Author Topic: Self Assessment and Stress Management - Procrastination For Those With(out) ADHD  (Read 314 times)

PoFP

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As someone with ADHD, it's quite common for me to put off work of all kinds until the last minute. I procrastinate work multiple times a day. In fact, I will usually put off almost all work that has to be done until the exact time it needs to be completed. Others with ADHD likely have the same problem, and the frequency may vary. To be quite honest, I'm procrastinating loads of minor work while writing this piece.

For those who don't understand why this happens, see below. If you do understand, skip the below section.

When you have ADHD, it takes more intense stimuli than usual to trigger reward-based activity in the Decision-making and consequence-filtering area of the brain known as the Prefrontal cortex. If the work you're intending to do by a certain deadline isn't that interesting to you, or stimulating in any way, it is less likely to engage you enough to do it on time, or long before the deadline. This is connected to Reward Deficiency and imbalances in the reward neurotransmitters known as Dopamine and Norepinephrine in the Prefrontal Cortex.

Now, some people without ADHD have this problem occasionally as well, as somewhat frequent procrastination isn't a problem that guarantees an ADHD diagnosis. So don't stop reading this if you don't have ADHD, as this may apply to you as well.

Putting off work is considered an attempt, by the reward center of your brain, to reduce stress, or even non-stimulating activities. Yet, many people consider procrastination to be a very stressful problem. The difference lies in how we deal with procrastination, and how we personally assess our capabilities.

Personally, I find that procrastination is quite effective at reducing stress. I put off important shit all the time, and yet, everyone who knows me would define me as the least stressed person they've ever met. Whereas almost every person I know who procrastinates as much as I do seems to be miserable at all times. Procrastination is usually stressful to the people who, from the moment they decide to put off their work, are planning how they're going to complete the work, or are considering cancelling other plans or even other work in order to make their deadline. This is usually because they lack an accurate self assessment of what they're capable of.

I would argue that most people are capable of getting a lot of work done in a very short period of time if under the right pressure. I found out how quickly I could complete tasks in school when I would consistently put off every single assignment I ever got until bedtime, and stay up however long I needed to to get the work done. Knowing how much work I could complete in a short time wasn't possible at that time until I put off a massive project in the 7th grade until the night before it was due. I realized that the project was such a huge part of my grade that I couldn't accept failure as a possibility. So I didn't. I completed the project in record time and got the grade I needed.

Ever since that project, procrastination has never stressed me out. In fact, getting to that point before the deadline is the most stress-reducing thing I've ever done, besides smoke weed. That moment when you accept that failure isn't an option, and that you have to complete the set goal right then, is one of the most motivating and empowering moments you can exist in. The Prefrontal Cortex turns that shit to 11 and shit gets done.

Those who procrastinate daily and are consistently stressed likely don't have an accurate view of their own ability. They either assume they won't get something done after a certain point due to previous failures, or they don't see themselves as fast or smart enough to be able to accomplish all that they need to accomplish in the time that they have. In almost all cases, they are wrong. I've seen this with every stressed procrastinator around me. They assume they are incapable due to past failures, and then choose to skip the deadline or goal and use that decision to reaffirm their invalid self-view. Because they don't judge their ability accurately, they are also more likely to stress themselves out by anticipating the work they will do later. Specifically, they will over-anticipate the effort that'll be required to complete the task, even though everyone knows that actually doing the work is hardly ever as bad as the feeling you get when you think about doing the work in the future.

I'm not defending procrastination as a valid way to deal with work. But if you have issues with stress on top of the procrastination, testing and assessing your abilities after being put into a position where failure isn't an option is a good way to prepare yourself for inevitable procrastination. It's also makes ending the procrastination cycle easier by reducing your urge to reduce stress by procrastinating in the first place. If you're confident in your ability to get the work done, you're more likely to complete it before putting it off in the first place.

If you tend to put stuff off for the same reason I do (Boredom while doing/thinking about said stuff), then you may at least be able to curb the stress. However, I still don't have a solution for the procrastination itself.
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Vanadium Gryllz

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I had to write my whole Master's thesis in four days due to procrastination.

I think I agree with your point that if you get to such a terrifying situation and manage to then get yourself out again, subsequent points of procrastination don't hold the same stress level.

I have also enjoyed throughout my life a relatively accurate self-assessment of the time it will take to complete things.

By the way, the solution to procrastination is to stop fucking about and just start. Then you still finish in the same time it would have taken you but you get to dick about without the overhanging worry of whatever it is you would have been procrastinating.

