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How to Rationalize Procrastination

No one likes tedium, but people with ADHD often seem to avoid it at all costs. We’re repelled by boredom. Our brains are at their best when we’re absorbed in something interesting and stimulating, and definitely not at their best when we’re trying to force ourselves to concentrate on something that doesn’t hold our attention.

ProcrastinationOne way we run from boredom is by procrastinating. If it’s boring and it can be done later, it probably will be done later – if at all. That’s why the most trivial things can cause some of our biggest problems.

When we procrastinate, it’s not always that we don’t realize we should get started on whatever it is we want to do but don’t want to do. We still get that little voice saying “you really should cross some items off your to-do list today or you’re going to be screwed tomorrow.” It’s just, we have an even stronger voice that says “hey, look, there’s a shiny thing.”

Sometimes, listening to the voice of procrastination takes a little rationalization. Some of my favorite self-justifications are:

  • Doing the dishes: These dishes look pretty dirty. I’d better let them soak for a little while, and then a little while longer, and then…
  • Laundry: It’s actually more environmentally friendly to do laundry less frequently.
  • Work or school projects: I’ll wait until tomorrow when I’m less tired so I can do a really good job.
  • Grabbing something fast and unhealthy to eat instead of preparing something healthy: It’s not like one unhealthy meal is going to kill me.

There are tricks to make these things easier. Listening to music can make any almost activity more enjoyable. Having a good book to take to the laundromat doesn’t hurt.

Learning to call BS on your own rationalizations can be a good skill too, as can being able to ask yourself “if I don’t do this now, when am I going to do it?”

Still, these little things that we put off have a way of adding up. They can lead to completely avoidable problems and stress at school, at work, and in day-to-day life. Somehow, our rationalizations for doing things tomorrow instead of today have a way of looking pretty flimsy when tomorrow actually comes!

Do you have ways of justifying procrastination? How about tips for getting things done on time? Please share in the comments!

Image: Shared under CC BY 2.0 by Flickr/Reynante Martinez

How to Rationalize Procrastination

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on psychology, ADHD and education. In addition to ADHD Millennial, he writes about psychology at Psych Central's AllPsych blog and about ADHD at He can be found on Twitter at @ADaptHD_blog

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2016). How to Rationalize Procrastination. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 9 Oct 2016
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