by Kathie England


Did you realize that procrastination can be a stimulant? Especially if you have the diagnosis of ADHD.

Roland Rotz, Ph.D., the co-author of Fidget to Focus, said those exact words, “Procrastination is a stimulant for those with ADHD” in a presentation he made at the 2014 NAPO Conference (National Association of Professional Organizers).

Why does it work that way? The ADHD brain does not produce enough of the neurotransmitter dopamine (sometimes known as the “reward neurotransmitter”). When you wait until the last minute, the prefrontal cortex becomes engaged and that increases the production of dopamine.

Is procrastination the only way for someone with ADHD to complete a task or a big project? Rotz gives an unqualified “no” to that question because there are many downsides to procrastination.

Rotz explains that the same urgency ultimately created by procrastination can be created by crunching time. Setting a timer and racing the clock is how to crunch time. It is a strategy I’ve shared with many clients. It reminds me of the old television show titled “Beat the Clock.”

I’ve recently developed a variation of this strategy. I call it “micro-bursts.” You could also call it a sprint. I ask clients to set a specific time to begin work on a task. I also ask them to identify a specific length of time they will work, maybe 5 or 10 minutes. I invite them to send me a text that says “Start 5 minutes.” When they finish the 5 minutes, they send a text that says, “Stop.”

I encourage them to take a short break that includes movement of some kind (refer to yesterday’s blog). When they’re ready to start again, they repeat the process of Start and Stop.

This strategy not only helps crunch time and generate the production of dopamine; it also provides both accountability and support, two important benefits of coaching.

The goal of this strategy is to help clients build success by increasing their self-awareness of what is possible. It’s a strategy to work WITH their brains. The possibilities are limitless for how this process can be used to complete really big projects.

Even if you don’t have ADHD, I invite you to experiment with the Start and Stop strategy to crunch time, remembering to take short movement breaks between each micro-burst set.