EDIT: it's important to remember that not everybody is as lucky as you or I. I imagine that it's perfectly possible to over-procrastinate, fail to meet your deadline and that sounds like it would be a self-perpetuating cycle of bad feelings. Some people have just gotta work harder and longer at stuff than others.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2017, 04:34:52 pm by Vanadium Gryllz »
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PoFP

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I had to write my whole Master's thesis in four days due to procrastination.

I think I agree with your point that if you get to such a terrifying situation and manage to then get yourself out again, subsequent points of procrastination don't hold the same stress level.

I have also enjoyed throughout my life a relatively accurate self-assessment of the time it will take to complete things.

By the way, the solution to procrastination is to stop fucking about and just start. Then you still finish in the same time it would have taken you but you get to dick about without the overhanging worry of whatever it is you would have been procrastinating.

EDIT: it's important to remember that not everybody is as lucky as you or I. I imagine that it's perfectly possible to over-procrastinate, fail to meet your deadline and that sounds like it would be a self-perpetuating cycle of bad feelings. Some people have just gotta work harder and longer at stuff than others.

Well, depending on pre-existing conditions, the getting started part you control the least. Since I have trouble starting all work, I will usually start doing work, and then do some pieces of future work at the same time in a rushed manner. And if I know I will have to do something the next day, I will attempt to make it psychologically easier to start it the next day once I'm back in procrastinate mode.

For example, my girlfriend and I are moving out and into a new apartment this Friday, and I put off yesterday's packing goals until late last night. Knowing this is even more likely to happen today, I decided to also sweep the entire house and re-organize all the boxes and pick up, so I'd be more willing to start the work today when I got home. When the place looks organized, it gives you less of an overwhelmed feeling, and you're more likely to start the work at a normal (Or closer to normal) time. Preparation for future procrastination makes the likelihood of things getting done significantly higher. And when starting work is an issue of stimulation/interest, I find it's much easier to get things done if you're doing multiple things at once, or if you rush your work as fast as possible. But of course, that varies from project to project, as rushing a writing project/work report is much more likely to lead to devastating mistakes than rushing box packing or lawn mowing. Or at least the mistakes won't impact your life as much.

I find that when you have ADHD, it's much easier to set smaller goals, or shrink your deadline window artificially. For example, if I do something that needs done one day at normal speed, it may take me 30-45 minutes. But I know that I can rush it and get it done in 5-10 minutes with minimal incidences, and use "Ah, then I can smoke some weed, sit down and relax for the next couple hours instead of the next hour, almost an hour from now." as an incentive to look forward to right afterwards. If you shrink the window during which you're waiting for your reward, you're more likely to work for the reward. Long term rewards are awful incentives for me, and others like me.
Listen carefully. I don't have much time, and I only have 462 characters left. I'm a scientist from Area 52 (Area 51 was used to draw attention from Area 52, where the aliens were ACTUALLY stored) who was working on neural interfacing with networked devices. In an experiment gone wrong, I accidentally uploaded my mind to the internet. In the 2 seconds I had before my mind scrambled itself with the world's network traffic, I was able to store this snippet in this random internet signature. If you're reading this, let the world know tha

Vanadium Gryllz

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Interesting idea of pre-planning for procrastination. It's like you trick yourself into doing stuff (i.e. tidying is a valuable job in it's own right) by thinking of it as actually putting off the real work.

I would also agree that doing multiple things at once helps - if I know I can drop whatever i'm doing when I get bored and start doing something else then the starting feels less painful.

Good luck with your move!
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PoFP

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Interesting idea of pre-planning for procrastination. It's like you trick yourself into doing stuff (i.e. tidying is a valuable job in it's own right) by thinking of it as actually putting off the real work.

I would also agree that doing multiple things at once helps - if I know I can drop whatever i'm doing when I get bored and start doing something else then the starting feels less painful.

Good luck with your move!

Exactly!

And thanks!
Listen carefully. I don't have much time, and I only have 462 characters left. I'm a scientist from Area 52 (Area 51 was used to draw attention from Area 52, where the aliens were ACTUALLY stored) who was working on neural interfacing with networked devices. In an experiment gone wrong, I accidentally uploaded my mind to the internet. In the 2 seconds I had before my mind scrambled itself with the world's network traffic, I was able to store this snippet in this random internet signature. If you're reading this, let the world know tha