Tips for people with adhd

ADHD: Tips to Try (for Teens)

Reviewed by: Shirin Hasan, MD

Psychology (Behavioral Health) at Nemours Children's Health

en español TDAH: Consejos que puedes probar

People with ADHD have brain differences that affect their attention. They are distracted more easily than people who don’t have it. They often have trouble staying organized, staying focused on a task, and finishing what they start.

ADHD affects behavior, too. Some people may have trouble sitting still, waiting, or listening. Some interrupt too often, or are quick to get upset. Some do things in a rush instead of taking their time. ADHD affects different people in different ways.

If you have ADHD, you know it can make you feel misunderstood and frustrated at times. ADHD makes it harder to do your best at school, at home, and with friends. But it doesn't have to hold you back. Instead, learn as much as you can about it.

It takes time to learn to manage ADHD — there's no quick fix. Managing ADHD might mean taking medicine or working with a therapist. Most people with ADHD do both.

You can also try these tips to help with school:

  • Sit in the front of class to limit distractions.
  • Turn off your phone when doing homework. This limits distractions too.
  • Talk with your teacher about your ADHD. Some students with ADHD need extra time to take tests. Some need smaller class sizes or a quiet place to complete work. Others need a tutor. Ask your teacher to help you plan and do what's right for you.
  • Use tools that help you stay organized. Keep track of assignments in a planner or on a phone app. List things you need to bring home. Set phone reminders for classes and activities, or write them in a planner.
  • Get plenty of exercise. Daily exercise can improve attention and school performance for people with ADHD. It also keeps your positive emotions flowing.
  • Take activity breaks. If you feel restless during school, ask teachers to let you take quick breaks to get up and move. This can help you get focused again when you return to your seat. When you study or do homework, take activity breaks often.
  • Learn to meditate. Mindfulness meditation can improve attention, memory, and focus. It can reduce stress too. It’s easy to learn. Take a few minutes to practice it every day.
  • Pay attention to all the good things about you. Having ADHD is one part of you. And there’s so much more. Think of things others like about you. Maybe you’re creative, kind, or funny. Maybe you have a talent for sports, music, dance, or art. Maybe you’re good with tech, building things, or cooking. Make time for the things you enjoy. Grow your strengths by using them every day. Spend time with the people who see you for who you are. See yourself that way, too.

Reviewed by: Shirin Hasan, MD

Date reviewed: May 2022

Tips for Adults with ADHD

May 11, 2021

If you’re one of the 11 million adults in the United States with adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, you understand how hard it can be to avoid distractions, stay organized and work efficiently. With treatment and behavioral changes, you can learn how to handle ADHD to increase productivity and fulfillment. These simple, effective strategies can help you manage symptoms to focus and thrive.

How to Deal With Adult ADHD

Inattention, impulsivity, disorganization, restlessness, overactivity, lack of focus, behavioral control difficulty and other symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder typically emerge early in life — often before age 12 — and evolve as time goes on.

If you’re older than 18 and experience these symptoms, you’re not alone. ADHD is one of the most prevalent childhood disorders, which continues beyond adolescence for many adults. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates ADHD’s lifetime prevalence in U.S. adults between 18 and 44 is just over 8%. While children with ADHD are more likely to struggle with impulsivity and hyperactivity, adults with ADHD are more likely to experience memory problems, restlessness and lack of mental focus.

Even though you may find that evidence-based treatments like medication and psychotherapy go a long way to help you manage your condition, learning effective behavioral strategies can give you the power to control your ADHD symptoms in the moment. Here are five tactics you can use daily.

1. Get Organized

If you often spend your day trying to figure out where to start but wind up getting very little done by dinnertime, a new organizational approach might be in order. Organization helps you manage activities and time efficiently, removing distractions and potential frustration from your day.

One strategy for a more organized lifestyle is to start writing down a schedule for yourself every night for the following day. Beginning each morning knowing what to expect gives you control over your responsibilities and activities. The act of crossing out completed tasks boosts a positive sense of accomplishment.

