ADHD Life Hacks: Quarantine Edition
January 2, 2021 2:17 PM   Subscribe

MeFites with ADHD: what strategies have you found to manage during the plague time?

In the past when I absolutely needed to get work done, I could remove myself from my apartment and go somewhere with no distractions, like the library or a coffee shop. This only worked about 40% of the time, but now it's not an option at all, and I'm floundering. What strategies have you found to help manage your ADHD and do the things you need to do? I'm particularly looking for tips, tricks, and tools regarding work productivity, but anything relating to managing ADHD generally would be much appreciated. If there's something that's very particular to your circumstances, I'd still like to hear it - even if the particular strategy couldn't be implemented by others, perhaps the reasoning that helped you find it could!
posted by cosmic owl to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
I cleared off my desk at home completely and hid everything that I used to keep on it (I use IKEA straw boxes in Kallax shelving so I can't see any of the things I have put away). I'm only allowed to have things on it that I'm working on right now and when I stop I put everything away. I don't even keep my computer on the desk any more. I'm only reading Metafilter right now because I finished a writing stint and I got sidetracked after I finished the stack of idea cards I was working on. Going to put everything away now.
posted by Peach at 2:27 PM on January 2, 2021 [7 favorites]

I’m serious. Without coffee shops I had to do something.
posted by Peach at 2:36 PM on January 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

At the beginning of lockdown, I got the Freedom app and it really helps me work when I need to work. Can't stand subscriptions, so I googled around for a lifetime discount code, and it was money very well spent.

When things get really bad, I open a zoom for a work hour to recreate that feeling of focussing on work while being alone with others.

In general, it helps that I can keep work to my office, but it's also been an issue because I will wander into the other room and ????, it's kind of a mystery how time disappears sometimes (aliens in my kitchen?), so I started setting a timer and leaving myself a note when I take a break from work.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:05 PM on January 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

You don’t mention if you are using medication. If not, this is an excellent time to start.

I work much better when I have a partner - anyway to divide up your tasks so that someone else is dependent on your work, and you have someone to talk it over with regularly?
posted by Kriesa at 3:09 PM on January 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Focusmate has been a life/productivity saver for me. Also meds and checklists.
posted by emkelley at 3:35 PM on January 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

I advise, and use myself, an accountability partner whenever possible.

Although we are all professional organizers and productivity coaches, the five members of our mastermind group can always use some outside support, and we frequently schedule "Action Days" where two or more of us get on Zoom (or the equivalent), greet one another, discuss what we intend to work on for the next 90 minutes or so, and then we mute ourselves and minimize the app so there's just the tiny video in one corner. (That way, if someone needs help and starts waving their arms (because nobody's paying attention to a message in the chat), we can help brainstorm. Otherwise, at the end of that block of time, we come together and check in. I'm in a writing group where do this as well.

We also do this on an ad hoc basis, when it's necessary to get nose-to-the-grindstone, and I do it for some of my clients, as well, where I talk them through the planning, the breaking down of the task, and I use what, in our profession, is called "body doubling," completing my own tasks while they work. (When working with clients in person, "body doubling" usually has me sorting their papers, reviewing what needs to be done, and then passing them one set of tasks at a time.

You'd be surprised how many other people will jump at the chance to have a partnership like this, and the digital aspect helps keep you from fritting time away talking when you need to be working.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 3:39 PM on January 2, 2021 [10 favorites]

My lifesaver has been a coworking writing group. There are between 9 and 16 of us that meet on a zoom from 7 am to 9 am every weekday morning. After 10 minutes in breakout groups where we talk about our goals for the next 50 minutes, then we work. Then we come back to talk for 10 more minutes, and then we do a second time chunk. It has been amazing, and also gives us that informal community that we all crave.
posted by umbú at 4:44 PM on January 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm really strict about getting at least an hour of exercise every single morning.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:51 PM on January 2, 2021 [5 favorites]

Reserve your desk for working and nothing else. Have nothing in your field of vision that is not work related.

Second, caffeine worked for me. Lots of coffee. Eventually the stopped agreeing with me, which is hard. Closing any instant messenger apps (Slack!) helps.
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 5:49 PM on January 2, 2021

Pomodoros have helped me so much for working from home. I know I just need to focus for a limited, manageable amount of time. Instead of having limitless unstructured time to do limitless unstructured things, I just pick something and do it for 25 minutes. I don't do anything else during the work period--no email, no apps, no texting. I use the breaks to get up and move around and work off some energy. (I have a playlist that I dance around to for the breaks. It's mentally and physically distracting and a reset.) I check apps and emails and such on my phone while I'm hopping around to my favorite upbeat music.
posted by Mavri at 7:53 PM on January 2, 2021 [5 favorites]

I accepted that my attention span has drastically decreased during the pandemic. The pomodoro method used to work for me, but now 25 minutes seems way too long, especially at the beginning of a task. Instead, I set a timer for 5, 8, 10 minutes and commit to really focusing for that amount of time.

I've also started tracking my time using one of the apps that are available for freelancers/people who need to report billable time. I use Toggl Tracker, but there are a bunch. It kind of game-ifys how much I work each day and I like looking at the breakdown of my time, etc.
posted by airplant at 8:15 PM on January 2, 2021 [5 favorites]

Seconding Focusmate. It's a lot of what The Wrong Kind of Cheese has described, just thru a 3rd-party service. You schedule a time to partner up with your friendly stranger focus partner, state the task you'll each be working on for seriously 30 seconds, and then hit mute, minimize the window, and go to work. You can update one another in the chat if you like. Then you check in at the end. Good vibes, an actual human doing work while you're doing work, just enough accountability and minimal distraction. Time chunk is 50 mins - enough for 45 mins of real focused time. I've been pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to find a partner even without much notice, around the clock. And you get 3 free sessions a week!
posted by red_rabbit at 11:03 PM on January 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Reserve your desk for working and nothing else.

I was not able to do this because my desk has also been my gaming station for years. Instead, I made sure the room was brightly lit whenever I worked and dimly lit the rest of the time. It took a few days but I was able to switch between work mode and play mode pretty effectively.

I've also (mostly) moved my other computer-based hobbies to a laptop in another room to further solidify the associations.
posted by suetanvil at 9:24 AM on January 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

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