Michael Phelps, multiple gold medal winner in swimming, has ADHD. So do many other famous and successful people. If you have this diagnosis, you have good company, and that should give you a mood lift. While researchers and psychiatrists distinguish between ADD and ADHD, the lines between these two diagnoses are often blurred, so do not get too caught up in the differences indicated by one letter.
If you have ADD/ADHD, you should know that you are all of these things:
To meet the challenges you may face, and to let your great qualities shine through, here are 41 hacks to use on a daily basis:
Every time you have a task that involves more than one step, break it down into one step at a time. Write each step down so you can follow the right sequence.
If you are distracted by persistent thoughts as you are trying to study or work, get out a piece of paper and write them down. Somehow, writing them down allows you to focus on the task at hand.
Not just in a file on your computer or somewhere in your planner. You need to have the visual in front of you at all times to keep your focus sharp and to help you accomplish more daily.
Hold onto it until everything is crossed off or until you’ve put incomplete items onto a new list. If you don’t do this, you’ll forget something or lose an important step in a process.
Have only one place where you keep the important stuff – keys, phone, purse or wallet – and this means at both work and at home.
Get a basket or nice-looking organizer that is divided into compartments. Label each compartment with the different categories required to organize your important stuff; this will remind you to put everything in the right place.
Write down every appointment and meeting. If you do this with an app, you must also put a calendar on your wall with those dates marked in print also, because you need a visual that you’ll see daily.
Check your calendar every night before going to bed and again in the morning when you first wake up. Repetitive reminders will always help.
Get yourself to a quiet isolated place when you need to focus on a task. It should feature either no windows/ windows with shades, and either no noise or just “white” noise. If you can’t block out noise, use earplugs.
If you have to use your computer for school or work, get an app/tool to block the Internet or at least your favorite sites while you work.
Keep your home and work/study space as orderly and uncluttered as possible. Some people work well amid clutter – you don’t.
Stack everything that will be going to school or work with you the next morning in a specific spot, including books, files, keys, phone, and purse/ wallet.
Speaking of mornings, don’t turn the TV on as you are getting ready for work or school. It’s just too easy to become distracted by the latest events. Listen to the radio on the way to work instead.
Give someone else, whom you trust, the care of your phone while you work on a task or project. Instruct them to answer only calls from family members, in case of emergency
Take frequent breaks- and MOVE when you take those breaks, especially if you have ADHD. Set a timer for them because it’s good to look forward to the “ding.”
Limit your time on the Internet with the help of hotspot software. Give yourself a time frame and use a mobile hotspot app to control your schedule.
If you are totally immersed in a project, do not take a break. There are times when getting “into the zone” is a good thing.
Have a place in every room for writing important things down as they come to mind. Use a dry erase board, or just a pad of paper. You can consolidate those lists once a day.
Set all of your clocks ahead and live as though you are 5-10 minutes ahead of everyone else. If you get a bit distracted, you’ll still be on time.
Arrange for all bills to be due at the same time. Since usually your mortgage or rent is due between the 1st and 10th of each month, contact all of your creditors and utilities and request the same time frame. Most will oblige.
If you have trouble remembering to pay bills, arrange an automatic payment from your checking account. Your other option is to pay bills online and carefully check your payment history. All banks list everyone you have paid, along with the dates of the last payment. It is easy to check possible cases of fraud.
Schedule only one day a week for cleaning. The dirt isn’t going anywhere.
Carry meds with you or keep a small supply in your desk at work, in case you forget to take them. At some point you’ll remember and you’ll be glad you had the foresight to prepare.
Use supportive people like friends and family to remind you of things you need to get done and appointments you have.
Put rewards in place for yourself as you get things done. The bigger the task or project, the bigger the reward should be.
If you have long reading assignments, divide the book up into sections between now and the due date. Put post-it notes on those divisions, and read each section on a schedule
For long term assignments or projects, divide it up into individual tasks or steps and put each one on that calendar on your wall.
Stop trying to multi-task. Some people can do this – you cannot, and that’s totally fine. In fact, multi-tasking actually does not do any good for anyone.
When someone gives you important verbal information or instructions, and you have nothing to write it down with, repeat it out loud 3-4 times between the time of the instruction and when you are able to get somewhere that allows you to write it down.
Carry a pad of paper with you- even just a tiny one- everywhere you go. You can also use an app like Evernote, but you will need to remember to access it at least once a day and get your notes on visible sheets of paper or that calendar.
Do not take on a task or project if you are feeling emotional, especially sad. Wait until you are more even-tempered
If you need to tap, jiggle your leg, or do something similar as you work or sit in a meeting, do so as unobtrusively as possible so you don’t disturb others. Explain to others that it helps you to focus.
Don’t hoard. If you have finished a project or task, take all of that paperwork you were using and get rid of it.
When you are engaged in important phone conversations, pace as you talk. You will stay more focused if you do.
Come up with a signal that you give yourself before you say something in class or in a meeting. It can be as simple as putting your finger to your lips. This will remind you to think before you blurt something out that you may regret later.
Get a lot of post-it notes. Put your errands, one by one, on post-it notes and stick them on the dashboard of your car. As you finish each errand, get rid of the post-it note. It will feel good to do that!
Put color-coded post-it notes on your wall calendar to prioritize your tasks. Red notes could signify urgent tasks, and so on.
Remind yourself of all of your strengths and talents, and do so often. Justin Timberlake, Jamie Oliver, Richard Branson and even Ryan Gosling struggle with the same things that you do!
If you wake up in the middle of the night because of thoughts running through your head, turn on the light, write them down on a piece of paper on your nightstand, and go back to sleep.
Let yourself be distracted when it doesn’t matter. It’s okay to stop doing the dishes if you hear something on TV you want to watch and listen to.
Find humor in your ADD and joke about it. You’ll feel better.
Having ADD or ADHD is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, you are destructible; yes you are “antsy”; yes, you may have more difficulty focusing in order to complete tasks. But you are also a person whose brain is in ‘rapid fire’ mode a lot more frequently than most others, and that allows you to be a creative problem solver! Using these hacks will help to minimize your ‘curses’ and maximize your blessings.
Featured photo credit: WarmSleepy via flickr.com
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