Whether you have to go to work, run errands or tackle household chores, it’s helpful to write down your top priorities so you can start your day strong and refocus when you lose momentum. Create a habit of checking your schedule at consistent times throughout each day — first thing in the morning, a second time at midday and once more in the early evening to see if you need to complete any lingering items before bedtime.

To maximize your chances of success, cluster similar tasks together under the same time umbrella. For example, answer emails and return phone calls once in the morning and once in the afternoon, instead of throughout the day. Also, make sure you create a bit of space in your day to allow for unexpected obstacles.

How to Create an Organized Home for Adults With ADHD

Home organization and tackling clutter can feel intimidating for most people, particularly those with ADHD. Due to distractibility, decision-making and difficulty with categorizing, adult organizers with ADHD benefit from a targeted approach:

  1. Focus on only one area or room at a time.
  2. Schedule specific cleaning and organizing times in your planner — plan to spend only 30 minutes to an hour on each task.
  3. Categorize boxes for items as you organize — toss, donate and keep.
  4. When you fill a donation box, make an appointment for that action. Schedule a day and time to take those items to the donation drop-off point.
  5. If distraction continues to interfere with your goals, hire a sympathetic professional organizer for extra help.

How to Stay Organized With ADHD

To maintain the progress of added structure and your newly decluttered space, follow these tips to make organization a habitual ADHD management tool.

  • Use a planner: Use a calendar, planner notebook or smart device to record all activities and appointments every day.
  • Schedule your organization: Add tasks to your planner as actionable appointments. For example, pencil in 15 minutes to tidy up the living room at 7 p.m. every day. Designate 30 minutes to clean up the office as part of an ongoing decluttering project.
  • Create a “home” for items: Once you determine where an item belongs, consider that location to be its home. For example, place a tray near your entry to hold your keys, sunglasses and wallet — and always return those items to that spot.
  • Use color coding or labels: For work or personal items, color-coded, labeled storage containers and files can prioritize items by topic or importance.

2. Follow a Routine

Once you’re comfortable organizing your daily schedule, establish an overall routine that helps your day run smoothly, no matter what may crop up. Get used to dropping your keys into your entry tray the moment you walk through the front door. Hang up your jacket in the closet before walking into the living room to sit on the couch. Evaluate your behavioral patterns to develop routines that work for you.

Build routines by developing protocols to tackle regular chores with less effort. To feel less scattered and more accomplished when you go grocery shopping, create a standing list of weekly staples and take a few minutes before you head out the door to add whatever else you may need for the current week to your list.

Routine-Building Tips for Living With ADHD

Building a pattern of repeated behavior takes time and practice. These tips help routine become second nature.

  • Follow a mail routine: Make a system to check and sort mail on specific days and times of the week. Designate an area or container to hold important mail like bills, checks and insurance information.
  • Create a routine for chores: Schedule regular chores like laundry and dishes at set days and times every week.
  • Use electronic notifications and reminders: Use electronic devices, apps and smart technology to your advantage. Make it a habit to set reminders for appointments and meetings the moment you schedule them. Add notifications for routine responsibilities like taking medications or placing trash outside for pickup.
  • Make an exercise routine: Fitness increases the availability of dopamine in the brain, which is often at lower levels than usual for people with ADHD. Exercise also reduces anxiety, improves memory, reduces compulsive behavior and improves executive function — the skills used to organize, plan and remember details.

3. Make Big Tasks More Manageable

If you have to complete a long assignment or an overwhelming project that requires multiple steps and great attention to detail, break it down into smaller, more manageable steps that are easier to accomplish.

Use a detailed checklist or write out your task’s separate components to create a step-by-step roadmap that helps you stay on course from start to finish. Initially, it’s not necessary to put these actionable items in order or even get them all down on paper. After you’ve gotten started and have some momentum, you can add items and put your list into alphabetical or chronological order.

Time Management for Adults With ADHD

Organization and routine set the foundation for better time management, but it can feel overwhelming to start a scheduled project. Sometimes you aren’t quite sure how to begin, or the full scope of the duty seems immense. Whenever you experience these mental or physical roadblocks, commit to working for short amounts of time using a timer method.

