Last updated: November 27th, 2019
People with ADHD are pretty skilled at avoiding the tasks they know they should be doing.
If you have ADHD, then you’ve probably been shamed for the vast majority of your life, because you’ve avoided things like doing chores, submitting your work on time, paying your credit card bills, and more.
But, what if your habit of avoiding important tasks isn’t even your fault?
There’s a good chance that your ADHD strongly contributes to your habitual task avoidance.
This article helps you understand your task-avoiding behavior, and lays out some life-changing solutions that you can use to:
> Accomplish important tasks that you’ve been putting off for weeks, months, or even years
> Rid yourself of long-term stress, anxiety and worry
> Feel more productive, clear-headed, and organized
Why do people with ADHD love avoidance so much?
ADHD and avoidance go hand-in-hand.
But, this isn’t exactly your fault.
Avoidance is a form of coping that helps you deal with stress in the short-term.
In the case of ADHD, you have an impaired executive function, and your brain might not respond very well to things like planning, problem-solving, self-motivation, self-control, and more.
So, there’s a good chance that your ADHD brain interprets normal, everyday activities as “stressors”.
You know, things like paying the bills on time, doing housework, and completing assignments before a deadline. These types of tasks seem completely normal to most people. But, because people with ADHD have unique brain differences, we just don’t interpret ordinary tasks like most people do.
We naturally want to run away from mentally-taxing tasks, and avoid them for as long as possible.
The worst part about avoidance is that most ordinary people (like your boss) don’t realize that people with ADHD are wired for avoidance.
So, most people just assume that you’re being lazy when they see you avoiding ordinary tasks.
This is a big part of the reason why so many people with ADHD are overwhelmed with shame, guilt, and emotional trauma.
You’re probably so used to being attacked from all angles (by managers, colleagues, peers, and even yourself via negative self-talk) – to where you just feel like running away from everything at times.
But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can only run away for so long.
Life isn’t fair. And avoidance isn’t your fault. It never was your fault. But, this doesn’t mean that avoidance is a good thing, either.
You still have to make a solid effort to eliminate patterns of avoidance from your life, so that you can begin to confront your challenges head on, and stop living in a constant state of fear and anxiety.
The 4 patterns of avoidance in people with ADHD
According to an interesting article published by Dr. Anthony L. Rostain, there are four behavioral patterns that adults with ADHD use for avoidance.
Do any of these 4 patterns of avoidance seem familiar to you?
Pattern of avoidance #1. Anticipatory avoidance
Anticipatory avoidance means that you amplify the difficulty of an upcoming task, and have doubts about being able to complete the task. This results in you rationalizing and justifying your procrastination.
This defers stress in the short-term. But, it also creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that makes the task seem overwhelming as the deadline approaches.
In many cases, anticipatory avoidance actually prevents you from starting on tasks for very long periods of time. Sometimes, you’ll never start on your tasks because of anticipatory avoidance.
Pattern of avoidance #2. Brinkmanship
Brinkmanship means that you wait until the last minute before submitting work or completing tasks. The most obvious example of this would be starting on your assignments just hours before they’re due (like in the case of turning in homework).
Some people with ADHD actually feel like brinkmanship helps them focus, because you might feel extremely motivated to accomplish a task when you know that your deadline is approaching.
However, the stress and pressure that comes with brinkmanship is rarely ever worth it. There’s very little room for error when you’re under intense pressure to perform. Brinkmanship also tends to promote average quality work, because you’ll rarely have enough time to do your best work.
Pattern of avoidance #3. Pseudo efficiency
Pseudo efficiency is the act of completing several easy, low-priority tasks, in order to avoid high-priority tasks. A good example of pseudo efficiency would be compulsively checking your e-mail and social media accounts instead of working on a major assignment for your job.
Pseudo efficiency makes you feel productive, because you’re technically completing some tasks. But, this is actually a false sense of productivity, because you intrinsically know that you should be working on more important tasks.
Pattern of avoidance #4. Juggling
Juggling is when you take on multiple projects at the same time, before you’ve actually completed any single project on its own.
Jugging is extremely popular in people with ADHD, because starting on new tasks gives you an initial dopamine rush that makes you feel great. Starting something new almost always feels exciting and motivating.
But, people inevitably become overwhelmed with taking on so many projects at the same time. And, this typically leaves you with several incomplete, mediocre projects that never actually get completed.
Summary of the 4 patterns of avoidance in people with ADHD
Here’s a quick summary of the 4 patterns of avoidance in people with ADHD:
> Anticipatory avoidance is the form of avoidance that almost everyone with ADHD struggles with. This usually occurs when you’re sitting at your desk, ready to take care of your work, but you just can’t get yourself to actually start on your task. Instead of starting on your task, you might browse some of your favorite websites, and go down a deep rabbit hole of procrastination that leads you nowhere.
