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9 Awesome tips for ADHD Moms to get over Procrastination

Hey there, fellow ADHD moms! I was a former self-declared procrastination queen. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably had your fair share of battles with procrastination. You know, that sneaky little voice in your head that says, “I’ll do it later.” But later never seems to come, does it? Don’t worry; you’re not alone in this struggle. Let’s dive into understanding procrastination and how we can overcome it together.

The Procrastination Puzzle

First things first, let’s break down what procrastination really is and why it often feels like an uphill battle for us ADHD moms. Procrastination is more than just putting things off; it’s a complex dance between impulsivity, distractibility, and difficulty with time management—all hallmarks of ADHD. So, when you find yourself procrastinating, it’s not because you’re lazy or incapable; it’s because your brain is wired a little differently.

Note saying procrastination is the thief of time

The ADHD brain procrastinates for several reasons, which are often interconnected and influenced by the unique neurobiology of individuals with ADHD:

1. Executive Dysfunction:

ADHD is characterized by executive function deficits, which include difficulties with planning, organizing, and prioritizing tasks. This executive dysfunction can make it challenging to initiate tasks and follow through with them, leading to procrastination.

2. Time Perception:

Individuals with ADHD often struggle with time perception, which means they have difficulty estimating how much time tasks will take to complete. As a result, they may underestimate or overestimate the time needed for tasks, leading to procrastination as they struggle to manage their time effectively.

3. Impulsivity:

Impulsivity is a core symptom of ADHD, and it can lead to procrastination by causing individuals to act on immediate urges and desires rather than focusing on long-term goals. This impulsivity can make it difficult to resist distractions and stay focused on tasks, leading to procrastination as individuals prioritize short-term gratification over long-term goals.

4. Fear of Failure:

Many individuals with ADHD struggle with perfectionism and fear of failure, which can contribute to procrastination. They may avoid starting tasks because they’re afraid of making mistakes or not meeting their own high standards. This fear of failure can be paralyzing and lead to procrastination as individuals try to avoid the discomfort of facing their perceived shortcomings.

5. Interest-Based Nervous System:

The ADHD brain is often characterized by an interest-based nervous system, which means individuals with ADHD have difficulty maintaining focus on tasks that don’t align with their interests or passions. As a result, they may procrastinate on tasks that they find boring or uninteresting in favor of activities that provide more immediate stimulation and reward. This is why we are capable of hyper-focusing on things we love and find it super difficult to get started on tasks we dislike.

Overall, procrastination in the ADHD brain is a complex interplay of executive dysfunction, time perception difficulties, impulsivity, fear of failure, and an interest-based nervous system. Understanding these factors can help individuals with ADHD develop strategies to manage procrastination and improve their productivity.

How Procrastination affects ADHD mom life

Let’s explore some examples of procrastination in the life of a ADHD mom:

1. Laundry Mountain:

You know that pile of laundry sitting in the corner of your room? It seems to grow taller with each passing day. You tell yourself you’ll tackle it as soon as your toddler takes a nap, but when naptime rolls around, you find yourself scrolling through social media instead.

Laundry mountain on bed

2. Mealtime Madness:

You’ve been meaning to meal plan for the week, but every time you sit down to do it, your toddler decides it’s the perfect moment to throw a tantrum or demand your undivided attention. So, you put it off until tomorrow, and then the next day, and before you know it, you’re scrambling to throw together dinner at the last minute.

3. Toy Tornado:

Despite your best efforts to keep your kid’s toys organized, it seems like a tornado sweeps through your living room every day, scattering toys in its wake. You promise yourself you’ll tidy up before bedtime, but by the time your little one is finally asleep, you’re too exhausted to do anything but collapse on the couch.

4. Doctor’s Appointment Dilemma:

You know your child is due for a check-up, but the thought of wrangling them into the car and sitting in a waiting room for who knows how long is enough to make you break out in a cold sweat. So, you put off scheduling the appointment until it’s absolutely necessary, even though you know it’ll only add to your stress later on.

5. Crafty Conundrum:

This applies mainly if you are a toddler mom like me. You’ve been meaning to set up a fun craft activity for your toddler, but gathering all the supplies and prepping the area feels like a Herculean task. So, you keep putting it off, telling yourself you’ll do it when you have more time or energy, but that elusive window never seems to materialize.

Personal Story: The Procrastination Pitfall

Picture this: It’s Monday morning, and you’ve got a mile-long to-do list staring you down. You promise yourself you’ll tackle it head-on, but somehow, the day slips away, and you’re left scrambling to finish everything at the last minute. Sound familiar? That used to be my life too. Procrastination turned simple tasks into Mount Everest-sized challenges, leaving me feeling overwhelmed and defeated.

