Listen to procrastination play out in real time — or as close to real time as you can get with a podcast — as journalist and mental health advocate Lindsay Guentzel comes to term with her own avoidance issues.
Everyone procrastinates. But people with ADHD are more likely to put things off, for a variety of reasons. Dive into the annoying habit with researcher Dr. Joseph Ferrari and hear how it can show up — and mess up — our lives.
Lindsay Guentzel (00:20):
So much is misunderstood about ADHD and the only way to change that is by having real straightforward conversations. That’s one of my biggest goals with this podcast. I’ve said this before, and I truly mean it. I’m very much learning this as I go, not just this podcast, that has been a crash course in so many things, but also attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and how it affects my life. This is Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel, a podcast partnership with ADHD Online, a telemedicine healthcare leader that focuses on providing affordable and accessible ADHD assessments, medication management, and teletherapy. I’m incredibly proud of the podcast we’ve put out over the last two months, considering we didn’t meet one another until February, and we didn’t meet in person until just a couple of weeks ago. And I’m so excited about what we have planned for the months ahead. The team at ADHD Online and I are already working on ADHD Awareness Month in October, and we’ve started developing a plan for the International Conference on ADHD in Dallas this November.
Lindsay Guentzel (01:36):
And it’s all really exciting and rewarding and engaging and it’s stuff I want to be working on. And here I am, this seemingly neverending broken record admitting that I cannot get out of my own way. I mean, I can, it is possible. There are things that I could do to get out of my own way, but it’s much easier to think I can’t and to say I can’t because in order to get out of my own way, I have to do some work. I feel like I’m struggling. I’m getting things done. I’m getting some things done. I’m not getting all of them done. I’ve definitely dropped a few balls lately. I’ve disappointed some people and the things I am getting done are coming in hot and heavy in that final hour. And you may have noticed that the new episodes pop up at different times each week.
Lindsay Guentzel (02:41):
It’s probably not what you see with the other podcasts you subscribe to. You may have also noticed that I’ve promoted follow-up episodes that just haven’t shown up yet, yet being the keyword and something I had been able to mostly avoid over the last couple of years because of my job in radio, a place that literally runs on very, very hard deadlines. Well, that thing has started to rear its ugly head again. It’s my procrastination. I’ve always loved the first day of class. I love getting the syllabus and adding all the assignments in my planner and color coding the different classes and adding little reminders, like penciling in “start research for paper”, four weeks before the paper papers actually due. Pretending like I’m a person who plans things out and does a little at a time over and over again, over the course of a decent stretch of time.
Lindsay Guentzel (03:50):
And then has it all done ready to turn in days before it’s actually due. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever had anything done before it was supposed to be. I’m just going to say this, it’s 4:17 in the morning. I need to upload this podcast in less than two, two and a half, three hours. And for the last month I have had the goal of getting the podcast done and uploaded by noon on the Friday before. And that’s obviously not happening yet. Again, that very important word, that hopeful word that sneaks in there. I have good, sometimes even great, intentions of making actual change in my life. And sometimes yes, I can see the changes I’ve been able to make. Although I’m kind of struggling to think off the top of my head right now, I swear there are… Well, I mean, I guess I could use this podcast as an example.
Lindsay Guentzel (04:57):
I mean, technically I am still procrastinating on it, but I am getting it done. I have produced eight, very close to nine, podcast episodes and that’s more than double the amount for my first podcast. And research shows that of the nearly two million podcast titles on Apple Podcasts, about 25%, so one in four, have one episode. People say comparison is the thief of joy, but it’s actually really working in my favor on this one. Yes, many years ago I started a podcast. It was called Let’s Be Honest. And I released three episodes. And one of those episodes was an interview with James Clear, the habit researcher and author behind the best seller Atomic Habits. So I made an effort, I just didn’t keep it going. Which is procrastination turned up to 10. I went through all of the work of starting it and then I procrastinated all the way back to just not doing it any longer.
