Procrastination & ADHD

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Why is Procrastination more severe in ADHD? Dr. Hallowell explains

Original Transcript

Procrastination is an issue for everyone. To some degree. Why is it such a big issue for ADDers?

Well it — I don’t know why it is more severe in ADHD but it certainly is. Uh…people with ADD, I think their, their minds get so crowded with things to do, that the important things, they simply don’t think of and so I’m not so sure it’s that they are actually procrastinating as they just don’t get around to doing the important things, because they’re so quickly taken off task.  So I’m not sure it’s the typical procrastination; you put it off because you don’t want to do it.

My favourite line about that — Ernest Hemingway was asked, ‘How do you write a novel?’  And he said, ‘Well the first thing you do is clean out the refrigerator’.  In other words you’ll find any excuse not to do it.  So, so there’s some of that at work, but I think that’s with everybody.
I think with ADD folks it’s more that they forget what’s most important because they’re so easily enchanted by something trivial and, and, and so I’m not so sure that it’s, it’s the classic procrastination, although that’s at work in all of us.  But I think in the ADD person their mind is just so full of possibilities that they, they easily forget what’s the thing that they’re really supposed to do.

And many things I’ll have to turn to Patrick and say, you know what, here is a problem I can’t cope with, so you’re going to have to help me with this or you’re going to have to take it on because now just isn’t the time.

Yeah.  I mean, nothing falls by the wayside because I’m ADD.  It’s sort of again recognizing the shortcomings at times and I know that there’s times I may not follow through on things so you have to make it an objective to follow through on this because it’s very, very important the taxes get done.  So really when it come to taxes in our relationship, I handle all financial stuff in our family, that’s just the way it works because I’ve made it a point now to get it to the accountant and follow through so I know those patterns of how to do those types of things.

Do you actually maybe enjoy it?

No, I haven’t made — no, I don’t make that type of work enjoyable because, I mean, it’s just… it’s a long tedious process to get ready for the tax season, of taking all those… all those receipts and adding them up and categorizing them and collecting them and doing all that stuff.  I mean, it’s not a healthy pretty time.


Because I procrastinate.

Yes, it’s very stressful to get you to the desk to do the work and everything.


And then once he’s there, he will lock himself in for a while, but getting to the task is very, very difficult.

You know, in our research you find out about the hyper focusing and all those things and that’s when you realize how many times in a day you do that.  If I sit down and it’s time to do taxes, there’s times I get up at five o’clock in the morning and I’ll work till six o’clock that night just doing taxes, refusing to leave the room until I’m complete at least a category of, you know, automobile receipts, just doing that.  So when you do decide and really sit there and hyper focus on something, because you put yourself on a deadline.

… Great, there’s an acknowledged deadline by this, so…
I’m working pretty hard, you know, to get all that done.  So, again, you start to recognize going, oh, those are those patterns that we’re reading about that sometimes you just think it’s you.
You start to recognize, oh, this is an ADD symptom versus it’s just Patrick.

6 Replies to “Procrastination & ADHD”

  1. Thank you, Dr. Hallowell! You have ‘hit the nail on the head’. I felt like you were talking about me! You verbalized it so well to even help me to better understand myself. : )
    So thankful for the experts who help those of us with these personal struggles.
    God Bless You for the work you do and sharing your knowledge!

  2. I finally get my taxes done… but I still haven’t gotten my money back… why? because I haven’t gotten around to remembering send in my taxes… and yes, it is on a reminder list, sigh.

  3. I have so many things that I like do that my brain is so crowed that lead me to procrastination and failure before I found out that I had ADHD. Glad I found your website.

    Thanks Sooo Much 🙂

  4. For me, I think about doing it early and WANT to get it done, but I just don’t know how to start the task. If i don’t know how to start, it’s like pressing on a gas pedal with the car in neutral. Then something will turn on in my head, and I go from 0 – 90. Usually it either needs to be due the next day, or an event happens which makes the paperwork meaningful. I can’t force myself to do something if I’m stuck in neutral, even if I know I a deadline is coming up. My mind is just stuck and won’t produce. This usually happens more with paperwork. If I am building something or doing something – no problem there, I usually do an awesome job if I am actually fabricating something.

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