Some children with ADHD continue to have it as adults. And many adults who have the disorder don’t know it. They may feel that it is impossible to get organized, stick to a job, or remember and keep appointments. Daily tasks such as getting up in the morning, preparing to leave the house for work, arriving at work on time, and being productive on the job can be especially challenging for adults with ADHD.
These adults may have a history of failure at school, problems at work, or difficult or failed relationships. Many have had multiple traffic accidents. Like teens, adults with ADHD may seem restless and may try to do several things at once, most of them unsuccessfully. They also tend to prefer “quick fixes,” rather than taking the steps needed to achieve greater rewards.
How is ADHD diagnosed in adults?
Like children, adults who suspect they have ADHD should be evaluated by a licensed mental health professional. But the professional may need to consider a wider range of symptoms when assessing adults for ADHD because their symptoms tend to be more varied and possibly not as clear cut as symptoms seen in children.
To be diagnosed with the condition, an adult must have ADHD symptoms that began in childhood and continued throughout adulthood.26 Health professionals use certain rating scales to determine if an adult meets the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. The mental health professional also will look at the person’s history of childhood behavior and school experiences, and will interview spouses or partners, parents, close friends, and other associates. The person will also undergo a physical exam and various psychological tests.
For some adults, a diagnosis of ADHD can bring a sense of relief. Adults who have had the disorder since childhood, but who have not been diagnosed, may have developed negative feelings about themselves over the years. Receiving a diagnosis allows them to understand the reasons for their problems, and treatment will allow them to deal with their problems more effectively.
How is ADHD treated in adults?
Much like children with the disorder, adults with ADHD are treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of treatments.
Medications. ADHD medications, including extended-release forms, often are prescribed for adults with ADHD.27
Although not FDA-approved specifically for the treatment of ADHD, antidepressants are sometimes used to treat adults with ADHD. The antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin), which affects the brain chemical dopamine, showed benefits for adults with ADHD.28 Older antidepressants, called tricyclics, sometimes are used because they, like stimulants or atomoxetine, affect the brain chemical norepinephrine.
Adult prescriptions for stimulants and other medications require special considerations. For example, adults often require other medications for physical problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or for anxiety and depression. Some of these medications may interact badly with stimulants. An adult with ADHD should discuss potential medication options with his or her doctor. These and other issues must be taken into account when a medication is prescribed.
Education and psychotherapy. A professional counselor or therapist can help an adult with ADHD learn how to organize his or her life with tools such as a large calendar or date book, lists, reminder notes, and by assigning a special place for keys, bills, and paperwork. Large tasks can be broken down into smaller, more manageable steps so that completing each part of the task provides a sense of accomplishment.
Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, also can help change one’s poor self-image by examining the experiences that produced it. The therapist encourages the adult with ADHD to adjust to the life changes that come with treatment, such as thinking before acting, or resisting the urge to take unnecessary risks.
ADD websites Non-profits Starter Information Popular sites
“The most important things we can offer Children & Adults with ADHD are: Love, Acceptance, Respect & Empathy… In the absence of these things, all of the Other things you do are unimportant” – Sam Goldstein
Center for Disease Control and Prevention – ADHD section. Attractive, ADD-Friendly format- complete, but concise- offers basic information about ADHD and children, but provides links to help you find out more. (Mostly to CHADD or the National Resource Center)
National Resource Center on ADHD: a Program of CHADDis the nation’s clearinghouse for science-based information about all aspects of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the NRC provides information on this disorder which affects how children and adults function on a daily basis. www.help4adhd.org – The National Resource Center also provides a series of information sheets on AD/HD. See the complete list of the What We Know (WWK) printouts. Note: You can email or talk to a resource specialist to get personalized help.
CHADD –CHADD stands for Children and Adults with ADHD. CHADD has a national headquarters and approximately 200 local chapters that hold monthly meetings and offers a professional directory (with paid listings.) They provide a wealth of free information on both their own site and link to The National Resource Center for ADHD for even more. CHADD National puts on a large annual international conference and publishes the bi-monthly magazine Attention – (One of many membership benefits which include access to their many members-only articles) Free monthly e-news.
ADDA– ADDA stands for the National ADD Association for Adults. They send out e-mails to keep you up-to-date and feature a Professional Directory. Collecting personal stories from readers and offering Virtual Peer Support. Webinars are Free for Members ($50 a year or $5 a month) or $10 each.
Help4Kids– Great site developed by Tufts University to help families, teachers, children, and clinicians find answers to some of their questions about ADHD. Each section is set up in a question-answer format so you can either read through all of the information in that section or look up answers to your specific questions only. They also link to other sites for additional information.
Healthy Children’s ADHD section features a number of articles from 3 paragraphs to 3 pages long. Topics cover a number of general as well as more specific concerns for ages 3-18 – From the American Pediatrics Association
Kids Health -The #1 most-visited website for children’s health and development. – The Nemours Foundation sponsors a website for Parents, Kids and Teens – each has their own section. Covers any and all aspects of children’s health concerns. Available in Spanish and you may add audio to most articles if reading is a problem. Use the Search option- Just type in ADHD– or just start browsing for other concerns.
