What are the best resources and life hacks for adults with ADHD?
August 23, 2022 5:21 AM   Subscribe

Resources like books and podcasts, as well as specific strategies that make life work well, would be appreciated!
posted by mortaddams to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I like the How to ADHD youtube channel.
posted by umbú at 5:55 AM on August 23, 2022 [3 favorites]

I have primarily hyperactive ADHD and I have discovered that walking during meetings helps me focus much better.

When I'm not in a meeting, listening to music helps me focus during otherwise boring tasks.
posted by crunchy potato at 6:16 AM on August 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding How to ADHD. Adding
- Hacking your ADHD podcast (link goes to website)
- Additude magazine articles and especially their seminar series archive
posted by meijusa at 8:25 AM on August 23, 2022

-Todoist for tracking all the things that you want to get done.
-White noise or music (instrumental/electronic) helps me stay focused on a task.
-If I am struggling getting a task completed, "trying harder" does not help me and usually just creates more (distracting) stress. I am more productive when I switch tasks or approaches when I realize I am stuck.
-I am most productive when write out my plan for tomorrow at the end of today, and revisit my plan for the day first thing in the morning. My plan outlines my schedule (appointments) and the top three things I want to accomplish that day.
posted by bruinfan at 9:16 AM on August 23, 2022 [5 favorites]

This anti-planner has been floating around my Twitter for a while (I follow the creator), and it looks pretty great to me, as someone who struggles with procrastination and executive dysfunction.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 9:38 AM on August 23, 2022 [4 favorites]

I am more productive when I walk on my treadmill desk vs sitting down to work. I think it gives my brain enough to do balancing ambulation and thinking that I am actually able to focus on tasks.
posted by sickinthehead at 10:03 AM on August 23, 2022

Best answer: I have combination-type ADHD. I won't pretend that I have it completely figured out, and I probably never will, but here are some things that work for me.

1. Medication. I've taken Adderall since I was diagnosed in my teens, save for a brief period in my early twenties when I decided I was an adult and adults don't need ADHD medication. That brief experiment ended when I cut off my fingertip at work because I was distracted and didn't realize I was holding a scalpel upside down. Fingertip was reattached, with compliments from at least one physician on the cleanliness of the incision, but did not regain sensation. Medication, especially stimulants, are unfairly maligned as something teenagers from wealthy families abuse to help them through their expensive private universities, but for people who need them, they're nearly miraculous. You know all that boring shit at work that fills you with dread? The stuff that you put off and put off and put off until the deadline is TOMORROW and you have nothing and then you spend 20 hours straight doing nothing but that boring shit while berating yourself and swearing you'll never do it this way again? Well, being on medication makes those tasks actually seem mildly interesting and therefore worth doing well.

2. Revamping my bedtime routine. When I get home, I eat dinner, then take a shower in the early evening to begin to wind down. Once I'm in my pajamas, I get prepared for the next day before I get settled on the couch for evening relaxation activities. Before, I'd sit down to chill as soon as I got home, putting off all of the things I had to do because I didn't want to think about it, and then end up scrambling to get stuff sort of together right when I should have been getting into bed or in the morning when I'm...not at my best. Going to bed feeling cranky and overwhelmed does not for restful sleep make, and a rushed morning really throws off my whole day. The things I try to do in the early evening are:
- clothes laid out, including socks and underwear
- lunch ready and packed
- coffee maker set up and delayed brew turned on
- work bag by the door with the things I use for the trip home (keys, ID/bus pass, wallet, headphones) put back inside and anything unusual I need the next day, like an umbrella or extra shoes, already packed. Find a place where all of your little essentials live, and then treat returning them to their homes at the end of the day like a religion. You don't want to track down your keys or laptop or phone charger before you leave in the morning, and you'll always know where your stuff is. No more waking up in a cold sweat at 2 AM wondering if you remembered to take your keys out of the front door knob. Go to bed earlier than you think you need to. No more passing out on the couch in your clothes with The Office playing on Netflix, then stumbling to bed at some point in the wee hours. I also cut out alcohol completely. I sleep so much better now.

3. Wake up early. I started with just 15 minutes or so and slowly built up to at least an hour. I like having the extra time to ease into the day.