> Brinkmanship is surprisingly common, because many people with ADHD feel like they perform well under pressure. But, the truth is that brinkmanship is just another form of avoidance. This is also commonly referred to as “waiting until the last minute” to get something done. However, the good news is that brinkmanship can easily dissipate once you find a career or hobby that genuinely fulfills you (since you’ll no longer feel the need to procrastinate as much).
> Psuedo efficiency is a huge problem for people with ADHD because of widespread smartphone usage, social media addiction, compulsive e-mail checking, and so many other “micro tasks” that are easily accessible 24/7. People with ADHD love to multi-task, and this is a big problem. In reality, single-tasking is what gets you the best results with ADHD.
> Juggling is a stealthy killer, because it makes you feel like you’re a productive, multi-tasking powerhouse. But, you’re really just wasting your time and energy working on multiple mediocre projects at the same time. Instead of juggling multiple projects, you should focus on completing just one or two projects at a time.
If you have ADHD, there’s a good chance that you deal with all four of these patterns of avoidance in one way or another.
Important tasks that people with ADHD frequently avoid
People with ADHD frequently avoid some of life’s most important tasks that need to get done.
For example, people with ADHD often avoid:
- Paying credit card bills on time
- Preparing taxes
- Submitting work
- Calling friends, family members, co-workers, and other important people in your life
- Going to the gym
- Doing chores
- Eating healthy foods
- Visiting the dentist or doctor
If you could accomplish all of these tasks in a timely fashion, then you probably wouldn’t have very many real problems in your life.
But, because people with ADHD are naturally wired for avoidance, you may need to dedicate significant effort towards completing ordinary tasks like these.
As I mentioned earlier in this article, life isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that you should have to dedicate extra time towards completing tasks that come easy to other people.
But, this is just how life works. You live in a society that requires you to function regardless of your disadvantages.
Luckily, there are a number of tactics that you can use to accomplish tasks even with ADHD (don’t worry – you’ll find out how to accomplish tasks with ADHD further down in this article).
Activities that contribute to avoidance (these activities probably aren’t helping you)
There are thousands of activities that contribute to your avoidance.
You have to become conscious of the activities that contribute to avoidance, so that you can be fully aware of the activities that you probably need to stop doing.
Here are some of the most common activities that you probably need to stop (these activities typically aren’t helping you):
- Compulsively checking your e-mail
- Negative self-talk
- Waiting for “the perfect time” to start on a task
- Excessive research
- Thinking too much (getting stuck in your head)
- Worrying about hypothetical scenarios that don’t exist
- Constantly checking social media
- Eating food with the purpose of procrastinating
- Being a perfectionist
Out of all these activities, thinking too much, worrying about hypothetical scenarios, and waiting for the perfect time to start are probably the three biggest factors that contribute to avoidance in people with ADHD.
People with ADHD are especially prone to overthinking. Thinking too much tricks you into feeling like you’re being productive. But, when you get stuck in your head with your thoughts, you aren’t actually accomplishing anything of value.
It’s also common for people with ADHD to worry excessively about hypothetical scenarios that don’t even exist.
Take a moment to think about how much time you’ve spent worrying about “problems” that eventually turned out to be non-issues.
I’m guilty of doing this myself. Especially while laying in bed at night. I’ll sometimes worry about improbable events like economic collapses, sudden death, and other horrible things.
But, I make sure to stop myself as soon as I start worrying, so that I don’t go down a spiral of negative thoughts…
You ultimately have to keep in mind that worrying is almost always a form of avoidance, because worrying doesn’t actually benefit you, or anyone else for that matter. Worrying is a massive waste of time and mental energy for everyone.
But, worrying is still one of the most common issues that people with ADHD face. So, it’s important to acknowledge how pointless worrying is 99% of the time.
For the absolute best insights on stopping yourself from worrying, I recommend joining our ADHD VISION program. This digital training program is designed to get to the root cause of your worries and help you solve them permanently.
If you find yourself waiting for the perfect time to start on a task, you should first acknowledge that you’re procrastinating. Then, you should accept that the best time to start on a task is right now.
You have to accept that you will undergo a period of mental pain as you go about starting and completing whatever task you set out to achieve (like doing chores, taxes, paperwork, etc.).
But, the mental pain is only temporary.
Procrastinating is always more painful than actually starting and completing whatever task you have to complete.
So, you ultimately have to make a choice between:
Less pain (just starting on your task and getting it over with)
More intense, longer-lasting pain (procrastination)
In fact, you should learn to love the mental pain that comes with taking on challenging tasks right away.
