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How to Be Productive when You Feel ADHD
Create Your Unique Playbook from these Core Strategies
A few weeks ago a new Pocket subscriber wrote to me. She was looking for some guidance on how to navigate her aspirations while struggling with what felt like ADHD. I resonated with her question and with the challenge she’s faced with. I shared some strategies and resources with her that I’m posting here in case some of you resonate.
Here’s some strategies that may be helpful for being productive when you feel you have ADHD. You may very well have tried some of these already. I think the key is that you’re unique, and what works for others might not work for you, so it’s important to a) notice what works and b) discern what strategies don’t work for you, so you can c) keep doing what works and scrap what doesn’t help.
If implementing these strategies still doesn't help, and you're continuing to struggle, consider seeking professional help for an evaluation/assessment/diagnosis from a healthcare provider or therapist.
First off, this is key: Break down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps: Large tasks can feel overwhelming, which can lead to procrastination. By breaking down tasks into smaller steps, it can feel less daunting and more achievable.
Pro Tip: Consider breaking down tasks into super-super-small tasks: “open email program,” “find the email from X that needs a response,” “open the email,” “start a draft of a reply,” etc.
In concert with the above, use a planner or to-do list: Writing down tasks in a planner or on a to-do list can help you stay organized and focused on what needs to be done.
Pro Tip: make sure the first tiny task in your day is something you have a 100% chance of succeeding at. That will breed some momentum.
Use timers or a stopwatch: Setting a timer for a specific amount of time, such as 25 minutes, can help you focus on a task. That it is a set amount of time is the magic. Also, critical to:
Take breaks: Taking breaks can help you recharge and refocus. Try to take short breaks every 25 minutes or so to prevent burnout.
Minimize distractions: Find a quiet place to work, turn off notifications on your phone or computer, and use noise-cancelling headphones if necessary.
Use visual aids: Using visual aids, such as color-coded folders or charts, can help you stay directed and on target.
Stay active: Physical activity can help you stay clear and energized. Try taking a walk or doing some light stretching throughout the day.
Find an accountability partner: for some, having an objective person in your life to help you stay accountable is a key solution when focus is fraught and forward motion feels stuck. That can be a trusted friend or colleague, or a coach.
Again, remember, everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for you. Also, what worked at one time for you might not work now. Experiment with different strategies and find what works best for you today.