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ADHD and Executive Function – Overcoming Procrastination and Boosting Productivity by Carol Eng

ADHD and Challenges with Procrastination

ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is accompanied with an executive functioning disorder affecting children and adults. It frequently presents challenges in executive function skills, such as cognitive processes necessary for effective planning, organization, time management, and task completion. One common challenge experienced by individuals with ADHD is procrastination.

We all experience procrastination, whether tackling a term paper or handling household chores. We’ve all felt the urge to delay tasks in favor of more enjoyable or less stressful activities, like scrolling through social media or watching a favorite show. However, for individuals with ADHD or executive functioning challenges, this procrastination tendency can be exacerbated by factors beyond their control. Take the simple task of doing laundry—no one really enjoys this mundane chore. While most people can summon the motivation to tackle it, those with poor task initiation skills often face substantial challenges starting tasks, even when they seem manageable. Task initiation is the executive functioning ability to begin projects without undue procrastination in an efficient or timely fashion. Poor task initiation frequently manifests as procrastination.

The Tolerable Ten Strategy: A Solution for Procrastination

The “Tolerable Ten” strategy is like turning on the ignition of your car and letting it run for several minutes before driving on a cold morning. It’s a powerful method for overcoming procrastination, involving a dedicated, distraction-free 10-minute work period. This strategy cleverly plays on the typical attention span of most individuals with ADHD, which is about 10 minutes; therefore, this brief yet concentrated effort jumpstarts your productivity, breaking the initial resistance to starting a task and fostering momentum to enhance productivity. To implement the Tolerable Ten strategy, follow this five-step process:

  1. Set a timer: Use a timer or a stopwatch to set 10 minutes for focused work. It helps to see the time ticking away, creating a sense of urgency and keeping you on track.
  2. Eliminate distractions: Minimize distractions as much as possible during the 10 minutes. Put your phone on silent, close unnecessary tabs on your computer, and find a quiet space to work without distraction.
  3. Choose a specific task: Pick a task you have been putting off or find challenging. It could be as simple as replying to emails, folding laundry or writing a paragraph.
  4. Evaluate progress: At the end of the 10 minutes, take a moment to assess your progress. If you feel motivated to continue, great! Keep going. If not, give yourself permission to take a 5-minute break before returning to the task. Setting a timer for 5 minutes can help you avoid losing track of time and unintentionally procrastinating.
  5. Repeat as needed: If necessary, repeat the Tolerable Ten strategy multiple times throughout the day to make significant progress on your tasks. Remember, even small steps can lead to significant accomplishments.

ADHD is a multifaceted condition. If you’re struggling with ADHD or executive functioning-related procrastination, exploring additional avenues of support is advisable. Seeking guidance from a mental health professional or an ADHD Coach can provide tailored strategies and personalized guidance to help you navigate the challenges associated with ADHD effectively.