Because, if you can handle short (temporary) periods of mental pain, then you’ll become a more resilient, productive, and successful person with ADHD.
What’s the difference between task avoidance and laziness in people with ADHD?
Laziness is an unwillingness to accept temporary discomfort in exchange for long-term benefits.
Anyone with ADHD can defeat laziness by learning about homeostasis and how your brain actually works.
You have to realize that your brain wants to keep you in a perpetual state of laziness, because that’s how your body conserves energy. Laziness has been a survival mechanism for thousands of years. Laziness is beatable, as long as you can accept temporary discomfort as an ordinary aspect of normal life.
Task avoidance is much more difficult to overcome than laziness, because people with ADHD will rationalize all sorts of reasons to avoid completing tasks.
Again, it’s not your fault for rationalizing ways to avoid tasks. Because when you have ADHD, your executive function doesn’t work in a normal way. Your ADHD brain interprets ordinary tasks as stressors. With ADHD, you’re constantly coming into contact with stressors in your everyday life.
This is why laziness is easily conquerable, but task avoidance is a much more difficult battle to win.
However, task avoidance can still be defeated, because I’ve been able to achieve this in my own life, as have many other people with ADHD…
How to overcome task avoidance when you have ADHD (the 5 tactics you must know)
Conquering task avoidance is not easy when you have ADHD. I would say that task avoidance is one of the most difficult challenges that comes with having ADHD.
This is because your ADHD brain is wired to avoid tasks that it views as stressful (which turns out to be a LOT of things).
But, task avoidance can still be defeated…even with ADHD.
Here are the 5 tactics that you need to master to overcome task avoidance when you have ADHD…
Tactic #1. Create a clear list of your top priorities for the day
If you use a Windows device, then you can download Microsoft OneNote free of charge.
Even if you don’t have Windows, I still think you should consider using OneNote, because it’s one of the most helpful organizational tools that I’ve used.
(You might also choose to use something like Evernote, which works just as well as OneNote).
Either way, you really need to consider using a tool like OneNote or Evernote to create a clear list of priorities every single day. And, you should list your daily priorities in order of importance.
You should always take care of your most important tasks first, because people with ADHD only have a limited amount of willpower every day.
Ideally, you should knock out your highest-priority tasks in the morning, when you feel like you have the most energy.
Once you complete a task, you can then transfer your completed task to your “daily progress” tab (this is possible in OneNote or Evernote).
I create a new to-do list and daily progress list every single weekday.
If you aren’t a huge fan of technology, then you can always use a basic journal or a whiteboard to list out your top priorities every day.
I’ve recommended a great journal and whiteboard for you in my article on ADHD Organizers, Planners, Home Items & More.
Tactic #2. Go to war with the activities that contribute to your avoidance
If you’re lucky, there will come a point where you get sick of the activities that have been robbing you of your time, energy and focus.
Hopefully, that time comes right now.
You probably already know which activities contribute the most to your avoidance…
- Do you frequently browse Reddit when you get bored with your work?
- Do you binge watch Netflix?
- Are you addicted to negative thought patterns, destructive self-talk, and getting stuck in your head?
If you know that certain activities contribute to your avoidance, then you should respect that your time on this Earth is extremely valuable, and proceed to cut those avoidance-enabling activities out of your life.
If you don’t know which activities are contributing to your avoidance, then you can try using a time management app like RescueTime, which will show you exactly which websites you spend most of your time on.
You can also simply become more mindful of when you’re using avoidance as a coping strategy. Most people don’t even realize when they’re avoiding tasks, because they aren’t fully conscious of the actions they’re taking.
Just think about how many times you’ve mindlessly logged into Facebook or Twitter without even thinking about what you were doing.
If you can become conscious of your avoidance, you’ll be much more likely to stop yourself from doing the activities that contribute to your avoidance.
Tactic #3. Fill your life with the right incentives (and there won’t be a need for avoidance)
Why do some people with ADHD achieve amazing feats, while other people with ADHD struggle endlessly in their day-to-day lives?
Stop and think about this for a second (it’s important).
> Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, has ADHD
> Simone Biles, an Olympic gold medalist, has ADHD
> Charles Schwab, the founder of the awesome bank that I currently use, has ADHD
It’s been proven that people with ADHD are capable of accomplishing enormous tasks.
But, how do some people with ADHD manage to accomplish so much interesting stuff?
Well, it seems like there’s a key factor at play that pushes some people with ADHD to accomplish amazing things, while other people with ADHD struggle endlessly.
And from what I can tell, accomplishing tasks and overcoming massive obstacles mostly comes down to finding the right incentives for your life.
You have to figure out which activities incentivize you to push forward and accomplish tasks no matter what happens in your life.