ADHD Resource Center from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists – Includes Facts for Families with up-to-date information, video clips plus an eBook.
Children and Adults
Help Guide.org is a site founded by the Rotary Club International. They have a quite a good ADHD section, but they also address MANY other concerns of modern life – Mental and Emotional Life, Family and Relationships, Healthy Living, Seniors, and Aging. Note – Help Guide offers an unusual, but possibly transformative feature- The Emotional Intelligence ControlCourse
ADDitude.mag– A complete site sponsored by ADDitude magazine, a national bi-monthly magazine for the ADHD community. Short, pertinent articles address a host of AD/HD concerns. Learn about family support options for Attention Deficit Disorder as well as many topics specific to adult issues. Just added a Networking section to their site – with Forums, Blogs, Videos and listings for nationwide ADHD events – Great e-newsletter
ADD About.com – Keath Lowe moderates the site, keeps a Blog, sponsors a Forum and expands the site every day- Up to date and easy to read- Their Coping with ADHD section has a wonderful selection of on-point and useful information.
Totally ADD! for adults – Some pretty good Information and a lot of just plain fun. Quick videos address a number of common concerns of adults with ADD. Blog and ADHD screening tools- Constantly adding more videos and now providing FREE Webcasts– (recorded and available for view anytime)
ADDvance.com – Answers to your Questions about ADD(ADHD) with Patricia Quinn, MD and Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D. Offers insightful, yet practical information addressed to many different ADD audiences, although women and girls receive special attention. (Note: Many articles formerly posted on the site have been “packaged” according to topic and downloads are available to purchase.) They do offer a Free “ADD-Friendly Living” e-newsletter.
Health Central.com / ADHD Central– Hosted by Elaine Bailey, long time moderator for AboutADD.com, this site offers a number of articles covering a variety of topics for all ages, a few interactive learning opportunities, some videos and a Community Forum. (I like the Share-Post section) Use the top bar to navigate the site for specific topics and features.
Web MD has a large section devoted to ADHD. Copy and paste: http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/default.htm – They offer a very well organized and informative overview of the disorder. Articles are generally short and somewhat impersonal, but they’ve tried to cover it all. They even have Videos (prefaced with short ads- indeed many videos are advertisements themselves for supplemental treatments), keep up- to-date on ADHD news and monitor an online community.
Healthy Place.com – Another good starting place- ADHD section addresses a number of common concerns and needs. Most are short, introductory articles, but they cover a number of topics.
ADHD – ADD freeSources on Pinterest – Over 15,000 Pins featuring articles, images and other commentary on ADHD and related topics. 60 boards offer information for parents, adults with ADHD, professionals as well as for children and teens.
(Note: Many links return to other articles by Marla Cummins on her site.)
For adults with ADHD not being able to remember your intentions is what can sometimes get in the way of following through.
I know from plenty of personal experience with forgetting everything from the mundane to the important it can be really frustrating.
But, rather than berate yourself because you think you should have a better memory, you can adopt workarounds to help you remember what you need and minimize your frustration.
Below I’ve curated a lengthy list of possible options you can apply to the various situations in your life. And, if you can think of more, please share below.
Short Term and Long Term Memory
First, a little bit about why you may have such a hard time remembering information at the time you need it.
One reason is that short term (working) memory is often weak in adults with ADHD.
That is, you may not hold information long enough to follow through on it. So, you say to yourself, “I need to drop off that folder at Joe’s office before I leave.” Then you turn around to get your jacket, pack up and forget about the folder. All within the span of a few minutes!
Because you do not hold onto information long enough it also does not enter your long term memory. So, it is lost to you until Bill says to you, “Hey, Lisa, I didn’t get that email you said you would send when I saw you in the hall yesterday.”
Challenges with long term memory are also common for adults with ADHD.
This can mean that you have difficulty remembering your intention to do something in the future.So, as you are leaving the office you have this nagging feeling you are supposed to do something before going home. Not until you get home do you remember you were supposed to pick up the take-out!
Also, you may have difficulty recalling informationwhen you need it. You go to the meeting and can’t remember all the details of the report you want to share.
Bottom line. Your memory, like mine, may be more like Swiss Cheese than a trap door. That is ok, as long as you use some of the methods below to help you remember what you need when you need it.
Remembering What You Want
Paper Based Task Managers– If you are looking for a comprehensive paper-based system to manage your to-dos, try the Planner Pad.
Their webpage is oudated, but don’t be discouraged. See this article about why to use it.
Put It Where You Can Do Something About It– For example, when you have books to return to the library, clothes to donate, etc. put them in the car where you can see them. That way you can take care of them when you are out and about. Could save you an extra trip.
Just Do It!– If a task is going to take you less than 2 minutes (literally), it may be worth it to just do it rather than trying to figure out how you are going to remember to do it later. Of course, you want to be careful that doing that task doesn’t take you away from what your primary intention in the moment.
