Hello, Brains! Remember that bonus
interactive video on procrastination I promised you? …Yeah Sorry about that. [intro music] Although quite a few of you have playfully poked at me, asking me when I’ll finish it no one seems very surprised that I haven’t, which.. isn’t surprising. Those of us with ADHD tend to be chronic procrastinators. Why is that? For one thing, we have a hard
time getting stuff done Wait! That’s not quite true. We have a
harder time getting stuff we mean to get done, done. …when we mean to do it Part of that is due to trouble with our
brain’s executive function system. Our executive function system is what helps us set goals and then actually accomplish them. And, our executive
function system is impacted by our ADHD Which is a lot of why it can be a
challenge for us to know how or when to start on something, stay focused while
we’re doing it, and then actually finish it This can lead to us being overwhelmed by
a task and anxious about the outcome before we even get started. That anxiety makes us more likely to
procrastinate because we want to avoid that discomfort. We look at the task “Nope, don’t want to deal with that” and do our best to pretend it doesn’t exist. The problem with that is, procrastination
generates anxiety, which makes us even more likely to procrastinate, which makes
us even more anxious, which makes us even more likely to procrastinate, which
makes us even more anxious, which makes us even more likely to procrastinate, until, like
me, you are terrified of listening to your voicemail. So how do we break the cycle? Recognize
that it’s not the task itself that’s causing the anxiety most of the time, doing stuff actually
feels kind of good. What causes the anxiety is having to do it. It’s not knowing how to get started, not
knowing how it’ll turn out, or not having started on it yet and having
absolutely no idea how it’s ever gonna get done. Remember that avoiding the task because we’re anxious only increases the very anxiety we are trying to avoid. As Dr. Hallowell puts it in his book ‘Driven to Distraction’ avoiding it doesn’t make it go away.
Getting it done, does! But how do we get it done when
we’re too anxious to even get started? Here are the steps to beat
procrastination as applied to anxiety: One Decide what you need to do. That’s a.. critical step. Two Break it down into steps. You know you’ve broken it down well
enough when you look at every step and think “Yeah, I can do that.” Sometimes, this is enough to reduce the anxiety about getting started. Three Take the next step. This can be easier
said than done. It helps to get specific and create cues for yourself. If I wake up at six, I’ll take a shower at seven or, when ‘Game of Thrones’ is over I will outline my essay for 10 minutes. Four If anxiety is still getting in the way, ask yourself “Am I anxious because I’m bored? Am I afraid it won’t be good enough? Am I
afraid something bad will happen? Am I stressed about something else?” Five Correct the issue. Are you stressed?
Take a walk, take a few breaths, meditate future tripping? Remember you don’t have to tackle your
whole life all at once and just try focusing on the step you’re working on
now. Bored? Try finding something about the
task that does interest you, or play music while you work. And finally, challenge your negative
thoughts. We tend to believe everything we think without seeing if it’s actually
true. Instead of thinking “I’m never gonna pass
this class..” try saying “Huh, I’m having the thought that I’m
never going to pass this class, I wonder why?” See the difference? Six Get to work. Even if you’re still feeling
a little anxious, remember that just getting started can be an effective way
of reducing your anxiety. Some tips? Start small. Work for just five minutes.
Give yourself full permission to stop after that if you don’t feel like
continuing. Most of the time you’ll probably keep going. Start badly. If you’re staring at a blank
screen, try typing a few random letters or the worst first sentence you can think of. When you don’t have to be perfect it’s a lot easier to get started. And once you get started it’s a lot easier to keep going. Find the right time. Pay attention to when you work best and try to do your most procrastination-y tasks then. For me it’s usually a couple hours after my meds kick in. Find the right place. ADHDers tend to work well in unusual
environments so try a few out and see what works best for you. Hate silence? Try a café. Love silence? Try some headphones or a quiet study spot. I do most of my writing in a Chinese
restaurant, or laying on the floor Not at the same time. And! Reward yourself for starting. If you get anxious every time a task comes up, your brain has probably flagged it as stressful. By associating something positive with it,
you can start to change your reaction. One last note. Sometimes, rather than
paralyzing us, the anxiety we get from procrastination motivates us.
We get used to feeling an incredible amount of anxiety, and that being our cue to get
started. The stress takes a definite toll on us, but we often think that’s the
price we have to pay to get anything done. If you are a last-minute adrenaline
junkie, quitting cold turkey might be a challenge. If your brain is used to using
anxiety to get stuff done, it can be hard to focus without it, in
which case the best solution might not be to get started now… But every time you have a project to do,
get started just a little bit earlier, and a little earlier, and a little earlier,
until you’re starting on time and can actually sleep the night before it’s due. That’s it for this week hope some of
this helps. I’ve posted links to more info on getting started and dealing with
anxiety in the description below. I’ll be using these techniques to work
on the interactive bonus video I owe you so stay tuned. And, if you haven’t already,
Subscribe so you don’t miss it. Bye Brains

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