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tWrex's avatar

How do you stay on task with ad/hd?

Asked by tWrex (1655points) August 27th, 2008

How do you stay on task? I have severe AD/HD, but have never had meds for it. What are some ways to help me focus? I’ve had a focus issue for a long time, but since I left the Marines it’s worsened quite considerably. I find myself lost in day dreams or off on tangents so much more than I did when I was younger. Should I see a doctor? Or is there a way to keep on task you’ve found helpful? (I’ve recently been turning off the internet to make it easier for me to stay on task, but it just takes a click to turn it back on.) Oh. I’m also over the age of 25 – if that’s relevant.

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12 Answers

Scrumpulator's avatar

Here is what I do, This may seem very un orthodox, but here it goes.

1. Make list of five things that you need to do for the day (or more if there is more)
2. Order them in the amount of time that it will take.
3. Do the things that take the most amount of time first.

This will take what ever focus you have, and apply it to the thing that will take the most amount of time. as your focus wains, so do you tasks, as the day progresses and you have less and less focus, the items take less time, therefore you have more variance in your activities as you have less focus.

this is another approach for really bad days

I take the list of things that I have to do, and things that don’t take direct attention or involvment with others, I start them all at once.

As I go throught the day I bounce from one task to the next and then back again. It keeps me on my toes and always thinking about different things, just like an AD/HD person thinks.

Never look at this as a disability, Within AD/HD you have strengths as well. So focus on those strengths and apply them to your tasks.

And don’t take medication, for instance, Ritalin is a cocaine derivative. and other medications are amphetamines, meant to slow down your head, AD/HD medication has the opposite effect on people that don’t have it, Ritalin will make them hyper, while it slows you down.

I have lived with this my whole life and have learned that you just have to accept it and never try to go about things the way someone without would, because it will never work,

wilhel1812's avatar

Well, i was medicated for a lot of years, but it turned me into this boring silent boy. Also it ruined my sleep, so i stopped at last. I simply had to put my self together, and i function great now. It’s been hard at times, but the most important thing is to aware of the problem and have it in mind all the time.

I’d go to a doctor, they helped me a lot.

Scrumpulator's avatar

I agree with wihel1812, The same thing happened to me, and I threw them all down the toilet when I was in the tenth grade, I am 25 now as well, and it took me almost 10 years to learn how to function without meds, If I had never taken them, I would not have to readjust. So heed the advice about not taking meds.

Remember that This is who you are. It may take some time to figure out your personal style of dealing with it. But I found that it is not us dealing with it, its us trying to find a way in a world where how we think and act is discouraged. even though half the world has it.

tWrex's avatar

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I don’t want to go on meds, so I apologize if that’s how it sounded. I was merely wondering if that was my only option. I finally just got off pain meds that I’ve been on for the last 8 years, so I kinda hate pills anyways. =)

I think I’m going to try your suggestion. My father is all about lists so maybe it’s time I try to be about them too. I have an account at RTM but I don’t know that I’m using it how I should. Maybe I’ll try pen and paper first until I get into a set schedule. Then go to technology.

Thanks for the insight. I think that having ” in mind all the time.” is a really good idea. I think sometimes I try to ignore it which then makes me less productive.

wilhel1812's avatar

@scrump, i agree with most things you say, but only 3–5% of the world has AD/HD

Scrumpulator's avatar

@ tWrex, Hey man, You know those little tiny spiral notebooks that can fit in your pocket, They are the way to go. write down everything, just add to it every day, or when something comes up, your ad/hd. stay away from the electronics, you need something that you can feel in your hand and take with you everywhere, I tried the whole PDA organized thing. it was too much of a hassle to whip out on demand, this way you can write your thoughts down in seconds,

and it is funny about what you said about your dad and lists. that is exactly how I learned to deal with it. I went to his house one day and said I have to do a bunch of stuff but cant keep track of it. he sat down, grabbed a pen and paper, and i have never been the same since.

Mtl_zack's avatar

have something to play with and keep your hands busy. just dont make the mistake i did and start cracking your knuckles. maybe get a bracelet with a dangly thing on it.

andrew's avatar

As someone who has suffered from pretty bad ADD for nearly 20 years, here’s what I’ve learned. I took meds for it for 10 years, which actually really helped, but I stopped because I couldn’t stand the side effects anymore.

Environment is really, really, really important. Even minor things like a messy desk wear on me and make me less productive. And, as much as I hate to admit it, structure really helps me—otherwise I flit from project to project and end up feeling unproductive and overwhelmed.

I think a big first step is easing up a little on yourself when things don’t get done—it’s helpful for me to remember that I’m not lazy or stupid or have a poor work ethic, I’m just super-sensitive to stimuli.

If you’re already beyond that, here’s what I recommend (and I’m not sure the exact nature of the task(s) you have trouble with, so this may or may not be relevant):
* Set aside a specific space for you to work in. Only work in that space. Keep it separate from your life.
* Wearing earplugs has helped me get in a focussed state.
* Pump yourself up to begin a task—just get it started. I, at least, have a pretty good time following through once I get started.
* Turn off IM and email notifiers. For people with ADD, changing focus is really disruptive, and that’s exactly what those do.

Regarding lists
I’ve tried every single thing to get organized—many pdas, notecards, filofax, everything. I’ve said this before many times on the site, but a real boon to me was reading Getting Things Done. It didn’t fix all my problems, and I still have periods where things get out-of-control, but the book gave me a structure for dealing with all the crap in my life that really made sense to me.

Be easy with yourself, give yourself time to fuck up, and know when to take a break when the add gets to be too much.

Feel free to PM me.

FrancisRude's avatar

I hope my answer is not too late. I have ADHD and basically its all about finding the right tools. I still tend to stay out of focus when doing things but i have learn from “conditioning.”

I agree with Andrews’ response that, Environment does play a fact in trying to be in focus. Connecting his response to my scenario, I couldn’t deal with too much clutter in my work area. I tend to “split” my attention if those things are in sight.

For example: stacks of different paper works under different areas of study. What i do is that i just keep whatever I need, the book, the highlighter and pencil, anything else, stays somewhere else.

I also keep my Blackberry away from me when working, the constant emails, IM, text message and calls are major distraction. This also works with the laptop, i stay away from it, or better yet, turn off the wi-fi so i can basically not get IM and just turn it on when needed.

In conjunction with the “environment”. I pick where I have to study. I have learned that my study room in my house isn’t really the best place to be at. I have the people around me who can basically come in and stop me. I try to be at the campus’ library and be in the most isolated place just so that i can focus. Seriously, people in general puts me off track. Why? Because i notice weird actions, things their doing, and basically some other talks i can overhear.

There are more things i think that can really help to ease yourself up and be able to focus. Before i get ready to study or write a long term paper, I try to make sure I have completed other tasks before hand in order for me to basically say “Oh snap! I forgot to….”

Lets also not forget other factors, stress levels? other tasks? hunger? lol.

Before i prep myself for studying i usually get a good work out before that, good relaxation and get ready for something big like studying.

Anyway, i can keep on going but, i think this can branch out to somewhere else. This things basically work for me, and i cant tell how you would react on this. I know we all do it differently but I just want to share what I think and hopefully make things easier for others as well, I know how crazy it can be folks. Hang tight we can do it :)

tWrex's avatar

@FrancisRude Not late at all! Thanks for the suggestions and I will incorporate them into my already changing daily routine!

Carol's avatar

Is there any particular reason you don’t avail yourself with all possible aids for your condition?

If you go to ADDitude magazine ( tjhere’s a place to sign up for FREE newsletters etc.

Also, there’s a huge amount of info at CHADD (

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