Put It In Your Calendar– You calendar contains the hard landscape of your life. A commitment for a specific day and/or time should go in your calendar. Right away. Even if it is tentative, put it in your calendar and mark it as “tentative” until you can confirm it. That way you will not double-book.
You can find more tips on using your calendar here.
Post It Where You Can See It– Maybe you want daily reminders of how you want to be or what you want to achieve. Whether it is a quote, list or vision board to visually illustrate your hopes and dreams, post it in a prominent place where you are most likely to see it regularly.
Tie It To Another Habit– It is always easier to remember to do something if you can tie it to an already well-established habit. For example, if you are trying to remember to take your meds, put them by your toothbrush.
A Plain Piece Of White Paper– I’ll admit this isn’t the most environmentally sound option. But it is one I use every day. Write the 3-5 tasks you are committed doing each day on a piece of paper and put it where you will see it (middle of your desk, taped to your monitor, on the wall, etc).
Weekly Review– To offset the pull of immediate gratification, the weekly review is the time when you assess where you are vis -a- vis your projects and goals in your various areas of focus, as well as plan the next action steps. By doing this on a weekly basis you can be confident you are remembering your important stuff and time is not just slipping away.
Post A List– When you notice you are out of something, immediately put it on a list that you leave on your fridge or other easily accessible place. That way you won’t worry about trying to remember it when you get around to creating your grocery / errand list.
Read It Later!– We all know what a “time suck” the internet can be. And it may be that you are pulled to reading something immediately because you don’t think you will remember to read it later. Try an application like Instapaper, Readability or Pocket to save articles you come across. And then you can refocus on your original intention.
Electronic Notebook– An electronic notebook, like OneNote or EverNote, is great place to keep track of and remember all of your random ideas from project planning to lists.
Send Yourself A Message– When you are out and about and something suddenly comes to mind, rather than assume you will remember it later, call, text or email yourself a message. But don’t wait. You know those ideas can be fleeting. Well, at least for me…
Set An Alarm– Use an alarm to remind yourself of appointments. Since transitions can be a challenge, you may want to set two alarms. The first alarm will remind you to stop what you are doing and get ready. The second will be the reminder that it is time to go!
I suggest you don’t use alarms to remind yourself of tasks unless you are committed to doing it at fixed time. Because, if the reminder goes off when you can’t do anything about it, you will learn to ignore those alarms. And they will just become background noise…
Wake up and Reminder Services– You may tend to ignore your alarm, but I’ll bet you find it hard to ignore a phone ringing. Telephone reminder services like Wakerupper or Wakeupland can help get you out of bed or to your appointments on time.
Tracking– In the beginning just remembering the habits you are trying to build can be the hardest part to following through on them. Tracking your progress is a good way to remember.
And an app, like Beeminder, may be the extra support you need. As you track your goals, they will plot your progress on a yellow brick road and if you go off track they take your money!
Meeting Notes– Taking notes during meetings will help you pay attention as well as have the information you need for later. Just as important is reviewing and taking action on your notes soon after.
ADHD Coach– If you are working with an ADHD Coach, take advantage of the accountability support as you are trying to build new habits and makes changes.
Launching Pad– Create a launching pad by the door where you put everything (purse, briefcase, etc.) you need for the next day. You could carve out a small space or use a small table for your launching pad.
Put Your Keys In The Refrigerator– To remember your lunch put your keys with it in the refrigerator.
Share Your Tips
How do you get out of your head and remember what you need when you need it?
About once a week my kids accuse me of being ADD. I’m not, actually, but they see the challenges I have managing the details of life, and it can look A LOT like the things I’m coaching them to manage.
Besides, it’s fun to razz Mom a little.
After listening to one of our guest experts recently, I’ve discovered the truth. I suffer from:
STRESSED OUT SUPERMOM SYNDROME!
Being the grown-up in the family with the most executive function can be a challenge on the best of days. Add to that single parenting, menopause, full-time job (ok, more than full time), and mostly it can be exhausting. Personally, I have complete compassion for the other moms out there who add their own ADHD to the mix – hats off to you girls!
For the most part, I wear my elevated executive function status like a badge of honor. I’ve got it – all!
Seriously, there are days that I handle things seamlessly, bopping from here to there, with a smile on my face, and a task list in my hand.
But on other days, the balls are dropping so quickly that I can’t even remember the ones I’ve missed. I can hear myself muttering expletives, or worse yet, yelling them at my kids! The challenge comes when I realize that the ratio of “got it” days to “oh crap” days is not in my favor.
In reality, how we handle dropping balls is about biology. How well our brain operates under life’s stressors is directly correlated with our stress level and attitude. It’s not all that different from our kids and their ADD – a stressed out, overwhelmed brain simply can’t function at optimal capacity.
So what’s the solution? Something I call:
Simple Self Care for Super-Moms!
Taking care of yourself isn’t all that hard, and doesn’t take that much time or investment. It can make a huge difference in terms of how you are able to manage your life, and the lives of your family.
