Do you struggle to stay focused with ADHD? You’re not alone.
People with ADHD often find it difficult to stay on task and focus on the present moment. However, with the right strategies, you can learn how to stay focused better with ADHD.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss various tips and tricks that can help improve your focus and stay on task.
Understanding Your ADHD
ADHD is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that is often first diagnosed in children and continues into adulthood. Typically, the median age for an ADHD diagnosis is six years old (four years old for severe cases), and 4.4% of adults experience ADHD today (5.4% of males, 3.2% of females).
According to the CDC, common signs and symptoms of ADHD include:
As you can imagine, ADHD can be difficult to diagnose. Many of us probably experience a few items from the list regularly.
Depending on which signs and symptoms resonate most strongly with someone experiencing ADHD, ADHD presents itself in three different ways:
Here’s another fun fact: Some of these symptoms and presentations can change over time.
So now that you know what to look for, here are a few ways to stay focused with ADHD:
1. Find Meaning in Your Task
Don’t focus on why the task is important, because that might just stress you out. Instead, think about why the task at hand is meaningful.
What will you feel after completing this task? Relief? Joy? A sense of accomplishment? Is it going to improve your grade, help you develop a new skill, or advance your career in some way?
If that doesn’t generate enough meaning for you to stay engaged, ask yourself: How will completing this task help others? Is it going to make a family member’s life a little easier? Will it help a team member or boss? Will it make the world a better place?
Sometimes tasks just suck. However, if you can find meaning in it—even if it isn’t much—it can help you stay focused and get it done.
2. Prioritize Your Tasks
If you have multiple tasks, trying to stay focused with ADHD seems impossible. Even though it’s a simple and easy thing to do, organizing your tasks and the order in which you will complete them can really help.
Start by writing all the tasks down on a document or piece of paper. Then, organize them in a meaningful way, usually based on importance or timeliness. Now that you have an itemized list to look at, you can begin getting things done. Some people prefer to do the hardest, most important tasks first. Others thrive by doing the opposite. You should do whatever works best for you—unless something is due right away. In that case, you should do that first!
3. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique can help you stay focused and get more done in less time. If you’re struggling to pay attention or don’t have a great break system established, the Pomodoro technique may be perfect for you.
Here’s how it works:
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and start working.
- When your buzzer goes off, take a 5-minute break.
- After five minutes, set another 25-minute timer, rinse and repeat.
- After four rounds of this (approximately two hours), take a 20 or 30-minute break,
- Then go back to 25-minute / 5-minute intervals
Repeat this until your task is complete or your work day is over.
4. Nix the Distractions
Are you easily distracted? Stay focused by removing all potential distractions, or as many of them as possible. Stay off social media—in fact, stay off your phone altogether, if you can. Then do some or all of the following:
- Find a quiet space to work, or go to your designated “work space”
- Close your office door
- Ask others not to disturb you
- Put on some ambient music—whatever works for you
- Declutter your workspace
- Close out any tabs you have opened
5. Get Exercise
You’d be amazed what something like a walk or jog can do.
Exercise stimulates brain function, which helps you stay focused. If you have the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD, you probably have tons of extra energy you need to expel. Exercise will put this energy to work, which will help you later when you need to focus on work and pay better attention to details and conversations.
6. Watch What You Eat
If exercise is ever on one of these lists, expect diet to follow.
What you put in your body directly affects your energy levels and ability to stay focused. Healthy diets may improve many of the ADHD symptoms you’re experiencing. Limit the number of sweets and processed foods you consume, and add protein to your morning meal. If you’re ever wondering what you should be eating, superfoods are always a safe bet.
7. Anticipate Future Obstacles
Learning how to stay focused with ADHD isn’t just about managing what’s in front of you. It’s also about seeing what’s coming and making a plan for it.
If you’ve got a major task, like a final or huge work project, write a list of all the potential obstacles you may face when trying to accomplish the project. Be pragmatic about your own limitations—it’s okay, we all have them!
If you struggle writing long term papers, break them down into smaller parts and create a step-by-step outline to follow. If you have a big presentation coming up, write down what you want to say and memorize it, or keep information cards handy if you slip up or lose your place. Do social media notifications distract you? Turn them off in advance!
The better prepared you are for the obstacles related to a task, the more likely you’ll be to overcome them.
Conclusion: How to Stay Focused With ADHD
It’s hard for many people to remain focused when they don’t have ADHD. Sometimes, staying focused feels impossible for people experiencing ADHD. Luckily, by following the tips and tricks listed above, you can equip yourself with some amazing life skills that can help you stay focused and achieve your goals.
Do you want to learn more about ADHD or discover new ways to stay focused on a task at hand? Send us a message or schedule an appointment. We’d love to hear from you!