Stop, Look and Listen System To Overcoming Procrastination with ADHD

When you were a child your parents or teacher may have taught you to cross the street by telling you to do 3 things: Stop, Look and Listen. This same advice works when you feel a bout of procrastination coming on. I will look at why you are going to stop and as well as what you need look and listen for. My genuine system will help you turn from a delayer into a doer, so let’s strike up the band, send in the clowns and let’s get right to it.

Step One: STOP– Let’s say it is a Saturday afternoon and you went into the kitchen to make a p&j sandwich and you left the bag of bread open a messy knife and lots of crumbs on the counter, and head back to the tv or whatever it was that you were doing and not thinking about the mess that you just made.  However somewhere in that process that fleeting thought “I will clean up the mess later” probably runs through your mind. And that leaving a few crumbs and knife that will eventually get crusty is not going to ruin your life, but it may be one example of many instances of procrastination.  To break the pattern of putting things off until another time, the first thing to do is pause and stop to think about what you are doing and try to figure out why you are doing it.

When you say “stop” you are doing several important things”

-You are no longer acting on impulse, but you are instead becoming more conscious of your behavior

-You gain power over procrastination instead of letting it be some insidious force that sneaks up on you.

-You give yourself the chance to think about the consequences of putting off the task.

-You give yourself the chance to get angry or fed up with your procrastination habits some may inspire you to do something about it.

Step 2: Look: When you called halt to that first impulse to procrastinate, the next step to this process is look around for the reasons you have tempted to put something off and you can ask yourself the following questions:

Is clutter getting in my way

-Is something distracting you

-Is someone distracting you

-Are you feeling uncomfortable?

-Do you not have enough information to get the task done?

After you have pushed the pause button, visual yourself as if you are watching a movie of yourself in the present moment and examine what you are seeing on the screen as if you were looking for a movie prop that was out of place or something else you couldn’t catch when the movie was playing. What you could be looking for what are those distractions, or are you really missing important information. Once you have identified what is getting in your way, think about what you can do to remove these roadblocks. This may take sometimes so don’t be hard on yourself.

Step 3 Listen: This final step is to listen to what is going on in your head. Our ADHD brains plays games that give you excuses to put something off. To put an end to these games you can ask yourself these three questions

-What are you feeling? Am I giving in to the fear of feeling or inadequacy about the tasks that I have to do? Am I feeling overwhelmed when it is not necessary to feel this way? Am I feeling pressured to get this done in a certain way? Am I bored or tired?

-What are you thinking? Are my thoughts irrational, unreasonable inaccurate or self-sabotaging? Am I assuming that this task is going to be unpleasant or be difficult? Am I believing that I won’t have enough time to do this? Am I convincing myself that X has to happen before I can do Y? Am I justified in waiting for X?

-What am u saying to myself or out loud or to others. Are these negative or unproductive statements running through my mind. Am I giving myself permission to put this off or making excuses? Am I saying things that I haven’t been conscious of and that are powerful barriers to actions? For instance, “I don’t have to do this now or I will do this later or I am not the sort of person who does that.

When you ask yourself these questions, you are breaking down your internal barriers to action. You stop functioning on autopilot and you start becoming conscious of the thoughts, feelings and self-talk behind your actions of procrastination.

In closing I want you to know that my system works. I have been testing it in my own ADHD life for a few years now and I am happy to report that it works like a charm. It has helped me get through my writer’s block. keeps me from putting off household chores. But of all the things that I have accomplished thanks to my system, it is the fact that i no longer procrastinate about doing things I don’t want to do.