Lindsay Guentzel (06:02):
Which is pretty on point, considering my debut episode was about procrastination. I beat myself up a lot about that whole fiasco, all that wasted time and energy and the lack of follow-through. And it’s something I hear a lot of people with ADHD talk about, the guilt and the shame that comes when we invest our time, our money, our resources, our energy into something that we don’t keep going, or we don’t utilize, that we waste. The good news is I am here to offer you a little glimmer of hope on those abandoned projects. I am here to tell you that four years later, as you’re sitting at home uncertain of what you are going to talk about on the podcast that’s supposed to be uploaded in a matter of hours, those abandoned projects will unpack themselves from the shame boxes you’ve stored them in for years and will be there when you need the most.
Lindsay Guentzel (07:04):
See, I was reminded that after the last all-nighter I pulled last week, I said, I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to procrastinate. I mean, I should be able to change a lifetime of chronic procrastination in seven days without making any actual changes, right? And then I had a flashback to freshman year of high school when I pulled my very first all-nighter for school, putting together a project we’d been given the entire semester to work on with a very detailed outline of what to do each week to make sure we wouldn’t be doing exactly what I was doing at that very moment. No one should be using a paper cutter at four in the morning. No one should be producing a podcast at four in the morning, but this does feel a little less dangerous. And then as if my brain were responding to an emergency, I remembered my podcast on procrastination. Took me 10 months to do. I mean, it’s good, but it’s not 10 months good.
Lindsay Guentzel (08:08):
And so I pulled up the hosting site I still pay for, even though I haven’t released a new episode in a very long time, and I listened to the podcast. You guys, how did it take me so long to figure out I had ADHD? How did I get missed? I’m actually really excited that I thought of this because there’s a lot of really useful information in the podcast. And honestly, I think I could have pretended this was my plan all along, but I mean, what’s the fun in that? That really makes the likelihood of any change nearly impossible.
Lindsay Guentzel (08:43):
But before we get to it, I want to dive into something about stimulant medications we’ve been noticing that you might be experiencing as well. I’m going to ruin the illusion of podcasts for you right now. This part of the podcast was not recorded at four in the morning. I just wanted to make that clear for anyone who starts to get really concerned about Boz.
Lindsay Guentzel (09:02):
And as we do every week, we’re going to bring Keith Boswell into the conversation. He’s the VP of Marketing for ADHD Online, better known to most people as Boz. And I got to meet him in person a couple weeks ago. And it was like meeting an old friend. It was so strange because it was like, oh, we haven’t met in person yet.
Keith Boswell (09:28):
I know, it’s so true. And yeah, I felt the same way. It was fun to see a Zoom friendship feel the same in person.
Lindsay Guentzel (09:37):
Yes it was. And I loved I got to come into the office and I got to meet so many people on the team. And I came in on a Thursday right before the 4th of July holiday. So your team was getting ready to shut down like a lot of businesses do over the long holiday weekend. And I was listening to the medical assistants. So many of them were talking about calls from your patients that are coming in about issues getting their prescriptions filled, their prescriptions for stimulants for ADHD, people calling every pharmacy within 25 miles and being told that their prescription is on back order and they don’t know when it’s going to come in and I don’t have that problem. It was this moment where I just felt so privileged to not have that fight, but to hear how common it is, is really disheartening.
Keith Boswell (10:35):
It is. I mean, I think the MAs were mentioning that it was about eight in 10 calls just on a guess basis and that’s not one region or another. And we certainly, we’re not hearing it from every patient, but it is one of those things that it makes you realize as a care provider and as a patient, some of the challenges you’re up against when you’re dealing with a controlled substance that is highly regulated, right? These prescriptions only last 30 days, they want to send them to a single pharmacy. If they start moving around between pharmacies, it looks like you might be trying to fill that prescription multiple times and that abuse is being watched more than ever. And so it’s a weird thing for patients to be skirting this line of doing what’s right for their health, but then also feeling this kind of sense of dread of trying to keep it active and just trying to make sure the medicine they need for their treatment is there for them every day.
