When you have ADHD, you might get frustrated that you don’t work like everyone else. Maybe you can’t sit still for hours and listen to a lecture. Maybe you don’t learn as well from reading a book. Maybe you have trouble committing your ideas to paper.
Unfortunately, people with ADHD are usually given limited tools, such as a pen and paper, and discouraged from moving around, said David Giwerc, MCC, founder and president of the ADD Coach Academy.
But this doesn’t work for your uniquely wired brain. And that’s OK. People with ADHD don’t need to fit themselves into some box. You don’t need to work like other people. You can find tools that fit your learning style and needs — and help you succeed.
Below, Giwerc and other ADHD experts list their favorite tools — everything from phone apps to computer software.
Google Calendar. Sure, it’s simple, but that’s the upside about this electronic calendar. “By following the schedule you can ensure you are reducing prioritizing dilemmas, time management issues and motivation hiccups. Just follow the plan,” said Andrew Pebley, M.A., a coach and consultant specializing in working professionals and executives with ADHD.
Giwerc also uses Google Calendar, and takes advantage of the color options. His activities appear in one color, while his key employees are in another color.
Alarm apps. Because people with ADHD tend to hyperfocus on certain tasks, they can have a tough time sticking to a schedule. If you need to work on other tasks, use an alarm to break the flow, Pebley said. There are countless alarms to choose from. Pebley’s favorite is Alarmdroid, which has many additional features, he said.
MindManager. This software program lets you create mind maps and diagrams with keywords. Giwerc, who’s a visual learner, uses the program to brainstorm ideas and organize his thoughts. He’s used it for everything from outlining articles to presentations to his book Permission to Proceed: The Keys to Creating a Life of Passion, Purpose and Possibility for Adults with ADHD.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Giwerc also uses this voice-activated software, particularly when he’s bombarded with ideas. Sometimes he’ll look at his mind map, and discuss those ideas. As he’s speaking, the program transcribes his words into Microsoft Word. (Giwerc noted that the best versions are 10 and above.)
Don’t Forget the Milk. “This is a task management app [that] assists by presenting reminders for the tasks you have stored,” Pebley said. He knows many individuals who love it.
Exercise ball. Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D, NCC, a psychotherapist and author, likes to sit on an exercise ball while working at her desk. “Being able to move around — while still staying seated — helps with focusing,” she said.
Cordless headset. For Giwerc having a cordless headset is key when he needs to concentrate. (He uses a Jabra headset.) Sometimes when he’s talking to clients, he’ll either walk around his office or on the treadmill.
Errands. This is another app that helps you “set categories and priorities for tasks,” Sarkis said. She also noted that tasks are organized by due date, and you can even set alarms for separate tasks.
Excel. Giwerc uses Excel spreadsheets to keep track of quotes for his presentations and writing. He categorizes his hundreds of quotes by themes.
Copytalk Mobile Scribe. Some of Giwerc’s clients use this transcription service. They simply call in, dictate information, and then receive it in email form, he said.
Attention Talk Radio. Reading can be a slower process for people with ADHD. Giwerc, who’s also an auditory learner, likes to listen to these free 30-minute interviews with renowned ADHD experts. He suggested accessing upcoming interviews on this page, archived interviews on this page or using iTunes.
Animoto. Giwerc uses this program to create informative and engaging videos about complex topics. Here’s a video he created about ADHD research. (As a visual learner, he also likes to watch TED talks.)
You might think you’re a terrible writer, worker or student. But it’s likely that you just don’t have the right tools. Experiment with various programs and apps, and find what works for you. Try out free tutorials, Giwerc said. And then invest in tools that you know are successful for your specific needs.