Here are my four simple steps:
Manage Triggers Consciously – Know what sets you off – pushes your buttons – and find ways to sidestep them if you can. This requires letting go of some things, or delegating others (or getting some coaching around specific triggers, which, by the way, was my salvation!) Learn about the threat cycle and practice the steps religiously when you do get triggered.
Do for You – A wise woman once told me that if you want your family to give you what you need – tell them what you want – or better yet, give it to yourself! Simply spending 30 – 60 minutes each week doing something just for you can be sufficient fuel to balance the most challenging weeks.
Practice Radical Compassion –We work with parents every day around having compassion for our kids and their ADD. It’s equally important that we do the same thing for ourselves. If you are able to see that everyone has best intentions and does the best that they can in the moment, including you, then supporting yourself on the rough days becomes easier. Ultimately, it requires letting go of the “should,” not taking things personally, and seeing setbacks as opportunities to learn and adjust, rather than mistakes or “failures.”
Let Go of Resentment – This is often the hardest because it is so intertwined with the others. We get triggered by the idea that we “have” to do everything; we get resentful that we don’t have time for ourselves; and instead of having compassion for our family members and what they are capable of, we get frustrated that they aren’t doing more. All of these are completely normal and appropriate reactions.
AND your reaction is a big part of what is STRESSING YOU OUT!
Finding a way to be “ok” with the situation, even seeing how much it helps your kids that you are carrying a heavier load, can actually help decrease how much the situation stresses you out. Being a super-mom isn’t a bad thing, and it isn’t necessarily a good thing either. Finding a way to support yourself in being the kind of mom you want to be is what is important. Spend some time looking at how you’re managing and supporting your own life, and take some simple steps forward. Ultimately, it will make thing better for the whole family.
By Diane Dempster. Article originally appeared on ImpactADHD.com and is reproduced with permission of ImpactADHD™
“Image courtesy of arztsamui/FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva.com
What do you do if your life is a mess, you have no discipline or routines, can’t stick to anything, procrastinate, and feel out of control?
How do you get started with the discipline habit when you have so much to change?
You start by washing your dishes.
It’s just one small step: when you eat your cereal, wash your bowl and spoon. When you finish drinking coffee or tea, wash your cup. Don’t leave dishes in the sink or counter or table.
Mindfully wash your dish, right away.
Form this habit one dish at a time, one day at a time. Once you do this for a few weeks, you can start making sure the sink is clean. Then the counter. Then put your clothes away when you take them off. Then start doing a few pushups. Eat a few vegetables.
One of these at a time, you’ll start to build the discipline habit and trust yourself to stick to something.
But for now, just wash your dishes. Mindfully, with a smile.
By Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. Leo grants permission to repost his work freely.
What do you think of when trying to manage your ADHD? When starting down the path of managing their ADHD many adults, at least in the beginning, may assume they are broken.
If this is the case for you, you may focus your time and energy on trying to fix yourself. Because that is what you do when something is broken. You fix it, right?
But what if you decided you were not broken? What if instead you were able to adopt the perspective that you just operated differently? What if you decided to rely more on your strengths?
Your approach to managing your ADHD could look quite different.
Talents That Come Naturally To You
The key to managing your ADHD is to identify, build on and work in domains that utilize your strengths as much as possible, while still managing around your weaknesses when necessary.
For now let’s focus on your strengths.
One definition of strength is:
“…an innate or learned characteristic that you possess, or behavior you exhibit, that when applied consistently allows you the greatest chance of successfully reaching your goals.”
You could also say that strengths are talents that come naturally and easily to you – you do not have to work so hard to express them.
You may even possess strengths that you utilize in one area of your life that you do not yet realize can be applied to help you in other areas. It is also possible that there are things that come easy to you that you do not even realize are your strengths!
The trick, of course, is to identify these assets and examine how you can use them to help you accomplish your current goal(s).
Identifying Your Strengths
You are probably intimately familiar with your weaknesses. If you are like many other adults with ADHD, you may focus an inordinate amount of time and energy on patching up your weaknesses.
Try putting away your “sewing kit” for a bit and pick up your “weights.” I hope you will take the time now to focus on ways to identify your strengths. The ideas below can help get you started.
Before looking outside yourself try this exercise. You may be surprised by what you find.
You can answer these questions in one sitting, or you may take a couple of weeks as you observe yourself in action. No doubt, reflection takes longer than answering questions on an assessment. However, taking more time may uncover hidden strengths that a quick assessment may not reveal.
To start with the most obvious, what are your strengths? This is not the time to be modest!
What activities capture your attention and keep you consistently engaged? Often the activities that we get excited about participating in are those that use our strengths. What are the strengths related to these activities?
What types of tasks do you learn and understand quickly, and which are challenges you approach with a sense of joy? If you are a “natural” at something, there may be a strength related to the skills required by the activity. What are your strengths related to these tasks?
What are you passionate about? How are your strengths related to your passions?
Under what conditions and in what environment do you work best? When these conditions are present and you are in this environment, what strengths do you notice?
What are the strengths you can use most directly related to achieving your goals?