Lindsay Guentzel (11:47):
We could say this about so many things in life, but you don’t know what you don’t know. And as I was standing there talking to the MAs about these calls that are coming in and how they’re trying to help patients advocate for themselves, because at some point it comes down to an individual person having to call and find a place where they can go and get their medication. And some people can advocate for themselves very easily. Others it’s a struggle. I think one thing that I found so interesting was finding out that a pharmacist has the power to deny a prescription and I get it. It totally makes sense, their career and their reputation and their responsibility, it all lies in there.
Keith Boswell (12:34):
Lindsay Guentzel (12:35):
I think from my perspective, as someone who very much relies on medication to live my best life, the fact that it could so easily be taken away, it’s very alarming.
Keith Boswell (12:51):
It is. No, I mean, it absolutely is. And there’s a growing pressure of the major pharmacies, especially, in some cases for some telehealth providers not filling their scripts at all. I feel lucky that we’re not in that category, but we also, we had to spend a lot of time making sure those pharmacies know why we are a trusted resource because they do have skepticism from some of the other things that they’ve seen. And so we get it. It’s part of what we’re going to be up against as a business.
Keith Boswell (13:27):
But it’s also part of our commitment to being here, is it’s just part of the education we have to do day in and day out. And that’s really why we wanted to talk about that this week because you know, I think what we’re wondering is, is this just our patients, is this just the people that are calling, is this happening to others? Because we’d love to know. And we really see it from our angle, but that’s the great thing about the podcast is reaching others that are outside of our walls and can give us other perspectives. So we look forward to hearing if others are seeing or hearing that too.
Lindsay Guentzel (14:06):
Yes, we do want to hear from you. If you’re having issues getting your stimulant medication filled, I just would love the background of where you live, where you’re finding the problem, how you are fixing it. If you’re able to fix it, if you’re able to find a solution. I think the one thing that I’m really fascinated by, and it was kind of what I talked with your MAs about, is how dominant this is in their day at work. And so I want to know if you’re finding a problem getting your stimulant medication filled, send us an email [email protected] You can reach out on social media @LindsayGuenzel and the podcast is also on Twitter and Instagram @RefocusedPod. Can be totally off the record. I’m looking for some background information to get me started because I think that’s the one thing is, where do we start? And who do we talk to? And to get started, I need to know where people are finding this to be an issue.
Lindsay Guentzel (15:11):
Let’s be honest about procrastination, everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator. That’s a quote from Dr. Joseph Ferrari. He’s a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago and he spent his entire career studying people like me, procrastinators. I’ve procrastinated my entire life. Not only on things I don’t want to do, but even on things I’m passionate about, like this podcast. This podcast has been at my fingertips for years. So why haven’t I done anything about it until now? Well, we’ll get to that later because once I started talking to Dr. Ferrari, a lot of stuff started making sense. Specifically why I procrastinate. But first the basics, the thing is, everyone puts stuff off. It’s human nature. So how do we define procrastination?
Joseph Ferrari (15:56):
Procrastination is not the same as delaying, as waiting, as postponing. It’s very different. And that’s why one of the myths that people have is that it’s a time management problem. Just tell the person to do it. Well, to tell the chronic procrastinator just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person cheer up. That doesn’t work. All right. This is an avoidance strategy. This is a learned tendency. Procrastination is a learned tendency that the person has used to avoid. To avoid finishing, starting, to avoid being evaluated. So it’s kind of a history in their life.
Lindsay Guentzel (16:39):
According to Joseph’s research, 20% of adult men and women categorize themselves as procrastinators. So I’m definitely not alone. Like many, I stuck to this mantra. I work best under pressure and for a long time it worked. But once that pressure turned to anxiety and I started to sink, I thought, it would’ve been a lot better if I had done this ahead of time. Most recently it was a blanket I was making for a friend’s baby shower. I did actually try to get it done ahead of time, working on it a little each day, over a couple of months, so I wouldn’t be panicking the night before. And it worked. The only problem was wrapping it. I waited to wrap it until the morning of the shower and it was too big for any of the boxes I had.
