If you are one of the roughly 10 million U.S. adults with ADHD, it can be a constant challenge to stay focused and on task. A wandering mind and a tendency to be easily distracted are common for people with ADHD. Whether you’re talking to your boss or best friend, you might easily lose track of conversations or forget what you were working on. Or fail to pay attention to important details and make mistakes. But this isn’t an oversight on your part. An inability to focus is a prominent symptom of ADHD. While you may not always be able to fully control your capability to pay attention, you can find strategies that help you sustain it.
How to Get Stuff Done When You Have ADHD
Tips for Maintaining Attention and Focus
Here are some tips, suggested by the editors at ADDitude magazine, to help you focus if you are an adult with ADHD:
- When working, Narrow your line of sight – While at your desk, keep just what you’re working on in front of you. Remove everything else from your line of sight. This will help limit distractions.
- Give yourself a message – If you need to get down to work on a research paper for a few hours, write yourself a note and post it in plain view. The note should you remind you what you need to focus on right now.
- Withhold criticism – Don’t critique the job you are doing until you have completed it. That way, you can avoid getting waylaid by perfectionism or frustration at how much you have left to do.
- Make a list – If unrelated concerns are keeping you from attending to the task at hand, take five minutes to write down what you must do. Once these tasks are on paper and you no longer have to worry about remembering everything, you may find it easier to focus.
- Ask for a friendly reminder – Confide in a friend who sits near you in class or in business meetings. Ask him or her to tap you lightly on the shoulder if you appear to be zoning out.
- Get regular exercise – Exercise sends more oxygen to the brain, and stimulates the release of nutrients, hormones, neurotransmitters, and other agents that optimize brain function.
- Know your limits – When you simply can’t listen any more and find yourself drifting, be frank. Tell the person you’re talking to that you need to stop and take a break.
- Set a goal – If you have a goal that is aligned with who you are and what you’re excited about, you’ll move mountains to stay on task and get the job done.