ADHD tools can help you with time management and productivity.
Kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often get help from their parents and teachers. But when you’re an adult living with ADHD, you’re usually left to manage symptoms yourself.
ADHD can make it challenging to be organized and productive. You might wish there was a better system than leaving everything out where you can see it or waiting until the last minute before working.
There are effective tools and strategies to help you get things done.
There’s technology available for almost anything you can think of and ADHD self-management is no exception.
- Cell phone alarms: Your cell phone alarm can be an audible prompt for the items in your calendar. Simply check your calendar regularly and add the alarms to your phone.
- Tile: Attach this tracking device to anything you regularly misplace and it syncs to your phone to notify you when you’re nearby.
- Speech-to-text: If your thoughts are faster than your pen or keyboard, speech-to-text can collect your ideas for you to edit later.
- Boomerang: This Gmail add-on reminds you about important messages and lets you schedule email delivery times.
- Virtual assistant: Using Siri or Alexa on a smartwatch can bypass your phone, where you might get sidetracked checking notifications.
- Location-based reminders: This tool uses your phone’s GPS to activate a reminder. For example, it can remind you to check in with a colleague when you reach the office.
Your ADHD tools don’t have to end with technology. There are more traditional products that can be immensely helpful.
A command center is a place where you keep track of the important things in your life. You might include items such as:
- hooks for keys, purse, or backpack
- cork board
- wall calendar
- basket for incoming mail
- phone chargers
Whether it’s a desk, table, or another designated area, try to make sure it has no other purpose aside from being home to your important items.
A bullet journal is a great tool for writing paper lists. It features dots in a graph paper layout instead of lines. This encourages a point-form, illustrative approach rather than writing paragraphs like you would in a traditional journal.
You can use a bullet journal to track things you’ve done or list the things you plan to do. If you’d write it on a piece of paper, it can go in your bullet journal instead.
Many people who use bullet journals add color, stickers, and sketches, demonstrating their use as a creative outlet.
Sketching isn’t just decorative. Research from 2016 shows that drawing rather than writing about something may improve your ability to remember it.
Paper planners have an advantage over electronic apps because they’re easily visible to remedy the thought of “out of sight, out of mind.”
While a bullet journal is a list-making tool, a planner helps you make and keep a schedule. There’s a range of formats and sizes to choose from such as one day versus one week per page.
Markers, pencil crayons, or highlighters make great ADHD tools by adding some color to your planner or bullet journal. You can highlight important items, and color-coding your entries by topic can make it faster to find them.
According to research from 2015, red and yellow are memorable, making these colors a good choice for your urgent items.
Effective time management can feel elusive when you live with ADHD. But there are strategies you can try to make this easier.
An effective time management strategy is Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique. It uses a timer to break a task down into 25-minute sessions of work, each followed by a 5-minute break. You take an extended break of 20-30 minutes after four cycles are complete.
Breaking large tasks into smaller portions is called chunking. This is helpful in a couple of ways.
Large projects can feel overwhelming, but smaller tasks are easier to begin and offer a satisfying sense of completion more often.
Chunking also helps with time management. One of the traits of ADHD that causes procrastination is the “now, not now” time blindness.
When you chunk a large project, you can begin sooner and schedule smaller pieces consecutively. This way you’re not left with the entire project at the last minute.
Setting a time limit is a way to prevent losing hours of your day to ADHD hyperfocus. While it can be a useful quality at times, hyperfocus can interfere with your productivity if it kicks in during a leisure activity.
Technology, products, and time management work even better when you add productivity strategies.
- Checklists: The act of checking off list items as you complete them can create a sense of accomplishment that leads to motivation.
- Delegation: Assessing your to-do list to see whether you can delegate tasks can help calm your busy ADHD brain.
- Communication: Talking with family or coworkers about your work in progress lets them know you need space and possibly support to stay on task.
- Pictures: Images related to your task list can be visual prompts to keep you focused.
- Notes: Using sticky notes or a whiteboard as your working memory can help you resume a task if you get sidetracked before you’ve finished.
- Boundaries: It’s OK to say no to new items if you’re already at capacity with your existing workload.
Research from 2017points to reduced sustained attention in adults with ADHD. This lessens your time on task and productivity. Fidgeting stimulates the brain, so trying a fidgeting strategy may help you focus.