5 Habits That Make You Look Lazy

lazy ADHD habits

“Lazy” is a word I hear entirely too often.

Inattentive ADHD adults are often labeled as lazy. And even worse, we sometimes label ourselves that way.

A couple days ago I was explaining to my Coaching Corner group that I have accepted that I need a cleaning person a couple times per month.

Knowing everything I know about executive functions and neurochemistry, I still described myself as “lazy.”

What I really meant was, I feel like I must be lazy. And I am afraid the perception will be that I am too lazy to take care of my house myself.

Even worse, people might assume I am lazy because I pay for help.

One of my favorite people, Terry Matlen, told a group of us at CHADD last year that, “paying for support or assistance is not a luxury.”

Paying for support is not a luxury.  Why didn’t I realize this before!?

Because I just assumed my problem was that I was lazy. And I allowed other people to label me that way, too.

You are not lazy. Even if it looks that way from the outside.


5 Habits that make you look lazy (when you have ADHD)


You can’t organize

Every single person I talk to has organizational issues. The problem here is lack of executive functions.

We cannot figure out where the “home” should be for various items. On top of that, we cannot make decisions about which items need to be kept and which should be tossed or donated.

I’ve yet to meet a person with ADHD who hasn’t also struggled with clutter.

Our executive function deficits make it hard for us to organize in a step-by-step fashion. We get sidetracked while deciding where to start, and then we feel so overwhelmed we just give up.

From the outside our disorganization looks like a messy desk at work, or a house strewn with toys and unfinished projects. This is often interpreted as us not trying to tidy up.

You never finish anything

Or at least you feel like you never finish anything.

My dining room table is covered in my son’s school work, a science kit, my research notebooks, books, and even a plant. Every single one of these projects is in process.

If I have to make a guess I would say that we will complete the school work and I will use the notebooks this week. (At some point.) The rest of it – the science kit, the books and probably the plant will be left to gather dust.

Crafting is something many of my readers talk about. It feels good to start, but before you know it you’re on to the next thing. The next “hit” as they say.

Again, from the outside this looks like we just lose interest. Perhaps we do, but it is never intentional. And we are often afraid to put something away for fear of completely forgetting about it.

Out of sight, out of mind is a real thing with ADHD. And we don’t know where to put it anyway.

You have a very poor working memory

Try to remember why you got online just now.

Can you do it? Do you remember what you were doing when you clicked on this link?

I really can’t. I cannot hold information in my mind very well at all.

If you find that you cannot hold a thought, or more than one thing in your mind for very long you probably have a poor working memory. I wrote about this before.

Forgetting to call your mother on her birthday makes you look like you don’t care. So does failing to show up for your cousin’s baby shower. (I’ve done both of these things.)

It’s not because you are lazy. You have a faulty working memory, just like me.

You rarely return phone calls/emails/texts

Making phone calls, and even writing texts can be painful. Particularly if you do not have a good response. Many of us struggle with people pleasing or social anxiety.

How many emails are in your inbox? Did you save some of them thinking you would return them later?  No worries, I do the same thing.

The problem with this annoying little habit is that other people perceive it as rudeness and/or laziness. For the non-ADHD readers, I assure you it is not.

We avoid tasks that have no reward. Returning a phone call rarely has an immediate reward, and we need our rewards NOW in order to be motivated.

You shut down

As in, you get overwhelmed easily and then you do nothing.

Freezing is a form of avoidance, which is common in anxiety sufferers. We are prone to anxiety because we know the world is judging us. And we are judging ourselves.

Sometimes when we shut down we don’t maintain our relationships very well.

The problem with shutdown mode is that it actually lowers our ability to affect real change in our lives. We go looking for quick fixes and then we are bitterly disappointed when they don’t work.

This perpetuates the cycle of feeling bad about ourselves and blaming all of our problems on ADHD.

This is the thing: Many of the behaviors and habits that we are ashamed of, or that we are criticized for, are adaptations.

We have ADHD, we have to adapt in order to get through life.

I’m not making excuses here, and I am not defending those that are truly not trying.

It’s not easy living with this brain and the way it feels to have ADHD. We just need to be aware of how our behaviors come off to the rest of the world.

You are not lazy. Even if it looks that way from the outside.

Lets stop labeling ourselves and allowing others to label us.

Need help with managing ADHD emotions?

Click here for my signature Feel Better Fast program available on Teachable!





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