Adult ADHD and Holiday Procrastination

by | Dec 5, 2019 | Organizing ADHD | 2 comments

Do you ever wonder why adults with ADHD suffer from holiday procrastination 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.

You can read more about the Now / Not Now Effect in my article The Unique Time Management of Adults With ADHD.

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

Every November I’m shocked when the Christmas rush starts so early. Christmas isn’t for weeks, yet all around me, people seem obsessed with shopping, baking and decorating.

My ADHD has me Procrastinating About the Holidays Again This Year

Here it is, December 5th and we have hardly any decorations up. I’ve bought only three gifts. We haven’t enjoyed any egg nog or baked one Christmas cookie.

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.

Now I know I’m not a Grinch. Christmas simply hasn’t yet become a Now for me. 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.

My ‘get it in the mail’ deadline flips Christmas from my Not Now to my Now time frame.

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?


  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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