The relationship between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and procrastination is complex. Although there is no direct link between the two, some of the symptoms of ADHD can lead to procrastinating.

ADHD is a behavioral condition that affects people of all ages. People with ADHD may find paying attention for extended periods of time, organizing tasks, managing their time, and control their impulses challenging.

These features of ADHD may lead to some people with the condition delaying the completion of tasks because they have difficulty maintaining a consistent focus for a long time. They may also become distracted quickly or feel that the job requires more mental effort than they can afford.

Procrastination is an avoidance behavior. Imbalances in motivation can occur in people with ADHD, as they tend to hyperfocus on tasks they deem interesting but procrastinate over tasks they deem tedious. People with ADHD may also experience a resistance to taking action due to some emotional conflict with the task.

Keep reading to learn more about ADHD and procrastination, including the overall relationship between the two, and perfectionism procrastination.

This article also explores some possible negative impacts of ADHD-related procrastination and takes a look at some treatment and management options for the condition.

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People with ADHD often struggle with time management, and this is one aspect of the condition that can lead to procrastination. Those with ADHD may also have difficulty establishing priorities and remembering all the elements involved in completing a particular task.

Additionally, some people with ADHD may find mental tasks daunting. This could be especially true for tasks that require considerable effort over an extended period of time. People may put them off or avoid them altogether.

Even though ADHD symptoms may, at times, lend themselves to procrastination, this does not necessarily mean that a direct relationship exists between the two.

One 2014 study examined the link between ADHD and procrastination. The team expected impulsivity to be a behavior that significantly affected someone’s likelihood of procrastinating. However, the researchers found that inattention was actually the only quality that correlated with procrastination.

These findings indicate some form of relationship between ADHD and procrastination, but only for those who exhibit inattention symptoms.

It is also important to note that although ADHD may present numerous challenges, there are also benefits to the condition, such as hyperfocus. Hyperfocus may actually aid people in their ability to complete certain tasks. Learn more about the benefits of ADHD here.

Healthcare professionals do not currently acknowledge procrastination as a symptom of ADHD. However, many recognize that ADHD symptoms can lead to procrastination.

These symptoms include:

  • making careless mistakes with school or other work
  • having difficulty organizing tasks
  • avoiding tasks that require large amounts of mental effort
  • becoming easily distracted
  • being forgetful

People with ADHD who are inclined to procrastinate may do so in an extreme manner that occurs repeatedly. This chronic procrastination can lead to severe problems at school, work, or home or in personal relationships.

Many people with ADHD recognize that their procrastination is significant and causing problems, but they find breaking the pattern challenging.

Perfectionism refers to when someone demands an extraordinarily high, or even faultless, level of performance of themselves.

Perfectionism procrastination can occur when an individual delays doing something because they fear that they cannot attain the self-imposed level of perfectionism they desire. Instead of facing these premature feelings of “failure,” they may decide to put off the activity instead.

There are three types of procrastination based on the area of life to which it applies. These are academic procrastination, everyday procrastination, and decisional procrastination. Academic procrastination is where perfectionism procrastination commonly occurs.

Academic procrastination can result from a person feeling unable to navigate the significant mental challenges they may have to face. In the case of perfectionism, the individual may also worry that they cannot complete a task as well as they should.

For example, students who procrastinate about studying for a quiz or exam may put off the task because they fear that they cannot learn all the material and do not want to face that possibility.

Writing appears to be the academic task that most often causes people to procrastinate. People with ADHD may consider writing a mentally strenuous task that takes longer to complete than they can comfortably manage.

People tend to regard procrastination as a harmful activity because it can affect several aspects of someone’s well-being. Procrastination may have an even more significant impact on those with ADHD, as academic performance also contributes to these factors.

Specifically, people with ADHD may be more likely to struggle in school because of the condition. This may mean that they are more likely to have low self-esteem and reduced levels of well-being.

Coincidentally, low self-esteem is common in many people with ADHD, though there are other impacting factors besides the potential tendency for procrastination.

Healthcare professionals can help people manage their ADHD with a combination of medication and occupational therapy.


There are two types of medications for ADHD treatment: stimulants and nonstimulants.

Stimulants appear to be more beneficial for those who experience procrastination. This is because they may help people with their time management issues.

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy is another option for those who frequently procrastinate. Occupational therapists work with people to address practical time management skills and help them develop the discipline required to persevere with tasks through to completion.

Many people with ADHD find that once they begin a task, they become fully immersed and lose track of time.

Although this is not necessarily a negative thing when the person is working on something productive, it can become problematic if they become engrossed in a leisurely activity unrelated to the required task. These people may find that timers can help them keep track of time as they plan and execute their day.

Occupational therapists can also help those with ADHD address their reasoning for avoiding certain activities. Once a person understands why they delay tasks, they can work with their occupational therapist to improve the skills they need to navigate this reasoning.

Occupational therapists are trained professionals who can offer various solutions to the issues that cause people with ADHD to procrastinate. With help, people can tackle their to-do lists using new skills and strategies that work with their ADHD instead of against it.

Although there is no direct relationship between ADHD and procrastination, some of the symptoms of ADHD can lead an individual to procrastinate.

Procrastination is not a symptom specific to ADHD. That said, people with ADHD do commonly experience it due to the other symptoms of the condition.

Procrastination can take different forms. Perfectionism procrastination, for example, occurs when someone procrastinates because they fear that their work will fall short of unattainable standards they set for themselves.

Treatment for ADHD, including stimulant medications and occupational therapy, may help with procrastination.