Imagine that it’s 4:59 p.m. now, just a minute before your deadline. You swore you would never put yourself in this position again, but you did. This isn’t your best job and you’ll be lucky just to turn anything. What else would you do if you could turn back the clock?
Living with ADHD can feel this way on a daily basis, but it doesn’t have to be.
For millions of adults around the world, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a persistent disorder that begins in childhood and is characterized by inattention, excesses, impulsivity, or a combination thereof. Complicating the diagnosis is that ADHD often co-occurs and is sometimes confused with other health conditions such as anxiety or substance abuse.
Because of the steady stream of negative feedback that people with ADHD receive about their productivity, organization, and time management skills, some people with the disorder may have low self-esteem or a feeling of being overwhelmed. found not enough. But rather than being an intrinsic, individual disability, ADHD is a treatable condition. Research shows that behavioral strategies, along with medication when needed, can help people improve focus and ease of functioning in daily life.
As a psychologist and clinical assistant professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Facility, I lead an adult therapy group focused on ADHD management skills. From that work, I’ve compiled many strategies to help anyone who’s having trouble getting their attention, whether or not they’ve received an official ADHD diagnosis.
ADHD can be treated and managed through various options including medication, therapy, and time management techniques.
4. Organizational system and priorities
A simple organizational system can improve focus by providing a way to keep track of important activities. Ideally, the system should focus on one tool, such as a notebook or phone app, assuming the phone isn’t too distracting. Building a routine that includes a daily schedule, a regularly updated to-do list, and a calendar that reminds yourself of appointments can provide the foundation for building focus and a sense of control.
With to-do lists, it’s important to break down tasks into manageable chunks and then prioritize them. Knowing what to prioritize can be difficult, but one useful approach is the Eisenhower matrix, which divides tasks into four quadrants: urgent and important, like a work project due tomorrow. ; urgent and unimportant, such as requests that others can meet; not urgent but important, like long term projects; and non-urgent and unimportant, meaning something that doesn’t need to be done.
Many people with ADHD are motivated to complete urgent and unimportant tasks like responding to someone else’s request because other people’s sense of urgency seems to be more important than their own needs. Additionally, doing something for others can lead to quick positive feedback and help you take a break from what can be a stressful task. The Eisenhower Matrix prioritizes what’s most important, over what’s immediately gratifying.
3. Manage the environment and limit distractions
Several strategies can help keep you on track. The key is to create an environment conducive to productivity. That means limiting distractions and setting up barriers to temptation. Use a social media web blocker while at work, and ideally put your phone and computer on airplane mode. Set up environmental cues, such as alarms and visual reminders, to track time and make sure you’re following your targeted priorities.
Waiting to focus on a task until before a deadline not only causes last-minute stress, but also has a domino effect on other life priorities and needs, like eating and sleeping. This can be overcome with “distracting lag,” a method of job retention that is especially useful for the jobs you want to avoid. The first step is to designate a period of time during which you can focus. For example, focus on the task for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break before repeating the cycle.
Set a timer and keep your laptop nearby. As you begin to work on a challenging task, you may discover that other unrelated activities suddenly seem urgent. Instead of doing them, jot them down in a notebook, reminding yourself that you can do them later and get back to what you were doing. At the end of the focus period, review what you wrote down and decide if any of those tasks really need immediate action. If so, you can do them during your breaks or add them to your to-do list.
2. Support network
A support system is crucial to staying on task, both to keep you accountable and to receive encouragement. Your support network may include friends and family, a therapist, group therapy, or an online forum to share goals and get feedback.
Another effective support strategy is to double the body. This means working, physical or virtual, alongside people you know who are also working. This creates mutual accountability in maintaining the mission.
There are several non-drug ways to sleep when you have ADHD.
People with ADHD often have a hard time going to bed at a set time — and then having trouble falling asleep. And a lot of evidence shows that irregular sleep can prolong a cycle of difficulty concentrating.
Sticking to a bedtime and wake-up time schedule every day is part of a good sleep hygiene strategy. Therefore, you should avoid tobacco, caffeine, large meals and alcohol within a few hours of sleeping. Also, try not to nap within eight hours of your usual bedtime.
Develop calm relaxation techniques before bed. It usually takes time to fall asleep, but if you can’t fall asleep after 45 minutes, get out of bed and do a relaxing activity until you’re sleepy again. There’s no point in looking at the clock.
As you combine these strategies, start with the ones that are most accessible to you. Although people with ADHD often pursue novelty and habitual routines, it is worthwhile to develop a habit. You may find that instead of racing to the finish line at the last minute, you have time to spare and take pride in what you’ve done.
This article was originally published on Conversation by Rob Rosenthal at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Facility. Read the original text here.
https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/adhd-focus-strategy-life-hacks 4 brain hacks to help you overcome ADHD and other attention problems