It was the same with my freelance work, when-ever I received a task which I was dreading, I wait till the day of the deadline to work through it. Once, it meant writing a 18,000 word report in 3 days (Thank you hyper-focus, for pulling me through that day). My mom has always been nagging saying I wait until the very last minute. It’s true, our time blindness does not help us see through until we are at the very end of the deadline.

Arrows with the words tomorrow, today, next week, later

Understanding Procrastination: Unraveling the Mystery

So, why do we ADHD moms procrastinate? Well, there are many reasons, but one of the big ones is fear—fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of making a mistake. (Gee thanks perfectionism!). As we tend to be perfectionists, we set impossibly high standards for ourselves and then feel paralyzed when we can’t meet them. Add in our tendency to get easily distracted, and you’ve got the perfect storm for procrastination.

Overcoming Procrastination: Breaking Free from the Cycle

Now for the good stuff—how to kick procrastination to the curb once and for all. The key is to break tasks down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Instead of trying to tackle your entire to-do list at once, focus on one thing at a time. Set realistic deadlines for yourself, and stick to them. And don’t forget to take breaks when you need them; pushing yourself too hard will only lead to burnout.

1. Break Tasks Into Bite-Sized Pieces:

Instead of tackling a daunting task all at once, break it down into smaller, more manageable steps. For example, if you need to clean the house, start by tackling one room at a time. That doesn’t mean you should pull the entire room down and suffer from task paralysis. First start from 1 single drawer or a shelf. Breaking tasks into smaller chunks makes them feel less overwhelming and easier to tackle.

Need to write a 2000 word report? Break down into 250 word sections, put it on a note and cross off every time you write 250 words. Easiest way to get the task accomplished.

2. Set Realistic Deadlines:

ADHD moms often struggle with time management, so setting realistic deadlines is crucial. Avoid setting yourself up for failure by giving yourself too much or too little time to complete a task. Use timers or alarms to help you stay on track and avoid getting lost in hyperfocus.

Set a few mini deadlines before the actual deadline and display it in a place where you can see all the time.

3. Prioritize Tasks:

Not all tasks are created equal, so it’s essential to prioritize what needs to be done first. Make a list of your tasks and identify which ones are the most important or time-sensitive. Focus on completing those tasks first before moving on to less critical ones.

4. Get in some Music

Need to fold that deadly pile of laundry or clean the mess in the kitchen? Put on your groovy tunes playlist and get the work done while dancing. This is how I tackle most of the chores in the house.

Woman dancing with a mop in the living room

5. Create a Structured Routine:

ADHD moms thrive on structure and routine, even though creating a routine is the most difficult task for us. Set aside specific times for tasks like meal prep, cleaning, and work, and try to stick to your schedule as much as possible. Having a routine helps reduce decision fatigue and makes it easier to stay focused and productive.

6. Minimize Distractions:

Distractions are the enemy of productivity, especially for ADHD moms. Identify what distracts you the most—whether it’s your phone, social media, or noisy surroundings—and take steps to minimize them. Consider using apps or browser extensions to block distracting websites and designate a quiet, clutter-free workspace where you can focus. Ask your spouse or a loved one to look after the kids to get an hour of work done within 15 minutes, as you are more productive without being distracted. You could also consider scheduling the most important tasks while the kids are sleeping. This is why prioritizing tasks are super important

7. Practice Self-Compassion:

Be kind to yourself when you slip up or don’t meet your goals. Remember that perfection is unrealistic, and everyone has days when they struggle with procrastination. Instead of beating yourself up, practice self-compassion and focus on what you can do differently next time.

8. Reward Yourself:

Give yourself incentives to stay motivated and on track. Set up a reward system where you treat yourself to something enjoyable after completing a task or reaching a milestone. Whether it’s a cup of coffee, a bubble bath, or some well-deserved screen time, having something to look forward to can make the task feel more manageable.

9. Get Support:

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Reach out to friends, family members, or fellow ADHD moms for support and accountability. Having someone to cheer you on and keep you accountable can make all the difference in staying motivated and overcoming procrastination.

Conclusion: Taking the First Step

So, dear ADHD mom, I want to leave you with this: You are capable of overcoming procrastination. It won’t happen overnight, and there will be bumps along the way, but with patience, perseverance, and a healthy dose of self-compassion, you can do it. Start small, celebrate your victories, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Together, we’ve got this!

Now, go forth and conquer that to-do list—you’ve got this! 🌟

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