Lindsay Guentzel (17:19):
So there I was back to my normal routine, running around like a chicken with my head, cut off, trying to find a box. One solid melt down later, the blanket that had been done for a week was tucked nicely in a frozen French fry box. It’s the only thing we had. We had used it when we were moving and I was on my way to the party. Late, of course, muttering under my breath. I don’t want to do this again. The scary thing is, research shows that most people allow procrastinating to take over their life.
Joseph Ferrari (17:45):
They do this at home, at school, in relationships, on the job. They just won’t get things done on time. And they won’t start on time.
Lindsay Guentzel (17:55):
So is it genetic? Passed down your family tree? Despite what you hear, not really. In the nineties, Dr. Ferrari looked at parents’ rates of procrastination compared to their children and he found no relationship, but that doesn’t stop procrastinators from using it as an excuse.
Joseph Ferrari (18:10):
They’re going to look for the biological basis like this and say, well, I’m just born this way and it’s in my genes. Nothing I can do about it. Well, that’s not true. It’s learned, which means it could be unlearned, which means you can teach in an old dog new tricks. You just got to use a different bone and you got to take your time.
Lindsay Guentzel (18:29):
So if it’s not true, why do procrastinators stick with that explanation?
Joseph Ferrari (18:33):
Because procrastinators, procs, as I like to call them are great excuse makers. If you listen to them, it’s never their fault. There’s always a reason. There’s always something else. And they’re very smart people. So you listen to them and you say, well, that makes sense. But then you listen again and it’s the next time. And it’s the next time. So they never take ownership for the fact that they didn’t get things done.
Lindsay Guentzel (18:56):
If you’re nodding along right now, you are not alone. Everything Dr. Ferrari said hit home for me hard. Especially when he started to explain why we procrastinate in the first place.
Joseph Ferrari (19:06):
Why am I avoiding? Ah, well, obvious ones are fears, fear of failure. You see if I never finish, you can never judge me. I can tell you I’m really good at this, but you’ll never know because I never finished. So I can live in this illusion and you can live in this illusion that I’m really capable, or I can blame it on the time. Oh, I would’ve gotten this to you earlier, but X and Y and Z got in the way. Being good procrastinators, they’ll have plausible things and you’ll say okay. So fear of failure can lead to that. But even fear of success. Why? Why would someone delay if they’re going to do well? Ah, cause the expectations may rise. If I’m not sure I can do well the next time, I’m going to postpone, I’m going to wait.
Lindsay Guentzel (19:52):
Let’s go back to something for a second and turn up the volume a bit.
Joseph Ferrari (19:55):
You see if I never finish, you can never judge me.
Lindsay Guentzel (19:58):
If I never finish, you can never judge me. I threw out a request for procs on Twitter and was honestly kind of shocked by how many people were willing to talk about their own issues with it.
Kate Agnew (20:07):
I’ve been a procrastinator for as long as I can remember.
Lindsay Guentzel (20:13):
Meet Kate Agnew, a kindred spirit when it comes to procrastinating,
Kate Agnew (20:17):
Even thinking back into elementary school, when I would have a spelling test, I wouldn’t start practicing how to spell the words until the night before.
Lindsay Guentzel (20:29):
For Kate, procrastinating took a turn for the worst in college when like many of us, she would wait until the night before to start a 20 page paper.
Kate Agnew (20:36):
And I think even now I say that I do my best work under pressure, but really that just means I can only concentrate enough to do something if I have an impending deadline that is over my head.
Lindsay Guentzel (20:53):
They say the first step is acknowledging you have a problem. Well, Kate took it a step further by realizing her need for deadlines and then setting up her own, but holding herself accountable for those deadlines isn’t always easy. In fact, Kate admits she rarely hits her own deadlines unless there’s someone else she’s holding herself accountable to, like with her own podcast, Drinks With Her.
Kate Agnew (21:13):
I couldn’t actually start the podcast until I hired an intern and knew that I only had her for one semester. And that if someone else is relying on me, I actually needed to deliver.
