Procrastination. Reasons And Solutions For ADHD Adults

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Topic: See the other Adult ADHD Issues.

Facilitator: Pete Quily

Thanks to one of our great Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group volunteers for taking notes.

December 3rd 2019 Meeting Notes for the Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group


Warm Up – What has helped you reduce procrastination besides these 3 negative techniques?

1. The “cycle” – procrastination leading to anxiety leading to panic leading to adrenaline rush leading to focus leading to getting the task done, also leading to cortisol poisoning which leads to worse ADHD

2. Others nagging you

3. Others threatening you with negative consequences


Answers included:

External deadlines

In-person (not phone / virtual / video) events which I paid a lot of money for

Starting the day with a meeting / event out of the house


What are some of the costs of procrastination?

Things don’t get done, waste time, don’t do as well as could (half-ass things)

Lost career advancement / opportunities

Lost $ (eg, financial penalties from taxes, late fees, etc.), higher rates of bankruptcy, etc.

Lots jobs / promos / job oppourtunities

Relationships suffer (including higher divorce rates)

Health suffers (high rates of health problems, incl. premature death (as much as 8-10 years, per research from Dr. Russel Barkley)

Living in physical chaos and clutter

Always late

Emotional turmoil, suffering, chaos

Small problems become big problems

Mental health issues (guilt and shame, suicide ideation / attempts / hospitalizations 5x non-adhd population, depression), these create or worsen other problems, and reinforce ADHD symptoms)

If you’re struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts or plans, you can get help 24 hours a day at the BC Crisis Centre

In Greater Vancouver Phone: 604-872-3311

Toll Free Phone: 1-866-661-3311

Don’t get to do the fun stuff

Unstable housing, higher risk of homelessness


Why do we procrastinate so much / so often, especially when it causes such negative consequences? And what can we do to counter these triggers?

Procrastination reason 1 – The task is not interesting

Possible solutions:

Modify task to make it more interesting

Reward yourself for completion as soon as possible after you complete it

Limit the time – just start – set a timer, but not on your phone

Have some tea or coffee to get you amped up

Get someone else involved (eg, body double) – does not have to be a person, they don’t have

To be aware of what you’re doing or even awake, they just have to be there!

Tell someone you’ll do it

Exercise before you do it


Procrastination reason 2 – We feel overwhelmed or have too many things to do

Possible solutions:

Breathe or meditate to help you relax before you start

Just do something do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you’re at

Set a time limit (eg, just 5 minutes if 5 feels like too much, do just 2 minutes if that feels like too much, do for just 1 minute)

Get the list out of your head (externalize it) – write a list or a series of post-it notes, create a mindmap, write it all on a whiteboard, etc

If you can’t think clearly, get out of your head by doing a physical task


Pete recommended the following steps:

Recognize you are feeling overwhelmed

Change your state (get out of your head and into your body) – move, get food or water if needed

Break a big task into smaller tasks

Check smaller tasks – if negative emotions come up, the task is still too big

Deal with the emotional blocks – identify the negative emotion(s), write out what you are feeling

Perform (or start) the task

Afterwards, write out how it went, gather examples (for yourself, for future) about how it went and how it felt

** “The task is not interesting” and “I feel overwhelmed / I have too much to do” are the top 2 reasons we procrastinate**


Procrastination reason 3 – dread / fear / anxiety (anticipatory negative emotions).

Possible solutions:

Try to identify what you are dreading / fearful of. Clarify the specific fear, explore why it is a problem for you, try to keep perspective – are your fears realistic? Likely to come true?

Pay attention to self-care / self-worth / self-esteem issues

Try to identify why you are doing this (or trying to do this) – in other words, what is your motivation?

If you do x or y, what will that get you?

Repeat that question until no new answers come up, your last answer is the thing (often a feeling) that you’re really after

Talk to someone who has handled this kind of task before, what did they do?

Identify how you can make yourself safe (emotionally and physically) and get support

Use byron katie’s 4 questions to distinguish real / legitimate fears from other “lizard brain” fears

The questions are: is it true? can you absolutely know that it’s true? how do you react when you believe that thought? who would you be without the thought?

Note: do not do this when you are feeling anxious already)

If you can’t think clearly, get out of your head by doing a physical task

Other topics

CHADD Canada dissolving

The meetings (3rd tuesday of most months, check schedule) will continue.

CHADD Vancouver has been renamed to ADD Vancouver Support Group new website is It will keep operated as as stand alone non profit support group, not a charitable organization. The meeting structure will stay the same as before.

The Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group will keep operated as as stand alone non profit support group, not a charitable organization. The meeting structure will stay the same as before.


“Coming out” of the ADHD Closet at work

There are arguments on both sides

If you do come out, do it strategically, not emotionally

Do your due diligence re the company (i.e., try to get changes / accommodations w/o revealing diagnosis frame it in terms of benefits to the company (if we structure my job this way, i’ll make us more money or i’ll be more efficient)

Try to deal with issues on your own too, esp. if you think you are vulnerable to being fired

Do not go to hr they are there to serve the company they are not your friend


Resources discussed tonight

ADHD in Adults: What the Science Says by Dr. Russell Barkley. The best most comprehensive research book on adult ADHD. 

Dr Russell Barkley’s YouTube videos on emotions –
The Importance of Emotion in ADHD

ADHD and Emotional Regulation Dr Russell Barkley.

The economic and social  costs of ADHD

ADHD stigma

How To ADHD YouTube channel

Related Adult ADHD Issues Posts

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