Break up large projects into smaller tasks. Instead of one big, daunting project to “clean the entire living room,” create separate tasks like this:

  • Task #1: Collect dishes from the living room and place them in the kitchen sink.
  • Task #2: Remove items that do not belong in the living room and place them in their homes — toys go back to kids’ rooms, shoes go into the closet.
  • Task #3: Vacuum the carpet.
  • Task #4: Wipe down tables and surfaces with polish or cleaning spray.

The next time you need to start a substantial project, try this exercise:

  • Set a timer for 10 to 15 minutes to do only one of the defined tasks.
  • For those few minutes, keep your attention focused on that task alone.
  • When the timer chimes, decide if you have the energy to continue on that task or, if completed, start a new one for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
  • If you still feel motivated, reset the timer and continue working in short intervals for as long as you can.
  • If you’d like to rest, that’s OK — stop the activity and try again later or the following day.

4. Minimize Distractions

When you have personal or professional work that requires a higher level of concentration, minimizing distractions can help you keep your focus for longer stretches of time. Declutter and simplify your surroundings at home to remove distractions and improve focus.

Simplification helps at work, too. Improve your concentration by completing existing projects before starting new ones.

Avoid overscheduling and learn to say no to new tasks or responsibilities. Saying no to unnecessary tasks gives you the time and focus to say yes to crucial ones.

How to Deal With Adult ADHD at Work

What distracts you the most at work? Social media? News alerts? Email? Texts? Your messy desk surface? Noisy co-workers?

Distractions at work are a common challenge for employees with ADHD.  Be honest with yourself about what causes your primary distractions and curtail those diversions using these tips.

  • Turn off notifications: Route calls to voicemail. If you can, turn off message notifications. Check your messages at set times during the day.
  • Use noise-canceling headphones: Headphones are ideal for busy or loud environments.
  • Choose a quiet space: Request a quiet office space or cubicle.
  • Listen to music: Play music or a white noise machine. Research shows that music structure helps the ADHD brain stay on a linear path and address timing deficits. However, not all music works the same way. Loud songs with lyrics can have a distracting effect on some adults with ADHD. The best music options for the benefit of concentration are classical composers and soothing instrumentals.
  • Adjust your work schedule: Start work earlier in the day or stay later than usual when it’s quieter at the office.
  • Maintain a clean desk: Keep your workspace clutter-free to prevent visual distraction.

5. Respect Your Limits

If you start each morning feeling optimistic about how much work or activity you can incorporate into your day, you’re not alone. Many people overextend themselves by taking on more tasks than they can handle or underestimating the amount of time they need to get things done.

Nothing creates more pressure than committing yourself beyond your limits day after day. Failing to deliver on your promises, whether you’ve made them to your boss, family, friends or yourself, can take the wind out of your sails and leave you feeling even more scattered than usual.

Learning how to live with ADHD involves recognizing when you’ve reached your limit and need to remove tasks from your plate. When you take time to understand and respect your limits, you empower yourself to commit to less and deliver more often.

Professional Help for ADHD Management for Adults

Here at Advanced Psychiatry Associates, we know that ADHD is a complex disorder that affects each adult uniquely. If you’d like some guidance to find the strategies and solutions that fit your life, our experienced, compassionate team is ready to help.

We understand how to deal with ADHD in adults and have dedicated our time and training to providing comprehensive care for our patients. Advanced Psychiatry Associates offers the largest full-service facility in the Sacramento region and provides medication management, therapy and counseling, transcranial magnetic stimulation, ketamine treatments and lab services all in one place for your convenience. Call our office in Folsom, Calif., or schedule an appointment online today.

How to Stay Productive with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

January 13, 2020 Productivity

Personal experience of a woman who built a successful career, despite the tendency to procrastinate and forget everything in the world.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that makes it very difficult for people to focus on anything for long periods of time. According to statistics, 4.4% of the total adult population suffers from this disorder. People with this syndrome experience problems with employment, education, more often abuse alcohol and get into traffic accidents. nine0003

However, ADHD is not a death sentence. Some manage to adapt to it. For example, Sasha Kollekat.

Sasha Collecutt

Blogger, training specialist at Fusion Sport.

