Procrastination’s link to kludgy Executive Functioning

Getting a Round Tuit
CUTE — but not very helpful

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from posts in the Challenges Series

Oh those clever seminar leaders!

We all love the little gifties that are passed out at a great many seminars we have attended, seminars designed to help us fashion lives that are more productive and enlivening.

Most of us have a list of things we intend to do when “we get around to it” — but I can’t imagine how being gifted with a little round reminder that we need to STOP “procrastinating” and “just DO it” is going to make one whit of difference.

In most cases it’s shaming, actually, regardless of how positive the humorous intent – and shame rarely works well as a motivational technique.

Related Post: The Top Ten Reasons to Reframe Procrastination

We need to look clearly at what’s going on

Follow through to completion is a linear process modulated by the prefrontal cortex [PFC], the brain’s “conductor” that keeps us on track and in action, step after step.

Our vanilla-flavored friends rarely appreciate the fact that they have an unconscious advantage in the linear processing department – what is frequently referred to as “declarative memory.”  That makes certain kinds of information retrieval, organization and task completion, and – well, just about everything else – a heck of a lot easier for them.

With the ADD/EFD brain-style (and others with attentional spectrum dysregulations – all of us with Executive Functioning glitches), we seem to process sequential information in a fairly disjointed manner — the pieces somehow jumbled together — sometimes not recorded at all, even when we do our very best to keep our attention on matters at hand.

Too many guests at the EFD Table

Because the brain is soft and sloshes around in fluid inside a hard skull with bony protrusions – especially in the front area where the PFC is most vulnerable – any appreciable hit on the head is likely to result in a few problems with Executive Functioning.

Because the PFC is connected to almost every other part of the brain, it’s not much of a stretch to believe that strokes or medications that affect one one part of the brain are likely to have an effect on PFC connectivity as well.

Implication: any individual with a disorder, stroke or other brain damage affecting the prefrontal cortex is highly likely to experience brain-based executive functioning challenges of one sort or another.

In a nutshell, “Executive Function” is the mental ability to organize, prioritize, and accomplish tasks. It is figuring out what to do first, second, third, and so on, to see a task through to completion. Executive function involves things like being able to realistically determine, in advance, how long and how difficult a particular task will be to accomplish.
~ from a great 1st person article by PTSD advocate Linda Lee/LadyQuixote, Impaired Executive Function, My Invisible Disability

Connectivity challenges are experienced by individuals with mood disorders, autistic spectrum disorders, TBI/ABI, and more than a few neurological conditions such as sensory integration disorders, Parkinson’s, dyslexia — in fact, almost all of what I refer to as the alphabet disorders.

Due to the way the brain ages, even individuals who were born with the neurotypical brain style will begin to notice increasingly more Executive Functioning struggles as they get older.

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Working twice as hard for half as much

Based on the comments many of us here in “Alphabet City” have received, the assumption of the neurotypical world seems to be that we EFD-flavored folk prefer to sit around on our hands, rather than spending regular time on task.  Not necessarily so – in fact, rarely so.

Since our EFD challenges are at the foundational, logistical level,
they become much bigger roadblocks than many understand (or believe).

Regardless of intelligence and drive, most of us with Executive Functioning deficits are, effectively, “learning disabled” where building cognitive maps are concerned, in a brain-based manner that involves short term memory deficits as well as a number of other neuro-links that are a tad kludgy.

And our struggles are not limited to finding our way physically, either.

Moving forward always means slogging through the backwaters until and unless we figure out where the ROADS are located and how they are inter-connected.

We need a cognitive GPS to avoid hours lost in the swamps.
But FIRST we have to locate the “you are here” part of the map.

Sherlocking our struggles

To echo something from Living within the boundaries of TIME:

Some of us have a greater than average struggle with Executive Functions, ADD/EFDers and their cognitive kissing cousins in particular. ONLY when we take the time to Sherlock the details of how and why we get stuck are we able to figure out what might work to help us get UNstuck!

And I promise you that it is RARELY as simple or straightforward as those self-help books and seminars designed for neurotypical brains might lead you to believe. Everything depends on how any particular task intersects with your particular Challenges Profile™.

Related Post: The Link between Procrastination & Task Anxiety

Solving a complex puzzle

One of the models that those who sign up for Group Coaching will be encouraged to use is referred to by many coaches – “vanilla” and brain-based alike – as Symptom-Source-Solution.

