ADHD NEWSLETTER from Patrick J. Hurley

ADHD – Procrastination, the time killer

April 2004 Volume I Issue IV
Statement: My intent in this newsletter is to express as quickly as possible my own beliefs and opinions on matters. I have no problems with people who disagree with my opinion and have even been swayed to rethink my position from time to time.

I wanted to let you know that a book many years in the making is nearing completion, it is authored by me and Robert Eme Ph.D. and will be titled Spinning out of control- ADHD and the Criminal Justice System. It is designed for the police, jails, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation, prisons, halfway houses and parole officials. To learn more and get updates click here. Robert Eme e-mail is

At our support group the other night we noticed several people who had notes written to themselves on their hands, one of them on the palm of his hand. In Jeff Foxworthy type joking we decided to start ADHD humorous statements. You might be ADHD if you think a palm pilot is writing notes to yourself on the palm of your hand. If you hear or come up with any send them in. If they offend you I am sorry but I think we need to take our ADHD with a sense of humor.

From my experience of having ADHD for 50 years and facilitating support groups for adults with ADHD since 1997 and coaching I feel one of the biggest concerns for all of
us is the problem of procrastination.

It is probably the most frustrating and conflicting area in our lives. It seems we know we are procrastinating. We recognize that it is counter productive yet we continue to do it anyhow. The more we procrastinate the more frustrated we get and often times we finally get to a point of being overwhelmed with it all and freeze up all together.

Our families have probably seen this trait in us for many years and find it difficult if not impossible to relate to. We also find it difficult if not impossible to explain. It can be the source of much tension in families and poor self esteem in us.

I often times will think I need to begin a project long overdue, go to do it and look at all there seems to do and become overwhelmed at where to start. If I am able to fight through this first and major obstacle and finally get started I can sometimes make real progress. Other times however it simply overwhelms me and I decided to watch Television, or do something more interesting. (Many with ADHD have a tendency to like to play computer games or solitaire I have found).

Probably the greatest frustration is if I proceed to start the project and then actually complete it in 3-4 hours. I will then think back on the countless hours I wasted worrying about doing it and why I wasted this valuable energy on something I could have completed in such a short period of time. Instead of feeling good now about what I have accomplished I become disgusted and depressed with myself for not having done it earlier. It always seems to be a lose – lose proposition for me. You would think I would learn from this. Maybe I actually do but it seems to keep cropping up for me and for a lot of people I know with ADHD.

We have all heard the lessons of getting started on projects and how to stay motivated by breaking them down into smaller task and accomplishing these and then moving on. This does work sometimes. But, I often find myself starting a project like emptying boxes or cleaning out an area and in the process discovering a long lost photo album, or some other object that distracts my attention from the main project. The next thing I know I am an hour into what should have been a 15 minute project and have little to show for it. Usually I stop and then use this as an excuse to myself for why that method doesn’t seem to work for me. If I had someone there to keep me focused I probably would have put the photo album down and continued the project to completion and then rewarded myself by looking at the photo album.

What I have learned is that what I think we need most is someone else there while we are doing our projects who will recognize our tendency to get distracted and keep us focused on what we want to accomplish. Even if that other person also has ADHD they can usually focus better on our task because they are there for that reason. In my coaching of clients I will often go to their houses and help them do some of the same task I struggle with at my own home. The fact that I am there for a purpose helps them and me to stay better focused and has actually allowed me to be better when by myself at home completing task.

Procrastination as I mentioned earlier can really eat away at our self esteem because we not only recognize it in ourselves but realize that it is a destructive force in our lives. We know it causes family friction and leads to the almost inevitable devaluing process of us with those closest to us. They try to understand, but can’t. We try to understand but for some reason can’t either. Soon we are deemed unreliable at following through on promises we have made. Promises that we fully intended to keep when we made them. We can see it in our loved ones eyes, we feel shame and loss of self esteem for letting others down. We ask ourselves “Why if these are the people I love the most can’t I follow through with my promises”. The answer usually never comes and our frustration levels increase. We think to ourselves “if my family is the most important thing to me and I can’t even do what I need to do for them, then what on earth will motivate me”.

Sometimes that answer never comes either. My belief is that procrastination can only be overcome by us. We have to get sick and tired of being sick and tired of ourselves. We have to take what we can from those tiny victories that we accomplish from time to time and store them up and recall them the next time a manageable but seemingly overwhelming task awaits us.

My garage was a mess, I stewed about cleaning it for about six months spending I don’t know how many hours worrying about it, chastising myself about it and making excuses to myself why I could get it started now. One day I started cleaning, in five hours I had taken everything out of the garage, swept the floor, power washed it and sorted through most of the boxes and thrown away trash from years gone by. I ended up putting a lot of boxes back in the garage but at least they were in some type of order and I could actually get a car in there too. I felt good about this and also bad for not doing it earlier. I forced myself to keep looking at it in the positive light of an accomplishment and tried to dismiss the negative thoughts that came in relating to procrastination. I feel I made some
progress by simply knowing that I would have these thoughts and being ready to minimize their affects on me.

Like ADHD, procrastination is a process we need to educate ourselves on and make progress on slowly. Sometimes two steps forward and one step back, but that still keeps us moving forward.

If you belong to any on line groups like YAHOO feel free to forward these newsletters to them.

Several people pointed out to me (and rightfully so) that my mentioning a E-Bay website for people to go to get bargains on ADHD related items was probably a poor choice, especially when my last newsletter was about gambling addiction. They said that E-Bay can be a trap for many people trying to control spending too. I apologize for that and thank those who spoke up. I agree with them 100 %.

If you have any comments feel free to e-mail me a -short note- (if possible). I have ADHD too so I know how difficult it is to write short notes.
If anyone of you is going to the ADDA conference in St. Louis May 13th-16th and would like to get together send me an e-mail and we will try and hook up.
FIRST EVER Poster devoted to ADHD view at:
If you know on anyone who might like this newsletter please forward it to them and tell them to go to my web site and sign up.
Have a great month. Talk to you soon.
Patrick J. Hurley

Author's Bio: 

Diagnosed with ADHD at age 42 now age 50. 22 years in lawenforcement and corrections. ADHD/ADD Coach since July 2003