The diagnosis of ADHD has had a profound effect on my career. I have lived my whole life in the sincere belief that meeting a deadline is like reaching for the clouds in the sky. That choosing clothes before going to work can take all morning. And that criticism must necessarily be discouraging and frustrating. nine0003

I realized that my career experience was not normal. And this understanding helped me: I was able to adapt.

I am now 33 years old and have a job that I love and excel at. Each new day brings me interesting tasks that I can foresee, evaluate and solve in a timely manner. Many of my colleagues believe that I am a very responsible and organized person (which surprises me myself).

Various productivity tips and techniques that are good for other people are usually not effective for me. And so, in order to keep my job and achieve career growth, I set myself the task of finding a system that would help me. ADHD usually has a specific effect on executive functions. In my case, the following abilities were affected:

  • Working memory - that is, the ability to retain information in the head for a short period of time. Problems with this characteristic at work make it very difficult to return to your assignment after you have been interrupted or distracted. For the same reason, people with ADHD find it difficult to follow complex instructions.
  • Emotional self-regulation — the ability to correctly build one's behavior depending on the current situation. If you do not have well-developed emotional regulation skills, you will react painfully to criticism and miss out on career opportunities. nine0028
  • Self-motivation - the ability to act in accordance with one's desires. Even if you want to improve your life, keeping promises to yourself can be very difficult. And if you do not cope, it will entail sad career and financial consequences.
  • Planning - the ability to foresee the future, reasonably estimate time and predict the results of events. Meeting deadlines, being punctual in meetings, and determining the resources needed for a given task are important in any job. But people with ADHD have a hard time even just thinking about time - this strange, often unrecognized symptom has been studied by specialists from Umeå University in Sweden. nine0028

Procrastination and forgetfulness - eternal companions of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - constantly haunted me at work. They just ruined my career, causing a lot of stress and frustration. And I set myself the goal of dealing with them.

How to deal with procrastination

Constant painful procrastination is one of the main signs of ADHD in adults. This is a real spiritual torture - depressing, exhausting and ... voluntary. And to defeat her, you must make your own choice. I am want to be in the office on time, complete projects on time, achieve success and be a great training manager. I do not want to be a bad or at least an average worker.

I believe that procrastination is just a symptom of my illness.

It's like realizing that you're just not prepared for climbing. Yes, it's a problem (let's not pretend ADHD is all about rainbows and unicorns). But this is a problem that can be dealt with. nine0003

Don't think about other people's expectations

I'm very careful about the things I'm given. Instead of thinking that I should do this or that because it is a colleague or client needs , I pull myself together and say to myself: I want to do this because I believe that my tasks are important for me . I try to fit my tasks into my own plan for the future and not perceive them as being imposed on me.

When I think I must do something because others expect me to do it, I run the risk of becoming indifferent to it. And it allows the procrastination monster to take over my mind. Therefore, I think of the company's projects as my own initiatives, work schedules as my personal schedule, and so on. I am always looking for ways to motivate myself personally. nine0003

Look at the problem differently

If you can't bring yourself to do something, try a more interesting problem. Do not quit what you started and switch to something completely different, no. Just look at the problem from a different angle.

For example, if you are tired of writing the same e-mails with answers to the same questions of colleagues, write a detailed guide and send them a link to it. Instead of tediously entering data manually using the same template, learn the basics of programming and automate the routine. nine0003

Delegate low priority projects to subordinates or interns. Ask for help from colleagues. Most importantly, avoid procrastination.

Do something you haven't done before

Procrastination is a merciless beast, but it doesn't adapt well to sudden changes. Take advantage of this. Not working in the office - try doing it in the library, cafe or park with a laptop. Do you usually work in silence? Turn on the music this time.

Buy a new perfume. Eat something unusual for lunch. Rearrange your table. Write with a non-dominant hand. Install another text editor. Change the hours you work. In general, introduce some novelty into the routine, and procrastination will recede. At least for a while. nine0003

Fool your procrastination

Sounds silly, but it works. For example, if I can’t get ready for work in the morning, I say to myself: “I’m not going anywhere yet, I’m just packing my things.” Then: “I don’t get into the car yet, but just enjoy the weather outside.” And then, having come to work: “I haven’t sat down at the table yet, I just drink coffee.

