88: Procrastination: The Art of the Start

Procrastination: The Art of the Start, with Robin Nordmeyer


Helping those with ADHD for the past 20 years, Robin Nordmeyer shares her thoughts and strategies on handling procrastination in this episode. Robin discusses her own experiences with procrastination, walks through some common triggers and behaviors of those suffering from it alongside their solutions, and compares a number of tales of procrastination with host Eric.

About Robin Nordmeyer:

  • Helping others with their ADHD for the past 20 years, Robin Nordmeyer herself has ADHD.

  • Robin started her coaching practice, Life Ahead Coaching, five years ago. With it she helps adults, parents, and youth find their strengths and discover how to better manage their ADHD.

  • Speaking at the 2015 CHADD conference, Robin will be presenting on procrastination with “The Art of the Start with ADHD“.

  • When her children were diagnosed with ADHD, Robin decided she needed to figure out how best to help them. As a result, she later became involved with CHADD and, through them, became a Parent to Parent trainer.

  • Through her time in the CHADD Parent to Parent program, Robin learned a great deal about ADHD to aid her children’s academics, behavior, household order, relationships, and more.

  • In learning so much about her children’s ADHD, she began to realize how familiar much of what was discussed was to her own life experiences. At age 50, Robin was officially diagnosed with ADHD.

  • “For those that are getting diagnosed late in life, I just want you to know: hey there [are] a lot of great things waiting for you when you get diagnosed. It’s just a whole different world.”

Robin and Procrastination:

  • Robin was a “very chronic” procrastinator, as she remembers all the way back to when she was young.

  • From pile-ups of clothing and paperwork to both beginning and persisting with tasks, “one-more-thing-itus”,  and both  Robin struggled to manage her procrastination.

  • What Robin enjoyed doing, she did really well; what she disliked or found boring would cause her to lose momentum quickly.

  • Realizing that she was likely to lose her job if her current patterns continued, Robin committed herself to change and began to work to answer the question of “why” regarding her procrastination.

  • “Not ‘why me?’; I wasn’t going to be the victim. It was about ‘why is this hard?’, ‘why am I dreading this?'”

  • Robin found “triggers” for her procrastination that included boredom (e.g. expense reports), dread (preventing her from starting a task), and limiting beliefs.

  • The key is to figure out what will move someone forward to completing a task. Connecting tedious or uninteresting tasks to concepts or ideas that are important to someone as an individual can help to motivate them.

  • For Robin, with all she and her family have been through regarding ADHD, it has become an important mission for her to make a difference in that space.

ADHD vs. ADD:

  • Robin was diagnosed with the inattentive sub-type of ADHD, as it was established at the time.

  • However, Robin noticed how she expressed hyperactive behavior through her management of a hectic pace at her job. As she grew older, she noticed less in the way of hyperactivity.

  • Now, the clinical text has re-labeled the sub-types as “presentations” because of how they have the potential to change over a person’s life.

Fidgeting:

  • In fourth or fifth grade, Robin remembers “tap dancing” with her feet under her desk to help her concentrate, much to the confusion of her teachers.

  • She also would draw elaborate designs down the sides of her papers.

  • Eric remembers playing “piano pieces” on his desk in school.

  • Robin mentions the book Fidget to Focus by Sarah Wright and Roland Rotz.

Mindfulness and Meta-cognition:

  • Robin works with college students to help them to handle their ADHD and specifically their procrastination-related issues of starting tasks, maintaining tasks, mindfulness, and meta-cognition.

  • There are three pieces to what Robin teaches the students: preparing for the work, working, and evaluating that work. This progression is important because of how it promotes being mindful of oneself and monitoring oneself in a particular moment.

  • The program focuses on teaching the students to better think about what they need to do, what they’re doing, and how they did.

  • Learning how to try out different strategies while taking tests or quizzes and then evaluating how well they worked afterward is an important strategy. Robin mentions how Ari Tuckman emphasizes the importance of taking from the past to inform the future.

  • Eric remembers a presenter at a social thinking conference, Sarah Ward, who presented the idea of there being three parts to play as it relates to children: setting up, playing, and cleaning up. This connects to how people perform tasks: setup, execution, and cleanup.

  • People often forget the third step: they will provide themselves with enough time to setup and work, but then have to leave before the cleanup, resulting in messy piles.

  • An example of this could be a student finishing their homework assignments but forgetting to turn them in.

  • Some clients Eric has seen will start seeing progress and success in their life, but when asked may attribute that boon to luck instead of analyzing what of their behaviors had changed to find which contributed to their success.

