12 Surprising Ways to Improve Your Focus When You Have ADHD
It’s frustrating, isn’t it? You have trouble filtering information. You constantly feel scattered. You can’t seem to manage and plan your time effectively — to the point that you’re constantly late, forgetful, and unable to meet engagements or deadlines.
In today’s fast-pace world, society demands that you’d be on point, meticulous, or productive. Anything but that, you’re put into a box of broken dolls. So naturally, you believe that you’re stupid, that you’re powerless, and that you’re unable to change your life’s course.
Your anger rumbles and you can’t help but wondering: how can others can get things done or move forward so effortlessly? Are you missing that special chip in your brain that allows you to stay focused?
You’ve been lead to believe that if you’re not highly efficient, you’re unlike the norm — you have a disease called “attention deficit” (ADHD). And it’s confusing because ADHD is not an attention deficit. It’s rather a deficit in the ability to control your degree of attention, of impulsivity, and of hyperactivity.
What you need is clever and somewhat unconventional strategies to put in practice. This way, you can manage and improve your focus.
So let’s dive in.
1. Throw out your paper planner
Normally, keeping a paper calendar or planner is a great way to write things down like appointments, reminders, birthdays, your kids’ countless activities…
There’s just one problem, though… You need to remember to look at it!
Sure, you might think that you have a great memory. You do for certain things. But your memory works best when you associate newly received information with a strong emotion or a sensory experience (sound, image, odor). Otherwise, for someone like you, remembering things easily can be difficult — as new ideas constantly race in your head at a thousand miles an hour.
So setting electronic and physical triggers work best. Synchronize your electronic calendars or reminder apps and place reminder objects in strategic places.
2. Stop listing it all
You might believe you need to write down everything that needs to be done in order to remember them. But that’s the last thing you should do. Why? Because people like you can write or rewrite a ridiculous amount of lists. (I know I have.)
The problem is not the list in itself; it’s the implementation. It doesn’t take any effort to write down all the things you should do. But it does take effort to act upon them (even the quicker tasks). Because as soon as a shiny object presents itself, you can easily look the other way.
So only list things that require more than 5 minutes to do and do the ones that can be taken care of in lesser time right away. Seriously! This way, your list will be lighter.
3. Postpone certain tasks
Isn’t postponing tasks a bad thing? It is if you keep postponing them repeatedly. And that’s called procrastination — which I’m not telling you to do. No way Jose. Procrastination is your worst enemy.
What I’m saying is that certain tasks require a lot more time to get done. To know whether some of them require immediate attention or not, you’ll need to assess the tasks. Decide if they fit your context, your availability, your level of energy, and your priorities first.
Here’s another trick. You can postpone certain tasks if:
1) You don’t have uncomfortable feelings, like boredom, guilt, tension, indecisiveness, etc.
2) You don’t say “I’ll do it later” without knowing exactly when.
Write them down on a list (remember: they have to take more than 5 min to do), then review it once or twice a week to get them done.
4. Don’t get stuck in details
Being detailed-oriented is generally a good thing. But you need to watch out. You can focus so much on certain details that you can lose yourself in them and lose track of time. And the next thing you know, you didn’t accomplish all the other things you wanted to spend time on.
People like you are sometimes perfectionists. So the best thing to do is to set a timer, an alarm clock, or what have you, when doing all your tasks. Leave out certain details and come back to them at a later time. Or, delegate them if they’re time-wasters.
Anyway, what does perfection look like? Move on to the next thing. You’ll be much more likely to reach all your goals this way.
5. Forget about decluttering first
It’s always nice to start fresh in a clean, neat environment. This should help improve organization and focus. It’s understandable.
How could you ever get anything done or churn out your best ideas in a cluttered space? But be aware that cleaning your space can be a double-edged sword.
If your space is a big mess, decluttering your space becomes a project in itself. And such a project can last a very long time before accomplishing the first task.
So if time is a constraint, you need to divide your projects into mini-projects and clean your space during times you’re not doing anything important.