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ADHD Tip: 5 Tricks to Manage Time Wasters

ADHD Tip: 5 Tricks to Manage Time Wasters For many of us, managing time is tricky, especially thanks to the pull of technology. Everything is simply a click or keyword away. Maybe you even do what I do: You decide to be strict with yourself, and pledge to hyper-focus on your project.

You close Twitter and email on your computer. Maybe you use a program that blocks the Internet in hopes of getting at least 30 minutes of work done, distraction-free.

But then your mind starts to wander, and so does your hand. Before you know it, you’re checking said Twitter and email on your smartphone. Somehow Instagram and Feedly get checked, as well.

As clinical psychologist Ari Tuckman, Psy.D, writes in his excellent, comprehensive book More Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for Adults with ADHD, “Fortunately and unfortunately, technology has given us constant and immediate access to all sorts of fun distractions.”

For adults with ADHD, managing time effectively is especially difficult, he says. On some days, it might even feel utterly impossible. If you have ADHD, you’re probably easily distracted and struggle with impulsivity. In his book Tuckman shares five ways individuals with ADHD can resist impulsive time wasters.

1. Reduce wasteful temptations.

“The fewer temptations, the fewer you need to resist,” Tuckman writes. So make it your goal to “eliminate potentially exciting stimuli before they occur.”

For instance, you might unsubscribe from email alerts and magazines you don’t read. You also might block specific websites. And if you’re out and about, you might avoid the stores you spend too much time and money in, he says.

2. Build in downtime.

Build downtime into your schedule. As Tuckman writes, remember that “you can only run at a breakneck pace for so long before crashing … slow and steady wins the race.”

Making downtime part of your days decreases the chances that you’ll take that time when you really can’t afford to.

3. Post visual reminders.   

When an impulse strikes, it helps to remind yourself of your priorities, so you stay on track. Keep visual reminders front and center.

For instance, you might make your computer wallpaper the image of the tropical getaway you’re saving for. Or you might write the date of your work evaluation on a whiteboard in your office.

4. Use helpful self-talk.

It can help to talk yourself through your tasks. For instance, according to Tuckman, “tell yourself things like, “Write report first, check email second.”

5. Return to your task without flogging yourself.

Sometimes, some days, you can try your best to resist time wasters. But before you know it, you’re knee deep in email or Twitter or Facebook or some other activity that pillages your productivity.

If so, simply get back to what you were doing. Avoid disparaging yourself. As Tuckman writes, “No knocking yourself, no giving up hope — just do it.”

Time wasters can be hard to resist, especially if you have ADHD. Fortunately, you can reduce distractions and employ other tips and tricks to help you stay on task and on track.

What have you found to be helpful in managing time wasters?

ADHD Tip: 5 Tricks to Manage Time Wasters

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). ADHD Tip: 5 Tricks to Manage Time Wasters. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 16 Aug 2013)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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