I've been diagnosed with ADHD at 29 years old, after being told my whole life that it was just "in my head." When you live your whole life feeling like the odd one out in a world of people who are able to make decisions without any trouble, ADHD can be hard to understand. But once I learned more about ADHD and how it affects me, I finally understood what had been going on all along.
It is very common to find yourself stuck in indecision paralysis when you have ADHD, even for minor decisions. This blog post will share some strategies to help us fight back against indecisiveness 💪!
ADHD is diagnosed by categorizing into two types of problems: inattentiveness and hyper activeness/impulsiveness. One of the most significant effects for an individual with ADHD is the way we make decisions.
Impulsive decisions, large or small are vital every day. And if you have troubles with that because of your ADHD, we'll share some tips below. But first, let's explain how ADHD affects the decision-making process.
Executive functioning deficits reduce a person's ability to begin work efficiently. Sometimes a person; who may be an adult or a child will feel paralyzed due to a new job or a project. This can quickly result in overwhelming feelings of procrastination, stress, anxiety, and fear. It can also produce negative reactions from others who are perplexed and irritated by the anomalies that are inherent to someone with ADHD who performs well when the activity is interesting or exciting. It's even more difficult to concentrate on an unpleasant task if the human interest wanders off to more enticing pastimes and emotions.
ADHDers tend to be constantly distracted by something new. I strongly believe that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) became a thing mostly due to neuro-diverse people.
ADHDers might get overwhelmed and become paralyzed by the multitude of options.
Remember when Kevin Malone from the Office tries to purchase something from the Vending Machine? 😅
Another recurring issue for people with ADHD that leads to indecisiveness and procrastination is the inability to start something or make a decision because of the "mental barriers" we erect in our minds.
Let me give you an example, there are a few months left for this year and I only need a few nights to keep my Marriott status. So I figured I would just plan a trip, well not so fast...
I've decided to go for a trip but after a few minutes, I realized that planning is so much more complicated. "Where will I go? When? How long should I stay? Who should I go with? Should I bring my pet?"
This is where all of the things we are mentioning in this article are combined to create that indecisiveness. Because there are so many options, every choice is complicated and until you get that one answer, other decisions are delayed.
The thing that neurotypical people don't understand is that on top of the difficulty to make the decisions themselves even when we start making some progress, our ADHD brains are trying to make us change our minds by reminding us of the options we did not choose and making us reconsider.
So it's not necessarily as easy as just making decisions and getting it done, what is important is to make priorities and understand what matters to us so that we can make the right decision and won't second guess.
Going back on my trip choice, I realized that I valued flexibility so I preferred going something closer where I could drive (instead of flying).
I also realized that I had some friends I have not seen in a while and would love to meet up with.
Now that these base decisions are made, I can focus on who do I want to see and plan the trip instead of flip-flopping between unlimited options.
Here are some steps you can follow to make better decisions more easily.
Set a deadline for yourself to make a decision. Doing everything clearly will assure the best outcome. Maybe you struggle with perfectionistic tendencies that include the fear of failure, but you should remember that there are no wrong decisions in life, you can make every decision be the right one.
OK, that sounds like a big word 😅. But what does that mean in real life?
Everyone is different so I can't tell you what your exact decision-making matrix should be but I can give you some examples.
The way the decision-making matrix works is that it forces you to ask yourself the questions that matter to you to simplify the decision-making process, force you into moving forward, and give you the structure to not go back on your decision because you "trust the process" 😉.
A popular example of a decision-making tool for your matrix is a pros & cons list.
In my own opinion, I'm personally not the biggest fan of it and feel like it often fails to deliver decisions especially for people with ADHD. It is already one thing to list pros & cons and another is to weigh them against one another.
If you can do that, it can be your decision-making process: listing the pros & cons, weighing them, then you can decide based on the results.
That's another tool that can help you figure out what you want, thus making the decision-making process clearer.
