ADHD and procrastination: impact and management


The relationship between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and procrastination is complex. Although there is no direct connection between the two, some of the symptoms of ADHD can lead to procrastination.

ADHD is a behavioral disorder that affects people of all ages. People with ADHD may find it difficult to pay attention for long periods of time, organize tasks, manage their time, and control their impulses.

These features of ADHD can cause some people with ADHD to delay task completion because they have difficulty maintaining consistent concentration for a long period of time. They can also be quickly distracted or feel like the job requires more mental effort than they can afford.

Procrastination is avoidance behavior. Motivational imbalances can occur in people with ADHD as they tend to focus on the tasks they find interesting, but postpone the tasks they find tedious. People with ADHD may also experience resistance to action due to emotional conflict with the task.

Keep reading to learn more about ADHD and procrastination, including the overall relationship between the two and perfectionist procrastination.

This article also explores some possible negative impacts of ADHD-related procrastination and examines some treatment and management options for the disease.

People with ADHD often struggle with time management, and this is one aspect of the condition that can lead to procrastination. People with ADHD may also have difficulty prioritizing and remembering all of the elements involved in completing a particular task.

Additionally, some people with ADHD may find mental tasks intimidating. This could be especially true for tasks that require considerable effort over a long period of time. People can push them away or avoid them altogether.

While ADHD symptoms can sometimes lend themselves to procrastination, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a direct relationship between the two.

A 2014 study examined the link between ADHD and procrastination. The team expected impulsiveness to be a behavior that significantly affects a person’s likelihood of procrastination. However, the researchers found that inattention was actually the only quality correlated with procrastination.

These findings indicate some form of relationship between ADHD and procrastination, but only for those with symptoms of inattention.

It’s also important to note that while ADHD can present many challenges, it also has its benefits, such as hyperfocus. Hyperfocus can actually help people with certain tasks. Learn more about the benefits of ADHD here.

Health professionals do not currently recognize procrastination as a symptom of ADHD. However, many recognize that ADHD symptoms can lead to procrastination.

These symptoms understand:

  • making careless mistakes with school or other work
  • have difficulty organizing tasks
  • avoid tasks that require a lot of mental effort
  • become easily distracted
  • be forgetful

People with ADHD who tend to procrastinate can do so in an extreme way that happens repeatedly. This chronic procrastination can lead to serious problems at school, at work, at home, or in personal relationships.

Many people with ADHD recognize that their procrastination is important and causes problems, but they find it difficult to break the pattern.

Perfectionism refers to when someone demands an extraordinarily high level of performance, if not flawless.

The procrastination of perfectionism can occur when an individual delays doing something because they fear that they will not be able to achieve their self-imposed level of perfectionism. Instead of dealing with these premature feelings of “failure,” they may decide to postpone the activity instead.

There are three types procrastination depending on the area of ​​life to which it applies. These are academic procrastination, daily procrastination, and decision procrastination. Academic procrastination is where perfectionism procrastination typically occurs.

Academic procrastination can result from a person feeling unable to overcome significant mental challenges that they may be facing. In the case of perfectionism, the individual may also fear that they cannot complete a task as well as they should.

For example, students who procrastinate before studying for a quiz or exam may postpone the task because they fear that they will not be able to learn all the material and do not want to face the possibility.

Writing appears as the academic task that most of the time makes people procrastinate. People with ADHD may consider writing a mentally strenuous task that takes longer than they can comfortably handle.

People tend to view procrastination as a harmful activity because it can affect several aspects someone’s well-being. Procrastination can have an even greater impact on people with ADHD, as academic performance also contributes to these factors.

Specifically, people with ADHD may be more likely to have difficulty in school due to the condition. This can mean that they are more likely to have low self-esteem and reduced levels of well-being.

Coincidentally, low self-esteem is common in many people with ADHD, although there are other impacting factors besides the potential tendency to procrastinate.

Healthcare professionals can help people manage ADHD with a combination of medication and occupational therapy.


There are two types ADHD drugs: stimulants and non-stimulants.

The stimulants appear to be more beneficial for those who experience procrastination. This is because they can help people with their time management issues.

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy is another option for those who procrastinate frequently. Occupational therapists work with people to develop practical time management skills and to help them develop the discipline necessary to persevere with tasks until completion.

Many people with ADHD find that once they start a task, they become completely immersed and lose track of time.

While this is not necessarily a negative thing when the person is working on something productive, it can become problematic if they are engrossed in some leisure activity unrelated to the task required. These people may find that timers can help them keep track of time as they plan and execute their day.

Occupational therapists can also help people with ADHD explain their reasoning for avoiding certain activities. Once a person understands why they are delaying tasks, they can work with their occupational therapist to improve the skills they need to navigate this reasoning.

Occupational therapists are trained professionals who can offer a variety of solutions to problems that cause people with ADHD to procrastinate. With help, people can tackle their to-do lists using new skills and strategies that work with their ADHD rather than against it.

While there is no direct relationship between ADHD and procrastination, some of the symptoms of ADHD can cause a person to procrastinate.

Procrastination is not a specific symptom of ADHD. That said, people with ADHD usually suffer from it due to the other symptoms of the disease.

Procrastination can take different forms. Perfectionism procrastination, for example, occurs when a person procrastinates because they fear their work may fall short of unattainable standards they have set for themselves.

Treatment for ADHD, including stimulant medications and occupational therapy, can help with procrastination.


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