Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects people’s behaviour. People with ADHD can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating and may act on impulse. Although the name itself seems like a disorder or a deficiency, it is a condition that makes the individual’s brain function atypically.
ADHD can affect the developmental impairment of the brain’s executive functions. Executive functions are a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the control of behaviour. These cognitive processes enable you to plan, focus, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.
People with ADHD can have trouble with impulse control, focusing, and organisation. Many executive functions can be challenging for people with ADHD throughout their childhood, adolescence and adulthood. The good news is, there are many tips to deal with various challenges whether it is academic, performance, or just daily life-related!
Starting and finishing work:
Whether this is a child struggling to start & finish their homework or classwork, an adult can have the same difficulties with their work. In this case, one can:
- Use reminders: Post-it notes, timer, alarm.
- Ask for a parent/friend/colleague to prompt as a reminder.
Remembering, completing, and submitting tasks:
Forgetfulness is a challenge for everyday tasks here are a few tips to stay on track:
- Use planner, calendar, to-do lists.
- Use technology: Take a picture or a screenshot of important tasks, this can save you time from writing it down.
Organising key points during events and remembering what to read and study:
Getting organised can be a highly stressful situation for people with ADHD. Although many impulses can keep one from focusing on organising, there are tips to help:
- Ask a friend or colleague beforehand to share their notes of a lecture, presentation, meeting. Due to the difficulty of multitasking, when you focus on taking notes, you can end up with no idea of what these notes mean. Arranging notes beforehand can help you get organised.
- You can also ask for recordings or material of the event you are attending.
Having no sense of time (being late)
Although this may sound strange to some people, it is common in people with ADHD to have difficulties understanding how time passes and therefore, for them to be late.
- Set a watch or cell phone alarm to keep up with time. It is best to set your alarms earlier than needed and have multiple alarms to remind you of the passing time.
- Calculate how much time you need for getting ready for the day, working/studying, taking a break, preparing and having a meal, transportation…etc
- Try to be more mindful of time: meditate, do mindfulness exercises.
- Trick your brain: set your watch time 5-10 minutes back, this might help if you are complaining about missing the bus by only 5 minutes)
Slow processing speed (slow reading, writing, responding to questions, and taking longer to complete academic/work-related tasks)
It may take someone with ADHD a significantly longer time than their classmates or colleagues. In this case one can:
- Use sources with brief information, this way you learn what you need in a shorter amount of time without zooming out and losing attention.
- Plan your work with structure: make sure you plan out what is needed to be done so you do not waste time thinking about what comes next.
- Start as soon as possible: trust me, you do not want to leave your work to the last minute!
Everyone’s brain is unique. It is important to understand how it works and to support your brain no matter what. Whenever you feel lost or overwhelmed, remember that there are many tips you can apply to your life and overcome ADHD challenges.
If you would like to discuss anything ADHD-related with a professional, book an appointment here!
Ela Jean Demir is a Bachelor of Psychology student at the Izmir University of Economics. She is currently an intern at Willingness.
Mark J. Reader, Emily L. Harris, Linda J. Schuerholz & Martha B. Denckla (1994) Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and executive dysfunction, Developmental Neuropsychology, 10:4, 493-512, DOI: 10.1080/87565649409540598
Schreiber, J. E., Possin, K. L., Girard, J. M., & Rey-Casserly, C. (2014). Executive function in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: the NIH EXAMINER battery. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society : JINS, 20(1), 41–51. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1355617713001100