Some tools are better suited for different situations so I personally like to use a variety of tools depending on certain decisions and situations. I also like to get visual and write/draw things down on paper or whiteboard or create a list online through apps like Miro or Canva.
The most important thing is to not shy away from the idea, to get started and get to the bottom of it in a planned way. As I have said before, stick to the deadline you fixed.
By setting deadlines & priorities, you back yourself into a corner and trigger the right chemicals in your brain to make decisions.
That's what we have to remember when we have ADHD, that our brain can be playing tricks against us 😅 So we have to play the game to win!
A very popular productivity tip is to prioritize and hold yourself accountable. That's why to-do lists & productivity apps exist and can work.
So make lists, and then prioritize what needs to be done, add a time limit and then stick to it!
That's why they tell you to list your tasks, put all the information and rank them. Determine the most urgent ones and do them today before anything else. Rinse & repeat.
You can also think of another management trick to help you stay the course, the SMART goals. I'm not saying you should fill out a form every time you try to do something 😅 but making sure what you are trying to do is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based and it will significantly improve your ability to achieve what you want to achieve.
When it's important to you, do not hesitate to find a person you trust and ask them for their feedback and guidance. Make sure that they have your best interest at heart so you can count on them. 🤗
When it's not important and you are just wasting time weighing options before deciding, just flip a coin or roll a dice.
As millennials, using coins or dice is not that appealing that's why we invented apps to replace them 😅 .
I'm talking about instances where you really can't decide what you prefer and there is no wrong answer like which outfit to wear or what pizza to choose.
Think about all the time you'll save!
Another perk of that tip is that forcing a decision like this can trigger a reaction that tells you what you preferred in the first place.
You will make decisions faster when your brain enjoys doing it. Turn your decision-making process into a drinking game, reward yourself when you make decisions, involve some friends or family members. Just have fun with it!
When you realize that big decisions don't merit an extra effort, then bigger decisions become simple to make.
ADHD does not make you indecisive per se, but ADHD can contribute to difficulties with making small decisions. The real problem is that other symptoms such as ADHD impulsivity and ADHD hyper-focus can interfere with making the right choice in your daily life.
No, but there is a connection between poor decision-making and ADHD. This topic deserves further study, as most studies of the relationship between adult ADHD and bad decisions have been inconclusive so far. It can depend on many factors such as the result of your diagnosis that shows how severe your symptoms are.
ADHD indecisiveness or decision paralysis is a term used to describe repetitively going back and forth on decisions for no apparent reason, sometimes even over very small matters. Adults with ADHD might be more likely to experience ADHD indecisiveness due to ADHD impulsivity.
ADHD doesn't cause bad decision-making, but ADHD symptoms can contribute to making the wrong choice. For example, someone with ADHD might choose a course of action that they enjoy more but is less productive because they are hyper-focused on how interesting it is. ADHD impulsivity might lead to decisions that are risky and can have disastrous consequences.
If you're stuck on making a decision, don't just keep mulling it over and over in your head - write down all the options then go for one! It's often easier to make a decision when you're writing it down and seeing everything in front of you. ADHD indecision can be very frustrating, but remember that no matter how much time it takes to make up your mind, it's still better than making the wrong decision.
Yes, ADHD affects decision-making in multiple ways like ADHD impulsivity, ADHD hyper-focus, and ADHD distractibility. ADHD can also affect people's ability to weigh options properly or make a decision that is in line with their long-term goals.
ADHD paralysis is a term used to describe feelings of being unable to make decisions, often due to ADHD hyper-focus or ADHD impulsivity. People with ADHD may be more likely to experience indecision paralysis than people without ADHD because their ADHD symptoms are influencing the way they process information and make choices.
No, it is not a mental disorder per se, but as we've discussed in this article, neurological disorders like ADHD can happen because of indecisiveness.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. If you are experiencing symptoms of ADHD, it’s best to see a professional for a diagnosis.