Is procrastination a sign of ADHD?

Procrastination is a common phenomenon that many people experience, regardless of whether they have ADHD. However, individuals with ADHD may procrastinate much more frequently, which can be very disruptive in task completion and lead to physical and emotional distress or even exhaustion. Troubles with task initiation and time management are commonly experienced by people with ADHD, which can be misperceived by others as intentional procrastination.

Is procrastination a sign of ADHD, then? Anyone can delay tasks, whether they have ADHD or not, but chronic procrastination is frequently seen in ADHD.

For several decades, the Drake Institute has used advanced treatment protocols to help individuals with ADHD and other brain-based disorders reduce their symptoms and reach more of their potential.

To learn more about how the Drake Institute helps patients with ADHD reduce procrastinating and other ADHD-related symptoms, fill out the consultation form or call us at 800-700-4233.

Why do we procrastinate?

Procrastination is more than a once-in-a-while delay in completing a task. Procrastination is a chronic avoidance of task completion; it’s not just laziness.[i] With ADHD individuals, when the brain is dysregulated it requires so much more effort and energy for executive functioning and to complete tasks. Thus, the ADHD-dysregulated brain makes them more inclined to procrastinate. This impact is similar to a neurotypical individual who is significantly sleep-deprived. ADHD Paralysis can also certainly lead to procrastination.

There are a lot of reasons why procrastination happens. Some people who procrastinate may be perfectionists. These individuals may find it preferable never to start a task than to do it imperfectly. It’s not uncommon for ADHD adults to wait until their backs are against the wall with time pressure to then work on completing the task. They are triggering an adrenaline surge to activate their brain. Unfortunately, the stress hormones of excessive adrenaline and cortisol can contribute to anxiety and depression.[ii]

Procrastination can also occur out of a desire to avoid unhappiness, discomfort, confusion, or other negative emotions that may arise from working on a particular task.[iii]

Why does ADHD make procrastination worse?

Why do people with ADHD procrastinate? Does ADHD cause procrastination?

Rather than concluding that ADHD does not necessarily cause procrastination, the procrastination can be a result of executive dysfunction seen in ADHD.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect a person’s ability to focus, perform executive functioning, complete tasks, manage time, and regulate emotions. These challenges can make procrastination more frequent and severe for people with ADHD.

People with ADHD often have difficulty with executive functioning, which is the set of cognitive skills that help us plan, organize, and regulate our behavior. This can make it difficult for them to get started on tasks, stay on track, and complete them on time. Additionally, people with ADHD may experience increased emotional dysregulation at times. This can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed, triggering avoidance, further contributing to procrastination.[iv]

Here are some of the specific ways[v] that ADHD can make procrastination worse:

ADHD paralysis

People with ADHD may experience a state of paralysis when faced with a large or complex task. They may feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start, leading to procrastination.

Challenges with task initiation

ADHD and task initiation challenges often go hand in hand. Individuals with ADHD may have difficulty getting started on tasks, even if they want to complete them. This can be due to a variety of factors, such as difficulty focusing, prioritizing, planning, and organizing.

Lack of motivation

ADHD can negatively impact motivation, especially for tasks that are uninteresting or boring to the person with ADHD. If the brain is under-activated, like commonly seen with ADHD individuals, it is much more difficult to complete a mundane or boring task.

Desire to make everything perfect

People with perfectionist tendencies may procrastinate because they may feel pressure to do things perfectly, which can be overwhelming. Perfectionism is a problem for some individuals with ADHD.

Prone to distractions

Individuals with ADHD are easily distracted by their environment and their own thoughts. This can make it difficult for them to stay focused on tasks and avoid procrastination.

Unable to stick to the plan

Even when those with ADHD can start a task, they may have difficulty sticking to their plan and completing it. This can be due to difficulty with sustained focus, organization, prioritizing, and time management.

How to stop procrastinating

The best way to stop ADHD procrastination is to treat the underlying cause, which is ADHD-driven difficulties in sustained focus and executive functioning.[vi] The Drake Institute uses non-drug treatment protocols to help individuals with ADHD improve their focus, attention, and emotional regulation. This can lead to a significant reduction in procrastination.

In addition to treatment, there are several adjunctive suggestions that may help you stop procrastinating with ADHD.

Be honest with yourself

A good start to overcoming procrastination is to be honest with yourself about your procrastination, and the underlying causes for it. Once you know your triggers, you can start to develop strategies to minimize them.

Break tasks into smaller pieces

Large tasks can be overwhelming, so break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. This will make them seem less daunting and more likely to get started.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, promote relaxation, and help you identify ADHD procrastination triggers.

Reward yourself

Reward yourself for completing a task, even a small one. This can help you stay motivated and more on track.

Exercise regularly

Exercise is recommended for individuals with ADHD regardless of procrastination habits. It can help improve focus, attention, and mood, temporarily, all of which can help reduce procrastination and encourage task initiation.

Monitor your energy levels

People with ADHD often have fluctuating energy levels. It is important to be aware of your energy levels and to schedule tasks accordingly. When you are feeling most energetic, tackle the most challenging tasks first.

Manage stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can worsen procrastination symptoms. There are several things you can do to manage stress and anxiety, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and therapy. Ultimately, if necessary, we encourage our ADHD patients to complete the Drake Institute’s stress treatment program to optimize self-regulation.

How the Drake Institute Treats ADHD

Over the last 40 years, the Drake Institute has clinically pioneered the use of advanced treatment technologies to treat a variety of brain-based medical disorders such as ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, PTSD, anxiety, panic disorder, depression, insomnia, and more. Using a combination of brain map-guided neurofeedback and sometimes neurostimulation, our Medical Director creates customized treatment protocols to address each patient's needs.

Brain Mapping

To develop our individualized treatment plans, we first complete a qEEG brain map analysis for each patient. Brain mapping helps us identify which specific regions or networks of the brain are dysregulated linked to symptoms.

To collect this data, 19 sensors are placed around the scalp in areas of the brain responsible for language, focus, memory, executive functioning, social/emotional understanding and behavioral/emotional regulation. The 19 sensors measure and record brainwave activity that is processed through a normative database of neurotypical individuals.

When we compare the patient's results with those of neurotypical individuals, we can identify regions or networks of the brain that are dysregulated and causing symptoms. This information also allows us to determine how these areas are dysregulated so that we can develop specific treatment protocols that help improve brain functioning and reduce symptoms.


During neurofeedback training/treatment, sensors are once again placed on the scalp. The sensors record and display instantaneous brainwave activity visually in real-time on a computer screen with simultaneous auditory feedback as well.

During neurofeedback sessions, the patient is seeing the results of how their brain is working and with this information, they learn to improve their brainwave activity by guiding it toward healthier, more appropriately functional brainwave patterns.

We do not administer any drugs or perform invasive procedures during this process. Instead, the patient is improving their own brain functioning, guided by visual and auditory feedback.


As an adjunct to neurofeedback, we may also use neurostimulation guided by qEEG brain map findings to gently stimulate the brain into healthier functional patterns. In our experience, some patients may benefit even more from neurofeedback if we also use neurostimulation. We have found this particularly helpful for lower-functioning children on the Autism Spectrum.

Contact The Drake Institute Today!

In the last forty years, Drake has helped thousands of patients with various disorders such as autism, ADHD, PTSD, anxiety, panic disorder, depression, insomnia, migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and hypertension reduce or resolve their symptoms and thereby achieve a better quality of life. Call us at 1-800-700-4233 or fill out the free consultation form to get started.








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“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”

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