Procrastination : How ADHD Traits Can Derail Productivity for Creative Entrepreneurs

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Procrastination Isn’t Always Intentional: How ADHD Traits Can Derail Productivity For Creative Entrepreneurs.  Part One of a Two Part Blog

Procrastination most likely affects us all at one time or another. My recent search of Amazon yielded over 3000 results for books on the subject. Someone must be reading them! This behaviour of putting things off until a future unspecified time, commonly known as ”procrastination”, probably doesn’t occur on a daily, hourly, or even minute by minute basis for most of us, and it can be particularly poignant for those of us with ADD/ADHD when it does.

Procrastination can be perceived as intentional, i.e. you are aware of putting something off, and unintentional, i.e. it just happens because of the interplay between other factors.

So, what is it about ADD/ADHD that makes the creative entrepreneurs among us with this condition so exceptionally good at procrastinating? Beneath the surface, things are not always what they may seem…

There are quite a few factors that come into play. Here are just a couple.

Working memory:  

Imagine a brain that’s as full of creative ideas as a pan of popcorn with no lid on. Ideas are continually popping into existence, but because the pan has no lid on many of them are escaping.

Then see yourself trying to catch hold of those ideas before they can slip off, because they are great ideas! One minute there you are holding in your mind a fantastic concept for how your whole business could be run more efficiently, and the next minute it has skittered off down a side alley never to be seen again! Have that happen several times a day for years and years of your life and how would you be feeling? How can you start something brilliant that you cannot reliably get a hold of a lot of the time? Devastating!

Or imagine your brain is like a computer that intermittently keeps losing its internet connection. You try going to a website to look something up, you know the information is there, but you cannot reliably access it when you need it. How frustrating is that!

Even if you can recall or keep hold of your ideas, this next trait makes it hard to work on them;

An aversion towards routine:

Suppose you have an inexplicable dread of doing the same things in the same way every day. What would it be like to hate routine? How many things would get put off as a result? ADDers often have a dislike of routine and can even have an aversion to the very word “routine”. Maybe it’s something to do with the need for novelty and stimulation and the fact that things that become boring are painful to the person with ADHD; repeating the same things over and over can literally feel excruciating.

Many of my clients are highly talented in their creative field, yet the thought of e.g. sending regular emails out to their list of potential buyers fills them with inertia. For the creative entrepreneur this can be problematic in that in any business there are a number of routine responsibilities, such as keeping on top of finances, or regular marketing activities, which help the business run smoothly.

If left uncompleted, things begin to pile up, adding psychic stress to the already complex mix of other ADD/ADHD traits. Things like paying bills or submitting tax returns can carry an unpleasant financial penalty if they are not done. The uneasy feeling of potential punishments hanging in the air means the ADD/ ADHD brain is that much more likely to succumb to overwhelm, and grind to a full stop. Procrastination reigns.

The brain saves energy when habits or routines are repeated and they become automatic. The person acquiring these habits will find they are able to complete them faster and easier as time goes on. Yet ADDers often find these tasks so gruelling that they never repeat them the same way for long enough for this to happen. Something usually comes along to knock them off trajectory, something more interesting, and I don’t think to date I have met a person with ADD/ADHD who didn’t have many interests and enthusiasms, past and present.

So, what’s the solution? :  Well, for a start, it can be helpful simply to understand that if something more interesting presents itself at a time that needs to be devoted to something perceived as boring, then the interesting thing will be the one that gets the attention.

Knowing that many routine tasks can get put off by default, can be a guide to where you can direct your energies in building strategies to address these tendencies. For some tips see my blog on How to Tackle the Boring Stuff here

For some this can mean finding ways to capture ideas quickly before they disappear into the Abyss of Forgotten Memories, while for others it might mean strategies to make the Boring become more Interesting.                                                                     

However it occurs, the reality is that putting things off can have dire effects on productivity, and for creative entrepreneurs, every minute counts. Delaying action for whatever reason, is liable to short-circuit your profit margins and your self-esteem if left unchecked.

