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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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