4. Getting up for a break sometime in the mid- to late-morning. I am writing to you from one such break. I try to take 20-30 minutes as soon as I start feeling that "oh my god, it's only x o'clock, that can't be right" despair, but even 5 minutes to stretch and get a drink of water really helps. Some days, especially when the weather is nice, I walk to a nearby shop for a snack and drink, preferably something fizzy and caffeinated. I sit in a sunny spot and dick around on my phone or whatever for awhile. The one thing I don't do is read a book; on the past I've had problems with getting too absorbed and either not remembering to keep an eye on the time or half-assing the remainder of my work day so I can get back to my book. In the past, I've worked at places with a regimented break schedule, where people were required to take a break of a certain duration at a certain time based on their start time or seniority or the entrails of a rare and magnificent bird. I did not like that.

5. Having a less-structured job and a boss who isn't a total dick. If I wake up late or need to leave 30 minutes early once in awhile without providing an apostilled document filled out in my own blood, it's nice to have flexibility instead of worrying that I'm going to get shitcanned. It really cuts down on the number of "mental health days" I require.

6. Using a paper planner and actually checking things off. Write down everything you have to do, both at work and at home. Virtual calendars and to-do lists feel too unreal, and if I have to be on my phone or computer to see what I'm supposed to be doing, I will find something to distract myself. This is so lame, but I'm actually really motivated by stickers. I get a sticker if I do all my household chores for the day. I bought some really cute Japanese planner stickers that look like cats and I'll be damned if I don't want to EARN that adorable cartoon kitty on my planner page. I also like color coding with different highlighters or fine-line markers.

Okay, this is already too long but I hope something in it will pique your interest.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 10:35 AM on August 23, 2022 [23 favorites]

Previous poster has so many great ideas and might have convinced me I need a sticker planner... But I tried a lot of productivity systems to get my execs in order, and the ones that stuck and keep me functional are more like Life Rules: high-level, dead basic, religiously followed.
1- Things in their Place
2- If it takes less than 2 minutes, do it now.
3- Inbox Zero
4- One Calendar for all (I use whatever Outlook/Gmail shit work uses for maximum seamlessness).

Anything else I either give up the first time I slip up, or become hyperfixated on the system itself at the expense of actual productivity.
posted by Freyja at 10:48 AM on August 23, 2022 [4 favorites]

A resource I haven’t seen mentioned: TikTok! Easily digestible content bites for ADHD brains, and lots of great educators on there. I like catieosaurus Who now also posts on other platforms.
posted by bluloo at 1:01 PM on August 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

I came back bearing stickers in case anyone else wants to join in on the sticker chart magic!

These are my current cats. I like them because they're small and relatively unobtrusive, and they are also removable and restickable.

I also have these cats, which are super cute and more colorful. They're also removable/restickable.

If you're not a cat person, why are you even on the Internet, but these birds are gorgeous and so vibrant! They come on a roll rather than a sheet, which is convenient.

Completing a task I'm particularly dreading requires a suitable valuable reward. An ordinary sticker just will not suffice. That's a job for these pop-up cats. They lay flat until you turn to the page they're stuck in, whereupon they pop up to make me happy. There are lots of other awesome options, as well.

Stickers. You know you want them.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 7:33 AM on August 24, 2022 [5 favorites]

I am about one year into working out what works for me in addition to ADHD specific medication. The biggest improvements have been:
An electric toothbrush
Melatonin so i actually feel tired which prompts me to put on a podcast and sleep rather than scroll
posted by pipstar at 8:08 AM on August 24, 2022 [2 favorites]

I narrate what I am doing in present tense.

"I am locking the car door"

"I am driving to the kids' school"

(This is important because I go 3 or 4 places regularly and its easy to go to the wrong place if I'm not paying attention.)

I need to be do this with emotions so I can deal with the underlying problem instead of snapping immediately because I'm pissed.

"Why am I pissed?"

(It's like having a crying infant: check if they are hungry, tired, or have a poopy diaper. I don't wear diapers, yet, but I find that I hold off going to the bathroom and have this underlying discomfort I ignore but is making me irritable.)


Another thing I do is trace back to an action or event that to led to a cascade of crappy things happening.

A simple example:

I forgot my employee badge that lets me buzz into staff areas. It made everything at work hard because I go in and out of staff areas all day. It also cost me $12 bucks because the badge also gets me into the parking garage for free. I had an appointment right after work and didn't have time to find another solution to get free parking. So I paid to leave. (It's an automated gate with no person in a booth.)

There were more consequences to not having a badge that day but I have forgotten them.

My badge now lives in one place to avoid leaving it at home.
posted by smoochbelly at 2:12 PM on September 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

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