In Part 2 I’ll be putting some more ADD/ADHD traits under the spotlight and considering how they also can contribute to the complex phenomenon we know as Procrastination.

Anna Schlapp B.A., AACC, ACC, is a certified coach with the ADD Coach Academy and the International Coach Federation. Specialising in ADHD and Creativity, Anna helps talented people like you find ways of being more creatively productive and productively creative.

Get in touch to schedule your complimentary coaching session with Coach Anna.



Five Supercharged Strategies for ADDers to Tackle Boring Stuff

Five Supercharged Strategies for ADDers to Tackle Boring Stuff

The ADD/ADHD brain works well with Interesting and hates Boring. Yet we all have those mundane tasks that need to be done on a regular basis, just to keep things ticking smoothly along, and without which, sooner or later, chaos will undoubtedly rear its dishevelled head.

Try these 5 tips:

  1. ADD SOME NOVELTY. Make a boring task more interesting by using novelty, which is highly attractive for people in general, and especially for those of us with ADD/ADHD. Find out some new facts about the thing you are avoiding doing because you find it boring.

For instance, some people have used their love of Nature and the environment to research more natural ways to complete household tasks.

Let’s say you need to clean your kitchen. Take a few minutes to research unusual substances you could use, like vinegar for your counter tops, bicarbonate of soda in your washing machine, or lemon juice to clean and refresh your microwave oven, instead of harsh chemicals that can harm you and the environment. Challenge yourself to see what interesting new facts you can come up with about the tasks you love to hate.

  1. PAIR A BORING ACTIVITY WITH SOMETHING YOU FIND INTERESTING. This works well for fairly physical tasks like preparation, cleaning, clearing up or tidying away; all of which are activities many ADDers find difficulty with summoning up enough interest in to do them at all.

Try putting on some music or listening to a podcast to keep your brain interested and stimulated while you clean your brushes, put papers away, tidy up the files on your computer or in your office, or while you gather your materials together for your next project.

  1. MAKE IT A RITUAL. People have been making up rituals since forever, and guess why they are so popular? Because they work. You get right into it, in some way that appeals to you; become so enthusiastic about doing it that you miss it if it’s not there. Use as many senses to do this as you can think of, smells, tastes, touch, sight, sounds, movement – all of these are stalwarts of ritual. Light a scented candle, say a meaningful and inspirational phrase to yourself, have a special song or piece of music as a part of it, stand up and turn around 3 times, give yourself a hug of appreciation, feel the energy of the universe surround you – whatever it takes for you to get in the zone.

Then use your personal ritual as the springboard you need to begin the THING, yes, that thing you were not doing until recently. Try it – you may just amaze yourself!

  1. MAKE IT FUN There are so many ways to have fun – so why do we not think of them as ways to help get boring stuff done?
  • Do it with a friend
  • Do it to music
  • Think of it as doing something for someone you care about
  • Make it into a game
  • Laugh
  • Dance
  • Sing!
  1. RACE YOURSELF This is great for those types of chores where no sooner have you completed them than they just build up again and are never at an end. Like “painting the Forth Bridge”, a phrase that has passed into common parlance; washing up, laundry, dusting, hoovering, tidying, cleaning, replying to emails or deleting them, are all interminable tasks that many ADDers would therefore rather not contemplate, let alone do. One solution is to make it more exciting by having a race with yourself (or a buddy/pal if possible).

 Those of us with ADHD do really well at focusing in the short term, particularly if we can see when the ending will be, i.e. soon!

Most people find that 5 -10 minutes feels like an acceptable amount of time for them to try doing most things; any longer and those negative connotations spurred on by an active imagination could just scupper any attempt. So, don’t give them a chance – even if you put a timer on for 2 minutes and see how much you can achieve in that time, it’s 2 minutes more than nothing, after all!

Anna Schlapp B.A., AACC, ACC, is a certified coach with the ADD Coach Academy and the International Coach Federation. Specialising in ADHD and Creativity, Anna helps talented people like you find ways of being more creatively productive and productively creative.

Get in touch to schedule your complimentary coaching session with Coach Anna.