Advertising
Advertising

41 Hacks That Help People With ADD/ADHD Work And Feel Better

41 Hacks That Help People With ADD/ADHD Work And Feel Better

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.

Wonderful Traits

If you have ADD/ADHD, you should know that you are all of these things:

  1. You generally have above-average intelligence
  2. You are generally highly creative
  3. You tend to think “outside of the box” and have unique solutions to problems
  4. You tend to be highly empathetic and caring
  5. You find joy in even the smallest of pleasures

Challenges

  1. In school you can be disruptive, although this usually dissipates by college
  2. You have difficulty focusing on school work and it may take you longer than most to complete assignments – (both reading and writing)
  3. In the workplace, you may have difficulty focusing on tasks and projects, particularly those that involve many steps or phases.
  4. When you do get immersed in something that really interests or excites you, you ‘zone in’ like no other, and it may be difficult for you to ‘break’ from that activity and change gears.

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:

1. Break down all tasks into bite-sized actions.

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.

2. Keep your brain tidy.

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.

3. Keep a to-do list printed out in front of you.

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.

4. Always hold onto your to-do list.

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.

5. Choose only one place for your stuff.

Have only one place where you keep the important stuff – keys, phone, purse or wallet – and this means at both work and at home.

6. Keep your things organized.

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.

Advertising

7. Have a calendar or planner with you at all times.

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.

8. Check everything twice a day.

Check your calendar every night before going to bed and again in the morning when you first wake up. Repetitive reminders will always help.

9. Get yourself isolated when you need to focus.

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.

10. Use tools to limit your Internet presence.

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.

11. Do not clutter up your work/study space.

Keep your home and work/study space as orderly and uncluttered as possible. Some people work well amid clutter – you don’t.

12. Stack your important things in easy reach.

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.

13. Do not become distracted by TV – keep it off.

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.

14. Put aside your cell phone when you are busy.

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

15. Don’t try to work too long.

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.”

Advertising

16. Don’t let the Internet become a distraction.

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.

17. Harness the power of hyper focus.

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.

18. If you think of something, write it down immediately.

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.

19. Get ahead of yourself.

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.

20. Pay all of your bills at once.

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.

21. Use technology to keep up with payments.

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.

22. Don’t try to clean daily.

Schedule only one day a week for cleaning. The dirt isn’t going anywhere.

23. Have a medication backup plan.

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.

24. Count on loved ones.

Use supportive people like friends and family to remind you of things you need to get done and appointments you have.

Advertising

25. Treat yourself.

Put rewards in place for yourself as you get things done. The bigger the task or project, the bigger the reward should be.

26. Divide up reading assignments.

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

27. Break big jobs into small tasks.

For long term assignments or projects, divide it up into individual tasks or steps and put each one on that calendar on your wall.

28. Multi-tasking is your enemy.

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.

29. Use your voice to commit important things to memory.

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.

30. Always be prepared to take notes.

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.

31. Feeling emotional or stressed? Calm down first.

Do not take on a task or project if you are feeling emotional, especially sad. Wait until you are more even-tempered

32. Fidget respectfully.

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.

33. Purge.

Don’t hoard. If you have finished a project or task, take all of that paperwork you were using and get rid of it.

Advertising

34. Walk and talk.

When you are engaged in important phone conversations, pace as you talk. You will stay more focused if you do.

35. Pause before speaking.

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.

36. Embrace the sticky note.

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!

37. Use colors to set priorities.

Put color-coded post-it notes on your wall calendar to prioritize your tasks. Red notes could signify urgent tasks, and so on.

38. ADHD does not define you.

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!

39. Don’t let your active brain cheat you out of sleep.

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.

40. Go with the flow when you can.

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.

41. Laughter is a great thing.

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

More by this author

20 Things Only Parents Of Children With Dyslexia Would Understand 22 Creative Ways to Make Money (Simple and Effective) 9 Simple Tips to Make Your WordPress Blog Faster 11 Curious Facts About Baseball That You Didn’t Know 10 Strategies to Reduce And Repay Your College Debt

Trending in Health

1 Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It 2 Anxiety Coping Mechanisms That Work When You’re Stressed to the Max 3 15 Natural Sleep Remedies for Insomnia That Are Backed by Science 4 The Leading Causes of Prenatal Depression and How to Manage it Best 5 10 Benefits of Sleeping Naked You Probably Didn’t Know

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

Advertising

This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

Advertising

If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

Advertising

Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

Advertising

To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

Read Next