Home » ADHD » Blogs » ADHD Millennial » Bad at Planning Ahead? Sometimes That’s OK

Bad at Planning Ahead? Sometimes That’s OK

People with ADHD often lament their challenges with planning ahead – or, sometimes, their flat-out failure to do so.

I’ve brought up that aspect of ADHD many times on this blog, most recently last week. In that post, I talked about how even when ADHDers do make a plan for the future, they often have trouble actually putting that plan into action.

Crystal BallBut today I’m here to say: it’s not all bad.

How’s that for an optimistic message? What I mean is that sometimes not planning ahead is OK.

That’s because in some situations you simply can’t plan ahead. In fact, on a large scale, we find ourselves in one of those situations right now… *glances nervously at COVID-19*

The pandemic is something that, on a personal level, we couldn’t have planned for in our lives. And now that it’s here, planning remains just as difficult because the future is so uncertain.

Even if we did create careful, sensible plans in our lives during the halcyon pre-pandemic days, many of those have been laid to waste by the massive unknown we didn’t anticipate. We’re in a situation where planning can only be of so much use.

Of course, a global pandemic is only one example of an uncertain situation – for some reason, it’s the example that came to mind. But this principle applies in many other situations: when the future is unknown, good planning skills aren’t going to get you very far.

For example, jobs that are fast-moving with unpredictable demands require skills like adaptability and an ability to work under pressure. Planning is further down the list because, from one day to the next, you simply won’t know what to plan for. Perhaps not coincidentally, some of these might be jobs where people with ADHD thrive.

All of which is to say that, yes, people with ADHD can have trouble planning ahead, and yes, that is an indisputable disadvantage in some contexts. But there are situations where not planning ahead is OK and where staying focused on the present isn’t such a bad thing.

Image: Flickr/Patrick aka Herjolf

Bad at Planning Ahead? Sometimes That’s OK

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

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2020). Bad at Planning Ahead? Sometimes That’s OK. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Aug 2020
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.