Paying your payments on time, managing your career, family, and social obligations, and keeping up with everything else can feel daunting if you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), also known as ADD.
Adults who have ADHD may experience difficulties in all facets of life, including relationships at home, at work, and with their health. Extreme procrastination, difficulty meeting deadlines, and impulsive conduct could all be caused by your symptoms. Additionally, you can think that your loved ones don’t comprehend the challenges you face.
Fortunately, there are techniques you can master to help manage your ADHD symptoms. You may build habits that help you work more effectively, maintain organization, and communicate with others more effectively. You can also learn to identify and play to your strengths. Teaching people to understand what you’re going through may be a part of helping yourself.
However, change won’t happen suddenly. These self-help techniques for ADHD call for persistence, perseverance, and, most importantly, a positive outlook. But by utilizing these strategies, you may increase your sense of self-worth and become more productive, organized, and in charge of your life.
Myths about adult ADHD self-help
Myth: The sole treatment for my ADHD is medication.
Fact: Although some people find that taking medication helps them manage their ADHD symptoms, this condition cannot be cured with medicine alone. If used, it should be combined with other treatments or self-help techniques.
Myth: Because I have ADHD, I’m either lazy or stupid and won’t be able to control myself.
Fact: Despite what your ADHD symptoms may have led you and others to believe, you are not lazy or stupid; rather, you have a disorder that interferes with several aspects of daily life. In fact, adults with ADHD frequently need to come up with really clever strategies to make up for their problems.
Myth: My ADHD issues can all be resolved by a medical professional.
Fact: Medical specialists can assist you in managing your ADHD symptoms, but they can only do so much. Since you are the one who is dealing with the issues, you have the most power to influence how they are resolved.
Myth: I’ll always experience the symptoms of ADHD, and it’s a life sentence.
Fact: Although there is no known cure for ADHD, there are many things you may do to lessen the issues it can lead to. It’s possible that after you get used to adopting self-help techniques, controlling your symptoms will come naturally.
Guidelines for organizing and reducing clutter
The organization is likely the biggest issue faced by individuals with ADHD because of their inattentiveness and distractibility, which are the disorder’s defining characteristics. If you have ADHD, you can feel intimidated by the thought of organizing your house or place of employment.
You may, however, learn to organize your chores systematically and divide larger jobs into smaller steps. You may position yourself to maintain organization and control clutter by putting in place various structures and routines and making use of tools like daily planners and reminders.
Create order and clean habits, then maintain them.
Beginning with categorizing your possessions and selecting which are important and which may be stored or thrown away will help you organize a room, home, or office. Make note-taking and list-writing a habit to help you stay organized. Establish regular, everyday habits to maintain your newly structured framework.
Erect a barrier. Find storage bins or closets for items you don’t need on a regular basis and ask yourself what you actually need. Set aside distinct locations for things like keys, cash, and other easily lost goods. Get rid of anything unnecessary.
Use a day planner or a calendar app. You can recall appointments and due dates by using a day planner or a calendar on your smartphone or computer effectively. In order to prevent forgetting about scheduled events, computerized calendars also allow you to set up automatic reminders.
Create lists. Keep track of frequently planned chores, projects, deadlines, and appointments by using lists and notes. Keep all lists and notes inside your daily planner if you choose to use one. On your computer or smartphone, you also have a wide range of possibilities. Look for task management or “to do” apps.
Handle it right away. You may prevent forgetfulness, clutter, and procrastination by filing paperwork, tidying up spills, or answering the phone right away rather than later. If a work can be completed in two minutes or less, complete it right away rather than delaying it.
Keep your paper trail in check
Paperwork may account for a sizable portion of your disorganization if you have ADHD. But you can stop the never-ending stacks of mail and papers from taking over your desk, kitchen, and office. To build up a paperwork system that works for you, all you need is some time.
Daily mail handling is required. Dealing with the mail should take up a little portion of your day, ideally just after you bring it inside. Having a distinct area where you can sort your mail into folders, the trash, or actionable items is helpful.
Don’t use paper. Reduce the amount of paper you need to manage. Instead of paper copies, request electronic statements and invoices. By declining to use the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Mail Preference Service in the US, you can lessen the amount of junk mail you receive.
Establish a filing system. For various categories of documents, use dividers or distinct file folders (such as medical records, receipts, and income statements). Your files should be labeled and color-coded to make it easier for you to find what you need.
Guidelines for time management and adhering to a timetable
Time management issues are a common side effect of ADHD. Frequently losing track of time, missing deadlines, putting off activities, underestimating how much time they will take, or completing things out of sequence are all possible.