Because, it’s been shown that people with ADHD have lower levels of dopamine in comparison to most people. And since you have lower levels of dopamine (on average), your brain doesn’t interpret “rewards” in the normal sense.
People like Ingvar Kamprad, Simone Biles, Charles Schwab, and other high-performers with ADHD all likely sought out massive hits of dopamine to satisfy their “dopamine deficient” ADHD brains.
In other words, people who accomplish amazing feats with ADHD typically fill their lives with powerful dopamine-fueled incentives, purposes, and reasons to live.
What incentives push you to live your life to the fullest?
- Young retirement?
- Socializing with amazing people?
- Creating art?
- Building a side business?
- Writing a book?
I find that people with ADHD need to have massive incentives in their life.
You have to wake up knowing that you have something to look forward to every day. Even if you get to work on a “passion project” that you love for just one hour every day. It’s still something that you can look forward to.
This is what will motivate you to keep accomplishing tasks and pushing forward in life.
Find the incentives that work best for your life. If you don’t have the right incentives right now, then you need to create them.
If you live in a Western country like the USA, then you don’t have any excuses in this regard.
> Anyone can self-publish a book through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program free of charge
> Anyone can design their own t-shirts and sell them on Amazon free of charge through the Amazon Merch program (although you must apply for this program first)
> You have access to millions of free websites, YouTube tutorials, and other resources that will help you create your own path in life
Do something that you’re good at, and stick with it for a while. See if it works. If it doesn’t work, then try something else. Rinse and repeat until you find the incentives that work best for your life.
You don’t have to win an Olympic gold medal, or build a gigantic business to have good incentives in your life. You can start with something small that shows you what’s truly possible.
You’ll know when you’ve found the right incentives for your life when you feel excited to wake up every morning. That’s the only “signal” you need to look for.
Tactic #4. Focus on the Pareto principle
The Pareto principle means that 80% of your results in life stem from just 20% of the actions that you take. This is also known as the 80/20 rule.
I find that the Pareto principle applies to most things in life.
You have to discover the 20% of actions that account for most of your success in life.
Because, people with ADHD have a limited amount of time, energy, and focus. So, you have to make the most of the resources that you have.
It only makes sense that you should focus on the few actions that account for the biggest results for your life.
For example, I know that eating high-quality food and exercising every day is one of the most important actions that I can take, because my health and physical fitness steeps into all other areas of my life.
When I feel healthy, the quality of my work, relationships, and personal happiness skyrockets.
When I’m not healthy, most aspects of my life suffer.
There’s a reason why I spend so much time writing about eating a healthy ADHD diet, consuming fruits and vegetables for ADHD, and eating ADHD superfoods.
Your health makes up a massive chunk of the “20%” part of the Pareto principle. Health seeps into most areas of your life. So, make sure to focus on your health first and foremost.
Once your health is in check, you can figure out the other “high-leverage activities” that help you make massive progress in your life.
These high-leverage activities might consist of surrounding yourself with the right people (this is huge), finding an ideal job, or traveling every month.
Everyone is different. So, you have to experiment, and figure out which activities give you the best results for your life.
Tactic #5. Create systems for your life (automate, delegate, and build systems)
There’s a chance that you’re avoiding certain tasks because you find those tasks to be boring, annoying, or frustrating.
Everyone has to deal with tasks that they don’t like doing at times.
But, you can always build systems that help you automate, delegate, and systematize your lifestyle.
> If you frequently avoid cleaning your house, then you might want to hire a maid who can clean your house for you
> If you don’t like to cook, then you should look into meal delivery services (somewhat expensive) or DIY meal prepping (extremely budget-friendly)
> If you don’t like doing taxes, then you can hire a CPA for a very reasonable rate
> If you always have a bunch of busywork to take care of, then you can hire a Virtual Assistant (VA) who will help you free up your time
> If you don’t like paying bills, then you should enroll in autopay for all of your bill payments
Think Lifestyle Automation
We live in an astonishing modern age where your opportunities for “lifestyle automation” are basically endless.
So, you can stop doing menial tasks all on your own, and start thinking about the bigger picture for your life.
I assume that people with ADHD can eventually eliminate 90% of the activities that they frequently avoid.
You just have to get creative, and be willing to seek help from other people.
There will always be people available to help you with the tasks that you frequently avoid.
Always remember this before you avoid doing something important.
Overall, I hope this article helps you acknowledge the underlying reasons why you avoid certain tasks.
And even more importantly, you should now have the tools to stop avoiding high-priority tasks, and start pursuing the tasks that you actually enjoy doing.
But, keep in mind that it could take you a number of weeks, months, or even years to reach a point where you’re fully engulfed in the tasks that you love doing.
You typically have to earn the right to pursue the tasks that you love on a daily basis.
