My ADHD has resulted in more struggles and mistakes than I can count, but it’s given me a much more interesting life. The same things that make ADHD a challenge also have helped me to develop new habits and improve old ones.
Here are my hacks for struggles that help manage the downsides of having ADHD.
It sometimes seems like everyone is late these days. It’s even fashionable. Party starts at 7:00 p.m.? The first guest probably won’t show up until 9:30. Add in ADHD, and you won’t arrive until the party is done.
Joking aside, my ADHD often makes me late. I’m not the only one. I frequently underestimate how long it takes to get ready and how bad traffic will be. Then I have to stop at the store to buy the birthday card that I forgot.
My hacks to overcome habitual lateness:
- I pretend an event is a full hour before it actually is. If a party starts at 8:00 p.m., I tell myself it’s at 7:00 p.m. I’ll plan my whole day as if I have to get ready for an event at 7:00 p.m. If I’m an hour late, I’m perfectly on time!
- I set multiple electronic reminders and alarms. Sometimes my hyper-focus kicks in so intensely that I don’t realize an event has already started. Setting an alarm tells me it’s time to wrap up whatever I’m doing and start getting ready. I set a second alarm 5 to 10 minutes later to get me back on track if I get distracted.
Impulsively spending money
People with ADHD are prone to impulsive behavior, which may impact spending habits.
The modern world is built around selling things. I find sales are irresistible. That deal will definitely not be there tomorrow. I need it now!
Here’s how I conquer my spending habits:
- Unsubscribe from email lists. I promise you, there will always be a sale on mattresses.
- Make your money harder to access. A credit card makes it easier to buy unnecessary things online. Hide your card when you’re online. Finding it will likely be enough of a hurdle that you’ll move on without spending money.
This is my personal kryptonite. I get absorbed in a new skill, project, or task. I make amazing progress. Then I completely forget about it in two days.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many projects are exactly one-third finished. I’ve begun learning many instruments, and I’ve never finished many books.
My ADHD makes completing a task extremely difficult. Sometimes it’s due to lack of motivation. Sometimes it’s because of distractions. And sometimes I just get bored.
Here are my tricks to follow through with tasks:
- Set priorities. Identify your goals and write them down. Prioritize your list.
- Take baby steps. It can be hard to motivate yourself to exercise for 60 minutes a day. Start with 15 or 30 minutes. Then add on one more minute per day. You’ll eventually reach your goal! Just be sure to check in with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
- Embrace the process. Getting started is hard. We’re usually much happier as soon as we progress toward a goal. It’s all about the journey. There will be hard times. It’s part of the process.
- Reward yourself. Reward yourself for completing steps in tasks you don’t enjoy. Rewards can be as simple as taking yourself out to a movie or maybe having a nice dinner at a new restaurant.
“I know you just told me three seconds ago…but what’s your name again?”
ADHD makes me forget important dates, events, and conversations. My ADHD brain is moving at a million miles per hour. It’s constantly jumping from topic to topic. It’s hard to keep up.
Here are my tricks to overcome forgetfulness:
- Repeat it. Always forget a new person’s name? Repeat it right after they say it. Sometimes I even say it a second time. Or, I attach a rhyme or word to the name. Repetition really helps me remember names.
- Embrace technology. I have one word for important dates: Smartphone.
- Prioritize sleep. A good night’s sleep can help with memory and brain function. Getting adequate sleep can help your cognitive function over time.
ADHD can make life more challenging. But it doesn’t have to rule you. Positive habits can be powerful. These hacks might help!
For more information on how to manage ADHD, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
ADHD-US-NP-00065 JULY 2019