A special thanks to Edge Foundation Executive Director, Robert Tudisco for inspiring this article. Robert was an adult when he received his ADHD diagnosis. Since that time he tackled his ADHD head-on and shared what has worked for him. Robert is a frequent contributor to Attention Magazine and ADDitude Magazine. The material for this article was taken from one he wrote for adults in the workplace.
Introspection is the key
Medication and coping strategies do not cure ADHD, but they can go a long way toward managing its symptoms. There are a ton of strategies out there you can try, the key to making any of them effective is to look deep inside yourself and honestly appraise your strengths and weaknesses. Take the example of your where you study. How you set up your study environment can make a big difference in either contributing to your ADHD challenges, or playing to your strengths. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Understanding why a system didn’t work for you can provide you with valuable information about designing a system that will.
Identify your distractions
Start by figuring out what distracts you and work to eliminate those distractions. Are you prone to audible distractions, visible distractions, or both? Are you distractible some times more than others? For instance, sometimes silence can help focus. And other times silence can intensify the distracting noise in your head. Try experimenting with white noise or music to keep the part of your brain busy that wants to wander. Understanding what distracts you can be very empowering because you gain an element of control over things that have previously made you feel helpless.
Curb internet distraction
While the internet can be a very useful tool for research and in some cases productivity, it can also be black hole for wasted time. EVERYONE is distracted by the internet. It’s too easy to click on a link that appears to go to a related topic until you are so far afield from where you need to be you’ve forgotten what you are supposed to be working on. Plus, the stimulation of the click, refresh and status update check can get your mind running like a hamster on a wheel. When you find yourself distracted by the internet, turn it off. For example, if you are working on a paper that you know you will have a hard time sticking to – take control and turn the internet off!
Identify a productive place
Designing a safe and productive place does not always mean a place within your own home or office. Learn to experiment in different settings to see whether or not they are helpful to your productivity. For instance, no matter how much you minimize distractions in your home or office, there may always be subtle reminders of other projects that you have to do. Some people clean their house when they should be studying. If you are one of those people, heading to the library may be the ticket to focusing.
Pick your prime time
Are you more productive in the morning? Are you less productive in the afternoon? Do you get more done in the study hall before everyone gets there and starts whispering or at the end of the day when things quiet down? The answers to these questions can be invaluable in making the most of that prime time. Figure out when you are most productive, and then spend that time on the things you find hardest to focus on.
Regardless of how hard we try to work around our problems, we may often find that the biggest obstacle we face is ourselves. When that is the case, don’t be afraid to think WAY outside the box and even outside of yourself. Don’t be afraid to seek the help of a coach who can work with you to develop a system of structure and accountability that can work for you and get you to where you need to be.
When you start thinking about productivity as a state of mind instead of a destination, you being the important step of taking control of yourself. Empower yourself to success. And remember, you are not alone.