This extra day in a leap-year February is really a gift of time! When it comes to ADHD Time Management, extra time is the equivalent of finding cash in a card from your Aunt when you didn’t expect it, or the unexpected crisp $20 bill in the pocket of your jeans. Or waking up to a snow day just before your term paper is due.
What will you do with your gift? Will you spend it wisely, or will you fritter it away?
Using time effectively and efficiently is a struggle for many of my clients, especially those with adult ADHD or ADD, and this struggle often shows up in failure to follow-through on their intentions in a timely manner. Sometimes, we fail to follow through because our poor organization causes us to lose track of what we need to take care of. Other times, we procrastinate, delay or put things off because we struggle to get started on them and/or get overwhelmed. We find ourselves avoiding by watching cute cat videos, catching up on Social Media, playing games, losing ourselves in the internet, or vegging out in some other obviously unproductive way.
Here’ where Productive Procrastination Sneaks In…
When we struggle to do something and find ourselves doing other things that are still productive, but not the higher priority item we really intended to be doing, we’re still avoiding and the end result is still lost time and productivity. I call this kind of behavior “Productive Procrastination,” and it can be really tricky! Because we’re still working hard and getting something done, it doesn’t look or feel like we’re procrastinating, but rather that we have too much on our plates. Really, it’s usually less about being too busy or having poor time-management, and more about avoidance or procrastination!
Productive Procrastination is an especially troublesome form of avoidance because it’s easy to convince yourself that what you’re doing really needs to be done anyway (since it probably does), even though you know deep down that it’s not the best use of your time at that moment.
Regardless of how the struggle with follow-through shows up, the first step to improving performance for the long haul is to improve self-awareness. Start paying attention to what’s going on and what you’re doing when your follow-through falls apart.
If Productive Procrastination is a go-to behavior when you are struggling to execute a task, it can be helpful to identify the kinds of things you tend to turn to when avoiding something you’re struggling with. Do you check email when you’re stuck on a more difficult task? Do you find yourself ticking off the easier things on your to-do list and avoiding certain tasks? Do you dust when you need to file? That’s me! As much as I hate to clean, I’ll sometimes find myself cleaning when I intended to be working on something else. (It’s kind of a running joke in my house: if my family sees me with the duster or a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser during working hours, they know they need to send me back to my office!)
So, start paying attention to go-to avoidance or procrastination behaviors (even the productive ones) so that you can start to take proactive steps to to keep you moving when you’re struggling, rather than finding yourself exhausted and constantly behind on the things you intend to do because you have fallen off-track.
When you can identify the challenges, and the early warning signs of trouble, you can help yourself avoid your typical pitfalls, improve your productivity, give you better time management, and (more importantly) help you finally perform at the level of your abilities!
Until next time,
Lynne Edris, ACG
Productivity & ADHD Coach