So, you will have to go through a period of pain and growth in order to get your life to a point where you feel somewhat comfortable.
But, you will appreciate the process of overcoming the task avoidance caused by your ADHD. Once you learn how to confront your challenges head on, there’s just no going back.
I couldn’t have written this any better myself, literally. At 56 years old I have seen all of this in myself. I have also learned to push through it sometimes but to hear the “why” really helps aand gives me more hope to do better especially as I begin a new job on Monday and as I try to guide my daughter through the struggles of ADHD.
Thanks so much for your comment Penny. I agree that hearing the “why” can help people get a better grasp of their avoidance.
That’s great to hear you’re starting a new job. If you ever get the urge to avoid something, you now have the tools to figure out what to do about it.
I wish you and your daughter the best of luck.
Really great article but what do you do if the ‘why’ does not interest that person I think has ADHD/ADD? I try to explain the why to him but he does not want to hear and has no interest. Only interested in seeing the result and blaiming me for the result 🤔🤔 fir me that is the key problem we have.. for me without understanding the WHY there will be no change.
Thanks so much for your comment Sandra.
The ‘why’ is something that people eventually have to figure out for themselves.
It’s one of those situations where you can help him discover his ‘why’, but you also have to allow him to choose his own path in life.
It also sounds like he may be hooked instant gratification, which is an extremely common problem that millennials and generation Z kids are facing right now (mostly because of social media, smartphones, and other technology).
Finding your why and reaping the rewards of your why can take months or even years. It’s well worth the journey though!
Thankyou so much – this article is so insightful and will be very helpful to both my son and myself. He has an ADHD diagnosis and I realize now I am so much like him in this way! Thankyou
Barbara, you’re very welcome for the article. I’m excited to hear that you and your son will benefit from this information. Thank you so much for your comment. You’ll both be prepared to accomplish tasks head on now 😉
I am so thankful for this article. I have spent 27 years living this reality and not knowing why, but knowing I wanted better for myself and that I could do it, knowing why helps me better understand how.
I wish I had more words, but more simply thank you!
Thank you so much for your comment Chelsey. It’s greatly appreciated.
This article is incredibly useful. I am an adult woman with ADHD who is raising a daughter with ADHD. Although accomplished in general, this is an area that I struggle with daily, sometimes hourly, and in every area of my life. The amount of hacks and workarounds and scaffolding I have set up to counter the effects of this phenomenon is staggering to the average person. Is there a printable version of this article? I’d like to print it out and give it to my daughter. Thank you so much for this!
Thanks so much for your comment Beatrix.
I really appreciate you leaving your thoughts on here.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a print-friendly version of this article ready to go. This is something that I’ll definitely have to do.
If you happen to share this article with your daughter, I hope that she takes away value from the information just like you 🙂
What a really great article for those of us who have been “Labeled” throughout life with ADHD, you have put our very real struggles in such a wonderful and informative way that partners/spouses of whom do not have ADHD might get a better understanding of what they don’t understand. I can say without hesitation that I fall into all 4 patterns; however #2 & #4 is a daily occurrence both at home and work. Thanks again, and I will certainly be sharing.
Thanks so much for your comment Gunner. I really appreciate your thoughtful feedback.
I recently got let go from my internship because I wasn’t progressing fast enough. Some of the traits my supervisors told me I exhibited were impulsive comments to patients (saying what I think out loud), receiving constructive feedback well but not implementing it consistently, and avoidance of completing some work. I’m in grad school and have been a great student all of my life. Somewhere along this last year of grad school, I lost that drive to be a good student. I keep stumbling and have had severe depression and anxiety. Everything you listed in this article is what I feel and what I have been experiencing all my life. I just some how was able to compensate for it or fake it pretty well. Now at 25 and in my last year of grad school, I am at risk for expulsion from my program (because of being let go from my internship and avoiding a few assignments because they caused me great anxiety). I’m not sure who I am anymore. I’m seeing a psychiatrist in a couple weeks so I can start getting some more concrete answers. I just hope it isn’t too late. Thanks for reading. I just wanted to speak to someone who might understand on a personal level what I am going through.
Hey Monique. Thanks a lot for sharing your story with us here.
Your situation is definitely a difficult one, and it sounds like the same type of struggle that many of us with ADHD have gone through. You aren’t alone!
Honestly, I wouldn’t worry about getting expelled from your program. If it wasn’t meant to work out, then so be it. It’s not your fault. Life goes on.
There’s always a path forward no matter how difficult things might seem.
