Most of the conversation around Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, centers around children and teenagers. These age groups do tend to have many problems when it comes to ADHD, from getting the diagnosis for the first time or navigating school and friendships. So it is not hard to find resources if you have a child or teen with this disorder.
But there are also more than 11 million adults in the country with ADHD. Whether you have been dealing with this since childhood or just received a diagnosis, ADHD can still make it difficult to fulfill daily tasks and succeed at work. Medications and therapy are valuable ways to treat ADHD in adults, but you can also take steps on your own to make navigating tasks, projects, and scheduling at work and home more productive.
Five Tactics to Help Adults Navigate ADHD
The way ADHD presents in adults is often different from the symptoms children experience. Children tend to lean towards hyperactivity and impulsivity. In an adult, ADHD often makes it difficult to focus, leads to forgetfulness, and causes restlessness. Five ways to overcome these symptoms include:
Creating routines for all the tasks that you do regularly helps make many of these tasks automatic and reduces the chance that you will forget something important. You can have a routine for all of the different activities you do throughout your day or week, such as getting ready for work in the morning, at what point in the day you sort through emails, and when and how you exercise.
As you are building these routines, it can be helpful to use things like sticky notes or your phone’s calendar to remind you when to do things until the routines eventually become second nature.
Find Methods of Organization
Not every task you need to accomplish can be made into a routine. Some projects at work will happen only once or you may have chores around the house that you only do a few times a year. Before you begin on any of these projects, create a plan that will help you stay organized and focused while you are working.
Using a planner or creating a to do list to outline everything that needs to be done on your project provides structure and gives you something to come back to if you find yourself becoming distracted. You can even go far so far as to schedule times to work on things.
Being more organized in your home and office settings can also make you feel less overwhelmed. This can include putting your belongings in designated spots whenever you are not using them or relying on labels to help you keep things neat.
Break Up Big Tasks
A single large project offers many chances for distractions. It can leave you unsure where to start and getting derailed from the overall goal can quickly make you lose motivation. Instead of trying to tackle the whole project at once, break it down into several smaller tasks.
Ideally, each of these tasks will only take about 15 to 30 minutes to complete. You can then start handling tasks one by one. After you finish each task, decide if you have the focus to move to the next one, or come back to it at a later time. This way, you get a sense of accomplishment as you work towards finishing tasks, whether that is a project at work or a whole house cleaning.
Get Rid of Distractions
There are occasions where you will need to focus for longer periods of time or more intensely. A little advanced planning can help make your work environment less distracting and increase the chances that you can maintain focus throughout your task.
Scheduling and small tasks are a great way to make sure you are not distracted by other projects. But you can also make your environment less distracting by silencing your phone, muting notifications on your computer, and seeking out quieter areas of your home or office. Music also helps many adults with ADHD keep out distractions and follow a more linear way of thinking.
Know Your Limits
Even with the best pre-planning, there are going to be days where you do not get done everything you want to or you forget something important. Accepting that this may happen and knowing that it does not mean you failed can help keep you from becoming disheartened if you do need to push tasks to the next day.
It is also important to recognize any limits as you are making plans and be realistic about what you can accomplish. Discussing limits with people you trust, whether at home or in the workplace, can also give you the space you need to complete tasks on the timeline that works best for you and your mental health.
If you are an adult struggling with ADHD in Dallas, working with a psychiatrist is another way to help you navigate the symptoms and be more productive with less frustration. At Aware Behavioral Health, Dr. Sehdev can treat adult ADHD with a combination of medications and therapy. He can help you devise coping mechanisms specific to your needs so you are better able to complete tasks from day to day. To learn more about our ADHD therapy services for adults and adolescents, give us a call.