Many adults with ADHD “hyperfocus” for so long on one task that nothing else gets done. You may feel helpless and frustrated as a result of these challenges, which may also irritate other people. But there are ways to help you manage your time more effectively.
Tips for time management
Adults with attention deficit disorder frequently see time differently. Use a clock, the oldest trick in the book, to make sure your sense of time matches everyone else’s.
Take up clock-watching. To keep track of time, use a desk or wall clock that is clearly visible or a wristwatch. Make a note of the time when you begin a task by speaking it aloud or writing it down.
Apply timers. Use a timer or alarm to remind you when your allotted amount of time for each task has passed. When working on longer projects, think about setting the alarm to sound at regular intervals to keep you focused and conscious of the passing time.
Allow yourself more time than you believe is necessary. Adults with ADHD have a reputation for having terrible time estimation skills. Give yourself a buffer by adding ten minutes for every thirty minutes you estimate it will take you to get somewhere or finish a task.
Set up reminders and plan to arrive early. Schedule appointments for fifteen minutes before the actual time. Make sure you have everything you need in advance and set reminders to guarantee that you leave on time. This will prevent you from scrambling to find your keys or phone when it’s time to leave.
Completing activities can be challenging, and big projects might appear overwhelming because persons with ADHD frequently battle with impulse control and move from one subject to another. To avoid this:
- Choose what to work on initially. Priorities should be set in order of importance, starting with the most critical task you need to do.
- One step at a time is advised. Break down complicated tasks or projects into smaller, more manageable pieces.
- Remain focused. Stick to your schedule and, if necessary, use a timer to enforce it in order to avoid being distracted.
- Say no more often.
Adults with ADHD who are impulsive may accept too many projects at work or commit to too many social events. But a busy schedule might make you feel overworked and exhausted and impair the quality of your job. You could be better able to complete tasks, keep social plans, and lead a healthier lifestyle if you learn to say “no” to some commitments. Before committing to something new, double-check your schedule.
Advice on handling finances and bills
Since managing money necessitates planning, organization, and budgeting, it can be particularly difficult for many adults with ADHD. Due to their excessive demands on time, paper, and attention to detail, many popular money management systems don’t usually work for persons with ADHD. But if you design your own straightforward and reliable system, you can take control of your money and stop overpaying, paying bills late, and incurring fines for missing deadlines.
Organize your spending
The first step to taking charge of your budgeting is to make an honest assessment of your financial status. Start by recording each expense for a month, no matter how minor. You’ll be able to efficiently assess where your money is going, thanks to this. You might be shocked by how much money you’re wasting on impulsive purchases and unneeded products. Then, based on your income and needs, you can make a monthly budget using this snapshot of your spending patterns.
Determine how you can stay within your budget. For instance, you can establish an eating-in schedule and account for time for grocery shopping and meal preparation if you find that you spend too much money at restaurants.
Create a basic strategy for managing your money and paying your bills.
Create a simple, orderly method to save paperwork, track receipts, and manage your bills. The ability to manage their money online can be a life-changing gift for an adult with ADHD. Online money management eliminates missing slips, untidy handwriting, and excess paperwork.
Use internet banking instead. By registering for internet banking, you may make budgeting a hit-or-miss procedure of the past. All deposits and payments will be listed in your online account, which will also automatically track your balance every day to the nearest penny.
Automatic Payments. Additionally, you can set up automatic payments for your normal monthly invoices and sign in as necessary to make one-time or irregular payments. The best part: there are no lost mailers or late fees.
Create reminders for paying bills. Electronic reminders can still help you pay your bills more easily if you’d rather not set up automatic payments. Through online banking, you might be able to set up text or email reminders, or you could arrange them in your calendar app.
Benefit from technology. You can maintain tabs on your finances and accounts with the use of free services. They normally require some setup work, but once your accounts are linked, they automatically update. These tools help simplify your financial life. Advice on remaining attentive and productive at work
Having ADHD might provide unique obstacles at work. The things that may be the most difficult for you to perform throughout the day are planning, finishing work, remaining still, and listening quietly.
It’s not easy juggling ADHD and a demanding career, but by customizing your workplace, you may maximize your strengths while reducing the negative effects of your ADHD symptoms.
Organize yourself at work.
One reasonable step at a time, organize your desk, cubicle, or workplace. Then make use of the following techniques to stay organized and neat:
Schedule time each day for the organization. Set aside 5 to 10 minutes each day to clean your desk and arrange your files because clutter is always distracting. Try keeping items inside your desk or in bins to prevent cluttering your workspace and creating unneeded distractions.
Use lists and colors. People with ADHD can benefit greatly from color coding. Take control of forgetfulness by taking notes.