If you are not able to complete this exercise on your own, ask one of your “fans,” such as a friend or family member, to help you. Who would you ask? If you have someone in mind, ask him or her to help.
After reflecting on your strengths, you may be curious enough to go beyond these questions in order to learn more about your strengths.
It is also important to remember that your ADHD symptoms can be strengths. Whether your ADHD symptoms are strengths or weaknesses depends on the context. To identify how your symptoms are strengths think about how they help you in various domains.
For example, my willingness to take risks, persistence, creativity, energy and sense of humor have been instrumental in my business success. But that same energy and humor, if not managed well, can be a distraction in some settings, like in “very serious meetings.”
What strengths do you have that come from your ADHD? In what context(s) can they serve you?
The Kolbe A Index measures your instinctive way of doing things, your strengths. You can use this information in both your personal and professional life. ($49)
DiSC is another assessment that gives you insight into your behavior and personality, designed primarily to help you understand yourself and colleagues in the workplace. ($29)
By finding out your personality preference as measured by the MBTI you can make decisions about your current environment and future goals. ($50) More information on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
The StrengthsFinder 2.0 is also a popular assessment to uncover your strengths. You can find a free strength assessment along with a 20-minute video by Marcus Buckingham, co-author of Now Discover Your Strengths, here. ($12 to $16 for the book – Includes code to take the online test. Use the book for reference and further study into how to use your strengths.)
Imagine The Possibilities!
Theoretically, I think you could do many things you want, given the right amount of persistence, dedication, and time.
However, I am just as interested in your journey as I am in you reaching your end goal(s). And, if you also think the quality of your journey is just as important as reaching the finish line, then using your strengths along the way is critical.
Because when you are operating from your strengths you are more in flow and life is just easier. As Dr. Seligman, founder of the Positive Psychology Movement notes, using your highest strengths leads to…
more positive emotions
more engagement in life
and more accomplishments
Wouldn’t that be nice?!
Once you know your strengths you can make choices that will work best for you in creating the life you want.
What Is Next?
Ok, so you know that knowing and utilizing your strengths is helpful. Great. But now you may be wondering, “After I figure out my strengths what do I do?” Here are a few options to ponder.
Choose What You Do
Put yourself in situations where you can apply and use your strengths.
If you have some freedom in what tasks you do at work, think about choosing those that will draw on your strengths. Likewise, if you are considering a career / job transition, incorporate what you know about your strengths into your decision.
Another example is volunteering outside of work. You may be afraid of getting stuck with some administrative task, if you offer to help. So, if being outgoing is one of your strengths, offer to greet new members at the meetings. And when asked to take minutes say, “no!” Well, maybe say, “No, thank you, but I can do…”
Where else can you put yourself in the “right situations” that rely on your strengths?
Negotiate, Delegate, Barter, Decline…
There are things that need to get done both at work and at home. Ideally, everyone would just get to do those things that play to their strengths. That will likely not happen for you, right?
But once you know your strengths you can be more strategic. And start to think about how you could spend more time and energy doing tasks that draw on your strengths.
ask to “trade” tasks with someone for one that better suits your talents?
delegate a task so you have more time for others that suit you better?
barter for a task that will use your strengths?
just say, “no,” so you have more time to operate in domains that use your gifts?
Just because you have been doing things a certain way up until now doesn’t mean you have to continue that way.
What could you change up?
Become More Skilled
We know that strengths are not fixed. They can both grow stronger or atrophy. It is up to you.
As you discover your strengths you could choose to focus your attention on a particular strength to make it stronger, if you think it would serve you. Because strengths can be learned, practiced and cultivated.
What is one strength you have that you would like to improve?
ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line
When you are using your strengths you will be fueled by the motivation that comes with performing tasks that come easier to you.
Effective time management skills are essential to all adults and children. From scheduling and managing after school activities, to homework, to chores… oh, and your life, too!! Day-to-day demands can become overwhelming and create an atmosphere of constant stress. Who doesn’t want a calmer more efficient morning, a less hectic afternoon, and a more peaceful bedtime? By managing your own time wisely and modeling that for your children, you and your family can experience a more orderly, less stressful day. By becoming proactive in how you approach time you can make a noticeable and systemic difference in the in your life and the lives of your family members.
Many of you already know the “How To’s” of Time Management, yet you still struggle today. The heart of the issue for many goes beyond practical advice. Once we run through some of the valuable systems for keeping track of our lives we can focus on the deeper issue of how we choose to spend our time.
Part 1 – Valuable Systems are the Keys to Good Time Management
In each aspect of Time Management discussed here, I encourage you to have a dual focus. One is on the content – the brass tacks of what needs to be done. The second is on the process. This has to do with HOW you choose to implement what needs to be done. The small picture vs. the big picture. Keep in mind that your goal in parenting is to develop children who are independent, confident and resilient. I encourage you to involve your child in the process of what you are doing as much as possible so that they may also begin to emulate the process you go through to decide how to manage time.
