Most of the time ADHD procrastination has tremendous costs… clutter and stress and conflict. It ruins your reputation. Stymies your self-respect. And can wreck your wallet.
I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic, but life is HARD when you do anything and everything but what you’re supposed to do. Procrastination is one of the main challenges of living with ADHD.
But…and I hesitate to say this because I don’t want you to get the wrong idea…but when you have ADHD you can learn to use procrastination to your advantage.
I call it Strategic Procrastination.
Using Strategic Procrastination
Using Strategic Procrastination to outsmart ADHD is built on two things:
- Using the power of deadlines
- Taking tiny next steps.
Let’s start with harnessing the power of deadlines.
If you’ve got ADHD, you know you can procrastinate until the cows come home. No energy or excitement. Can’t focus. Can’t get it done. Ain’t gonna happen.
Then the deadline looms. The clock is ticking. You sense the end is near. And suddenly, your brain fires up, and you leap into action.
If you’ve got ADHD these examples probably sound familiar…
- You’ve known your mother-in-law would be visiting for weeks, but you don’t feel motivated to clear out the guest room until the day she’s scheduled to arrive.
- The airplane is leaving in the morning but you can’t start packing until the night before.
- You have a huge presentation for work but you can’t think of how to organize the information until the night before.
Here’s where our ADHD gets us in trouble. We don’t plan to do the work at the last minute. We lie to ourselves that we’ll finish our projects and tasks ahead of time. But we never do.
Also, that last minute time crunch forces us to take shortcuts. Instead of dealing with the guest room clutter, we gather up all the stuff and cram it into our closet. Instead of taking the right clothes on your trip, you take whatever you can find.
We need those deadlines for focus and energy. Real deadlines are stimulating. They excite your brain chemistry. A real deadline is like taking a perfect dose of ADHD medication. So, let’s plan to use them!
To harness the power of deadlines for Strategic Procrastination you need to:
- Leave a buffer of time in your schedule before the deadline. Plan for that last minute boost of energy you’ll get. Embrace that you’ll need space at the last minute.
- Guard your buffer. No going out with friends the night before a vacation. No attending a meeting the day before your project is due. If something happens to erase your deadline buffer – your extra time – you’re sunk.
Here’s the other important piece to Strategic Procrastination: Spending tiny bits of time to do tiny tasks on the project before the deadline.
Here’s how I use this in my world…
My deadline to have the Kick Some ADHD podcast ready to record is Tuesday morning. I’ve learned that spending little bits of time preparing the podcast during the week before that recording deadline makes everything easier. I have time to mull over ideas. Decide on the week’s topic and write a rough draft.
My podcast preparation buffer time is the hour before we record on Tuesday. With my head start, I’m editing and refining instead of panicking. My life is more planned and peaceful. I think my Kick Some ADHD podcast partner, David, and I produce a better podcast, too.
There is an ADHD trick to getting started ahead of time. You have to think in next tiny steps.
Tiny actions that don’t take time and aren’t worth procrastinating over. Do as many of those small steps as you can BEFORE your procrastination buffer time. No brainer steps. Open a document. Get out the suitcase. Make sure the guest room sheets are clean.
To use Strategic ADHD Procrastination get as many little steps done ahead of time as you can. Then use the time buffer you’ve cleared in your calendar for the final push.
I encourage you to give Strategic ADHD Procrastination a try. It’s made a world of difference for me. Less stress spent in last minute panics. More peace and calm. And that, my friend, is the meaning of ADHD Success.
Keep learning about procrastination and get other tips: