Although the full form of this is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), the fact is, it is made up of a number of characteristics which are common to most people in varying degrees. One of these is procrastination.
So you don’t want to skip this if you procrastinate but you don’t think that you have this problem.Just learn from the material because some of it will apply and solve problems.
I talk about some of the characteristics of ADHD as they relate to procrastination. I know a bit about it because I have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.
This disorder is polymorphic, a lovely expression which means it turns up in all sorts of different forms (poly means many, and morphs means changes into) with different degrees of severity. It has problems but it also has immense advantages, because the mind is more focused and efficient for some things than most people in the community can manage.
However, part of the problem about procrastination in ADHD is that one of the neurotransmitters, key to the messenger processes in the brain, is dopamine. It doesn't work as well as it should in some parts of the brain or in certain circumstances. Some messages just don't get through the brain from one place to another, which means that you don't have the focus that you need.
There isn’t enough energy sometimes to get the brain’s reward centres activated so that you feel OK or good about doing something. You procrastinate.
The reward centres in the brain fire when you start doing something that you are okay about or enjoy. The reward centre kicks in and makes you feel great. You feel happy about doing a particular task.
The Reward Centres create problems for addiction but we'll ignore those as they don’t really apply to ordinary procrastination. Addicts could say that they are procrastinating the process of getting free, but they know that it’s a bit more complex than that.
Procrastination in ADHD means that there is just not enough energy to get you into action because there isn’t enough emotional energy to hit the reward centre to make you feel good about it. So part of the process of overcoming procrastination is handling this, and we'll come to the Solution.
The really important thing to understand is that the reward centre just runs and you're not particularly conscious of it but you feel okay in doing whatever is necessary.
For some people with ADD medication and nutritionals help a great deal, but be aware that whether they are needed or not, you need to learn processes to deal with procrastination.
Lots of people without ADHD have the same problem; the energy necessary to get them to do something isn't there.
It is not laziness: you just can't do it. When you were young and your parents kept telling you to try harder and hurry and put some energy into it and schoolteachers did the same, it made no difference whatever! You put things off!
Now some people with ADHD (and there are others!) always put things off till the last moment because the whole stress and excitement gets them going. They need that pressure to achieve, even though it's a bit of a pain in the neck!
However, I reckon if you work best under pressure then procrastinating till the last moment might be a good thing. But you can save yourself some bother by secretly bringing your deadline forward. That means, if you have to hand in a project by Friday, arrange your work as if you have, really have to hand it in Thursday. Just pretend. Then you have it completed. Your brain loves that and your blood pressure goes down!
The procrastination problem can be a bit wider. Distraction or a lack of focus can be a major problem in class in school, or doing things at home, or as an adult at work.
There are other complications with ADHD or similar conditions, such as forgetfulness (which is part of the way your brain functions not some lazy failure on your part).
Another problem may be that there is also part of your personality which is a bit like a weak version of Asperger Syndrome, which means that you don't actually connect well with people all the time. And that often means that there will be social difficulties which feel like procrastination, such as putting off getting to see people.
This needs resolution. It is the way your brain works so you have to make an effort that other people don’t seem to have to make. (PS, Stop mind reading. Don’t think you know what goes on in other people’s heads and how hard they have to try. Not only do you not know, they usually don’t either!)
If you have the sort of brain which means that you have to put a bit more effort into making things work (whether you've got ADHD or something close or no trace), grin and do what you need to. You are winning already.
This is really important. There really is a way to handle procrastination. You don’t procrastinate everything. Your brain already has a way of functioning that allows you to act. All you need to do is to have it use that function in areas where there are problems.
Rick procrastinated lots of things. He moved through life doing things that interested him. He worked as an Assessor in a Finance company which he managed quite well. His personal life was something of a disaster.
He wanted to focus on finances. He didn’t pay bills on time, had penalty payments imposed frequently, only did his taxes (rather approximately) at the last minute, and was maxing out his credit cards.
Rick said at first that he didn’t know why he was in such a mess. However, he had always procrastinated as far back as he could remember. The whole business of money was coupled with his feeling of failure. He was sure that if he hadn’t procrastinated so much he would have a better job and a much higher income.
I helped Rick change his feelings about his personal power and used the The Solution in which we built up a strong collection of feelings around achievement.
Rick had been so angry and disappointed with himself that he had minimised his own achievements and strengths. As he looked at his life there were key experiences he had as resources.
He was successful at work. It hadn’t occurred to him that he could use the same processes at home to achieve what he wanted. He could talk to a group easily when necessary. Once at a work training weekend he had fire-walked! Although he put off tasks around the house, when he got to them he was capable of making the repairs needed.
Rick ran The Solution repeatedly, adding in another resource each time. There came a point that he decided that he could handle procrastination.
It was better than that. He phoned three weeks later and said that he had changed substantially. He was better focussed and even moving faster. He said that it was a bit like having had a non-religious conversion that he hadn’t quite noticed happening.
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© David Townsend 2014