Here is a difficulty I’m positive every single person with ADHD is intimate with: procrastination. Oh, how I love it. Granted, it’s not as if I don’t try to plan ahead. I really do. Medically, however, people with ADHD are not able to.
Full honesty here: I actually procrastinated on writing this. Futurama came on, and distractions ensued.
However, that is not the main point of this post. I am sure you all, like myself, are tired of having every single person around you chastising you for waiting until the last minute. The problem with this is that no amount of chastising from anyone will get one with ADHD to stop procrastinating. Yes, there are ways to make it better, although there is an extreme amount of self control needed to do this. Russell Barkley used the phrase “Time Blindness.” This simply refers to the fact that we are unable to recognize how long a task will take, how close a deadline is, etc. We are unable to see the long term consequences of what we do, and instead go for situations that give us immediate gratification. Granted, we have the tools to stay on task, if it is something we are really interested in, or if it’s the eleventh hour and we are put under extreme stress. Anything else, and you can forget about it.
You see, humans have these things called Executive Functions. They control functions such as attention, working memory, inhibition, planning, initiation and monitoring of actions, plus a few others. Basically, they tell you to get off your ass and do the important stuff. Guess which part of the brain is necessary for these Executive Functions to develop normally? Oh yes, the frontal lobe. Where almost all problems with ADHD originally begin. This is why we procrastinate. Not because we are lazy, not because we want to, and most definitely not because we are unintelligent. It is simply because our brains are not capable of it.
But this is just one part of procrastination. Often, people with ADHD are terrified of projects. What if you fail? What if you disappoint yet another person in your life? You’ve done things like this before, and you’ve always seemed to have done poorly. Not only that, but that project is huge, and how in the HELL are you supposed to finish this on time? Where are you supposed to even start? It’s overwhelming, and you just shut down. You have to lay down, because you feel as if this project is just going to crush you.
Personally, I have problems not only starting a project, but keeping on task. Very often I find myself thinking that I have plenty of time to finish a paper, or a take home test, and a week later it’s due the next day and I haven’t even started it. Not only did it slip my mind, but I convinced myself that I had plenty of time, and I would be fine. Not only that, but I know that if I do write it early, by the time I turn it in, it’ll be a completely different paper, one I will still not be happy with. The project is much bigger when I start on time, because the editing process is never-ending. When I do start projects, it is almost impossible for me to keep on task. Automatically, everything around me is a distraction. Minor aches, the TV, food, soda, blankets, the temperature of the room. Oh, and did I feed my geckos today? No? Better do that right now. Also, I need to take a shower, and maybe the laundry needs to be done, and I haven’t checked my Tumblr in a few days, and I probably haven’t eaten today. In addition, I think someone may have emailed or texted me, and it might be important and I need to check that right now. My to-do list grows exponentially, and it seems to be of the utmost importance that I get it done right now.Next thing you know, it’s the day before it’s due, and I’m up until 3 A.M. writing a paper. Again.
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