Adult ADHD and Holiday Procrastination

by | Dec 15, 2022 | Organizing ADHD | 2 comments

Do you ever wonder why adults with ADHD suffer from holiday procrastination and wait until the very last minute? No matter how important something may be, until it’s looming overhead, ADHD adults simply can’t take action.

I call that the Now / Now Not Effect. If you have Adult ADHD, it’s a very real phenomenon.

ADHD’s Now / Not Now shows up for me in a major way every Christmas.

Every November, I’m shocked when the Christmas rush starts so early. Thanksgiving is barely in the back window and Christmas isn’t for weeks, yet all around me, people seem obsessed with shopping, baking, and decorating. They are rushing around frantically, already feeling behind if they still have gifts to buy and things to do.

Not me. My ADHD gifts me with procrastinating about the holidays. “You have plenty of time,” my ADHD whispers to me.

Here it is, the middle of December and I’ve only put up a few decorations. I’ve bought three gifts (and one of the was for me). We haven’t enjoyed any egg nog or baked one Christmas cookie. Not one Christmas carol has played in my house or car.

Years ago, before I’d stumbled upon the Now / Not Now Effect, this lack of Christmas spirit would have seriously bothered me.

Along with wondering what was wrong with everyone else, I also wondered what was wrong with me. I felt guilty about being a Grinch. Shame I might even be a Scrooge.

Now I know I’m not either. Christmas simply hasn’t yet become a Now for me, yet. My ADHD Christmas procrastination is normal for me.

I now know I’ll be doing my typical Grinch song and dance until I seem to magically embrace the spirit of the season. Literally, overnight I will switch from Humbug to Ho, Ho, Ho.

You see, my Christmas spirit increases with REAL deadlines associated with the season.

About five days before the packages to my distant relatives must be mailed, I’ll start humming carols and bustling off to the mall. I’ll deck the house with all sorts of jolly, bake to my heart’s content, and start wearing incredible Christmas colors and sweaters. (No ugly sweaters in this house.)

My ‘get it in the mail’ deadline flips Christmas from my Not Now to my Now time frame and I’m all-Christmas!

I’m not a Scrooge. I just can’t get ready for Christmas early.

What about you? Does the Now / Not Now tendency of ADHD make you procrastinate about the holidays?

Want to learn more about the Now / Not Now or ADHD and procrastination? Check out:


  1. C.Kamps

    I worked for the USPS for 18 years.
    Christmas time was like riding a HUGE rollercoaster. Huge work loads, short rest, repeat! Hanging on for dear life the entire time. No time to shop, celebrate with family and friends, decorate. Exhausted the entire time.
    Now that I am retired, my ADD shows up. Making me apathetic towards the season. I want to enjoy, but can’t get things going.

    • Dana Rayburn

      Hi ‘C’, This is a classic example of not having the right balance of stimulation. For you, USPS was over-stimulating causing exhaustion and overwhelm. Retirement is under-stimulating; not enough going on to kick your brain into gear. Hope this helps, Dana


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