Being Super Productive While Managing ADD/ADHD

Carl Pullein
The Working With… Magazine
6 min readFeb 16, 2018


By Sophie R.

This is a guest post by Sophie R. Sophie has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) but she has found ways to manage this condition. In this wonderful article, Sophie goes through a number of strategies to help any one suffering from this condition.

Hello everyone! My name is Sophie and in today’s article I want to talk about productivity and dealing with ADD/ADHD, although it might be an interesting read for other people as well.

Having ADD myself (diagnosed late summer 2017 at age 33), I will give some tips and tricks on how to get a grip on things. Hopefully they will help you, but first:

Pick a method and stick to it.

Carl already warned everybody in an earlier video on his channel, but especially for us who like everything new and shiny: stop testing apps. My advice would be the following:

  • Take one or two evenings to review websites of productivity software
  • write down the ones that you like at first glance
  • after that evening or after the second evening: download the ones you wrote down
  • install them
  • try them all out in one or two weeks.
  • after that week (or two weeks) decide with which one you could work best with and suits your life best.
  • stick to that app. Uninstall the other ones
  • … profit?

Make a PACT with yourself

Carl’s concept of Patience, Action, Consistency and Time is applicable to us too!

Patience: It might be harder for us, more difficult for us. It might takes us more time. But we can be productive too! Be patient.

Action: Medication does make concentrating/focusing and starting on tasks easier, but the work still needs to be done. By YOU.

Aside of using the A of PACT for Action, I also want to use the A for Acceptance. We tend to be very hard for ourselves when we forgot to do something, make mistakes and when things take longer to complete. Be more kind to yourself. Be more accepting of yourself.

Consistency: it is only going to work if you are or try to be consistent, putting in the Action and trying to be Patient.

Time: It takes time. It might takes us more time and tries to get it right or as how we want it, but Rome wasn’t build in one night either. Give yourself time to put in the Action, to be Consistent and to be Patient.

And now without further ado, my tips and tricks:

1. Building routines.

Building routines is extremely important if you have ADD/ADHD. And frankly this is the hardest part for some of us. But you can use a to do list manager as Todoist to help you building routines. For me, for example, it is difficult to remember brushing my teeth in the evening before I go to bed. Weekends and holidays are a slippery slope in that regard as well.

Stupid, I know. But by putting it as a routine and a daily recurring task in Todoist, I now almost never forget it.

2. List recurring tasks

With Todoist it is very simple to setup recurring tasks. I have done this for the following things:

  • bills that need to be paid (I have a picked a day towards the end of the month and the task comes back every month)
  • Household chores (to be honest I set them up as daily and weekly routines), so I don’t postpone them so much anymore.
  • every month I have a recurring task to check the balance of my prepaid credit card (used mostly for Spotify, Netflix and Photoshop CC) and if it needs a top-up.
  • I have created a task for renewing my subscriptions for Evernote, Malware Bytes and Office 365. That way I can make sure I have enough balance on my credit card to pay the subscription or that I can decide to not to renew or to go to a lower price tier.

3. Separate your work tasks from your personal tasks in your task manager.

As we tend to have a lot of hobby’s, interests and projects going on, I imagine they come with a lot of tasks. If you list them in your to-do-list manager, please keep them separate from the tasks that belong to your job.

Because either you get distracted at work by seeing a more fun and interesting personal task you want basically to do immediately. Or either when you are at home you get confronted with things you have to do at work the following days. Not fun. I have separated them in my Todoist and it really gives a peace of mind.

4. Don’t lump all your personal tasks together.

Separate your personals tasks. Your routines should be in their own list/category. It is best to create separate lists/categories for your projects as well. That way you don’t get too overwhelmed when opening your to-do list manager. I have made separate categories for my projects, my job, etc.

5. Don’t schedule ALL your tasks or don’t give them ALL a due date

Not only it is very unrealistic (levels of energy change day to day, unexpected things can happen,…), it only amplifies our feeling that we fail and we get mad at ourselves ‘because other people can and do handle this, why not me?’.

6. Do a daily mini-review

To prevent that thing slips through at work, do a daily mini review. Mine is very simple:

  • is every mail that needs to be replied and can be replied, replied? (do this definitely for work e-mail, in lesser extent personal mail)
  • are there tasks or events that you need to put in your to-do list and calendar? Don’t forget personal tasks and appointments as well.
  • are flagged tasks/mail in Outlook transferred to Todoist?

7. The weekly review

Aside the daily review, it also a good idea to hold a weekly review. Especially if you use different categories/projects/lists in your to-do list manager, it is important that once a week you check all those lists/categories/etc. to make sure you are not forgetting something.

8. Schedule appointments in your calendar

Appointments with friends, family, clients, colleagues, doctors, hairdressers and the like go in your calendar. Not only it keeps everything in one place, you can immediately see when you are available. My main calendar is my personal Google Calendar. Everything goes in there. I also subscribed to my Outlook calendar at work inside my Google Calendar, so I can also see appointments and meetings I have at work. It gives me peace that I am always sure of when I have free time.

9. Down time is OK (and important).

You don’t have to be productive the full day. Reward yourself after you did all the things you needed to do today. It is OK to go out or watch a movie! Listen your body and your energy levels.

10. Keep something with you to write things down

If you are digital, you can use your phone to immediately put appointments in the calendar or tasks in your to do list. If you are analog, keep always a journal/notebook or the like with you, so you write down things immediately. Because otherwise you forget them. And with using the daily and weekly review you don’t forget you wrote them down!

11. Journaling

I will be honest, I easily forget (ha!) to write in it, but I do keep a journal. I write what I did that day, if something happened that day, how I felt, etc. It is definitely a soothing experience. Especially if I listen to some calming instrumental music. And besides I am a nut for nice pens, so to do journaling in an analog way is a great way to get my pens out.

12. Exercise

It helps to calm our mind, feel energized and to release stress. I go twice a week to the local gym.

13. Noise-cancelling headphones.

This week I bought the Bose Quietcomfort 35 II. After last week I was horribly distracted by chatty colleagues from another department and cleaning crew who made a lot of noise, I had enough. My wallet is mad at me right now, but my brain is happy. And therefore I am happy!.

Sony and Sennheiser have also good ones!

14. Medication

I feel the list can’t be complete without mentioning medication. Currently, I am on my second week of Concerta. If you don’t want to be depended on medication (which is totally OK, I am leaning towards going onwards unmedicated as well). Talk with your psychiatrist about others options and or therapy.

Again, don’t be to hard on yourself if you don’t get it right immediately. Things like this take a long time. But it will make things easier step by step.

Till next time!



Carl Pullein
The Working With… Magazine

I help people learn to manage their lives and time better so they can experience joy and build a life they are truly proud of.