You may find the following coping tips helpful in dealing with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD). These coping tips are just generalized advice — not all will work for everyone in every situation. Find ones that “speak” to you, and practice those regularly. You may find that the more you practice one of these coping tips, the more helpful it is in dealing with your attention deficit disorder.

When necessary, ask the teacher or boss to repeat instructions rather than guess. Don’t be afraid to write things down as you’re listening, or take notes.

Break large assignments or job tasks into small, simple tasks. Set a deadline for each task and reward yourself as you complete each one.

Each day, make a list of what you need to do. Plan the best order for doing each task. Then make a schedule for doing them. Use a calendar or daily planner to keep yourself on track.

Work in a quiet area. Do one thing at a time. Give yourself short breaks. Reward yourself for achieving small milestones along the way. For instance, “If I get done reading 3 pages in Chapter 8, I’ll take a 5 minute break and grab a cookie.”

Write things you need to remember in a notebook with dividers. Write different kinds of information like assignments, appointments, and phone numbers in different sections. Keep the book with you all of the time.

Post notes to yourself to help remind yourself of things you need to do. Tape notes on the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, in your school locker, or dashboard of your car — wherever you’re likely to need the reminder.

Store similar things together. For example, keep all your Xbox or PS3 games in one place, and DVDs or CDs in another. Keep canceled checks in one place, and bills in another. Organize!

Create a routine. Get yourself ready for school or work at the same time, in the same way, every day.

Exercise, eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep.

Remember, coping with ADHD is something you need to practice on a daily basis, as it takes time to work new skills and behaviors into your daily routine. Be patient with yourself and your progress as you try out these different coping tips. Attention deficit disorder can be successfully treated as well — so make sure you’re also seeing a therapist and/or taking medication for ADHD.

Related Resources

Adopted from: Weinstein, C. “Cognitive Remediation Strategies.” Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research. 3(1):44-57, 1994. Also based on materials from the National Institute of Mental Health.