And finally, starting the tasks: "I'm not working yet, I'm just sketching out a plan." And by the time the procrastination monster realizes what's going on, I'm already fully immersed in the work process and redoing a bunch of things. nine0003

Praise yourself for accomplishments

Finishing important work at 3 am because you have been putting it off for a long time is very unpleasant. You would probably be glad that the deed is done, but, most likely, you will still be angry with yourself that you have been pulling the cat by the tail for so long.

Anger is a bad weapon against procrastination, while contentment and self-pride, on the contrary, help a lot.

Therefore, do not forget to praise yourself for the seemingly smallest victories. nine0003

I enjoy going through my to-do list and having fun checking off completed items. Opening the inbox of your email and finding that all emails have been answered - what could be more beautiful? And watching the company thrive because of my efforts is very motivating. And for self-esteem.

Understand the very nature of procrastination

This will help you be a little more tolerant of yourself as you try to curb it. Procrastination is a kind of attempt to restore your mood. This monster is trying to convince you that the pleasure of doing nothing in the short term outweighs all the problems that you will face later as a result of your inactivity. nine0003

How to deal with forgetfulness

Forgetfulness is extremely common among people with ADHD. In fact, this is the most common symptom of this disorder. I was very embarrassed because of my bad memory and was constantly criticized and even scorned by others.

I keep forgetting little things. For example, I can suddenly forget what I did yesterday. Or who are my favorite writers. I forget to make regular backups, perform scheduled tasks, and come to appointments and meetings, even if they repeat weekly at the same time. nine0003

Dealing with ADHD is hard work, and dealing with forgetfulness requires a lot of effort. Don't waste your resources trying to deal with your weak memory. Focus on acquiring permanent knowledge.


Saying "focus your attention" in an article about ADHD is silly, so I won't tell you that. Observation is much more than just attention.

It requires openness, curiosity, interest and focus on your feelings. nine0003

Curiosity is fine with people with ADHD. The main thing is that when you observe, do it with the firm intention of understanding and repeating the actions you see yourself.


I read a lot. This is the most efficient way to learn. The more I read, the better I learn. I am not picky in this matter. I read news in the RSS manager, newsletters, media, open access magazines and new books. I borrow, buy and even restore many titles. nine0003

Take the time to reread books and absorb, summarize, test, and apply the knowledge you gain through reading. Knowledge is of no use if you do not put it into practice.


Even the process of writing this article is helping me to combat forgetfulness from ADHD. Just like reading an article helps you.

Packing what you know into logical and understandable text is difficult, but doing so reinforces your knowledge.

No wonder students take notes. If you can write by hand instead of typing, even better. As with reading, take the time to reread and rethink what you write down—days, weeks, months, or even years later.

Teach others

Can you explain something of which you are competent to an inexperienced beginner? The ability to share your knowledge is a true sign of professionalism. I teach others to test how deep my knowledge is. This is for me something like a test of my own abilities - how quickly can I pull up a beginner to my personal level. nine0003

Enjoy your own learning

Like most people with ADHD, I have an inexorable drive for novelty and surprise. And it's good for learning. The topics that I master are remembered better if they are relevant to my work.

Therefore, I try to gain knowledge about everything that is even remotely related to my field of activity.

Do your best to constantly learn something new in your field. Strive to master all aspects of your work. nine0003

Recognize ephemeral knowledge and get rid of it in time

Ephemeral knowledge is information that is useful only for a short time. You need to remember that your flight is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Tuesday so you know when to pack and go to the airport. But as soon as you find yourself on a plane, this information can be thrown out of your head without any consequences - as no longer necessary.

Ephemeral knowledge can be easily forgotten and restored later. Therefore, do not waste energy on memorizing such information. Research shows that it's better to remember as Access ephemeral knowledge rather than trying to keep it in your head.

Here are some examples of such information (I don't even try to remember this information because I know where to get it if needed):

  • The day my colleague left for work (this is written in my calendar).
  • Vincenty's inverse equation (there is a Wikipedia for such things).
  • What Nothofagus pollen looks like (see reference book).
  • Do I need a visa to travel to a particular country (Google will help here). nine0028

I have this information stored in many places at the same time. For example, I enter something in my notebook and at the same time make a note on the calendar with a detailed description. I email a note to myself and then forward it to my messenger so it's available on all my devices. I even use sketches on scraps of paper.

