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When ADHD Task Avoidance Doesn’t “Make Sense”

Ever have moments where you look at your own life from the outside and realize how absurd some aspects of it are?

This happens occasionally when I reflect on some my ADHD symptoms. One area of ADHD that just doesn’t “make sense” in a way is the tendency to avoid tasks.

PileI’ve written before about how ADHDers are especially prone to avoiding tasks that are unpleasant or uninteresting. This behavior has to do with how the ADHD brain is always thirsty for stimulation – and therefore has a strong instinctive aversion to understimulating tasks.

So rationally, I know, on some level, why I avoid so many boring but necessary tasks. But, on another level, that doesn’t make this behavior any less irrational. For example:

  • Avoiding a task for weeks or even months when actually doing that task would take a few minutes
  • Putting off tasks I’ll inevitably have to do anyway, until the tasks pile up and cause much more chaos and stress than if I’d just done them on time
  • Avoiding tasks when I know that actually completing those tasks will make me feel good
  • Delaying tasks even when there are entirely avoidable negative consequences that accumulate as the tasks are delayed, such as late fines

Even though I know avoiding tasks in these situations doesn’t make sense, I still do it. It’s like the temporary lack of stimulation associated with certain tasks creates an invisible wall to actually doing those tasks, and no amount of evidence for the benefits of doing the task will push you through that wall.

That’s partly what executive functioning deficits and a lack of impulse control are about. Logically, you might know that a specific course of action makes sense, but in the moment you don’t end up doing what you “should” do.

Instinctively choosing the route that doesn’t lead where you want to go is what gives ADHD task avoidance the absurd tinge I’m talking about. And yet, even if I know these behaviors are absurd, that doesn’t mean I stop doing them – which just makes them seem even more absurd in the end!

Image: Flickr/TheeErin

When ADHD Task Avoidance Doesn’t “Make Sense”

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. (2019). When ADHD Task Avoidance Doesn’t “Make Sense”. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 7 Sep 2019
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