” to create an atmosphere that will make this formidable task bearable. You might be wondering what my “add-ons” would include. Here’s a short list: first the stereo gets turned up really load playing my absolute favorite CD (on repeat of course). Next I put in my two favorite videos into the player in the living room as well as the adjacent family room. This creates an added incentive to move from room to room and is my insurance policy that assures I won’t just do one room and then quit. Finally I get the dog involved. My 9 lb min-pin looks like a Doberman Pincer in a Chihuahua’s body with the spirit of a terrier. She gets hilarious when we start to move furniture and likes to growl at the carpet cleaning machine when it gets turned off. She insists on “protecting me” by following me everywhere while I am cleaning carpets. Add my favorite pair of shorts, a few ice cold coolers, and all of the sudden this once insurmountable task is getting done by answering the question “what’s in it for me?” Using my favorite things like great music, great video, one-on-one time with my dog and yes, a few ice cold coolers, creates a fun environment that makes it enjoyable to finish off a job.

To Summarize

So there you have it! Four strategies that help eliminate ADHD procrastination. It’s important to remember that when you’re living with or loving someone with ADHD expect life to look a little different. That is what makes having ADHD exciting. Learning your hot buttons, knowing how to negotiate a trade with yourself, breaking big tasks down into mini-task and answering the question “what’s in it for me?” will help you not only do what you love but also what you have to do. You and your ADHD will then be able to stop the frustration of procrastination.

We hope this article helps you put a different spin on the “have-to” tasks of life.