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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 June 15, 2018

What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

Eight out of ten adults experience lower back pain once in their lifetime. I am one of those people and I’m definitely not looking forward to my participation award. I know how it feels like to step out of bed and barely being able to put on your socks. Having lower back pain sucks. But 9 out of 10 patients that suffer from lower back pain don’t even know the primary cause of it.

Video Summary

Back Pain? Blame Our Evolution

Once upon a time in our fairly recent past, our ancestors felt the urgency to stand up and leave our quadruped neighbors behind. Habitual bipedalism, fancy word for regularly walking on two legs, came with a lot of advantages. With two rear limbs instead of four, we were able to more efficiently use our hands and create tools with them.

Sadly, life on two legs also brought along its disadvantages. Our spine had four supporting pillars previously, but now it only got two. The back is therefore naturally one of the weak links of our human anatomy. Our spine needs constant support from its supporting muscles to minimize the load on the spine. With no muscle support (tested on dead bodies) the back can only bear loads up to 5 pounds without collapsing [reference Panjabi 1989]. With well-developed torso muscles, the spine can take loads up to 2000 pounds. That’s a 400-fold increase.

Most people that come to me with a history of a herniated disc (that’s when the discs between the vertebral bodies are fully collapsed, really severe incident), tell me the ‘story of the pencil’. The injury with the following severe pain usually gets triggered by picking up a small, everyday object. Such as a pencil. Not as you may think by trying to lift 100 pounds – no, but by a simple thing – such as a pencil.

This tells us that damage in your back adds up over time, it’s a so called cumulative trauma disorder. Meaning back pain is a result of your daily habits.

Sitting Is the New Smoking

Whenever I sit for too long, my back hurts. In fact, 54% of Americans who experience lower back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting. But isn’t sitting something that should reduce the stress of your back? No, just the opposite.

The joints between the bones of the spine are not directly linked to the blood supply. These joints instead get nourished through a process called diffusion. Diffusion works because molecules (such as oxygen, important for cells) are constantly moving and try to get as much space for themselves as they can. A key element for diffusion therefore is a pressure difference. In the image below the left room contains more moving molecules than the right, that’s why the molecules from the left are moving to the right. This way nutrition gets transformed into the joints, whereas toxins are transported out of the joints.

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Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spinal chord. The diffusion process therefore can’t function as efficiently. Nutrition and toxins can’t be properly transported, the joints get damaged.

    Sit Properly

    If sitting can play such a huge part in the creation of your lower back pain, how do you sit properly then?

    Is it better to sit with a straight back or should you rather lay back in your chair? Can I cross my legs when I’m sitting or should I have a symmetrical position with my feet? These are questions that I hear on a daily basis. The answer might shock you – according to recent science – all of them are right. The best sitting position is an ever-changing one. An ever-changing position minimizes the pressure on certain points of your spine and spreads it on the whole part.

      Credit: StayWow

      Stand Up More

      Even better than a sitting position is a stand up position. Standing dramatically reduces the pressure on your spine. If you’re forced to work on a desk the whole day though, you have two options.

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      Take breaks every hour of about 2-3 minutes.

      Set an alarm on your phone that goes off every hour! In that time you stand up and reach to the ceiling, on your toe tips with fully extended arms. You’re inhaling during the whole process. You do this activity for 20 seconds. Afterwards you’re walking through the office for the next 2 minutes. You might grab a healthy snack or some water in that time. The exercise relieves the pressure on your spine, while the walking makes sure that the joints on your spine are properly used.

      Or get a standing desk.

      One of the best companies on the market for Standing Desks, according to my research, is Autonomous. Autonomous offers a rather cheap Standing Desk, with the ability to change the height. Which means you can start the day standing and switch to sitting if you’re tired.

      Exercise for Lower Back Pain

      Sitting is an immobile position. Your joints are made for movement and therefore need movement to function properly. If humans are moving, all moving parts: e.g. the joints, bones and muscles get strengthened. If you’re in a rested position for too long, your tissues start to deteriorate. You have to get the right amount of activity in.

      But not too much activity. There’s a chance that going to the gym may even increase your risk of lower back pain. I know plenty of friends with chiseled bodies that suffer from pain in the spine regularly. Huge muscles do not prevent you from back pain. In your training you should focus on building up the muscles that are stabilizing your back and relieve pressure. Squats with 400 pounds don’t do the trick.