Prioritize. Your to-do list should be organized so that the higher priority items are at the top, so you remember to do them first. For everything, set deadlines, even if they are your own.
Where you work and the environment you are in can have a big impact on how much you can accomplish when you have focus problems. Try the following strategies to reduce distractions and let your coworkers know that you need to focus:
It matters where you work. You might be able to bring your work to a vacant office or conference room if you don’t have an office of your own. Try to get a seat near the speaker at a lecture hall or conference and away from those who talk during the presentation.
Reduce the amount of outside noise. Keep your workspace uncluttered and face your workstation toward a wall. You may even put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign to deter people from interrupting you. If you can, leave your phone on voicemail and return calls later. You can also disable email and social media during specific hours of the day or even log off of the Internet entirely. Consider noise-canceling headphones or a sound machine if noise bothers you.
Keep huge concepts for later. All those wonderful ideas or annoying odd thoughts that keep coming to mind? Write them down or record them on your phone so you can think about them later. Some ADHD sufferers enjoy setting aside time at the end of the day to review all of their notes.
Increase your span of attention
You can focus as an adult with ADHD, but you might find it difficult to maintain that focus, especially if the activity isn’t extremely interesting to you. Anyone finds tedious meetings or lectures difficult, but adults with ADHD may find them more difficult. Similar to this, persons with ADHD may find it challenging to follow various directions. Follow this advice to sharpen your focus and your capacity for following directions:
Get it down on paper. Ask for a copy of the pertinent documents in advance, such as a meeting agenda or lecture outline, if you’re attending a meeting, lecture, workshop, or another event that calls for close attention. Use the written notes to direct your active listening and note-taking during the meeting. You’ll be better able to concentrate on the speaker’s remarks if you write as you listen.
Reiterate instructions. If someone gives you verbal instructions, repeat them aloud to ensure that you understood them.
Be active. Move around—at the proper times and in the proper places—to avoid fidgeting and uneasiness. Try squeezing a stress ball, for instance, during a conference, as long as you are not disturbing anyone else. You can improve your ability to pay attention later by walking or even jumping up and down during a break in a meeting.
Guidelines for reducing stress and improving mood
Due to the impulsivity and disorganization that frequently accompany ADHD, you may experience sleep irregularities, a poor diet, or the negative effects of insufficient exercise—all of which can cause additional stress, depressive symptoms, and a sense of being out of control. The only approach to break this cycle is to take control of your daily routines and establish new, healthy ones.
You can maintain your composure, reduce mood fluctuations, and combat any signs of anxiety and sadness by eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising frequently. Regular routines can make your life feel more manageable, while healthier behaviors can lessen the symptoms of ADHD, like inattention, hyperactivity, and distractibility.
Workout and spend time outside
The most beneficial and effective technique to lessen ADHD’s hyperactivity and inattention are probably through exercise. Exercise helps burn off excess energy and anger that can interfere with relationships and a solid sense of self by reducing stress, improving mood, and calming the mind.
Daily exercise is advisable. Pick an activity that will keep you motivated, like a team sport or working out with a friend.
Exercise outside to reduce stress. Sunshine and greenery are frequently therapeutic for those with ADHD.
Try calming workouts like yoga, tai chi, or mindful strolling. They can help you learn to better control your attention and impulses in addition to alleviating stress.
Get lots of rest
Lack of sleep can exacerbate adult ADHD symptoms, making it harder for you to handle stress and keep your focus during the day. Making small adjustments to your everyday routine will help you get a good night’s sleep every night.
- Avoid caffeine late in the day.
- Exercise hard and frequently, but avoid exercising right before night.
- Create a predictable and quiet “bedtime” routine, including taking a hot shower or bath just before bed.
- Stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule, even on weekends.
While unhealthy eating habits don’t cause ADHD, a poor diet can exacerbate symptoms. By making simple changes in what and how you eat, you may experience big reductions in distractibility, hyperactivity, and stress levels.
- Eat small meals throughout the day.
- Avoid sugar and junk food as much as possible.
- Make sure you include healthy protein at every meal.
- Aim for several servings of fiber-rich whole grains each day.
- Practice mindfulness
As well as reducing stress, regular mindfulness meditation can help you to resist distractions better, lower impulsivity, improve your focus, and provide more control over your emotions.
Since hyperactivity symptoms can make meditation a challenge for some adults with ADHD, starting slowly can help. Meditate for short periods and gradually increase your meditation time as you become more comfortable with the process—and are better able to maintain focus. The key is to then draw on these mindfulness techniques during your daily life to keep you on track. Experiment with free or inexpensive smartphone apps or online guided meditations.
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