Experiment! There are new types of calendars created all the time. Check out iCal on the Mac. Google also makes a calendar that you can share (google.com/calendar)
Use different colors for different people.
Be sure there is ample room to write appointments
Block out realistic time frames directly on your calendar. Consider how long to get the children ready, driving time, waiting time, etc.
Perhaps circle total time needed for an event.
Consider writing yourself a note on a date sometime before any event that you need prep time for. This will to give you a heads up that the date is approaching. If you use a PDA or computer calendar you might set an alarm for some time in advance.
Here is where we begin our modeling for our children.
For Young Children
The purpose here is to help children understand the structure of a week and a month. Let them see how time flows and certain events repeat. Empower them to look forward to plans independently. You can have one calendar for each child, or one for the family to share.
You can make a calendar together with stickers, colors, etc. Dry erase boards with permanent marker for the days of the week work great.
Use different color markers for each child.
Stickers and/or different color markers give a visual view of their activities and family events.
For Older Children and Teens
Once a child is actively using an agenda book in school it’s a great tool to help them see school as part of their lives. Help them develop the skill of having a central area for their planning. This will give them a greater sense of control and independence as they grow.
Help them incorporate their weekly activities, doctors’ appointments, social plans, etc. right in their agenda book.
Remind them that they must consult with you before putting any plans in their agenda book to make sure there are no conflicts with you and so you can put the plans in your calendar as well.
Teens might enjoy using their computer or phone for their calendar. Encourage them to experiment in developing their own style of organizing and managing their time.
Get organized the night before
Review calendar for the next day to anticipate needs, activities
Look at the weather report and pick out clothes
Pack up backpack
Have cell phone by charger
Write any notes of last minute things for the morning (lunch from the fridge, etc.)
Straighten up room
We can all get lost in our work or play. Having an external reminder that it is time to transition can make it easier to relax and be fully engaged in the current task at hand. Timers are also a great device to help children concretize the passage of time.
Set the alarm on your computer to remind you of appointments.
Kitchen timers are great for helping children transition. Set the timer for the time remaining before dinner or homework time. Let the timer be the reminder – not you. Let them learn to set it as their own reminder when they take breaks for homework.
Purchase a watch with a built-in alarm.
Use your cell phone alarm. It can be set to any ringtone.
5. Staging Area
Here is a helpful tip I learned long ago. Never leave a room to put something elsewhere until you are sure that’s the only thing that needs to leave the room.
Have a spot in each bedroom and one or more in your kitchen for transitions. This is where you will place anything that needs to leave the room next time you exit.
Have your children pick a spot in their room to place their backpacks, school projects, items they need for afterschool activities, etc. Help them develop the habit of placing these items here at night before they go to bed. Having everything in one spot when it’s time to leave will make the morning less hectic for all.
6. To Do lists and reminder notes
For some, the To Do list can be an out of control random scattering of papers. For others it takes on a life of its own as reorganizing and rewriting it becomes a To Do item as well. Still others just avoid To Do lists altogether. Here are some ideas that might help you better manage the process of keeping things in order.
If you are someone who uses a computer regularly, consider using it to manage your To Do list. iCal on the Mac has spot for To Do’s with the ability to set alarms or emails as reminders for specific times. It also allows you to sort based on date or priority.
If not… Try to keep one main pad where you are the most – for many that is the kitchen. Have that pad look different than other pads in the house and save it only for YOUR To Do list.
Consider having a date or date range attached to any item that is not immediate. This will prevent it from blending in to an endless list of things to do.
If your list becomes overwhelming, consider a breakaway list of things to focus on JUST THIS WEEK. Then each week you can pull from your master list and not have all those other items starring you in the face.
Choose a regular time to review your list if it becomes lengthy. For many, nighttime is when the activity has settled and the mind is clear. This is often the perfect time to evaluate and perhaps rewrite your To Do list.
Keep a notepad by your bed to jot down things you need or hope to get done. This is NOT the To Do list – transfer these to your main list the next day. Give your children a special pad for their nightstand and teach them to jot down plans they hope to make or things the need to remember for school.
Place reminder notes in the SAME spot you have designated as your transition area for when you leave a room.
Remember, if you can develop the habit of having a few consistent spots you always look at you are less likely to forget important things. A little later in this article I will focus more on the deeper meaning of To Do lists…
The more activities you do that are predictable, the easier it is to remember and make sure they are done. Like traditions and rituals, routines have a way of calming and comforting, as they are a regular part of our lives.
Choose the same day each week for errands: groceries on Monday, dry cleaners on Wednesday, etc.
Request the same appointment day and time when setting up routine visits such as dental, medication check-ins, counseling, coaching.
For annual and bi-annual events such as physicals, changing Air Conditioner filters, changing smoke detector batteries, choose a month that generally works for you and write a To Do a few weeks prior in your Calendar for scheduling.
Set up a pattern for household chores for everyone. Alternate children’s chores based on the month they are born or something similar. Ex. The child born on odd number month takes out the trash and gets the front seat on odd months; the other child sets the table and feeds the dog.
