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The Paradox of Highly Sensitive People and Procrastination: Understanding the Connection

procrastination to-do list

I don’t want to brag, but I can procrastinate with the best of them. I have been honing the skill since I was a young child. If I was still practicing that behavior and hadn’t intentionally reined it, by this point I think I would have qualified for the Procrastination Olympics. I was that good.

I found excuse after plausible excuse as to why I couldn’t start my homework, clean my room, practice my violin, take a bath, you name it.

I worked best under pressure, what can I say? Some of my procrastination may have also been related to my ADHD and getting easily distracted by shiny objects.

Can you relate?

We Procrastinate but it’s often “productive procrastination” (a.k.a. Structured procrastination)

We procrastinate for different reasons, such as...

o We want to escape reality for a bit

o We don’t like the task at hand

o We aren’t sure how to start the task

o We think other tasks are more important

o We believe other tasks are less boring

o We are easily distracted (that’s me!)

o We struggle with impulse control (that’s me, too!)

PROCRASTINATION: Watching adorable cat videos instead of wrapping a present for a birthday party that is starting in one hour

PRODUCTIVE PROCRASTINATION: Folding laundry instead of wrapping a present for a birthday party starting in one hour

PROCRASTINATION: Lying in bed and repeatedly hitting the snooze button instead of getting up to make breakfast

PRODUCTIVE PROCRASTINATION: Lying in bed scrolling Pinterest for smoothie recipes you want to make for breakfast

While productive procrastination is the lesser of two evils, it can still hold us back.

What's the remedy to procrastination?

For me, it was one simple thing…..a daily and weekly To-Do list. An actual paper list. Like, in the olden days.

woman writing a to-do list

I just made a long list of things I had to do. Hence the clever name “To Do” list.

However, I found that some things on my list felt too big to complete unless I had four hours to dedicate to it so I would push it off until I had four hours to dedicate to it, which turned out to be never.

What finally helped the list be effective was breaking tasks down into really, really small steps. I also included really little, quick things. This was great for momentum or when I only had a few spare minutes.

I included little things like: transfer money from one account to another, unpack Amazon order, break down Amazon box for recycling, order vitamins, prep gym outfit for next morning,

Before I added those, I found I could waste those few spare minutes because everything on my list was too big so I usually spent that extra time looking up cute animal videos on YouTube. Those darn videos get me every time!

If you made it this far into the blog post, I think you deserve to watch a quick, cute animal video:


As HSPs we have to remember that procrastination doesn't always mean we're lazy, unmotivated or bad at getting stuff done. It can actually be in response to our need for deep thinking and processing. But, it's all about catching it and reining it in. Or just owning in. Your call.


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