I wish you the best of luck on your journey 🙂
My 2 ex always ended our relationship with similar comments: You dont need a wife, you will be fine with a personal assistant, valet, chauffeur, secretary and maid….and an eventual “bedtime friend”…..as that is what l have been for you! Adios! …..lm 64 now, diagnosed with severe ADHD at 54, after an unfortunate security situation l faced while traveling to one country under my LATAM responsabilities. I had the “fortune” to start working in very fast pace environments on aviation opns as well as mobile voice/data project management for USA corps in their international ventures. My 100% attention, dedication and focus was in my daily “adventures” which provided huge amounts of adrenalin while l enjoyed high salary, contract fees, bonuses and overall recognition for successful and superior performance, while my family life slipped thru the cracks. My school days where back in 1970s when ADHD was unknown in my Colombia, my country of birth, but my report cards always read: ceates a disturbance in class; can improve to his known capabilities, etc. Even though l never failed an academic year or semester in school or University. Self medicated with alcohol later in life, never to get drunk but to keep my mind in the PRESENT and alleviate depression, anxiety and lack of motivation if it was not via high risk activities like motocross and circuit high speed moto racing. Developed full blown alcoholism (not binge drinking) but needing the daily “liquid ritalin”, and to top the combo, ludopathy. Now 30 years of total sobriety on both, but the undiagnosed ADHD remaind sabotaging all my linear, everyday repetitive responsibilities. Procrastination and paralyisis by analysis was the daily plate. Paid a very high price for non diagnosed ADHD, impacting all “normal for all” activities and routines in family, finance and emotional spheres, while over-achieving in my professional activities, but when the family stucture fractures, its a domino effect due to bad decisions taken more on impulsivity and emotional state, rather than logic and rational. Unable to foresee consequences in the past, due to living in a non-time continuum (Present) while doing MY thing, but the rest…..as with Nero, Rome burning and he playing his harp tunes!
Your article is my life story! Rgds fm Colombia! MEH.
This is a great write-up Miguel. Thank you very much for sharing your story with us.
It’s funny how people with ADHD are naturally attracted to fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping jobs. A job in Latin America seems like the perfect opportunity for someone with ADHD (due to the slight danger factor).
And yes, people with ADHD are frequently attracted to alcohol to acquire that “present” feeling that you talk about. I had that same problem too.
Congratulations on your sobriety though. 30 years is a great sober streak.
I wish you the best in Colombia Miguel. I hope to visit your country someday (because like you, I’m also attracted to a little bit of adventure).
This has brought me to tears. I have ADD as donall 3 of my girls. There are so many things I have felt but didn’t know the words to express my difficulties. There is so much shame that goes with all of this. I can’t bare to watch my girls feel the same shame and negative self talk that I have/do. I am so motivated to study this article and work it. I’ve sent it to my husband and others in effort to give words to our struggles. Bless you.
Thanks so much for your comment Laurie. I really appreciate you leaving your thoughts on here, and taking the time to share this article with the people who you love.
Stephan, this was an excellent article. I Have a struggling ADHD son that I would love to send this to. It would make him feel so much better about himself. I know it would provide insight into his struggles and coping methods.
But there is no way he would be able to read to the end of this. It is far too long and reads like a sales pitch for a drug or treatment that you have to buy. If it were more concise, it might do wonders for those who need help. I plan to rewrite this for him in a shorter format. With a link of course to the article. All of the data is excellent, just not realistic for the target reader.
As an ADHDer myself, part of the value of this article is that it was written by a fellow ADHDer! The info is not all that different from other articles on procrastination, BUT it is told through our perspective!! He “gets” it. It’s not being said by some efficiency expert who has been organized all his life! I took notes on it in my bullet journal for future reference and encouragement. If you summarize it for your son, it might lose the credibility Stefan gives it
The other reason your son might not read it is if he is not experiencing painful consequences due to his behavior. I am 63 and finally ready to give up the pain of mediocrity and face the pain of achievement. In my 30s there was always the future to do better in. Now the future isn’t so available. I figure I’ve got a good 30 to 40 years left, but I’m also facing the mental declines of age if I keep going the “easy” route. My point, Mom, is that your son may need to experience painful consequences before he is ready to listen. I don’t know if you are shielding him from those consequences or not, but stop it if you are!
Just wanted to thank you for this comment Pat, I appreciate you.
Thank you for this article. My son was recently diagnosed with ADD, he really struggles with inattention and task avoidance. He’s 7, and I’ve been asked to come in and meet with his teachers next week. I’m hoping to come armed with some constructive suggestions of things they can do to help him stay focused on tasks. They are good teachers and seem willing to try to help him succeed. He struggles starting homework at home and sticking with it unless there is a pretty big reason to get it done quickly. This article helped me understand where he is coming from a lot better.
Any suggestions for me to suggest to the teacher or for me to help with him at home? THANK YOU!