In the prior article I gave you a quick run-through of this model, using it to Sherlock some of the Symptoms and Sources behind troubles with TIME.

As for SOLUTIONS — yet again, how much reading time do you have?

Do yourselves a favor and sign-up for Group Coaching, where we can concentrate on your particular symptoms and sources, and come up with solutions that can – really no kidding – change your life.

PLEASE don’t keep trying to do things the hard, slow way.
Enroll for some practical help,
and you are in NO danger that any Round Tuits will be thrown your way.

If you can afford private coaching, we can concentrate solely on your life and you will see changes more quickly, but Group Coaching is a low-cost alternative that sure beats the frustrations of struggling along from day to day, trying a bazillion things (again) that never worked very well in the past.


The SOURCE of your struggles determines what you have to DO to turn can’t into can!
Attempting to “fix” a problem using the wrong tool will rarely work and will often backfire.

As I said in an earlier article: Until they believe they can, they can’t!!

How many times will you be able to keep “trying”
before you decide it’s impossible?

Tell the Santas in your life that what you want for Christmas this year is a brand new, high-functioning LIFE.

Click HERE if you already know you want to
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Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

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available right now – on this site and elsewhere.

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

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  7. bethbyrnes says:

    I have to read the articles to get the full impact of this Madelyn, but it makes sense.

    It sure would be better for all of us if people didn’t shame us on any front. I am wondering now if I fritter a lot of my time away, as I seem to be less motivated to work, the older I get and the more the work world changes away from the way I like to do things and the money I was accustomed to making.

    There is a lot to this idea of identifying one’s unique challenge and then setting about to offset it with specific or precision actions.

    I learn something every time I visit here!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Beth. There’s so much we all can do to make challenges less – well, challenging. I am struck by your use of “motivated” — if you read any of the links, start with the difference between motivation and activation. Different brain-chemistry involved. Activation LinkList HERE.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bethbyrnes says:

        That’s interesting. I will need a new vocabulary to sort all this out properly!


      • bethbyrnes says:

        OK, so one thing I took away immediately from that contrast of activation vs motivation was the issue of reward. In the work I do, there has been less and less praise and declining fees so the rewards for doing the work are only intrinsic. I.e., I know I am doing a good job but am not being recognized by the client, nor being given the money I used to get for the exact same work. Praising myself is not as good as getting paid more! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Reward impacts motivation (the dopamine pathways) – vitally important. Intrinsic motivation wears very thin when external validation is missing – especially when you work harder for increasingly less monetary reward and have to tighten your belt.

          So sorry to hear that you are among the many in this country who are working twice as hard for half as much. Beth – and that even your client fails to reward you with a bit of “So grateful for a job well done.” It sucks.

          Inadequate activation energy is an Executive Functioning struggle of a different sort, common with depression as well. As I continue to say, the motivation to get up and go can be urgent, but if the “seeking” muscle is weak or broken, it’s tough to get up off the couch. Kinda’ like how having a bad case of the flu drains all physical energy.

          NO reward or consequence will be able to make a dent in activation struggles — not for long, anyway — and continual attempts to motivate when the problem is activation only makes things more difficult.

          Important to distinguish one from the other!

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Aww, thank you for quoting from my article. I feel like Sally Field at the Oscars: “You really do like me!!”

    I had a wooden round tuit for awhile. Actually carried it in my pocket. Didn’t do me any good, either. 🙂

    I chuckled when I read this: “We need a cognitive GPS to avoid hours lost in the swamps.
    But FIRST we have to locate the “you are here” part of the map.” Lol. You have such a brilliant way of putting things!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are a doll to say so. I’m only describing what I have observed (ahem, and experienced).

      btw- I want to have a 1-1 interchange about Group Coaching (I DO read your blog, after all!) 🙂 What’s the best way to do that?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t skyped yet (auto incorrect wants to say I haven’t slumped yet, lol.) How about an old-fashioned phone call? I am on mountain standard time, so it is a little after 4 pm here as I write this.

        I am a bit of a jittery mess today, because we are in the middle of a big windstorm… the joy of living on the high plains. And tomorrow I am having an MRI of my neck… the joy of getting older and falling apart. So maybe later in the week sometime, like Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday? Most hours of the day are good for me.

        So how do I get my phone number to you… hmm, if I remember correctly, you moderate all comments. I am going to post this comment now, to check. If I get the message that says my comment is waiting to be moderated, then I will know it’s safe to post another comment, with my phone number and email address. (Although I am not so good with keeping on top of my email.)


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