ADHD and Procrastination: 5 Ways to Take Control

Understanding the Science Behind ADHD and Procrastination

Okay, let’s kick into the science here. Procrastination is deeply rooted in how ADHD impacts the brain’s executive functions, like decision-making, impulse control and organisation.

Research indicates that areas of the brain like the prefrontal cortex, which manages these executive functions, often exhibit connectivity and processing differences in people with ADHD. This affects abilities like sustaining focus, managing time efficiently and regulating attention.

ADHD also commonly involves alterations in the brain’s reward system and dopamine levels. This can hamper motivation and making progress on responsibilities less rewarding.

Additionally, those with ADHD frequently experience heightened emotional reactions, difficulty predicting consequences, and a penchant for instant gratification – all factors that can exacerbate procrastination.

Gaining insight into the neurological drivers of procrastination in ADHD provides a foundation for developing targeted, personalised strategies to enhance productivity.

Why ADHD Exacerbates Procrastination Tendencies

There are loads of reasons why ADHD and procrastination go hand-in-hand. Some or all of these traits may affect you.

  • Inattention – Poor focus makes it tough to stay on task, contributing to procrastination.
  • Disorganisation – Weak organisation skills make it hard to determine and stick to priorities.
  • Impulsivity – Acting impulsively leads to frequently abandoning tasks before completion.
  • Hyperactivity – Restlessness makes it challenging to engage in sustained activity.
  • Forgetfulness – Forgetting about responsibilities inevitably leads to delays.
  • Emotional Dysregulation – Frustration tolerance issues result in task avoidance.
  • Motivation Deficits – Reduced motivation dampens the drive to begin jobs.

Why Overcoming Procrastination Matters

Conquering procrastination delivers far-reaching benefits beyond just task completion. If you can beat it, then you can enjoy the following:

  • A greater sense of achievement and productivity
  • Improved time management abilities
  • Reduced stress and anxiety – a major benefit for your mental well-being.
  • Better confidence and boosted self-esteem. Your gonna feel good about this!
  • You can get stuff done! Real stuff. Starting is important and you will gain an enhanced ability to initiate tasks. Starting is half the job.
  • You will feel better for it! Stronger mental health and life satisfaction.

While lifestyle changes are crucial, seeking support from ADHD specialists can also be invaluable when dealing with chronic procrastination. These professionals can provide:


Thorough assessments help identify factors like executive function deficits contributing to procrastination. This understanding forms the basis for tailored treatment.

Evidence-Based Therapy

Therapies like CBT teach individuals to target negative thought patterns, perfectionism and self-doubt that worsen procrastination.

Personalised Treatment Plans

Lets the experts give you a plan. Comprehensive plans address all aspects of an individual’s life like sleep, nutrition, exercise and stress – not just procrastination. This holistic approach enhances success.


Stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin can assist in improving attention, focus and cognitive control – helping to curb procrastination tendencies.

5 Powerful Techniques to Overcome Procrastination

1. Adopt a Self-Compassionate Mindset

Don’t beat yourself up on this one! Shifting from self-criticism to self-compassion is key when working to beat procrastination. Recognise that stumbling blocks are a normal part of any journey and treat yourself with the same kindness you’d show a friend. By embracing a growth mindset, you empower yourself to learn from setbacks, refine tactics and approach responsibilities with renewed grit.

2. Design a Distraction-Free Workspace

It’s hard to work in a mess. Or in the wrong place. Creating an environment with minimal disturbances and interruptions is pivotal for combating procrastination with ADHD.

My top tips here: Wear headphones (you can pick up cheap noise-cancelling noise on Amazon or eBay), tidy up your messy work area, and set clear boundaries with others to build a space focused solely on productive work. This distraction-free zone sets you up for focused task completion. When I want to get stuff done, I need my office area to be “just right” before I can get anything done.

3. Smash it up!

Don’t you just love a cliche? As the saying goes – there’s only one way to eat an elephant, and that’s one a bite at a time! It’s a decent cliche, to be fair!

Break up those big jobs into smaller pieces. Be ruthless. Dividing substantial tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks can work wonders against procrastination. Setting achievable milestones makes responsibilities feel less intimidating. It also delivers a sense of accomplishment with each step complete, spurring you onwards. This incremental tactic fosters a positive productivity cycle.

4. Adopt Time Management Strategies

Effective time management is a big help when battling procrastination with ADHD. Don’t be afraid to try out different methods.

Structure is king! There are lots of hacks and methods out there. The Pomodoro technique – 25 minutes of focused work followed by a 5-minute break – can help compartmentalise jobs. This structured approach boosts productivity and makes starting tasks feel more automatic over time.

5. Seek Tailored Professional Support

Help is out there if you need it and sometimes and external guide is what you need. While lifestyle tweaks are invaluable, seeking specialist support from ADHD therapists or psychiatrists can also be a game-changer. The experts can deliver assessments, coaching, medication and therapy tailored to your unique challenges. This personalised assistance teaches critical skills for initiating tasks, managing time, and developing coping strategies.

Additional Tips for Overcoming Procrastination

Establish a Consistent Routine

Building a steady daily routine provides essential structure when working to curb ADHD procrastination. Set specific times for responsibilities, breaks, and leisure. Maintain focus and diligently stick to the routine. Regularity helps reduce decision fatigue and makes starting tasks feel more habitual with time.

Aim to schedule the activities requiring the most mental focus early in the day when you tend to have higher energy levels. Also be sure to incorporate regular short breaks to maintain concentration and motivation.

Leverage Accountability Partners

Identify someone who can serve as an accountability partner as you work to stay on track and combat procrastination tendencies. Arrange regular check-ins to update your partner on progress and current challenges.

Knowing you need to provide status updates to someone else can motivate you to initiate tasks promptly and minimize procrastination. Your partner can also provide encouragement, perspective and guidance when you feel stuck.

Look for an accountability partner who is organized, supportive and able to tactfully keep you on track. A friend, family member or ADHD coach can be ideal for this role.

Analyse Past Procrastination Patterns

Take some time to reflect on your past procrastination habits and identify any trends that emerge. Are there specific types of tasks you put off most frequently? Do you procrastinate more with longer-term projects versus short-term deadlines? Does procrastination worsen at certain times of day or in certain environments?

Pinpointing individual procrastination pitfalls in this way allows you to gain self-awareness and then purposefully adapt your approach. For instance, if you procrastinate on phone calls, schedule them for the morning when you have more energy.

Set Process-Based Goals

When establishing goals, make them centered on the process, not just the outcome. Process-based goals focus on the incremental steps to complete a task, rather than just the end result.

For example, instead of “Finish project report by Friday”, a process goal would be “Spend 1 hour outlining project report today.” This style of goal-setting combats the overwhelm that can lead to procrastination.

Schedule Rewards

To stay motivated and on task, build small rewards into your schedule. Plan to treat yourself to an episode of your favourite show after achieving a set productivity milestone. Or indulge in your favourite snack after submitting a major assignment.

Aligning positive reinforcements with task completions gives your brain positive associations. This can strengthen your resolve when procrastination temptation strikes.

Final Thoughts

ADHD and procrastination often form a challenging pairing. However, a combination of targeted lifestyle adaptations, productivity hacks and professional support makes it possible to overcome this issue and accomplish goals.

Remember to be kind to yourself throughout the process. With perseverance and the right strategies, a life with less procrastination is within reach.

Photo by Anthony Cunningham for Zoom Health

Zoom Health is a leading UK supplier of Home Health Tests and Earplugs

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