Coaching and Advocacy:

  • “Shine a light on what’s right.”

  • Robin focuses on a strengths-based approach to her coaching, wherein she first builds people up by concentrating on what they do well and are skilled at before.

  • During that process, when she finds gaps in the client’s skills and executive functioning, she works with them to develop strategies to overcome them.

  • Through the ADHD reWired podcast, running a CHADD group, and presenting on ADHD, Eric feels he is following his passion of spreading information and understanding about ADHD while showing people how they are not alone in their struggles.

  • “ADHD is an explanation, not an excuse.”

  • CHADD estimates at least 15 million people in the US have ADHD yet 85% of them don’t know it.

  • While most who are ADHD professionals are informed by the science and research, it’s the individual stories that have the power to move people.

  • Robin: “Nobody gets to be perfect.” Those struggling with ADHD are really helped by hearing others’ stories and experiences. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 50, and yet read of someone diagnosed at 65 and how they were still looking forward to their future.

Behaviors of Procrastination:

  • Storytelling: One might tell themselves a story that they will finish a task later at a specific time but, when that time comes, they’re still not in the mood. Solution: Detect when the story is being told in your mind and stop it, then replace the story with a different idea. Consider journaling the story to later reflect on the different stories told when you’re procrastinating. Talk back to the voice inside that’s reading the story.

  • Perfectionism: One might stall on completing work because of an all-or-nothing mentality fueled by perfectionism. Solution: Analyze how much time is available and figure out what is “good enough” for the situation. Categorize  tasks and goals from most important to least important and prioritize your effort based on it.

Eric and Robin Procrastination-off:

  • Eric had delayed the filling out of a W-9 tax form for multiple weeks when it would most likely take all of ten minutes to finish.

  • Robin is running a middle school pilot educational program (“Smooth Sailing for School Success”) and is about half-way through but still needs to finish the curriculum for the second half of the program. Despite being extremely familiar with the program’s material, the act of writing up the text for activities, handouts, and other paperwork has eluded her to the last hour each and every time.

  • For each ADHD reWired Coaching and Accountability Group, Eric has had to send out assignments to the group members, but he would always eventually end up a week behind. As a solution, Eric set up an automatic response system to send the content he wants out more easily. Eric mentions Procrastinate on Purpose, wherein author Rory Vaden suggests to spend a little time now to save a lot of time later.

  • Robin and her husband are clearing out and organizing the piles in their home. She found she is much more productive when working alongside another person. Nonetheless, there is still a bit of a clog in the system caused by indecision of what to do with certain final items.

  • Eric bought a particularly ornate picture frame two years ago. The picture frame, hanging on his wall, still has the demo family photo in it from the store.

  • Robin mentions a stack of picture frames in her closet that she purchased previously and how she plans to one day use them.

Products, Services, and Other Links:

Find and Contact Robin Nordmeyer:

Other information:

  • If you like Eric’s idea of live streaming shows on the service Blab, Tweet at @erictivers and use the hashtag #blabrewired. You can also contact him via facebook.com/eric.tivers or email [email protected].

  • If you are interested in reserving a spot in the ADHD reWired Coaching and Accountability Group group, visit coachingrewired.com.

  • Eric is collecting videos describing people’s experiences with CHADD. If you are currently involved with CHADD, record a video however you wish (horizontally, please!) of you describing your relationship to ADHD and what CHADD does for you. Send it to Eric via Facebook, Twitter, or email here: [email protected].

  • Help CHADD, an ADHD organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with ADHD through useful research and support, by donating to their fundraising campaign here: gofundme.com/oneof15m.

  • Visit erictivers.com/audible for Carolyn D’Argenio’s list of her top Audible.com audio-book picks, complete with preview links.

  • Connect with people virtually using Eric’s favorite video conferencing and connectivity platform, Zoom, by visiting erictivers.com/zoom – the basic service is totally free.

  • If you want you hear your question or comment on a future episode, go to erictivers.com/adhdrewired and look for the comment form, or click on the yellow button for either “Be a Guest” or “Record your question”.

  • Are you looking for a coach? You can schedule a free 20-minute consultation with Eric. Go to erictivers.com and click the blue “Schedule an Appointment” button

  • http://www.chadd.org/

  • Northern Illinois chapter of CHADD

    • Third Monday of every month at 6:45 PM

    • Grayslake, Illinois

(CHADD does not endorse this podcast)

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