The Link Between ADHD and Procrastination

Alexis Dent
Updated on April 17, 2023

Every day, countless Americans suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), with some remaining undiagnosed. While the impact of ADHD on an individual’s life and the strategies for managing it can differ, one common trait among those with ADHD is a tendency towards procrastination. Although each case is unique, this tendency towards procrastination is a shared experience for many individuals affected by ADHD.

adhd procrastination

Though procrastination is a behavior that most individuals have exhibited at some point in their lives, the relationship between procrastination and those with ADHD is a topic of interest. While procrastination is not currently recognized as a formal symptom of ADHD, it does not preclude a potential link between the two.

Studying the connection between procrastination and ADHD can be challenging due to its widespread prevalence in contemporary culture. While procrastination is often the subject of memes and humor, it is perceived as a minor inconvenience that occasionally afflicts individuals. However, for some, procrastination can be a severe hindrance, significantly reducing their day-to-day productivity. This is particularly true for individuals with ADHD, for whom procrastination can amplify the difficulty of even simple tasks.

While procrastination may not be considered a symptom of ADHD, the two certainly seem to be linked. Studies indicate a positive correlation between the two, suggesting that those with a high level of inattention show a high general tendency to delay the start or completion of everyday tasks.

Common ADHD traits, such as being easily distracted and having trouble remaining focused on a task may contribute to procrastination. So while it may not technically be considered a symptom, people with ADHD are certainly more susceptible to procrastination.

How Procrastination Impacts Those With ADHD

Chronic procrastination is a common struggle among adults with ADHD. This tendency can have adverse effects in the workplace when tasks are left unfinished until the last minute. Additionally, it can create financial stress at home when bill payments are delayed or checkbooks go unbalanced. Relationships can also suffer when individuals consistently put others off, causing them to feel unimportant.

Procrastination can also contribute to negative emotions, such as low self-esteem, frustration, guilt, and shame. These emotions can further exacerbate the inclination to delay tasks. Furthermore, evidence suggests that individuals with more severe ADHD symptoms may experience increased procrastination and symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. Researchers propose that addressing procrastination may be beneficial in reducing these negative emotions.

How to Cope

While those with ADHD may be more likely to procrastinate, there are steps they can take to help them limit the severity of their procrastination. Below are some helpful tips:

  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Attaching enjoyable tasks to unpleasant ones
  • Asking a friend to hold them accountable for their goals
  • Setting hard deadlines for completing tasks
  • Breaking up large tasks into several small ones
  • Rewarding oneself for accomplishments, even small ones

Procrastination is a prevalent habit observed among those with ADHD. Although occasional procrastination is common among everyone, research suggests that individuals with ADHD are more prone to procrastinating frequently or even daily. However, with dedicated effort and regular practice, the inclination to procrastinate can be mitigated.


Alexis Dent

Alexis Dent is an essayist, author, and entrepreneur. Her work is primarily focused on mental illness, relationships, and pop culture. You can find her writing in the Washington Post, Greatist, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, and more.

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