      The more weight you carry around, the more weight your spinal chord has to bear on a regular basis. That’s one of the reasons why huge, muscular guys can suffer from back pain too. One of the most important goals of your exercise regimen should therefore be weight loss.

      Here are some important tips for you to consider when starting an exercise regimen:

      Make sure you implement cardiovascular training in your workout routine.

      This will not only help you lose weight, it will also make sure that your arteries, which flow to the tissue next to your spinal discs, are free of placque and can therefore transport nutrients properly.

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      Important: If you have rather strong back pain, maybe even an herniated disc, don’t start running on a threadmill. Running is an high-impact exercise. Which means there are continuous, reocurring high pressure points on your spine. Your endurance training should therefore either be fast-paced walking or a training on the elliptical trainer for the beginning, because both have little to no stressful impact on your backbone.

      Focus on developing your whole core if you want to minimize your pain.

      There are some people that do hundreds of sit ups a day. While sit ups are a good exercise for your abdomen, it also puts pressure on your spine due to the bending movement. A sixpack workout routine is one-sided. Your abs may become overdeveloped in comparison to your back muscles. You’ve created an imbalance. A great way to train your abdominal muscles and back muscles simultaneously, is holding the plank position.

      Stretch only if you have tight muscles.

      I remember stretching every morning after I woke up. I took 10 minutes out of my day to just work on my flexibility and prevent injuries. Little did I know that I was actually promoting an injury, by doing so.

      Contrary to common belief, stretching is only partially beneficial to treating lower back pain. Stretching makes sense if tight muscles (such as the hamstrings) are forcing you to constantly bend your back. Stretching to treat pain doesn’t make sense if you’re already on a good level of flexibility. Hyper-mobility may even enforce back pain.

      If you found out that you had tight muscles that you need to stretch, try to stretch them at least three times a week. Don’t stretch your muscles right after you wake up in the morning. This is because your spinal discs soak themselves up in fluid over the nighttime. Every bending and excessive loads on your spine is much worse in that soaked-up state. Postpone your stretching regime to two-to three hours after you’ve woken up.

      Where to Start

      The key to improving your habits is awareness. Try to get aware of your back while you’re sitting down, laying down or lifting an object next time. This awareness of your body is called proprioception. For example, you have to be aware whether your back is bended or straight in this very second. Trust me, it is harder than you might think. You may need to ask a friend for the first few tries. But the change that this awareness can make in your back pain is absolutely fascinating. This consciousness of your body is one of the most important things in your recovery or prevention.

      Here are a few behavioural tactics that you need to be considering:

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      If you’re leaning forward more than 30 degrees with your upper body, support your spine with your arms.

      Ever tried to show a colleague of yours a complex issue and found yourself awkwardly leaning forward on their desk, pointing with your fingers to his paper? If that ever happens again, make sure you’re using the not-pointing arm to support yourself on the desk.

      Keep a straight back.

      Be it while exercising, stretching or standing. If you’re bending your back you’re putting stress on small areas of your spinal chord. A straight back redistributes the force to a bigger area. You’re minimizing the pressure. Remember this whenever you’re at the gym and reracking your weights, focus on having a neutral spine.

      Put symmetrical loads on your spine.

      I used to play the trumpet when I was a child. The instrument is pretty heavy. The trumpet gets transported in a big, metallic suitcase – with no wheels. Being the nature of suitcases, you only carry it with one arm, on one side of your body. This forced me to constantly lean on the other side with my upper body, while transporting the instrument from A to B. Not really the healthiest activity for your spine as you can imagine.

      If you have to carry heavy objects, carry them with both arms. Put the object in the middle of your body and keep it as close to your mass of gravity as you can. If this is not possible, try to carry the same amount on the left side than you do on the right side. This puts the stress vertically on a fully extended spine. The load is much better bearable for your spine.

      Stay Away From the Back Pain League

      Our world is getting more sedentary. We will continue to develop faster transportation, more comfortable houses and easier lives. While our technological progress definitely has its amazing benefits, it sadly has its downsides too. The danger for back pain will continue to rise on our ever-increasing motionless planet. It’s time to raise awareness.

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