Keep your grocery-shopping list in the same place all the time and encourage family members to write their requests on the list themselves.
For some people, especially those who spend a great deal of time on the computer, tending to emails can be both time consuming and distracting.
Turn off that “ping”. I learned this one from the late Randy Pausch. That “Ding” every time you receive a new email has the power to pull you away from other work you might be engaged in. By turning off the sound, you regain your control over when you choose to check your emails.
Remove yourself from emails as often as possible. At the bottom of marketing emails, there is usually an “unsubscribe” link. The moments it will take you to do this are nothing compared to the time you will spend deleting their emails each and every time – not to mention the one’s for the companies they sell your email address to.
New ideas are great, but too many of them at once can create chaos and take up much of your time. Try to implement new ideas one at a time. Be sure that the change is a good choice for you and your family. Just because a time management idea works for a friend or neighbor does not mean it will work for you. You may be wasting more time trying to fit yourself into a system that is not right for you!
Remember that each family member has a different learning style and different level of comprehension. What is right for you may not be right for everyone in your family. I love iCal and use it with my daughter. I “invite” her to her doctor appointments, etc. and she “invites” me to let me know about her work schedule. My son, however, hates to have to look at the calendar on the computer. He recognizes that being connected to it too often distracts him.
Learning to manage your time is a process. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. When starting a new plan, praise and encourage your children on all levels of success as they get used to the process. Try to involve your children in the in the decision-making process as much as possible. Solicit their assistance and input as you plan your new strategies.
The workplace has become a very challenging place, even for neurotypicals. Maybe it’s always been this way, but with the speed that things happen today, increased expectations from bosses and clients and worldwide competition for your job, it certainly seems more stressful than ever. If you have adult ADHD, you add a big bunch of extra challenges to the mix:
• Inattentiveness and lack of focus can lead to missed details, and make it challenging to accomplish work that requires concentration at the best of times,
• Forgetfulness has very likely already led to more than one missed commitment and the resulting loss of credibility,
• Disorganization has you feeling overwhelmed, distracted and jumping from one task to another,
• Procrastination leads to last-minute, gun-to-the-head, high-stress production to meet deadlines, causing you great stress,
• Or you play the hero, pitching in to put out other people’s fires while your own work goes undone,
• and more.
These extra challenges make the workplace a veritable minefield of reprimands and disappointments, but what can you do about it?
The obvious answer, and the one most experts provide, is that “You should ask for accommodations at work.” That sounds simple, doesn’t it? Accommodations have been proven to help, and it’s likely they would help you, but there’s a little problem. How can you ask for and get accommodations unless you disclose your ADHD at work? And as we know, there are risks associated with that.
So what can you do? There are ways of asking for accommodations without disclosing your ADHD.
If you don’t feel it’s safe to disclose your ADHD at work, or if you’d just rather not, you’ll be happy to hear there’s a “formula” that will help you to ask for “accommodations” without outing yourself. Use this model “script” to write down what you’d like to say, adapted to your specific circumstances, practice and use again and again with success:
Step 1. Describe your specific struggle and the circumstances surrounding it. Step 2. Describe a possible solution you’ve thought of. Step 3. Describe the benefits your boss, your co-workers and you will get from implementing this solution. WIIFY & M (What’s in it for you and me.)
For example, if there’s too much noise in your cubicle farm and you feel you’d be able do a better job preparing a particularly challenging report that you need to do regularly if you had a quiet place to do your work, you would apply the three steps as follows:
Step 1. Describe your specific struggle: Say something like, “I really struggle to stay focused on the XYZ reports because of all the noise in office.” Step 2. Describe a possible solution: “I’ve thought of one possible solution: when I work on these reports, would it be possible for me to use a closed office, conference room, or to work from home?” Step 3. Describe the benefits: “This will help me get it done much faster, so Joe can get started on his part sooner, and I’ll complete it with fewer or no mistakes so it’ll reduce the time you spend double-checking everything.”
You’ve done a good job of selling the solution by pointing out the benefits to all, it doesn’t sound like you’re whining… and no one mentioned ADHD!
So the formula is:
Specific struggle / Circumstances + Solution (aka Accommodation) + What’s in it for all?
“Job accommodation means modifying a job, job site, or the way in which a job is done so that the person with a disability can have equal access to all aspects of work.” (1)
Job accommodations may also include the use of tools such as headsets, assistive technology, training, job restructuring, job reassignments or even an administrative assistant.
One of my clients, an administrative assistant, had to review all of her supervisors’ direct reports’ expense reports once a week. This was tedious work that required a lot of focus and some quiet uninterrupted time. The challenge she faced was that she was expected to answer the phone at the same time, which led to numerous mistakes. Here’s the script she used:
Step 1. “I’m really struggling with reviewing your direct reports’ expenses. The challenge is that each time I answer the phone, I lose track of where I was before the call. This leads to missing details or making mistakes.” Step 2. “I know that I need two or three hours of uninterrupted time when I am most focused to ensure I don’t make these mistakes. I’ve found a possible solution: Could Carol take my phone calls on Tuesday mornings so that I can do the work uninterrupted?” Step 3. “With this solution in place, I’ll be able to dramatically reduce mistakes and make sure all the receipts are there and accounted for. This will prevent you from getting calls from the Accounting Department or the company paying out more than allowed by receipts. With fewer interruptions, I may even be able to get it done faster.”
