Date: March 4, 2021

ADHD Reality#1 - Never Do Today What You Can Put off Until Tomorrow

There’s something almost intangible about this particular symptom of ADHD. Dr Russell Barkley, the noted ADHD expert refers to this as “poor persistence of effort to tasks,” and I call it “never getting shit done.”

Never getting shit done seems to be one of the most pervasive symptoms, suffered by pretty much all people with the disorder. It really doesn’t matter how important the task is, how big a bearing at has on your life or who’s asking you to do it — you are simply incapable of getting on with the job. When first hearing about this, people often say something like, “Oh I must have ADHD too because I’m forever putting off doing the vacuuming in the house.” And while unenjoyable or boring tasks definitely top the list of most-likely-to-go-unfinished tasks for ADHD sufferers, people who have the brain disorder put off everything, all of the time and they will continue to do so even when it costs them their job or their marriage.

The weird thing about this is that we are not emotionless drones and we fully understand how frustrating it must be for other people who just want to see the thing done. We can do the task and most of the time we want to do the task, but we are incapable of internalising the willpower necessary to make a start on it. It won’t be until about five minutes before the deadline that we’ll finally summon up the willpower to get on with it and then it will of course be rushed, slap-dash, incomplete and otherwise crap.

When my wife asks me to do something and I say, “No problem!” I mean it. But I am then incapable of sitting down and getting on with it. It’s like some invisible force that pushes back on my self-control with an equal and opposite amount of the force I’m expending on getting it done. No matter how much I’d like to do it — I just can’t.

Procrastination is a way of life for people with ADHD and we become masters in busying ourselves doing anything but whatever the fuck we’re supposed to be doing. My favourite ‘pretending to hustle’ activities are tidying up my desk, tweaking the air conditioner so that it is blowing in precisely the right direction at precisely the right temperature, agonising over the perfect Spotify playlist to accompany this task, researching ways to speed up the task or automate it in some way, ensuring all of my software is fully up-to-date to better assist me in doing the task, browsing Reddit (seriously, fuck you Reddit — yours sincerely everyone with ADHD), and making a coffee to sip while I do the task I’m never going to do.

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