You’re very welcome Pam. And thank you for your comment.
School is a really tricky subject for me to give advice on, because I felt unmotivated in school myself.
I feel that the school system is a total mismatch for kids with ADHD in many ways.
This is why choosing the right school for your ADHD child will be the biggest determining factor in his academic success. If at all possible, enrolling your son in a Waldorf school (or a similar program) is ideal.
If that isn’t a possibility, then you’ll need to help him with his health and nutrition, creativity, playtime, socializing, etc. You can ask the teachers to do whatever they can to help with these things.
Like I said, this is a really difficult topic, so I’m sorry that I can’t be of more help. Choosing the right school / academic program for your ADHD child is by far the most important thing that you can do.
I enjoyed your article because it was specific and consistent, and also seems well researched. I was actually relieved that it was slightly lengthy because these Top Ten style lists are useless and rushed. Task avoidance is the true thorn in the side of those with ADD/HD. Thank you for outlining it so concisely and for providing coping strategies in plain language.
Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment. It’s nice to hear that you appreciate the length of this article. I write these lengthy articles whenever I feel like I need to get a message across. So, I’m really happy to hear that this article helped you.
Thank you for this intelligently and approachable article to this component of ADHD. I felt as I was reading it, I could have been looking at a mirror of me. I have only recently saught help with my version of ADHD. Having retired from a successful thirty-two year career in education, I so much better understand know my greatest challenges which you discuss in this piece. I’m going to share it with my family, too!
Thank you very much for your comment Mark. I really appreciate the kind words.
That’s great to hear that you’re taking the time to understand your challenges, so that you can conquer them.
Figuring out ADHD can improve your life in so many ways.
I wish you and your family the best Mark. Thanks again, and I hope you have an amazing retirement.
I “accidentally” came across your article as I tried to look through Pinterest for organizing ideas and motivational tools for my ADHD daughters. My feed of items that come up are a hodgepodge of my own interests- between fitness, dance, cake decorating, essential oils, canvas painting, organizing, health tips, dealing with kids, anxiety, etc… but lots of ADHD items for certain. I didn’t get far before this article came up. However, I’m okay with that because as an adult-diagnosed ADHD person, this article summarized much of my life’s battles. Battles that are impossible to really explain to the Non-ADHD person. I look at areas of my life and wonder how I could ever climb out of the imaginary abyss of procrastination. So many things that I want to get done, but the minuscule busywork seems to always take over. I have limited opening FB to only about one time a week now, for months, as I would get sucked in for an hour, when I meant to just look for 5 minutes. Technology is not my friend, lol. My ultimate goal in life is to get to a place where I feel normal. I envy my friends whom home lives are so organized. No piles of papers to go through. No corners or closets, or rooms with “stuff” to either keep or get rid of. I feel so much calm when I visit and yearn for what they have. I’ve wished that someone I know would sacrifice their time to help me weed through the “stuff” and help me make decisions. I want to feel that comfort and clean life too. But until I can convince one of my “Friends” to do this, your article has given me some insights into my brain ( and my daughters). It’s a start at least, to begin the process towards even a smidge of an organized home life. I’ve got a lot of habits that I need to work on and now is the time to do so. I’m going to share your article with my husband, my ADHD friends, etc, as I think this will help them with understanding either their family or themselves. Nicely done!
Thanks so much Heather. I appreciate you. You’re awesome!
This is so very true. I had all of this umder control in just this way when I was still married amd raising my boys. Because I had to take caare of wveryrhing on order to earm the time for my hobbies. I just mever knew that I had ADHD back then. Now that I am divorced with no children to take care of, I am a mess!
Thanks for commenting Amanda. I hope you find a way to manage your ADHD and live the life that you deserve.
Thank you so much for this! I have been struggling with finding my purpose and my why. I have many gifts, but I find it hard to stay focused on just one. I will be reading this again and figuring out how to implement it in my life for maximum results.
You rock Samayyah. I know you have many gifts! Stay awesome 🙂
I can’t thank you enough for this article. It is convictioning, informative, compassionate, honest, and frankly just what I needed. I cried when I read this because I realized all the years I have struggled with negative self talk has poisoned my life drastically. I have been in the process of trying to rebuild my life from a very trying year. Being in such a low place has forced me to face my struggles with ADHD. This article helps me to see that I’m not alone in this struggle and why I do the things I do. I will refer to this article often as I continue my journey. Many thanks
Thank you so much Courtney. Really happy to hear such a powerful comment from you. I wish you the very best on your journey.
I think we could add shopping to the list…do you think?