Lindsay Guentzel (21:29):
According to Dr. Ferrari, the chronic procrastinator is very concerned about their image. Now I’m not labeling Kate or myself. I’m just reiterating what Joseph told me. He explains it a little further with this. It’s one thing to lack effort, but lacking talent or ability is a whole other ballgame.
Joseph Ferrari (21:47):
I don’t want to give you a negative image. I don’t want to come across looking like I lack ability. Oh, I know I’m going to give you an image that I lack effort, but lacking ability is much more stable. There’s nothing I can do about it if I lack the ability. Lacking of effort means maybe I can do this. I just didn’t do it now.
Lindsay Guentzel (22:06):
And it all goes back to his quote that nearly knocked me off my feet. If I never finish, you can never judge me. I wanted to run that quote by Kate and get her reaction.
Kate Agnew (22:15):
I feel like it’s very accurate. It’s something that I’ve thought about because I don’t want someone to judge my not final product. Right now I don’t even want to have anyone over to my house because I really want to get my ceiling painted. And I don’t feel like people should see my house without my ceiling painted because it doesn’t represent who I am. But at the end of the day, no one else is going to care or even know that it’s not a finished product. So I probably shouldn’t make these decisions about other things in my life either.
Lindsay Guentzel (22:48):
This feels like a good time to back up for just a second, because Kate isn’t alone in not wanting people to come over to her home because of unfinished projects. It might not be a painted ceiling, but we all have things we worry others will judge us for. And we all delay doing things. So what exactly is the difference between procrastination and delay?
Joseph Ferrari (23:07):
Delay is really not the same as procrastination. It’s actually adaptive. It’s a good thing to postpone, delay, if you’re going to make a decision, if you’re going to take some action, like a manager will want to wait to get all the facts before she makes a decision. And that’s good. Procrastination sets in, is if she’s got all the information and she says, let’s do another focus group. Let’s do another discussion on this. Let’s follow it up and get another meeting and keeps putting it off. Then it’s moved into procrastination. The question is that tipping point. When does it move from delay to procrastination? Because if you prioritize, you have to delay. If I’ve got a dozen things to do, obviously 10, 11, and 12 got to wait. Was I procrastinating on them? No, because I was doing one to nine. The real procrastinator would have that list of a dozen and then do one, maybe two, and then rewrite the list and shuffle it around and make another copy of it.
Lindsay Guentzel (24:09):
A little backstory for you. I was really good at science fairs growing up. In fact about once a year, it comes up at a family gathering, my love for science fairs and my inability to ever finish them until the night before. I always came out of the gate at a hundred miles an hour, I picked my topic. I started my research and then once the novelty of a new science fair project wore off, I put it on the back burner until the very last minute. And there I was with sticky letters and a trifold board at 10:00 PM on a school night, finishing up my presentation hours before I was set to present at school. And it’s not something I’ve grown out of. I still do this. I get an idea. I go for it. And once the jazzy excitement dissipates, I’m less likely to do it, to simply finish it until I absolutely have to. Again, not alone.
Kate Agnew (24:54):
It was always the number one thing mentioned on my report card. She should get a head start on some of her projects to not make herself as stressed out. Yes. They all say that.
Lindsay Guentzel (25:05):
It’s hard to hide being a procrastinator, especially in today’s society where everything is immediate. You email me, I should be able to email you right back. So even if you are hitting specific deadlines, people can still see how close you came to missing it. Especially at work, even texting. I can see that you’ve read my text and you haven’t responded. So I ask Kate about that. As a procrastinator, do you see those tendencies in other people?
Kate Agnew (25:28):
I do see it in other people. I have analysts that I work with and if I’m assigning them some type of report or a project, I will try to give them a heads up on how long everything takes. And I will say, I think this is going to take a lot longer than you would anticipate. I would try and do a dry run of it ahead of time, so that if there are any questions or hiccups, you identify that before the night before. So I do try and protect other people from it. And then I think that I also, I notice it in my husband for sure. Especially as I’m like, oh those dishes haven’t been done in a couple days, why is he sitting down to play video games? And I know that we all do it. So I don’t know. Maybe it is more noticeable in other people when you’re depending on them to get something done.
