I wish there were simple, quick and easy life hacks I could use to help me deal with my ruminating thoughts, overwhelm, anxiety, messy desk, and inability to complete every project I start; but I haven’t found any yet. Having ADHD is like crashing into brick walls all day.
I’ve read about the hacks that will help me manage my time, keep a to-do list, do the same thing every day, wake up at 4:00 a.m., and start my morning with these 5 simple things, but none of them work for me. Maybe for a few days, but after that, I’m done.
I can’t maintain a system because I can’t repeat the same behavior every day (except personal hygiene) for any length of time. All I do is waste hours looking for another app or system that will organize my brain.
During my ADHD Coach training, I stopped searching for hacks and apps. While I was helping clients understand their ADHD, I learned how to hack mine. I also discovered that until you really know your ADHD; no app, hack, or system will permanently work.
Some people with ADHD have brain patterns that flow with apps. I am not one of them. It’s hard for me to find apps on my phone. All I see is a bunch of little squares that are always moving around. I either end up distracted by a different app; or I’m frustrated, agitated, and don’t return to what I was working on.
If you’re a tech geek, and your ADHD brain syncs with apps, here’s a few that might help you. If you want help with money management, Mint: Money, Bill Pay, Credit Score & Investing is a good one. Wunderlist is helpful for lists and reminders. The Pomodoro technique works with your energy flow and keeps you focused. And when I’m working on a really big project, I keep my thoughts, notes, and ideas in Trello (but I forget what I’ve stored there and spend hours looking for what I need).
Let’s break it down into two types: external and internal. We need hacks to organize and focus our thoughts (internal), and our things (external).
ADHDers are all over the place. We can be messy hoarders with laundry covering every inch of the bedroom floor. Paper is everywhere; on the counters, floors, but never in the garbage can, where it should be.
Here are a few tips to get your stuff organized:
1: Clean As You Go
If you are really serious about hacking your mess, make this your mantra all day, every day. Say it every time you take off your jeans (hang them in the closet), open mail (file or throw away papers), wash dishes (after you eat or before you go to bed) or finish drying yourself after a shower (hang your towel).
2. A place for everything, and everything in its place
Hang a hook by the door. Put your keys on it every time you walk through the door. If you can’t file papers, get a box to put all your papers in. It’s not an organized system, but you’ll know that all your papers are in one place, when you need them. Our brains are wide-open spaces without compartments. That’s why you need to think of your office, living room, kitchen, and bedroom as if it were a kindergarten classroom. Everything goes in cubbies.
3. Know what works for you.
Learn about your processing style (visual, auditory, conceptual, kinesthetic, verbal, or tactile). If you process data by seeing, then watch videos to learn. If you process by hearing, listen to what you need to absorb. When you learn your style, work in alignment with it. Often, we’re in situations when we’re forced to work against our processing style, which makes it difficult to absorb information.
Here are a few hacks for your head:
- Learn how to meditate.
You don’t have to sit in lotus pose for an hour, but it’s super beneficial to know how to quiet your mind. Sitting meditation is the best skill to help ADHD. But if you’re too hyper to sit still, you can meditate during hiking, walking, jogging, tai-chi, or vinyasa yoga. Headspace is a great app to teach you how to meditate.
- Get in touch with your energy flow.
When you have ADHD, your energy steers you through the day. It can lift you up, or knock you down. The secret to success comes from noticing how you feel. (That’s another reason meditation is beneficial. It helps you tune into your deeper self.) Your productivity will improve if you know how to work with your spark when it’s flickering, and rest when your body when you’re depleted.
- Work on one thing until it’s finished.
Training myself to stick with just one project until it’s completed, boosted my productivity. It is still a constant challenge to resist my urge to work on several things at once. But, one thing at a time is the only way I get anything done.
- Get a smartwatch.
My watch has been one of the best hacks. Not tethered to my phone, I feel a sense of freedom. It’s eliminated a lot of the distractions and urges I used to have from my phone. It also reminds me to move after I’ve been sitting too long.
Before you do anything; sit down, take a few minutes, and write down what it is you want to hack.
June Silny is an ADHD Coach, writer and blogger. She lives in Miami with her husband, Milos the doxie, and JJ the parrot. She’s on Twitter @LivingOutLoud_ and is the author of the viral article, “20 Things to Remember If You Love a Person with ADD.”