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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect focus and attention, among other things. While many people with ADHD can benefit from medication and behavioral therapy, other tools can also help make it easier to go through the day.
We put together a list of tools that can help you manage your symptoms, improving your focus and ability to stay on track.
While these tools can help anyone manage their time and organize their lives, they may be especially helpful if you live with ADHD.
ADHD can show up in multiple ways, causing cognitive and emotional impacts.
Some symptoms of ADHD can include more frequently:
- experiencing forgetfulness
- having difficulty with impulse control, patience, focusing, and sitting still
- getting distracted
- interrupting others
Keep in mind, symptoms can vary from person to person and with age.
Here are seven go-to tools that may help center your focus and build confidence for daily and weekly organization.
1. Calendar or agenda
ADHD symptoms might make it tough to remember important events, appointments, and commitments. Writing things down in an agenda or calendar can help you stay on top of deadlines and important tasks.
Handwriting can help you remember commitments better, but you may prefer digital calendar options like Google Calendar or Apple’s calendar app, which allow you to set visual and audible reminders.
And if agendas or calendars don’t quite work for you, consider making regular to-do lists to keep tabs on what you have to get done. This serves two purposes: It helps you remember what needs to get done and allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment when checking off completed tasks.
2. Forest app
The Forest app is a charming smartphone app for iOS and Android designed to help you practice maintaining focus.
You start a session by planting a virtual tree. If you leave the app to check social media or fiddle with other apps during your session, your tree dies. The more you complete and finish tasks without leaving the app, the bigger your forest will grow.
3. Voice assistant
If you feel worried about forgetting to input appointments in your digital calendar, consider employing the help of a digital voice assistant like Google Home or Amazon Alexa. Put it in a central spot and make it a hub for you and other household members where you can create reminders, set appointments, and add alarms.
People who prefer not to use digital technology might consider using a whiteboard instead of a digital assistant. Just make sure to put it in a high traffic spot — the kitchen or entryway are good options.
4. A pair of walking or running shoes
Taking frequent breaks might seem counterintuitive if you have trouble focusing, but stepping away from a task to get fresh air every so often might help with overall attention.
And the effects of regular exercise may have long-term benefits, too, like
5. ‘The Pomodoro Technique’
“Pomodoro” is Italian for tomato and the name of a time management technique created by Francesco Cirillo.
It involves breaking tasks down into short sessions with 5-minute breaks in between. Typically, the duration of the “work” session is 25 minutes, but you can choose an interval that works best for you.
Setting a time limit provides you with clear goals:
You can use a stopwatch, the timer on your phone, or Pomodoro apps to help you keep track of your sessions and breaks.
Do you frequently lose your keys? Are you often late to appointments because you regularly misplace your wallet? Try adding Tile trackers to your most commonly lost possessions to minimize time spent searching for them.
Tile sells multiple versions of their tracking tools including options specifically for small items like keys, larger items like laptops and notebooks, and stickers for things like remotes and small electronics.
7. Website blockers
Need to focus but can’t resist the temptation of checking Twitter? Use a website blocker to temporarily block access to the sites that zap productivity.
Some options include:
- Freedom, which allows you to block access to specific sites across multiple devices
- Limit, a free Chrome extension that lets you set a daily time limit for certain websites
- StayFocused, a free Chrome extension that lets block distracting websites
When to involve a health professional
If you experience prolonged lack of focus and frequent disorganization that make it tough to perform day-to-day activities, you may benefit from contacting a mental health professional about your symptoms.
It may also be worth talking with a professional, even if your symptoms are a minor annoyance. If they’re bothering you, that can be reason enough to get help.
What is the best way to manage ADHD?
There is no one definitive way to manage ADHD, because everyone is different with unique responses. However, many people find that a combination of medication, therapy, and management tools can help them yield good results.
What is the first-line treatment for ADHD?
The first-line medical treatment for ADHD involves prescription stimulants.
Can you control ADHD without medication?
If you prefer to avoid medication, it may be possible to manage your symptoms with a combination of behavioral therapy and lifestyle changes. Try to remain open to different options and get advice from health professionals. The use of several approaches can help make an even bigger impact.
Can certain things make ADHD symptoms worse?
Things like insufficient sleep, high stress, and lack of exercise can worsen ADHD symptoms and make it even harder to focus.
Can caffeine help with ADHD symptoms?
Some people find that caffeine helps but it’s a good idea not to utilize it as a replacement for ADHD medication.
ADHD can make it tough to go through your day without feeling overwhelmed. But you don’t need to resign yourself to feeling this way. Treatment for ADHD is available.
Addtionally, management tools can help you stay organized, improve your focus, and reach your daily and weekly goals.
Gina Pera is an author, workshop leader, private consultant, and international speaker on adult ADHD, especially as it affects relationships. She’s the co-developer of the first professional guide for treating ADHD-challenged couples: “Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy: Clinical Interventions.” She also wrote “Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?Stopping the Roller Coaster When Someone You Love Has Attention Deficit Disorder.” Check out her award-winning blog on adult ADHD.