Lindsay Guentzel (26:26):
Let’s stick with technology and procrastination for a second. As Dr. Ferrari points out, using technology as an excuse to delay is not a new concept. The snooze button’s been around for more than 50 years. And while it might seem nearly impossible, what with all the different methods for distraction that come with smartphones and the Internet in 2018, there are actually ways to use technology to help us stop procrastinating. Task managers, using systems that shut you out of the Internet while you’re in the midst of some mindless surfing. You can actually use technology as a tool, not as a means for delay, like OneFocus. It’s an app that allows you to block certain apps and websites during a specific timeframe to help you stay productive and on task. So that two hours you set aside to get a project done actually ends up being two hours of you getting that project done and not two hours of you watching Instagram stories in bed. Speaking from experience here.
Lindsay Guentzel (27:15):
Now none of these helpers will actually work if you don’t want to change. I talk with my therapist about my issues with procrastinating a lot. In fact, there are some sessions where all we do are make lists of things I need to do across all aspects of my life. I know she’s going to ask me about them the next time I come in and that accountability pushes me to want to complete them. There’s obvious ramifications that come with being a procrastinator. Money’s a big one. If I procrastinate on booking a flight for a trip I’m going on, I’m likely going to pay more for that ticket. If I’m late paying a bill, not because I don’t have the money, but because I’m procrastinating on dealing with the problem, I pay a fine or a fee. These are things I’ve actually dealt with. Having the money to pay a bill, but being afraid to pay that bill and getting charged more because of my own procrastination and insecurities and fear.
Lindsay Guentzel (28:00):
I know that sounds ridiculous. But a lot of that stuff to me is a form of confrontation, of shame. And it’s a huge reason why I procrastinate. One concept I hadn’t really thought of before speaking to Joseph is the punishment that many procrastinators face. We’re punished when we are late, but we’re never rewarded for being early. And it’s something Dr. Ferrari has looked at extensively and something he thinks could actually change many people’s behavior.
Joseph Ferrari (28:23):
The early bird gets the worm. We don’t do that anymore. We got to cut that worm up and make sure everybody gets a piece no matter what, and make sure they get the same size. Got to be fair to everybody. Well, maybe not. Maybe we ought to go back and reward for doing early, instead of punishing for being late. That’s what we generally do in our culture. If you don’t pay your credit cards on time, you get a late fee. Well, what if you paid all year ahead of time, early? Do they come back to you and say, thank you. Here’s some bonus points or something. No, of course they don’t want you to do it. They want you to be late.
Lindsay Guentzel (29:02):
Take tax day, April 15th. What would happen if the US government encouraged Americans to pay their taxes ahead of time in exchange for a small discount, would more people take care of the problem in February or March to save a few bucks. Or would it cut down the number of people the IRS has to chase down after the due date? We don’t know because there are so few opportunities that allow for people to be rewarded for doing something early. They’re out there. But the majority of the time, it’s just a punishment for being late. Christmas shopping. I worked retail for many years. I know how chaotic Christmas Eve can be. And Joseph looks at holiday shopping as a huge opportunity to flip the script on procrastinators.
Joseph Ferrari (29:40):
Of course people wait till the last minute to shop because you get 80% off, 70% off. People aren’t stupid. People realize that. What we need to do on Black Friday is say today is the 70, the 80% off. And as you get closer to Christmas, you lose that percentage and you wait until Christmas Eve or something like that, you’re going to pay a surcharge. Now people laugh when they say that. But think about it. Retailers get their business six weeks earlier, because that’s usually a big time for retailers. If they run out, they can restock. There isn’t going to be that last minute line, all right. So we have to go back to this notion of rewarding people for being things early. Again, I’m not saying punishing for being late. This is not a punishing approach. It’s an incentive, it’s a positive approach.
Lindsay Guentzel (30:28):
I like that. No punishments, just a positive way to encourage people to get things done ahead of time. And I think we’d all like to save some money. Would it be enough of an incentive to encourage me to actually deal with some of my fear? Probably in all honesty, because all of that stuff adds up. But there’s a bigger concern when it comes to chronic procrastinators. New research has been coming out about the effects of procrastinating on our health, and people should be paying attention to it.
