ADHD can affect your daily activities and ability to perform tasks, such as making decisions.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition that often begins during childhood but can continue into adulthood.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 4.4% of adults in the United States receive a diagnosis of ADHD.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that interferes with your relationships and ability to function. It’s characterized by a pattern of:

  • challenges with attention
  • hyperactivity
  • impulsivity

For adults with ADHD, many of the symptoms can affect your decision making process. For example, you may sometimes procrastinate when trying to make a decision or be more likely to make a split decision at the last minute.

ADHD symptoms can vary depending on what type of ADHD you have.

Some people with ADHD have problems paying attention. Others are more likely to have symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity. Some people have a combination of both types of symptoms.

Common ADHD symptoms in adults include:

  • being easily distracted
  • difficulty paying attention
  • disorganization
  • excessive talking
  • forgetfulness
  • impulsive behavior
  • inability to sit still for a long time
  • issues with task switching
  • problems with working memory (short-term memory needed to complete tasks and solve problems)
  • restlessness
  • higher risk-taking behavior

A 2021 study shows that adults with ADHD can have a range of problems related to decision making, including indecisiveness. Several factors can contribute to indecisiveness, including:

  • inattention
  • memory problems
  • distractibility

ADHD can affect your decision making in several ways. One of the common symptoms of ADHD is impaired working memory. This means that some adults with ADHD have difficulty holding several thoughts and ideas in their memory long enough to make a decision.

Making decisions often also requires you to evaluate options. Adults with ADHD may have difficulty sifting through too many choices. They may spend so much time analyzing that they can’t come to a decision. Some people with ADHD call this “analysis paralysis.”

Outcomes from earlier decisions may lead to negative feelings or insecurity about making good decisions. This can hinder you from making other decisions.

Decision making poses challenges for adults with ADHD, but you can take steps to make the process easier and feel more comfortable with it.

1. Define the problem

The first step is to define the problem. What challenges are you facing? What outcome do you need?

Defining the problem first will allow your thoughts to have a guide and a filter, helping you to focus on the challenge at hand.

2. Write down your thoughts

One way to improve your working memory is to write down all the details and facts you need to decide. Writing your thoughts down eliminates the need to remember things. Seeing the facts in writing helps organize your thoughts and makes the process easier.

3. Make a list

Another way to organize your thoughts is to make a list.

You can make a list of the pros and cons of each choice available. If you’re overwhelmed with the number of tasks you need to do, you can also list them.

For example, you can group tasks by how much time it’d take to complete them. This can help you decide which task to work on first based on how much time you have available.

4. Find a quiet space

People with ADHD can experience hypersensitivity to their environment. Visual clutter, noise, and busy environments can be distractions when you’re trying to make a decision. Finding a quiet room or space to think can help you focus.

You can learn more here about tips on how to focus with ADHD.

5. Create a deadline

People with ADHD can sometimes get caught up in analyzing. So, coming to a concrete decision can be challenging. Giving yourself a deadline to decide on something can help you avoid procrastination.

6. Limit your choices

Having too many choices can be overwhelming. To simplify your decision making, consider narrowing down your options.

For example, if you’re trying to decide where to go on vacation, you can narrow your choices by affordability. Then you can further narrow those choices by location climate. From those options, you can choose based on how easy it is to get to your destination.

7. Ask for help

It’s OK to ask for help. Asking someone you trust to help you sort your ideas and get their feedback can ease the decision making process. You can even delegate some decisions to someone you trust.

8. Celebrate your good decisions

It can be hard to feel confident about your decision making if you’ve had negative experiences with the process.

But celebrating all the good decisions you make each day, no matter how small, can help boost your self-confidence. It can also build positive reinforcement for making good decisions in the future.

ADHD is different for everyone, and decision making can be challenging for some. But having the right tools is key in developing strategies to make the process easier and smoother.

A trusted family member or friend, your therapist, and support groups are resources you can turn to for help.

Looking for a therapist but not sure where to start? Psych Central’s How to Find Mental Health Support resource can help.