Her supervisor thought it was an excellent idea and allowed the phone call transfers so my client was able to complete this work without mistakes. And they all lived happily ever after!
“By Linda Walker. Linda Walker, PCC, B. Admin., is a certified ADHD Coach who helps adults with ADHD overcome the special challenges of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) they encounter at home and in the workplace. She is the creator of The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Creative Geniuses, a training program for adults with ADHD and the author of With Time to Spare. http://www.CoachLindaWalker.com.”
As an ADHD family, we’ve had our fair share of challenges, particularly early on when we didn’t know what we were dealing with. Looking back, I could identify twelve great strategies that helped Duane and Kyrie thrive. And no, they aren’t about productivity; they’re about how you are feeling about yourself.
Take advantage of your strengths. Identify what you’re strong in and find ways to do more of it. Keep a journal and note down when you’ve managed to learn something particularly well. You know, when you realize “you’re a natural” at something, this is almost always an indication that you are playing to your strengths.
Surround yourself with people who can embrace your differences and who accept you for who you are and for what you are not.
Determine what ADHD traits aren’t going so well for you and your loved ones and consider what could change. Even though you want others to accept you, you also want to live in harmony with others. This may mean you’ll need to modify some of your behavior to reduce the negative challenges of ADHD.
There will be things you cannot change. I’m thinking of your short-term memory for example. For those things, you’ll need to manage with systems and routines. I know, routines, ick! but all very successful ADHDers have a set of routines that solve many of their problems once and for all.
You’ll have ADHD your whole life. That means you have all the time in the world to master the skills to thrive with ADHD. It won’t take that long to make your life fantastic, and then you can keep improving it forever.
Small but significant changes are always the best way. They’re effective, their sustainable, and if they aren’t the right approach, there’s not great investment of your time and energy lost.
Create a cue, a reminder, an alert, something that will help you remember to accomplish your new change.
Document the changes that work for you. ADHDers often forget strategies they’ve used successfully in the past. Documenting them will also allow you to use strategy number 9.
Celebrate ever day you progress in your new habits. Celebrating the progress and results increases the chances you’ll repeat the habit. We all love happy experiences. Celebrating could be as simple as acknowledging your progress, noticing the results, or giving yourself a pat on the back.
Ensure you balance your work life with active recreation. Engaging in hobbies, reconnecting with your creative side, connecting with friends and family are great active recreation. They bring much more joy in your life than watching TV, surfing the Internet or chatting on social media.
If you forget your habit for a day, chalk it up to being human, consider what went wrong then recommit to the habit, ensuring you make adjustments to avoid forgetting again.
The most important: laugh. Don’t take yourself too seriously. When you make mistakes, laugh about it. Find humor in your life. Read a funny story, watch a funny video.
“By Linda Walker. Linda Walker, PCC, B. Admin., is a certified ADHD Coach who helps adults with ADHD overcome the special challenges of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) they encounter at home and in the workplace. She is the creator of The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Creative Geniuses, a training program for adults with ADHD and the author of With Time to Spare. http://www.CoachLindaWalker.com.”
TotallyADD – ALL video site for adults with ADHD – A great place to start! Some pretty good Information and a lot of just plain fun. Quick videos address a number of common concerns of adults with ADD. Blog and ADHD screening tools. They add new material often and also offer FREE webinars that you can view at any time.Rick Green and Dr. Umesh Jain
Pay Attention – ADHD is not Just Me (3 minutes) Frank South tries to explain ADHD but gets distracted in a scene from his “Pay Attention, ADHD in Hollywood, on the Rocks, with a Twist.” Entertainer, comedian and blogger for ADDitudemag.
The Art of ADD Manifesto “The Art of ADD is not about being normal or fitting it. Its about being ADD and using that medium to create a masterpiece out of your life. We don’t do life the normal way, we do it the ADD way!” (2 1/2 minutes)
Mad at Myself by Wes Bay (3 minutes) – Ever been mad at yourself? Well it is time to laugh about it. Enjoy!
Touching 5-minute film about the the triumphs and challenges of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. “The Attention Movie” was produced by Thrive with ADD to help spread awareness of ADD / ADHD in adults.
My Life with ADHD – Videos about ADD/ADHD and random musings on life from an author, counselor, and coach with ADHD, Stephanie Moulton Sarkis PhD.
I have Adult ADHD?! – Tongue in cheek explanation of having ADHD with some pretty good information. Cartoon with some profanity as the narrator runs into some frustrating myths about ADHD while talking to his friend. (4 1/2 minutes)
My Life with ADHD Videos about ADD/ADHD and random musings on life from an author, counselor, and coach with ADHD, Stephanie Moulton Sarkis PhD.