Top Tips for Coping with ADHD
There are alternative ways of doing things for those with ADHD, LD, or situational ADHD that can make life easier. These conditions may cause inattention or attention inconsistency, but while we have this we are still expected to continue our lives and function in this fast-paced world. The following are my top tips for coping with ADHD:
- If you can’t remember or process information upon hearing it, request that it be written down. For example, one young woman said that she couldn’t remember anything her husband asked her to do and disappointed him by not following through. She figured out that she couldn’t follow directions she heard because it took so much brainpower to concentrate on the act of listening. The task was a breeze in written format, and she no longer felt like she was letting her family down.
- Consider using colors to keep you organized. I often use various colored folders (on paper and on the computer – as opposed to manila folders that run together and make reading tabs all but impossible), and they can be used to indicate timeframe, hierarchy, or an order of presentation. When I did a project for Citigroup, I used colors to designate financial levels of positions. Entry-level people made the money (green); the administrative and support staff was blue, and the specialists or computer analysts were yellow (bright lights in the group who made life easier for everyone). I never used red due to negative connotations associated with the color (stop signs, marks on student papers). Once I had established the colored folder system, all I had to know was what level the person was to pull the job opening.
- It’s important to get organized, but remember organization is a work-in-progress. When you think of organizing, you have to first think of where you will stage your things and how you will move through the year: seasons, vacations, school preparations, holidays, etc. Pick a staging area and add a folding table. The table needs to be a size that you can put away when the change is complete. It can be stored under the bed, in the garage, or in a hallway closet. As you go into the holidays or other events, you will want to start getting things together in that area. Remember as you are working there you will want to give the illusion of neatness, for yourself and others; this keeps things from seeming confusing and keeps you from working on that project when you are supposed to be doing other work. This area will be used all year as needed and in the first years as you are learning new ways of accomplishing goals.
- Choosing what to wear and how to put your clothes together can be difficult. I recommend coordinating pre-planned outfits for all occasions for the next 6 months. Don’t mix-and-match; have a complete outfit hung up together so you don’t have to remember what to wear with what. You may have 5 outfits for work, 3 for casual events, 1 for a funeral, 1 for a wedding, etc. This might be tough to do, so consider asking for help from a person whose taste in clothing you respect. Put as many outfits together from what you own as possible, and make note of the one or two pieces needed to complete other outfits. Shop with your list in hand so you know exactly what you’re looking for.
- Try a new philosophy if you have trouble straightening your house. If you struggle with knowing where to begin, one option is to move from room to room completing one task at a time. First, remove all of the trash from all of the rooms. Then, dust; then, vacuum, etc. until you have completed all of the chores. This serves two purposes: you won’t have to decide what task to do next so you won’t be overwhelmed, and the exercise will help your brain work quickly. If there is something you have to get done, leave it on the counter and do it at break time. At the end of a few hours, your house and your report will be finished.
- Instead of planning menus, keep the house stocked with the items you need to prepare the things you like. The best option is to write a list of things you will serve for dinner early in the day to prevent having to make those decisions when tired.
- If you have trouble keeping your paperwork organized, continue to actually touch items like bills each week until they’re finished. It’s important that the key things that need attention stay out on your desk. Go through the papers again and again. Because of the risk of being late with bills, it is recommended that you pay your bills at least once a week. Once you have completed the task, file the paperwork immediately so it’s not something that you’ll have to continue to handle.
- Use technology to your advantage. There are free services such as Mint and Manilla that can help you to keep track of finances and accounts. Manilla consolidates statements and bills from all of your accounts into one place, and Mint tracks bank account and credit card transactions. Technological devices can be useful for setting reminders, organizing to-do lists, and keeping track of information. Check out these 20 apps for children and adults with ADHD.
- Do you want to know how to get more done in general? Do it your way! Your way might look different from others. I propose that doing more than one thing at a time keeps the brain popping and gives it something different to think about while still pondering other activities.