But if it's possible to save yourself the trouble of remembering things and deal with them right away, do it. For example, if you think you'll forget to send an email to a client, send it now, without delay. At the same time, save time for more pressing things. nine0003

What is the result

I have adapted to my ADHD and it helps me in my life and career. You can do it too. I won't pretend it's easy, but progress is progress.

My goal was to deal with the two main symptoms of ADHD: procrastination and forgetfulness. And I had two strategies:

  • Against procrastination: avoid direct interaction with the procrastination monster.
  • Against forgetfulness: study what is really important and weed out ephemeral knowledge.

I hope that my experience will be useful for you.

Read also 🧐

  • How to control attention and concentrate
  • What really goes on in a procrastinator's head
  • How to recognize ADHD in a child and help him

how to learn to be in society? — Career on

In Belarus and Russia, everything is not easy with the diagnosis, treatment and psychotherapy of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Drugs intended to treat ADHD are prohibited. There are no special psychotherapy programs in Russian aimed specifically at him. And there is a need for them. It is difficult for a person with ADHD to work for a long time in one place, to achieve goals, to be consistent, to solve the problems of life, it is difficult to be an adult. nine0003

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In my article I will focus on several aspects of psychotherapy that can be focused on when overcoming ADHD.

Possibilities and limitations of psychotherapy

Researchers from Ukraine noted that the effectiveness of psychotherapy in reducing ADHD symptoms ranged from 15 to 30%. That's not a lot.

It is unlikely that distractibility will decrease, hyperactivity and impulsivity will disappear.

What can make a big difference for a person with ADHD working with a psychotherapist? nine0003

  • This will help him reduce anxiety, depressive symptoms.
  • He will learn to live in harmony with himself
  • He will seek and eventually find ways to help him work, communicate and live effectively.

What types of psychotherapy can help?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has a protocol for treating ADHD, and its principles are great for "filtering" negative thoughts. And ADHD can have many of them. nine0003

There are suitable directions for the third wave of CBT - Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion-Focused Therapy.

Dialectical-behavioral therapy also contains many techniques that will help: emotion recognition skills (especially good for those ADHD who have alexithymia), emotional regulation exercises, interpersonal communication training.

5 important principles of psychotherapy for ADHD

  • Psychoeducation
  • Self-acceptance
  • Adaptation
  • Emotional regulation
  • Assertive communication


The client must know everything about ADHD and their symptoms, about what exacerbates them.

What distracts him? During which activities can he not concentrate, and which ones fascinate him for a long time? How does he react in situations where he did not get enough sleep or was overworked? nine0003

What other factors unsettle him?

What helps him, what harms him?


A person must learn to accept himself and his traits and not judge himself.

He is no worse than others, he has his own peculiarities. With these features, he can succeed in certain activities, and it is very important to find out in which ones.

Removing judgment is very important. When a person gets rid of self-flagellation and begins to concentrate on his strengths, he will begin to grow internally and achieve external success. nine0003

Some employers might not like this (they say why would they accept it as inconvenient). But at the very beginning, self-criticism must be removed completely.


Important! Not adaptation to the world, they say, there are such conditions, and I have to adapt to them and be almost like everyone else. A search for conditions that are already suitable now.

For example, not a noisy open space, but a small office.

Not working in the office for 8 hours, but alternating indoor and outdoor activities. nine0003

Don't force yourself to do one task for three hours, but do two tasks at the same time for 40 minutes, switching every few minutes if it's comfortable.

If there are deadlines, choose for yourself the time, place, environment in which you can meet the deadlines.

Do not abuse coffee, alcohol and other substances to help yourself.

Emotional regulation

When emotions go off scale, a person cannot return to normal for a long time. Teaching him to regulate strong emotions will greatly help him communicate. For example, there is such an exercise Traffic light. A person evaluates his mood as red, yellow or green, depending on the degree of intensity of emotions. If red - he should not make important decisions and start important conversations.

Learn more