Spend some time on social media and you’re sure to come across a post trying to diagnose you with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Like we covered previouslythe tendency to pathologize every little behavior is dangerous, and it goes without saying that ADHD is do not just being distracted, forgetting to call people back, or having a perpetually messy car. Still, I know I’m one of many Instagram and TikTok users whose feeds are desperate to convince me that I’m living with undiagnosed adult ADHD.
Although I’m pretty sure I don’t have ADHD, I find that I benefit from many of the time management tips and coping mechanisms used by people with this disorder. I’m always looking for new ways to approach my struggle with productivity (even if it means overcome my productivity dysmorphia). After all, I don’t do not struggles with many ADHD symptoms, and I’ll take whatever help I can get to bypass my overactive mind and stay focused on the days when my brain just isn’t cooperating.
Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD, consider implementing the following strategies to get the most out of your workday.
Productivity tips for people with ADHD
According to the help guide, adults with ADHD often struggle to control their impulses and find themselves bouncing between tasks or accidentally fixating on the wrong ones. Here are some ideas for managing and even overcoming your struggle to stay focused on your task.
Decide what to tackle first. In order to focus on what you need to do, the first step is to prioritize different tasks. Ask yourself, then write down which items on the to-do list are most important or urgent. To help you tackle this, consider use a “decision matrix” to help you prioritizeand different tasks.
Break down larger tasks. the American Academy of Family Physicians explains that organization isn’t just about your physical space; it’s about organizing big projects into smaller, manageable tasks. Instead of seeing a project as a daunting task, think of it as a number of steps. Don’t be afraid to make tasks as small as necessary. For example, “send an email” can be broken down into “log in to your account, open a draft, write a subject line…” until you’ve finished the job.
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Use lists. This could mean writing things down in a daily planner, organizing your choice notes app, or color-coded Post-Its, as long as you find a system that works for you. Part of this tip is about fighting forgetfulness; what’s perhaps less obvious is how writing things down will help you take abstract tasks and make them more concrete and achievable.
Work in small increments. Taking the first step to starting a task can be the hardest part of the battle. Here is a big free app to help you implement the famous Pomodoro time management technique. You can also try this method (10+2)*5 to incorporate breaks as a motivational hack.
Incorporate exercise breaks. Anyone with ADHD has probably been told about the benefits of exercise to help increase focus and attention. Taking breaks to move your body can also help you reduce excess energy, which could be one of the reasons why you find it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand.
Note off-topic thoughts. As explained in Healthline, people with ADHD sometimes find themselves in a “fluid spiral of thought”. Those big brainstorms can be great for creativity, but a disaster if you’re in a meeting with your boss. Rather than wasting time and energy pushing these thoughts away, make an agreement with yourself to take a break and write them down as quickly as possible. You’ll know you won’t forget those off-topic thoughts, and they’ll be there waiting for you when the meeting is over. You can even schedule a designated time at the end of the day to go through all the notes you’ve taken while focusing on more important tasks.
Create a productivity playlist. Have fun conditioning yourself with music that you use specifically to focus on your work. Even though this one is more of a placebo, I know plenty of creatives who swear by it.
Don’t wait for a diagnosis (but get diagnosed)
If you think you have undiagnosed ADHD, it is important to request an evaluation as soon as possible. A professional will help you determine whether or not you might benefit from more serious treatment.
Until then, you don’t have to wait for an ADHD diagnosis to try different management strategies and find out how you can work with-rather than Fight against— your overactive mind.
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