Imagine it’s 4:59 p.m., just a minute before your deadline. You swore you would never put yourself in that position again, and yet you did it. This isn’t your best work and you’re lucky to give something away. What would you do differently if you could turn back the clock?
Living with ADHD it can feel like this every day, but it doesn’t have to.
To the Millions of adults around the world, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, best known as ADHD, is a persistent disorder that begins in childhood and is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, or a combination thereof. Diagnosis is complicated by the fact that ADHD often occurs with and is sometimes confusedother health conditions such as anxiety or substance abuse.
Because of the constant stream of negative feedback people with ADHD receive about their productivity, organizational skills, and time management, some people with the disorder may have low self-esteem or feel inadequate. But rather than an inner personal lackADHD is a treatable condition. Research shows that behavioral strategies, along with medication when needed, can help people improve their focus and ease in daily life.
As a psychologist and clinical assistant professor At the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical campus, I lead an adult therapy group focused on ADHD management skills. From this work, I have compiled numerous strategies to help anyone who is struggling to focus their attention, whether or not they have received a formal ADHD diagnosis.
Organizational systems and prioritization
A simple organizational system can improve focus by providing a way to keep track of important activities. Ideally, the system focuses on one tool, e.g. a notebook or a phone app, provided the phone is not too distracting. Develop a routine This includes having a daily schedule, a regularly updated to-do list, and a calendar that reminds you of appointments can lay a foundation for building focus and a sense of control.
With the to-do list, it’s crucial to break tasks down into manageable chunks and then prioritize them. It can be difficult to know what to prioritize, but a helpful approach is this Eisenhower matrix, which divides tasks into four quadrants: urgent and important, like a work project that’s due tomorrow; urgent and unimportant, such as B. a request that someone else can fulfill; not urgent but important, like long-term projects; and not urgent and unimportant, meaning that something does not need to be done.
Many with ADHD are motivated to fulfill themselves first urgent and unimportant tasks such as responding to the requests of others because another’s sense of urgency seems more important than one’s own needs. Doing something for someone else, too, can generate quick positive feedback and provide a welcome break from a potentially stressful task. The Eisenhower Matrix prioritizes what is most important rather than what is most immediately gratifying.
Dealing with the environment and limiting distractions
Several strategies can help you stay on track. Creating an environment conducive to productivity is crucial. That means limiting distractions and putting up barriers to temptation. Use Social media web blocker at work, and ideally put your phone and computer on airplane mode. configuration environmental noticeslike alarms and visual reminders to keep track of time and ensure you stick to your intended priority.
Waiting for a task so close to the deadline not only causes last-minute stress, but also has a knock-on effect on other priorities and basic necessities like eating and sleeping. This can be done with the “distractibility delay‘, a method of staying on task that’s especially useful for tasks you want to avoid. The first step is to set a time period for which you can stay focused. For example, focus on work for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break before repeating the cycle.
Set a timer and keep your notebook nearby. As you begin the challenging task, you may find that other unrelated activities suddenly seem urgent. Instead of acting on it, jot those tasks down in your notebook, remind yourself you can do them later, and get back to the work at hand. At the end of the focus phase, look at what you wrote down and decide if any of those tasks actually require immediate action. If so, you can do them on your break or put them on your to-do list.
A support system is crucial to staying on task, both to hold yourself accountable and to receive encouragement. Your support network might include friends and family, a therapist, group therapy, or an online forum to share goals and get feedback.
Another effective support strategy is body doubling. This means working either physically or virtually with someone you know who is also working. This creates mutual accountability for staying on task.
The need for sleep
People with ADHD often have trouble going to bed at a certain time — and then have trouble falling asleep. And a great body of evidence points out that irregular sleep can perpetuate a cycle of attention deficit disorder.
Sticking to a bedtime schedule and waking up at the same time every day is part of this Good sleep hygiene strategy. The same goes for avoiding tobacco, caffeine, large meals, and alcohol within a few hours of sleep. Also, try not to nap within eight hours of your regular bedtime.
Develop ways to quietly relax before bed. It’s normal to take your time to fall asleep, but if you can’t sleep after 45 minutes, get up and do a relaxing activity until you’re sleepy again. It’s not helpful look at the clock.
As you incorporate these strategies, start with the ones that are most accessible to you. Although people with ADHD often chase new things and resent routine, it pays to develop a routine. You may find that instead of rushing to the finish at the last minute, you have spare time and are proud of what you did. DM/ML
Rob Rosenthal is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
In case you missed it, also read A Frustrating Mindlessness – What To Do With ADHD In Adulthood?