Staring at your computer screen, deadline creeping up behind you, the pressure of anxiety on your chest, and yet unable to focus and complete your task because your mind is racing with a hundred and one other thoughts. This is a common experience for someone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
ADHD can become debilitating if not supported correctly. Many people reach out for support from a variety of mental health professionals. This support or treatment can be medication, therapy, and a variety of lifestyle changes. Included in these changes are behavioral modifications or hacks to help get work done.
These hacks can become daily habits that enable you to work through your to do list and calm that feeling of anxiety and panic when you have a variety of tasks to complete. This way of coping with a condition like ADHD is helpful and beneficial to the quality of your life.
You can read through the top five hacks explained below and see how you can incorporate them into your routine. The best way to incorporate a new practice into your life is to pair it with something you already do. This way you don’t have to try to implement something completely new into a routine – which can seem far too overwhelming. Instead, if you pair it with something you already do, it is more likely that it will integrate into your current routine and build new and positive habits.
Everyone likes to win, we are built for survival and winning in a very basic sense means surviving. The fun and strategic elements of a game can stimulate a busy mind and help it to focus and complete a task.
You could look at getting a task done in a certain time period, work towards rewards, create a story behind the tasks, build in side quests, etc. Looking more closely at some of these options and using your creative thinking you can find ways to make your tasks a game.
Some favorites could be finding patterns in the work or working towards a break where you can do something that you enjoy (like that side quest!)
Your mind is probably distracted by the number of great ideas that you come up with whilst working. You focus in on these ideas and next thing you know, three hours have gone past. Instead of focusing in on the idea right away, take a moment and write it down.
Now you ensured that you won’t forget the idea and you can return to it once you have finished the task at hand. Finishing the task at hand is the goal, you need to support your mind to continue to stay focused on that task.
Have an appealing notebook next to you while you work, for the specific purpose of writing down those brilliant ideas when they pop into your head. This is a supportive strategy that still allows your mind to run at the pace it wants but channels the focus into one thought or task at a time.
With your brain clicking away at the speed of sound there may be times where the only way to support yourself is to find that moment of pause. This pause moment sounds great to many people with ADHD, but often out of reach.
This is commonly because we try to tell ourselves to pause mentally. This is just one thought against the stream of thoughts running through our brain. So, it’s not really surprising that it doesn’t work well. Rather than using our minds to activate a pause, we can use our body.
When we use our body to pause, we are grounding ourselves in the present moment. Our body can only exist in the present, when our brain can race between past, present, and future. When we use our body, we anchor our brain. This gives us a moment to pause and calm the storm.
A good way of using our body is to start with focusing on our breath. Using the 478 breathing technique is one way to do this. When you use this technique, you breathe in for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and breathe out for a count of eight. When you breathe in you breathe through your nose and when you breathe out you breathe through your mouth.
Breathing like this will help your brain slow down and pause. In this pause you can plan with a sense of calm and clarity. Having a good action plan or to do list will help you ensure you get to all the things you need to each day.
Planning when you are feeling overwhelmed or rushed is not always as helpful as a plan created with time and a clear mind. Make these plans in a way that works for you – write it down, make a chart on a white board, use a list, draw little pictures, use post it notes, etc. However, it will be beneficial for you to work with your plan throughout the day.
Your environment can have a huge impact on your focus and productivity. The type of environment you need will also be more individualized to your requirements. You might want to experiment with different set-ups and environmental adjustments to see which ones are best for you. Here are some things you can consider:
The environment that you work in must suit you and your preferences. You may need to experiment with some environmental set-ups to find the elements that work for you.
Sometimes no matter how much we support our brains throughout our work, we need to have a recovery ritual which allows us to take ourselves out of our working environment and press the refresh button.
It is a good idea to have a variety of rituals available to you, so you feel that you have a choice depending on how you feel. The aim of a recovery ritual is to get out of the working environment, move the body to activate the physical elements of the self, allow the brain to stop focusing on the current topic, and to unwind or relax.
These rituals have a certain structure so that they don’t become the end of work for the day. This means they have a time limit. This could be between 10 and 20 minutes.
A walk outside, stretches or squats, a mini dance party, or a chat with a friend are all good recovery rituals that you can consider. Remember that activating the body is going to be key to helping your brain slow down and become grounded in the present moment.
ADHD does not have to limit your potential or ability to perform in a school or work environment. Your ideas, creativity, and problem solving are all unique and add value to any institution you are in. You may need to learn how to support yourself. You can do this in many ways.
One of these ways is to see a therapist or life coach to help you explore and implement these support strategies. It can be easier to work with another person who understands the challenges you are facing. If you feel that you need this assistance you can contact us on One Life Counselling and Coaching to book an appointment and start your journey on managing your ADHD and achieving your potential.