ADHD Productivity Tips That Work

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For those with ADHD staying focused can be challenging, and while there’s no ‘quick fix’ or magic solution, there are strategies you can put in place to enhance productivity, keep you organised and reach your goals.

Why do people with ADHD struggle to be productive?

If you have ADHD, it can sometimes feel impossible to focus your efforts on things that don’t interest you. While it might be effortless to delve into a hobby or topic that entices you, it can be a real struggle to concentrate when it comes to tasks that don’t light your fire, an uphill battle with a lot of procrastination and very little follow through.

Even getting started can be a significant hurdle for individuals with ADHD, it can feel both overwhelming and uninteresting. This has the potential to leave you feeling deflated, unmotivated and put off by important tasks. It can feel incredibly frustrating when you start to question why you can ‘t just ‘get things done’ in the way other people appear to be able to.

You can sit down with the greatest of intentions but getting started and following through on things you aren’t passionate about can feel very challenging for an individual with ADHD, like wading through water, while the lifeboat of more interesting topics floats on by, tempting you to focus on other things.

Our ADHD productivity tips

When it comes to work and life, we don’t always get to choose where our focus lies, but there’s good news, there are strategies you can put in place to enhance your overall efficiency.

Find an organisational system that works for you

Finding a system that works for you can help immensely when it comes to maintaining focus and staying on track. There’s a myriad of ways you can record tasks and brain dump ideas, the most important thing is finding something that works for you personally.

This could include keeping a planner to track your appointments or creating to-do lists to help structure your day, you may even want to try an application on your phone. Whatever it looks like, figure out what tasks are most important and start there.

Plan your day the night before

It may sound simple, but it is effective. An individual with ADHD may struggle to get started, especially when it comes to seemingly boring or repetitive tasks, so taking the time to set yourself up the night before, can really help you to get the ball rolling and stay on track the next day.

Don’t think of it as a minute by minute plan, but more as a list of top priorities, that you could split into ‘most urgent’ and ‘would like to get done’. Start with the most challenging bits, so you don’t have to tackle those tougher tasks later in the day when your brain is getting tired.

Identify what tasks are the priority

When it comes to ADHD, you can oftentimes feel busy working on a whole lot of nothing. You are always ‘doing’ but never seem to make headway on life’s most important tasks. You know what needs to be done but you find yourself occupied with more palatable (much less urgent) things.

Identifying what tasks are the priority and actually getting started on them can be difficult for someone with ADHD. The struggle with self-regulation and executive function is real. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) appears to have made some big waves in this space, advocating for ideas such as changing your ‘emotional approach’ or ‘reframing discomfort’ to enhance productivity. CBD is something that I would personally recommend to anyone with ADHD.

Break down big tasks into smaller subtasks

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When you have ADHD, large tasks or long-term projects can feel incredibly overwhelming and that in-itself is enough to put some of us off. Try breaking it down into smaller, more manageable chunks and focus your efforts on completing them one at a time to avoid feelings of overwhelm. Cross off each step as you go, this can create a real sense of achievement and bonus points for lighting up those reward centres with a hit of dopamine to keep you going!

Focus on one task at a time

When you have ADHD, your mind can go a million miles a minute and it can be all too easy to get distracted by competing priorities. If you struggle with this, then practise focusing on just one task at a time. Find a quiet place to work, where you won’t be interrupted. Set yourself a reasonable timeframe and remove all other distractions.

It can be tempting to check your phone, your emails and other notifications but stay strong, and if you can’t – then take the distraction away entirely and turn off or move away from anything that could claim your attention from the task at hand. Try setting specific time slots to check your notifications, so you aren’t side-tracked worrying about what you might miss.

Work in intervals and take regular breaks

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Taking a break to recharge your batteries can improve productivity and help prevent burnout. Having time out for yourself between important tasks has been proven to help state of mind and overall wellbeing. It can be all too easy for an individual with ADHD, to just keep going when hyper focus is in play and before you know it, it’s 9:00 PM and you forgot to eat, let alone take a break to re-invigorate your mind. Set a timer for your breaks to keep you on track, think short but regular to help maintain focus.

Always keep a ‘brain dump’ or planner with you

Having ADHD can mean that great ideas find you at the oddest and inconvenient of times. You could be standing in a room full of people socialising, when an amazing new business idea hits you out of nowhere! Keep a ‘brain dump’ resource, or planner with you at all times, so you don’t lose these great ideas to forgetfulness.

I personally use ‘OneNote’ while working and ‘free notepad’ for IOS for this purpose, all I need to do is flick open my phone and make a quick note that I can come back to later. It keeps me engaged in the present moment, while stopping me from forgetting anything. Experiment and find something that works well for you, whether that’s a physical notebook you keep with you or an application to ‘dump’ all those innovative ideas.

Remember, we are all different and that’s what makes us unique, what works for one may not work for another, so play around with ideas and find what works best for you. We hope these tips can aid you in maintaining focus and improving productivity!
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Useful Links

What are the symptoms and signs of ADHD
How to focus at work with ADHD
Neurodiverse mentoring
ADHD Workplace needs assessments

Blog Author

Rachel Vellenoweth