Joseph Ferrari (30:52):
If you are a chronic procrastinator, you are three times more likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than a non procrastinator. Now it’s not that the procrastination’s killing you. It’s the stress, the worry, the not getting things done, that’s going to kill you. So besides the fact you’re more likely to get colds and flus and have menstrual problems and have migraines, all these kinds of other health issues.
Lindsay Guentzel (31:18):
Three more times likely to die of a heart attack or stroke because of the stress you’re causing yourself. It’s an incredibly complex subject. Sure, there’s people who look at procrastinators as lazy, plain and simple. But some of the research Dr. Ferrari has worked on has found significant links with ADHD, passive aggressive tendencies, revenge, obsessive compulsive disorder, things that should be taken seriously when we talk about mental health and stress. Like any issue we deal with in life, there are varying degrees of concern. Do I think my procrastination is detrimental to my health? Yes, I do. I think the added stress significantly affects my day to day life. And I’m solely responsible for that.
Lindsay Guentzel (31:54):
Now it’s not every day. It might be one week a month where I’m incredibly stressed out and anxious about something I’ve put off that is finally catching up with me. But I do notice it. We just bought a house. Every small tedious project I’ve been putting off is starting to add up. And because I don’t think I’ll ever get ahead of any of it, I just work on other things, things I can actually manage. Now, not everyone who considers themselves a procrastinator takes it as deep as me or even Kate. Joey White, another self-identified procs, was homeschooled. So he doesn’t have the typical early memories of procrastinating at school. His started when he got his first job.
Joey White (32:26):
I found that I could get in, I think, eight minutes by bike. Cover the three miles between home and work or 10 minutes, whatever that was. And I wouldn’t leave till 10 minutes ahead of time. Even if I had been up for two hours.
Lindsay Guentzel (32:38):
Joey had what he calls a freeform education growing up, which helped with the procrastination. His deadlines were more flexible than a traditional school setting, but his tendency to delay still came out in college. He says, one semester he counted 21 all-nighters.
Joey White (32:52):
I mean, I’d sit down to do it and I’d just stare at the computer screen. And it was, nothing would come until three hours to go. And I had to start writing. It was like there was something about my back against the wall where I had to do it. And I was an a… I never got less to B in college. I was an AB student, got good grades, whether it was tests or whether it was writing papers, but I just waited till the last minute. And I think because it worked, I think that was sort of the downside of it working and of getting those good grades was I just kept doing it.
Lindsay Guentzel (33:24):
I asked Joey if he thinks there’s any tie between his procrastination and his fear of confrontation or a fear of reaction, something I’ve dealt with and Kate related to. And he said, no, that he rarely puts off difficult conversations and isn’t afraid of tense interactions. He just likes to push things to the last minute.
Joey White (33:39):
I have to give myself deadlines to get anything done and I don’t have a real clear reason behind it. And I’ve tried to think through it. I mean, I’m a project manager. That’s my job is to hold people to deadlines. And I’ve found that for myself, I just have to put self-imposed deadlines in place to get anything done. I don’t think of it as a fear of anything. It’s just I think in the time between now and when it has to be done, there’s just other things I’d rather do.
Lindsay Guentzel (34:07):
He makes it sound so simple. And for some people it probably is. Me, not so much. My conversation with Dr. Ferrari really pushed me to set some personal goals when it comes to my own issues with procrastinating. And I guess now is where I can come clean. I interviewed Joseph in February and that interview has been sitting in my folder since then. I know. Trust me, I’m incredibly embarrassed to admit that. Let’s be honest as something I’ve wanted for a very long time, but I was scared. What if no one listens? What if I’m terrible? What if, what if, what if. It’s been exhausting, but that’s the mind of a chronic procrastinator.
