15 ADHD-Friendly Tips to Fire Up Your Focus
A wandering mind is common for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Whether you’re talking to your boss or best friend, you might easily lose track of conversations. Or get easily distracted and forget what you were working on. Or miss details and make careless mistakes.
But this isn’t an oversight on your part. An inability to focus is a prominent symptom of ADHD. While you can’t fully control your capability to pay attention, you can find strategies that help you sustain it. Here are 15 tips to try.
1. Focus your energy on problem solving. It’s common for people with ADHD to get frustrated with their focus troubles and blame themselves. But gently remind yourself that this is a symptom of ADHD. Instead of being self-critical or judgmental, use diminishing attention as a reminder that it’s time to try one of your focus-fueling tools, said Lucy Jo Palladino, Ph.D, clinical psychologist and author of Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction and Overload.
2. Employ some background noise. Having background noise helps drive out distractions, according to Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D, a psychotherapist and author of 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD: How to Overcome Chronic Distraction & Accomplish Your Goals. When you’re studying or working, she suggested turning on your ceiling fan, a white noise machine or music on low volume.
3. Clear your workspace. “Visual clutter can impair focus,” Sarkis said. So to pay better attention, clear the disarray from your desk before sitting down to work, she said.
4. Dissect tasks and projects. It’s hard to focus when you’re overwhelmed by a big project and iffy on everything it entails. “Chunk your goal into manageable sub-goals,” Palladino said. She gave the following example: “Divide ‘Start writing this paper’ into ‘Outline 3 main points,’ ‘Plan intro,’ ‘Write first page of rough draft.’”
5. Get support from loved ones. According to Palladino, relying on people who are rooting for you can help. She suggested remembering your cheerleaders — who might be your parent, partner, child or coach — and keeping their photo close by. A 2003 University of Wisconsin study found that flashing the names of certain friends and family helped students work longer on concentration-heavy tasks.
6. Use an accountability partner. Another way to ask for support is by having an accountability partner. This could be your friend or an ADHD coach. “Make a deal with them that you will text or email them with your tasks that day, and then text or email that person as soon as you finish each task,” Sarkis said.