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6 Strategies To Beat ADHD Procrastination

For someone with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), procrastination can be particularly challenging. ADHD can make even small tasks seem impossible to complete and the longer you put them off, the harder it is to do them. This can lead to anxiety and feelings of failure. Here are 6 strategies to tackle ADHD procrastination.
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6 Strategies To Beat ADHD Procrastination

20/01/2023
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Procrastination can be defined as “to put off doing something that should be done.” Everybody procrastinates, as we all have tasks that we have little or no motivation to complete. However, for someone with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), procrastination can be particularly challenging. ADHD can make even small tasks seem impossible to complete and the longer you put them off, the harder it is to do them. This can lead to anxiety and feelings of failure. Telling someone to “just get on with it” is not effective when they have ADHD and are unable to regulate their emotions. In this article, we discuss 6 ways to tackle ADHD procrastination.

Dr. Michele Novotni (Ph.D.) identified 6 recommended strategies in her ADDitude webinar ADHD – How To Combat Procrastination In The New Year on 5th January 2023. We have combined her suggestions with our own research to offer advice about how to beat ADHD procrastination.

Small Steps


Being faced with a task we know we have to do, but don’t want to do, can be incredibly overwhelming, and the job may seem so huge, that it’s impossible. When challenged like this, it’s really hard to know where to start, especially if you have ADHD symptoms. Breaking a big project down into smaller steps is a really effective strategy to get you started.

Depending on what the task is, you may be able to create a plan that breaks it down into smaller chunks and then get started by completing the first part. Often, getting started can be the most difficult part, so once you’ve begun, the rest of the project should come a bit more easily.

For some people with ADHD, the opposite is true; they are fine starting something new but may struggle to finish tasks or projects as they lose interest in them. Using small steps and careful planning is particularly helpful here too, especially when combined with some of the other strategies listed below.

Create a Timeline or Deadline


Many people find it helps to complete a project when there is a sense of urgency or some kind of deadline looming. While working at the last minute can be very effective, especially for someone with ADHD who is able to hyperfocus, it isn’t physically or emotionally healthy and can lead to burnout.

If you break down a project into sections and create your own task timeline or deadline, you can invoke a sense of urgency without leaving everything to the last minute. Small short-term deadlines are easier to manage than one big deadline that may appear far away at first, but can catch up with you very quickly.

A good way to do this is to plan out a project with someone else who can help to hold you accountable along the way. This needs to be a person you trust and who will continue to motivate and encourage you; this could be a friend, a colleague or a coach.

Use External Tools and Technology


Many people use tools and technology to support them to concentrate on certain tasks. Some ADHD-friendly suggestions are:

  • Using timers with alarms to help chunk periods of time when you need to focus
  • Productivity apps such as EvernoteDue and Forest
  • Resources to help overwhelm like Fly Lady and Any Do
  • Noise apps. These can be apps for deep-focus music such as Brain FM or apps for nature sounds such as Rainy Mood or White Noise Lite which uses white noise to reduce other distracting background noise.
  • You may also like to try noise-cancelling headphones or ear loops to reduce the amount of noise around you.

Minimise Distractions


Probably the worst distraction in the present day is the mobile phone! Many phones now have a feature that allows you to see the daily time you spend on them. For a lot of us, it’s several hours a day. Imagine how much more we could get done if we weren’t on our phones as much. Even when we’re busy doing something else, we can easily get distracted by a notification or a message and that can lead to us spending time on our phones instead of focusing on what we should be doing.

What’s the answer? It’s simple – don’t allow your phone to distract you. Can you turn it to silent, leave it in another room or even turn it off? There are also apps available that you can set to silence your notifications during a set period of time. If social media is a distraction, try a social media blocker like Freedom or AppBlock.

Other distractions such as noise and other people can also contribute to procrastination. Since the pandemic, some people with ADHD have found working from home far less distracting than being in an office, whereas others find the home environment to have more distractions. The key is to identify what it is that distracts you the most and reduce it as much as possible.

It’s also good to be aware of when you are able to focus best. It might be in the morning, in the evening, or even after exercise. Whatever your biggest distractions are, you need to identify them and then reduce them. You’ll notice your productivity will increase and hopefully, you’ll procrastinate less.

Reward Yourself


If you’re procrastinating, find a way to reward yourself once the work is completed, or partially completed. You may treat yourself to a nice meal, go and see a friend or watch a favourite film. Having a person who can hold you accountable is again really useful here. If you tell someone that you are going to do something by a certain deadline, you are more likely to do it. Whatever you choose as a reward, should be enticing enough to make the task more appealing.

Reframe Negative Self-Talk

What you tell yourself matters. Negative thoughts like “I can’t do this” or “I hate doing this” will demotivate you and increase procrastination. Instead, you need to focus on the positives, such as “I can do it if I break it into smaller steps” and “I don’t enjoy doing this but it’s important so I will do it”.


People with ADHD can be put off if they think they can’t make something perfect. Don’t let perfectionism stand in your way. It’s important to remember that done is better than perfect and that often, spending extra time on a task, does not make the end result any better.

If you are really negative about a particular project that you don’t want to do, can you delegate it or exchange the parts that you don’t like with someone who is more suited to it? We cannot and should not try to do everything and it’s important to play to your strengths.

If you are in poor mental health, you are more likely to have negative thoughts that can lead to procrastination. If you take ADHD medication, make sure you regularly review the dose and that it is optimised for your body and lifestyle.

As everybody experiences ADHD and procrastination differently, it’s wise to try to find the strategy or combination of strategies that work best for you. It’s also worth noting that our brains change over time, and what used to work may no longer be as effective as it once was. If procrastination is a severe problem, then it’s always worth seeking out professional help. Our ADHD coaches at The ADHD Centre can work with you to find reasons for procrastination, and then work out personalised strategies to support you.


At the ADHD Centre, we offer ADHD assessments for both adults and children as well as a wide range of evidence-based treatments and therapies. We have online Autism assessments too. To find out more about any of our services, please visit our website. You can also contact us directly by email enquiries@adhdcentre.co.uk or by phone 0800 061 4276


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