Joseph Ferrari (34:42):
There’s a saying, you can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails. Life is going to happen. And the question isn’t, is bad things going to happen to you. I can tell your listeners right now, bad things are going to happen. Yep. You’re going to fail. You’re going to make mistakes. That’s not the issue. Question is, how do you get up? How do you get off your knees and stand again? Our knees are made so that we can bend them, but they’re also designed for us to stand. So how you going to stand tall, rise above the failures? Don’t worry about avoiding the failure. No, I’m saying rise above them. Learn from it. Your head is designed to go forward. You can’t turn your head in the back. We can’t turn, unless we’re Linda Blair in the Exorcist.
Lindsay Guentzel (35:55):
I don’t know about you, but this podcast episode that happened years before I was diagnosed, listening back to it. Every single thing I say, it’s like I can just see these giant flashing letters, ADHD, ADHD, ADHD, off in the corner, trying to desperately get my attention. Like, hello, ma’am, over here. Yes. Yes. Thank you. Pay attention to us. Kate actually has ADHD. We talked about it during our interview, but because the podcast was about procrastinating and because I knew nothing about why I was procrastinating, meaning I knew nothing about how my behavior was influenced by my emotions, and also because there was no way I had ADHD, even though I’m certain, I didn’t even know how it presented in life, outside the outdated stereotype we’ve all clung to, I chose not to include it.
Lindsay Guentzel (36:53):
Do you know how funny it was to listen back to this episode and to then Google Dr. Joseph Ferrari ADHD? There were a lot of results, including a study he published in January of 2006 in the Counseling and Clinical Psychology Journal that looked at procrastination rates among adults with and without ADHD. And I quote: as expected, ADHD adults reported significantly higher rates of decisional procrastination in decision, avoidance procrastination, behavior delays motivated to protect one’s self-esteem and social image and arousal procrastination, behavior delays to seek thrill experiences under time pressure, than similar demographic profile normal non-ADHD adults. Defining the connection between procrastination and ADHD is complex because while it isn’t one of the symptoms used for diagnosis, many do acknowledge that some of the symptoms of ADHD can lead to procrastination in people who have inattention issues.
Lindsay Guentzel (38:00):
And there are studies that show that stimulants can help people with ADHD procrastinate less by helping them focus more. But as many of us know that opens up another can of worms with time management issues, because hyperfocus. That’s why occupational therapy is recommended alongside medication to help teach us new skills and strategies to help make actual change stick, like not producing podcast episodes during an all-nighter the night before they’re due. I actually have therapy in a few hours, and I have an idea of what we might talk about.
Lindsay Guentzel (38:38):
I can’t confirm whether Joey has ADHD or not. I mean, I can’t wait around for it to be an appropriate time for me to reach out to him, to find out, but I’m happy to report he’s doing well. And he and his family even supported my cookie delivery business I started during the pandemic. Because of course I started a cookie delivery business during the pandemic. It’s okay. You can laugh. I do most of the time. I’m also happy to report Kate is doing well. Since our conversation, she became a mom and she currently chairs her city’s planning commission.
Lindsay Guentzel (39:13):
And that’s it for this week’s episode of Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel. Episode nine, it’s done. We did it. Just in time for my favorite coffee shop to open up.
Lindsay Guentzel (39:32):
Refocused with Lindsey Guentzel is a collaboration between me, Lindsey Guentzel, and ADHD Online, a telemedicine healthcare leader offering affordable and accessible ADHD assessments, medication management, and teletherapy. You can find out more by visiting ADHDonline.com.
Lindsay Guentzel (39:49):
The show’s music was created by Louis Inglis, a songwriter and composer based out of Perth, Australia, who was diagnosed with ADHD in 2020 at the age of 39.
Lindsay Guentzel (40:00):
Remember to subscribe, rate and review wherever you’re listening now and join us next week for another episode of Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel, that will be done Friday by noon.
Lindsay Guentzel (40:13):
A quick postshow note. In this episode, I joke and make light about pulling all-nighters and I take sleep very seriously. I know how important it is for living a healthy life. And I do work in news. So I’m used to early mornings. I’m used to early schedules. I just felt the need to put that out there to make sure that none of you waste any time planning my intervention just yet.