Ever felt like you were just lazy about getting things done? That you just didn’t FEEL like doing them?
Or is ADHD the real culprit? People with ADHD – myself included – often struggle to find the real culprit behind their inaction. This talk about the differences between laziness and clinically diagnosed ADHD.
Laziness – all about immediate cost-benefit
To an extent we’re all lazy – after all, if it wasn’t worth expending calories on the hot savannas of Africa, we were wasting energy and pointlessly putting our lives at risk of starvation. Laziness is an evolutionary adaptation to old-world of energy-scarcity.
Nowadays food is plentiful and cheap, so Psychology Today provides us with a more updated definition of what “modern-day laziness” is.
“A person is being lazy if he is able to carry out some activity that he ought to carry out, but is disinclined to do so because of the effort involved. Instead, he carries out the activity perfunctorily; or engages in some other, less strenuous or less boring activity; or remains idle. In short, he is being lazy if his motivation to spare himself effort trumps his motivation to do the right or expected thing.”
A lazy person weighs short term cost against short-term benefit.
Homework? Too much effort compared to lounging on the couch.
Finishing that project at work by 5pm? Promotions are a distant possibility, going home early is an immediate reward.
ADHD – Issues with executive brain functions
As the brain’s CEO, the executive functions set up and manage the tasks to be completed. Understood.org presents a nice list on executive functions gone awry in the ADHD brain:
Impaired executive functioning in ADHD individuals can cause any or all of the following:
- Finding it hard to figure out how to get started on a task
- Trouble figuring out how much time a task requires
- Doing things either quickly and messily or slowly and incompletely
- Finding it hard to incorporate feedback into work or an activity
- Trouble paying attention and becoming easily distracted
- Losing a train of thought when interrupted
- Needing to be told the directions many times
- Trouble making decisions
- Having a tough time switching gears from one activity to another
- Missing the words to explain something in detail
- Needing help processing what something feels/sounds/looks like
If you WANT to do a task but can’t MANAGE to, you are NOT lazy
Difficulty defining, setting up, or implementing a task is an entirely different problem than the lack of motivation to do it in the first place.
Although the outcome looks like laziness, one is a medically defined condition, and the other is a simple lack of motivation.
Keep that in mind the next time you begin to judge yourself.