Sorry, I was going to write about procrastination but I kept putting it off

I was reading a paper on procrastination, and I came across this sentence:

“A perfect storm of procrastination occurs when an unpleasant task meets a person who’s high in impulsivity and low in self-discipline. ”

Remind you of anyone? It reminds me of several someones.

That particular paragraph is quite rich because it goes on:

“Most delayers betray a tendency for self-defeat, but they can arrive at this point from either a negative state (fear of failure, for instance, or perfectionism) or a positive one (the joy of temptation). All told, these qualities have led researchers to call procrastination the “quintessential” breakdown of self-control.”

Oh, and: “The chronic procrastinator, the person who does this as a lifestyle, would rather have other people think that they lack effort than lacking ability,” says Ferrari.

Yup. That describes me. Somewhere along the way, I got the idea that not-trying was cooler than not being able to…or, more accurately, that failing was much more painful than not trying.

If I can go ahead and talk about ADHD for a moment… Maybe it’s partly because of the see-saw nature of ADHD, the lack of consistency. It felt like that the amount of effort I put into things had no bearing on their success. (It still sometimes feels like that.) And if you put effort into something, it is that much more heartbreaking when you fail. (It is the nature of life that sooner or later you will fail; it is the nature of ADHD that sooner you will fail.)

I see this in my son. He would rather not try…because then he still has the illusion that he could try and succeed; he just chooses not to try.

I wonder if the generally poor emotional regulation that seems to result from ADHD has something to do with it? After all, the article goes on to point out that mood and procrastination are linked, and contains this item:

“Emotional regulation, to me, is the real story around procrastination, because to the extent that I can deal with my emotions, I can stay on task,” says [psychologist Timothy] Pychyl.

I’m not in any way saying that the problem isn’t attention, but rather that in the rather complex dance of ADHD, emotional regulation might play a bigger part than we suspect at first.


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