How to Beat the Working Memory Blues


Living with ADHD can present unique challenges, especially when it comes to memory and recall. Forgetfulness and difficulty in remembering important information can lead to frustration and stress.

ADHD and Memory

Recent research suggests that individuals with ADHD often have significant problems with both working memory and encoding information into long-term memory for later retrieval and action.

Working memory is a kind of temporary storage system in the brain that holds several facts or thoughts while solving a problem or performing a task. It helps us hold information long enough to use it in the short term, focus on a task, and remember what to do next. It plays a critical role in accomplishing aspects of daily living such as following instructions, planning actions, following a schedule, and organizing activities.

Effective Tips for Remembering Things When You Have ADHD

Below are some practical strategies that individuals with ADHD can adopt to improve their memory and enhance overall cognitive performance.

  1. Establish a Routine – Structure and consistency are vital for individuals with ADHD. Creating a daily routine and sticking to it can significantly improve memory retention. Designate specific times for important activities like waking up, eating meals, and studying. Over time, this routine becomes ingrained, making it easier to remember essential tasks and events.
  2. Use Visual Reminders – Visual cues are powerful memory aids for people with ADHD. Utilize colorful sticky notes, calendars, and to-do lists to visually represent important tasks and deadlines. Placing these reminders in prominent locations, such as on your desk or refrigerator, will help keep them in focus and aid in recall.
  3. Practice Mindfulness – ADH-D can sometimes lead to an overwhelmed mind, making it harder to retain information. Engaging in mindfulness exercises and meditation can improve focus and concentration, which, in turn, can aid memory. Taking a few minutes each day to calm your mind can have a significant impact on your ability to remember things.
  4. Chunk Information – Breaking down complex information into smaller, manageable chunks can make it easier to remember. Rather than trying to memorize an entire page of text, divide it into sections and study them one at a time. This approach allows your brain to process information more effectively and retain it more efficiently.
  5. Utilize Mnemonic Devices – Mnemonic devices are memory aids that help associate new information with familiar concepts. Create acronyms, rhymes, or visual associations to help you remember important details. These fun and creative memory techniques can significantly enhance recall.
  6. Engage Multiple Senses – Incorporate different senses while learning or trying to remember something. For instance, read aloud while studying, use colorful highlighters to emphasize key points, or even draw diagrams. You can also engage the olfactory sense by using scented pencils to take notes. Engaging multiple senses can create stronger neural connections, making memories more vivid and durable.
  7. Get Enough Sleep – Adequate sleep is crucial for memory consolidation and cognitive function. Lack of sleep can exacerbate ADHD symptoms, leading to increased forgetfulness and reduced attention. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to optimize memory and overall brain health.
  8. Declutter – Keep your living and working spaces tidy and organized. When everything has its place, it becomes easier to remember where things are and avoid losing important items. Consider using storage containers, file folders, or digital organization tools to keep things in order.
  9. Limit Distractions – Minimize distractions as much as possible, especially when trying to learn or memorize information. Find a quiet and comfortable environment to study or work. If distractions are inevitable, use noise-canceling headphones or soothing background music to create a more focused atmosphere.
  10. Review and Recap – Regularly review and recap the information you want to remember. Spaced repetition, which involves revisiting the material at progressively increasing intervals, can reinforce memories and prevent them from fading away.

Remember to be patient with yourself and keep experimenting with different approaches to find what works best for you. And if you are struggling to implement these, seek help from a therapist or coach.

Living with ADHD may pose challenges to memory and recall, but with the right strategies and techniques, it’s possible to improve these cognitive functions significantly. Using these practical tips can help you enhance your memory and lead a more productive and fulfilling life.



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