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7 Strategies for Thriving with ADHD

Thriving OpportunityHaving ADHD can be incredibly frustrating. You want to get things done. But because of the nature of ADHD, you have a tough time with organizing, prioritizing, planning, initiating and completing tasks. This is why it’s so important to have your ADHD properly treated, whether it’s with medication, therapy, ADHD coaching or all three.

Specifically, it’s vital to have systems and tools in place. Because even the smallest strategies can make a big difference in helping you thrive with ADHD. In the book Wacky Ways to Succeed with ADHD, ADHD coach Laurie Dupar compiled all sorts of valuable tips and strategies for succeeding with ADHD. Below are seven great ideas to try.

Set many reminders.

Do you typically forget your medical or dental appointments or any meetings that are booked months in advance? This is what Dupar suggests (and does herself):

  • Put the date of your appointment or meeting into your phone right way.
  • Set a reminder to write the appointment in your planner. Dupar jots it down on her wall calendars at home and at work.
  • Take a photo of the appointment card for a visual reminder.
  • Set reminders on your phone a week before the appointment; the day before; the morning of and an hour beforehand.

Think unconventional.

ADHD coach Jeremy Didier also has ADHD, and so do two of her five kids, making it tough to leave the house every morning. That’s why they brush their teeth in the kitchen sink on their way out. Yes, the kitchen.

As she writes, “If my ADHD kids successfully make it to the kitchen wearing something resembling school clothes, the last thing I want to do is send them back upstairs to brush their teeth. An infinite number of distractions lie between the kitchen and the nearest bathroom.”

Often we get so focused on trying to do things the conventional way. Maybe you don’t brush your teeth in the kitchen, but you find another unique way to do something else. One of the biggest strengths of individuals with ADHD is their vast creativity. Aim to find a creative solution for a stubborn challenge you’re currently struggling with.

Have duplicates for inexpensive items.

These are the items that you often lose track of and waste time trying to find. Life coach Linda Roggli, who also has ADHD, suggests buying cheap reading glasses and stashing them all over the house.

She also suggests having three sets of makeup or toiletries: one for the bathroom; another for the office; and the third for your car or travel. Buy one or more clocks for every room in your home.

Plus, in each vehicle have tools and supplies in your glove box. For instance, you might keep: tissues; a tire gauge; glasses, a screwdriver, flashlight, pen, Post-It notes and dry snacks.

Embrace avoidance — instead of beating yourself up.

When you’re avoiding something, try to understand it, without judgment, suggests ADHD coach Liz Ahmann. Write down what you’re avoiding. Then reflect on these questions: “What stories are you telling yourself about it? What beliefs can you identify? Conversely, what stories and beliefs have you created about avoiding it?”

Then practice self-compassion. She writes, “What might you say to a friend in your shoes? How could you share similar supportive feelings with yourself?” We tend to be much harder on ourselves than we are on others. It’s important to be kind, patient and understanding with ourselves, too.

Make micro-changes.

For people with ADHD successful systems can get old after a while. You don’t hear the reminders on your phone anymore. You stop using your planner. You sleep through your alarm. According to ADHD coach Casey Dixon, “The ADHD mind craves the new and surprising.”

Instead of over-hauling your systems, she suggests making micro-changes and asking yourself: “What is the smallest possible change I can make so my strategy feels new again?”

For instance, she writes, use a different color pen or paper. Change your ring tone for your alarm, or try a new app. Rearrange your desk. Put your clock in a new spot.

Engage your senses.

According to ADHD coach Ariel Davis, “When your busy mind needs grounding, try sensory integration (SI) strategies to get back in your body and stay on task.” For instance, she suggests, if you’re inattentive visually, add bright colors. If you’re hyperactive, try soft colors and declutter. If you’re overwhelmed, enlist for one-off tasks, or ask a friend to help.

To relax, try the scents of vanilla or lavender. To become more alert, try citrus or peppermint. Listen to a guided meditation, or try sound apps, such as ocean waves or white noise. Try peppermint candy or fresh fruit.

Maintain your sense of humor.

Karen A. Timm, an elementary school vice-principal who has ADHD, suggests laughing at your actions and mishaps. Try to maintain your sense of humor when you run out of gas or put orange juice anywhere but the fridge. Try to laugh when you have a sink full of dishes and a laundry room you can’t walk into.

Ultimately, the key with ADHD — and anything in life really — is to know yourself. No two people with ADHD are alike. What works for one person may or may not work for another. Experiment with different strategies and find what works best for you. And please know that, with practice and some trial and error, you will find effective strategies. You will get better, and you will get a better handle on your ADHD.

7 Strategies for Thriving with ADHD

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Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central. Her Master's degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). 7 Strategies for Thriving with ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 17 Jul 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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