Thank you, thank you…
I understand myself and my son better now. This article is also helping my husband understand us better. For me, just the fact that he can get to know us better through your words- because I didn’t have them!- is so relieving to our family. I can also understand and love better both my sister and my mom, and try and bring to my sister’s life a bit of this light. Unfortunately my mom passed away without ever knowing she had adhd, but living everyday and every minute under the stress of it, had a very stressful marriage, until she fell ill with Alzheimer’s and
cancer. For me, the greatest motivation that drives my life is to have a different family from what mine was when I was a child. To have a healthy marriage, family and life are my utmost goals. I know GOD has been so good to me making me stumble across many blogs in the last two years, where I have been learning about adhd and can see myself and my family like in a mirror. I have seen most articles through Pinterest, it’s only a shame that Pinterest is where I go to avoid a task – so I learned! Haha
You sound like an amazing person Miria. Really happy to hear from you.
Holy crap Pinterest isn’t supposed to make me cry, nor is there anyone out there who gets ME!!! Proven wrong twice in 15 minutes! Best and most needed, oddly found (I don’t even know how I got here, to this article, but someone was watching over me😇) article fitting for this trying time in my life. I am a almost 32 year old single mother of 3 beautiful daughters, ages 2, 6 and 9, you wanna talk non-existent time management HOLY S**T!!! I get up at 5 am everyday, go to bed at midnight and we are all STILL LATE FOR EVERYTHING, and I’m really over peoples questions of “why can’t you just get your sh*t together??!?” The next time someone asks that of me, I am whole-heartedly, firmly, but with a smile on my face pulling up this article and saying “this, THIS is why I was late! Why we are ALWAYS late, how about some encouragement, help, strength, reinforcement or taking and breaking down some of these steps with me to AVOID the next time of being late!” I don’t really know what else to say through writing, if you could see my face, priceless. Thank you. Thank you so much.
You’re awesome Kim. I’m so happy to hear this comment from you. Thank you so much.
Can I ask you out of all the non-drug supplements you have tried, which one did you find the most effective when it comes to task avoidance, procrastination and motivation? I have never taken ADHD medication but I tried Rhodiola before for a brief period and the effect on these issues in particular was life changing.
I take a very small dose of medication for underactive thyroid. I had my bloods tested within 2 weeks after starting Rhodiola and it seems it put my thyroid slightly overactive. I had researched the hell out of Rhodiola before taking it and this seemed to be the only possible side effect always referred to that I could come across so I wasn’t surprised when my blood results came back after being within the normal thyroid range for years. My thyroid medication was reduced down as a result and you could say this was a good thing as I am on the minimum dose possible ever since. But I stopped taking Rhodiola in view of the fact that it had such an immediate interaction with my thyroid so quickly.
I’m thinking of trying it again and see if I can have my thyroid more carefully monitored by my doctor. Nothing else seems to work. I eat a really balanced diet with lots of superfoods, protein, goods fats, lots of fruit and veg, I exercise, do deep breathing etc but these only seem to calm me, having completely the opposite effect to being motivated, possibly raising serotonin but not enough of an impact on dopamine.
I have been trying out various binaural tracks on Youtube for procrastination and motivation. I have had a little success with these but the effects tend to be short lived. With Rhodiola the effects seemed to last around 6 to 7 hours with a little slump in the afternoon for a couple of hours and then almost like I would get a second wind and it would kick in again from the same single dose in the morning. Truly amazing.
I will ask my doctor about taking it again. He always says he doesn’t mind people taking supplements so long as they tell him and he knows what they’re taking. But just curious to know was there any supplement you found had the biggest impact specifically on motivation/task avoidance/procrastination?
I’ve looked over most of your website. It’s a great resource and thanks so much for collating so much information.
Thanks so much for your comment Rose. I really appreciate it!
I find healthy diet & exercise to be most helpful for general cognitive improvement and focus etc.
But in terms of supplements, I love ashwagandha, simple b-complex multivitamins, CBD oil, and zinc picolinate.
Sarah D. Morgan
Hi Sefan, great article. Can you point me to other articles where you might have talked about medicines people take for ADHD and successes people have had without medicine?
Thank you for this very helpful article! I think a great compliment to your Tactic # 5 (of building systems that help you ) is insights about ourselves from Gretchen Rubin’s book “Better than Before” and it’s follow-up book “The Four Tendencies.”
Very recently diagnosed at 44 due to my son’s paed insisting that his diagnosis of son was contingent upon ME getting same diagnosis and treatment!! Shock is an understatement, yet the relief and comprehension is too. Thank you for this article, a great gift to read at such a crucial time -the years of punishing myself for failing simple life tasks/skills may be over! Disclaimer: reading journal and other articles is my preferred method of avoidance lol
Wow this is a new one I’ve literally never heard before. I agree that’s a pretty shocking scenario. But it sounds like it actually worked! Great stuff!