Life isn’t easy for anyone, but if you’re struggling with attention, restlessness, forgetfulness, and impulsivity, it can seem downright impossible at times.
Take a deep breath. If you have ADHD, you’ve come to the right place. Apart from working with your doctor to get your meds right, there are other things you can do. Consider the following tips:
Find a routine and stick to it. Keep the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime. Keep a copy of your schedule on the fridge or in your smart phone, and write in changes as far in advance as possible.
Break tasks down into small steps. When you have a large project in front of you, something that seems overwhelming, sit down and divide the project into manageable, smaller steps. During those tough moments, when even this seems daunting, ask a loved one or friend to help.
Get instructions in writing. Have an upcoming project ? Make sure your boss gives you written instructions. You need to know exactly what is being asked of you.
Ask for feedback. Get monthly feedback from the boss, preferably written feedback, to make sure you’re on the right track. Don’t wait until things seem to be going badly. If the feedback is good, feel proud of what you’re doing. If the feedback reveals a problem, this gives you a chance to adjust your course.
Take breaks and remember how to relax. When working on a large project, take frequent breaks. Once an hour, pause for five or ten minutes to relax your mind and let yourself recharge. When overwhelmed, use relaxation exercises or other soothing activities to calm yourself down.
Pick your environment carefully. Find the study environment that works best for you and use it. Do you need music in the background when you study? Do you prefer to be alone or with people? Is there a certain detail-oriented friend you study well with? Take this all into consideration when approaching an assignment.
Know your brain. Evaluate your weak areas and come up with ways to overcome them. Here are a few examples:
(1) Tend to lose things all the time? Assign a special place in the house for keys, phones, and wallet. When on the go, keep things in the same place all the time so you can find them, like keys in left pocket and phone in front pocket of bag. Whenever you get up to move, make sure you’re not leaving anything behind.
(2) Forget to do important things? Keep a to-do list on the fridge (or on your phone) and refer to it often. Make sure to keep it up to date and cross stuff off the list once completed.
(3) Forget information you just studied? There are three things you can do to increase retention. First, study the info over and over again until it sticks. Start early, as this can take weeks. Sometimes you need to study and forget something three times before you remember, but once you remember it tends to stick. Second, sleep on the information. Study, sleep over night, then go back to studying. The brain absorbs material better when you sleep after studying. The third thing involves mnemonic devices (see #4 below)
(4) Tend to forget names? Consider using a mnemonic device to remember. That means you connect a person’s name to something you can remember, like a song, rhyme, bad word, famous person, etc. If my name is Marilyn, think of Marilyn Monroe every time you see me.
(5) Have so much stuff to do that you don’t know where to start? It’s time to write that to-do list! Get it all down on paper, then choose what’s most important.
Use reminders. In addition to a to-do list, use stickies or reminder notes for day-to-day tasks. Need to remember to call your mother tomorrow? Just before you go to bed, put a stickie note on your phone so you see it the next day.
That’s it for now. If you know of any great tips for living with ADHD, let me know!
For more information, check out this article about ADHD.