Three Reasons ADHD Adults Procrastinate

A graphic of a person sitting while a clock shaped like a bomb ticks away. Learn how to address ADHD and emotional regulation and how it can help you overcome procrastination. Contact a therapist in Columbus Ohio for support with ADHD and overthinking today.

As the science behind ADHD evolves, it’s becoming clear that procrastination is more complicated than meets the eye.

Over the years, there has been little research on why so many ADHD people procrastinate in the first place. One school of thought is that procrastination is simply a “thinking brain issue,” having to do with working memory or the ability to motivate oneself internally. For example, choosing more fun activities over boring ones or forgetting tasks entirely. Now, the field of mental health is realizing the impact of emotions on ADHD minds, and the research has made its point: ADHDers struggle big time with emotional regulation. This new wave of brain-based research explaining ADHD and emotions gives us a deeper understanding of why ADHDers might put things off when their feelings get too large to manage.

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The ADHD brain can’t effortlessly switch between the task-oriented side of the brain and the emotional side of the brain. It’s as if there is no air traffic controller. As a result, thoughts and feelings are allowed to merge, race, and collide as they see fit. This creates a feeling of “stuckness” for the ADHDer, as their feelings often take over their mind and inhibit their “thinking brain” from just proceeding with a task. This is why it can feel so draining trying to get things done. Because the ADHDer can’t regulate emotions with ease, their big emotions can feel all-consuming. This can lead to avoidance of to-do-list items that might just move life forward in big ways.

Here are three common reasons for ADHD adults to procrastinate:

A graphic of a large clock with a person throwing a paper airplane. This could represent a fear of failure a therapist in Columbus Ohio can address. Learn more about how ADHD and emotional regulation mix, and how Focused Mind ADHD Counseling can offer support. Fear of Failure

By the time an ADHDer has reached adulthood, they’ve likely racked up quite a bit of criticism for unintended errors or setbacks. This can make an ADHD adult hypervigilant to failure, anticipating that the other shoe will drop soon at any time. In fact, it is also common for even the most highly successful people with ADHD to constantly worry that they will fail. This is often an exaggerated fear, as many adults with ADHD work incredibly hard. However, that doesn’t stop fear from taking over the brain and prompting it to delay getting started.


In addition to fear, feeling guilty for past mistakes also can stop someone from getting started. This is also tied to overworking and overextending, as guilt can drive them to say yes to everything in an effort to apologize for “dropping the ball” in the past. However, this can put more on one’s plate than anyone can manage, which inevitably leads to procrastination out of necessity.

PerfectionismA graphic of a person running towards the exit door of their office. Learn how Focused Mind ADHD Counseling can help you address ADHD and emotional regulation. Contact a therapist in Columbus Ohio today to learn more.

The result of these overwhelming feelings of guilt and fear can be a preoccupation with a task or project being perfect. However, the problem with perfectionism is that the “perfect” rarely arrives, and it can keep a person chasing down unrealistic expectations. The fear of not being perfect can lead to the mountain feeling so big, you never attempt to climb it, only leading to more feelings of guilt, shame, fear, etc.

Overcome Procrastination with Adult ADHD Treatment in Columbus, OH

You don’t have to live your life feeling behind. ADHD treatment can help you find real understanding and real solutions. Our Columbus OH-based counseling practice has caring adult ADHD specialists. To start your journey with one of our adult ADHD specialists, follow these simple steps:

Other ADHD Services Offered at Focused Mind ADHD Counseling

 We offer a variety of mental health services that go beyond adult ADHD treatment at our Columbus, OH counseling practice. As an adult with ADHD, Focused Mind ADHD Counseling understands you may also benefit from anxiety treatment for ADHD, counseling for men with ADHD, adult ADHD testing, or depression counseling for ADHD. You can also view our blog for more resources and helpful info. We look forward to connecting with you!