The “P” Word (Procrastination)

If you are a student with ADHD, you are probably very familiar with the “P” word: “procrastination.” You know it can be stressful, create guilt, impact the quality of your schoolwork, and sometimes lead to turning work in late or not at all. If you are an adult with ADHD, you are likely no stranger to the “P” word either.

Procrastination isn’t a moral failing. Really, it’s not! It’s not laziness either. It simply stems from your unique neuro-chemistry. The truth is, many people with AD/HD actually perceive and experience time differently than those without AD/HD. Consequently, life is lived much more in the moment. So, it’s no surprise that it doesn’t feel urgent to work on a problem set or a paper until shortly before it’s due. At the same time, facing a large assignment all at once with only a short time ‘til its due can feel overwhelming and make it even harder to begin.

So, if you are tired of procrastination creating stress for you, here are some things you might do about it:

1. Plan your procrastination! See if you can arrange your schedule to leave adequate time to do certain assignments at the last minute. Can you get certain readings or minor homework done in advance so you can open up two full days to write a paper just before the due date? Opening up weekend time can be especially useful because you know that class time, for example, won’t interfere.

2. Learn how long it really takes you to do typical types of assignments: an essay, a problem set, and the like. For a while, keep notes on the time you put in to different types of assignments so you can become good at estimating how much time you will need.

3. Write all assignment due dates into your calendar or planner. And look at that calendar daily! The simple act of recording and reviewing due dates can raise awareness of what’s due soon and prompt action.

4. If you procrastinate because of overwhelm, break a big project into pieces and schedule the small pieces over a number of days. For example, for a five page paper, the steps might be: select a topic and determine a thesis, gather resources, take notes, outline, write a page or so at a time, edit and proofread. If you did each of those parts on a separate day, you could do a small amount of work a day over the course of two weeks and reduce the last-minute pressure dramatically. Maybe you don’t think you can work that far ahead though. Then, how about giving yourself three days for the paper instead of just one? Gather resources, take notes, write.

5. Try the midnfulness techniques described in this blog post:

As an experiment, pick one of these five strategies and try it out soon. (Why not? What do you have to lose?)  Let me know what you learn from the experiment!

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