8 Practical Tips for Managing Adult ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) can impact people well into adulthood. It’s something I know all too well — I’ve struggled with ADHD for much of my life.Lacking focus and organization skills is a major obstacle, but I’ve learned to overcome them in many ways.Read on for some of the practical ways I keep myself on task and organized.

Do you have your own tips or tried-and-true methods for managing ADHD? Let us know in the comments!

1. Manage Your Expectations.

The relationship between ADHD and intelligence is a complicated one that researchers haven’t been able to fully parse out. Though children and adults with the disorder are often considered less intelligent, some research actually suggests that people with ADHD are more intelligent than average. So what does this have to do with managing expectations? Well, people with ADHD often struggle with recognizing their own strengths and talents, and feel like they can accomplish so much more than they actually get done. They think they’re smart enough to do something, and when they don’t do it, their self-esteem takes a hit. That’s why getting a better understanding of what is and isn’t a realistic goal is so key to managing ADHD. This is especially true because people with ADHD are at risk of depression — a disorder that can make ADHD worse. It’s no simple task, to be sure, but looking into your past as guidance will really help with setting goals for the future.

timer

Image: numb3rvia Flickr

2. Use Timers.

You’re taking a little break from work to read about last night’s episode of Scandal, when all of a sudden an hour has passed and you haven’t gotten anything done. Has this happened to you? People with ADHD aren’t always so unfocused — when we find an interesting task, we can get so engrossed that our sense of time gets totally thrown off. One way to escape that? Set timers. Lots of them. I like to set a timer for every 30 minutes that I’m in the throes of productivity just to make sure I’m staying on track.And, yes, it’s shocking how easily time can escape you when you’re working on something you enjoy.

 

Messy, chaotic, file rack on a desk in cluttered room

 

3. Be Mindful Of Your Environment.

People with ADHD are often particularly sensitive to their environments. This can mean anything from dislikingitchy clothing to having a hard time focusing when a room is noisy. But it can also mean that, if you’re trying to be productive in a messy room, your mind feels messy, too. Making sure to have a organized space can really help you feel more organized and focused. Wearingmore comfortable clothing and seeking out quieter spaces can help tremendously, too.

4. Lists, Lists, Lists.

Write everything down. Everything! People with ADHD aren’t naturally organized; what comes easily to other people is a real struggle for us. If I’m wrapped up in my work, lunchtime can come and go and I won’t realize that I didn’t eat until I’m nauseous with hunger. I need to write down things like, “eat lunch,” so I make sure that I’m taking care of myself. I also need to write down things that I think I’ll remember because they seem like a no-brainer.I’ve been known to hear what time I’m supposed to be somewhere and still show up late. As soon as I started writing everything down,however, I’ve become muchmore organized and on top of things.

Screen Shot of to-do list

 

5. Order Things.

I used to put a lot of effort into creating the most detailed to-do list possible, but it still felt like I wasn’t getting much done because I was avoiding important tasks that were particularly daunting. So I found a new system, which you can see a snapshot of above.

Now, my to-do list is organized in the order in which I’ll do them, and I’ve broken up big tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks. This way, I’m working with, not around, my ADHD. I know I can more readily do those difficult tasks if I break them down into smaller steps, and I know that, if I don’t schedule times in between more important tasks for fun things, I’m just going to do those fun things and let the harder things slip away.

Another thing that helps me? Color coding! I’ve broken down my daily tasks into different groups and assigned each group a color.People with ADHD respond well to color-coding, and I’m certainly no exception.

6. Recognize That You Aren’t Your ADHD.

It’s a bit of a paradox: people with ADHD respond well to positive reinforcement, yet also have a hard timerecognizing their own strengths and talents. Here’s the thing: people with ADHD often internalize their own struggles. The fact is, though, that ADHD is not a character flaw, it is a neurological disorder of the brain. The better you’re able to recognize and understand your symptoms, the better off you’ll be. Read everything you can get your hands on about ADHD, and help yourself understand what is you and what is your ADHD.

 

Young black woman in a forest checking smartwatch and smiling

 

7. Take Care of Yourself.

Though everyone should make sure to eat well, exercise and get enough sleep, it’s even more important for adults with ADHD. Taking care of yourself can help alleviate symptoms. Exercise, in particular, has been shown to help alleviate ADHD symptoms in both children and adults..

8 Find the Best System for You.

There’s no one size fits all when it comes to organization methods. Odds are, some methods are going to work for you and some aren’t. Try out a bunch of different organization methods to find one that sticks, and don’t be discouraged if it takes 2, 3 or even 10 tries before you find the right one.

Related:
5 Foods Linked to ADHD

Main image credit: Unsplash

219 comments

Jerome S
Jerome S4 months ago

thanks

SEND
Jim V
Jim Ven4 months ago

thanks for sharing.

SEND
Melania P
Melania P5 months ago

Thanks for posting

SEND
Carl R
Carl R6 months ago

Thanks!!!

SEND
Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O6 months ago

Very good and worthwhile tips and suggestions set out here whether you are or not suffering with a 'disorder' as this helps you to be 'ordered'...thanks.

SEND
Jerome S
Jerome S6 months ago

thanks

SEND
Jim V
Jim Ven6 months ago

thanks for sharing.

SEND
Carl R
Carl R6 months ago

Thanks!!!

SEND
Aldana W
Aldana W6 months ago

Thanks, good suggestions even if you don't know if you have ADHD.

SEND
Camilla V
Camilla Vaga7 months ago

noted

SEND