Midlife ADHD? Coping strategies that can help – Harvard Health Blog
Difficulty staying focused and paying attention are two familiar symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a common health problem in children and teens. When ADHD persists in early adulthood and into your 50s, it presents many of the same challenges as in childhood: it is difficult to stay organized, to start projects, to stay focused on your tasks and to meet deadlines. But now life is busier and the expectations of work and family are often even higher. Fortunately, there are many strategies that can help you navigate this time in your life.
Organizational tools are essential for people with ADHD in adults. They will help you prioritize and track activities for each day or weeks to come.
Tools can include pen and paper to create lists, or computer or smartphone apps to set appointment reminders, highlight important days on the calendar, mark deadlines, and keep lists and other information at your fingertips.
Set aside time each day to update your lists and schedules. Don’t let the task become a chore in itself; Think of it as a routine task like brushing your teeth, and do it daily so that it becomes an established habit.
And a caveat: smartphones and computers can turn into distraction, too. If you have adult ADHD, you could spend hours looking at less useful apps or sites. If this is a frequent trap for you, set a timer for each use or keep the phone off or in another room when trying to work.
Just being organized doesn’t mean your job will be done. But a few simple approaches can at least make the job easier.
- Declutter your home and office. Provide an attractive working environment and keep important items easily accessible.
- Reduce distractions. This could mean changing your workstation so that it doesn’t face a window, moving into a quieter space, or simply silencing your smartphone and email alerts.
- Write down ideas as they come to you. You can have an “aha” moment for one task while you are in the middle of another. Its good; just write that thought down and come back to it later when your more urgent work is done.
Respect of deadlines
Deadlines pose two big challenges when you have ADHD in adults. First, it’s hard to start a project, often because you want it to be perfect, or you’re intimidated by it and put it off until later. Second, when you start a project it is very easy to get distracted and leave the task unfinished.
How to avoid these pitfalls?
- Put off procrastination. Put procrastination on your to-do list – like a chore – and trick yourself into actually starting your job.
- Deal with emails, phone calls, or other questions as soon as possible. That way, there will be less stuff hanging over your head and overwhelm you later.
- Be a clock watcher. Get a watch and get into the habit of using it. The more time-conscious you are, the more you will be able to avoid spending too much time on a task.
- Take one thing at a time. Multitasking is overrated for everyone – and it’s a nightmare for people with ADHD in adults. Focus on completing one task, then move on to the next.
- Be realistic about your time. It may mean having to say no to new projects or other commitments.
Get more help
The ideas listed here can help you get started dealing with ADHD in adults, but they may not be enough to help you overcome the challenges of ADHD in adults.
Consider hiring an ADHD coach who can provide you with more strategies and give you additional tools to deal with your condition. Look for an ADHD trainer who is a licensed mental health professional who specializes in the treatment of ADHD and who may also have ADHD coaching certification from the ADHD Coaching Organization.
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