Motivation for pro­crastinators

A blog on procrastinating and how to stop, a blog by Lotta Borg Skoglund

“My brain is like an airport with planes taking off and landing every minute. And I have no one working in my control tower. I get completely exhausted trying to keep things in order and keep up when things change.”

– Tove, 17 years old

Are you a person who is constantly chased by the stress of getting nothing done? Where even the simplest tasks pile up, obscuring the view of an endless uphill climb? Does your brain feel like a ball of chaos, making it impossible to decipher what needs to be done now and what can wait until later? Then you’re in good company with others who also have ADHD. When we asked Letterlife’s beta users about the biggest problems and annoyances in their daily lives, various forms of procrastination came out on top. That’s why this week’s blog is all about procrastination.

In fact, one of the most central aspects of ADHD is controlling one’s own motivation and drive. Knowing what needs to be done but being unable to get started is not only a significant handicap but also eats away at self-esteem and self-confidence. Especially when those around you interpret your inability as laziness, depression, incompetence, or general carelessness.

While it may not be conclusively proven by research, one can’t help but wonder if, as a society, we find it even more challenging to accept ADHD traits and behaviors in girls and women? Isn’t it easy for us to think that it’s more remarkable for a young woman to have a messy home than for a bachelor pad to be a bit charmingly untidy? And don’t we differentiate in our judgments based on whether it’s a man or a woman who shows up at work with disheveled hair, a crooked tie, and remnants of a morning egg sandwich in the corner of their mouth? Don’t we expect women and mothers to be capable of and perform many different tasks simultaneously? Our social media is filled with stories of women simultaneously pursuing successful careers, being present parents, maintaining fit bodies, and having stylish, well-kept homes. Having ADHD and not even being able to update the children’s wardrobe, plan a dinner, organize the basement, bake for school’s outdoor day, or pack lunches might carry a greater social stigma for a mother than for a father.

Busy but not bright?

Many of us deceive ourselves into believing that we are engaging in effective multitasking when, in reality, we are not getting much done at all. Here are a couple of simple tips to transition from procrastination to a more efficient everyday life, shared by some of Letterlife’s users. While it may not work for everyone, you might find some inspiration to keep pushing forward.

Organized Chaos

“No one understands how much energy I put into being this structured. When the day is over, I have to lie down in a dark room to recharge before it all starts again tomorrow.”

– Sofia, 16 years old

Life can feel quite chaotic when you can’t establish even the most basic routines in your daily life. Can you articulate what’s not working in your life right now? What problems are right in front of you at this very moment? Take a blank piece of paper. Draw a line down the middle and write down everything contributing to your feeling of chaos on one side and all the different ideas you can come up with for how to address them on the other side. Go through the suggestions and select the ones you believe have the greatest potential to work.

Do You Know Your HOW, WHEN & WHY?

“To be honest, I often feel like a robot just doing things without understanding what it’s supposed to achieve. It’s really hard to motivate myself…”

– Lisa, 43 years old

Have you asked yourself about the purpose of the tasks on your to-do list? How and when you will complete them, and how you will know when you’re finished? Check in with both yourself and your surroundings, ensuring you always have answers to the questions of HOW, WHEN, WHY, and WHAT HAPPENS NEXT before embarking on a new project.

Break It Down, Divide, and Define!

“Even small things seem so elusive. There are so many parts and details that can go wrong that it exhausts me. It doesn’t seem worth starting.”

– Caroline, 32 years old

It’s usually much easier to start and finish on time when you break tasks into clear parts and decide in advance where to begin. Lists, visual aids, and mind maps relieve the brain’s burden, allowing you to direct your energy towards being creative, productive, and proactive instead of constantly focusing on keeping your thoughts organized.

The goal, of course, is not to become a robot that never deviates from the plan. Quite the opposite, the secret to good, sustainable, and successful routines is managing any deviations that occur. If possible, prepare plans for how to get back on track after changes and deviations.

Good luck, and please feel free to share your best life hacks for conquering procrastination and establishing sustainable and healthy routines!

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