Coping with ADHD is super hard. It makes doing things more difficult. Even a simple task could be hard to finish. Also, awareness about that disorder is not widespread. There are multiple statistics about the percentage of the population having ADHD, but I reckon they are underestimated. I think so because global awareness is pretty low. Testing for ADHD is also tricky. Available methods are created for diagnosing children. Specialists are not eager to diagnose adults with ADHD.
Nevertheless, I am pretty sure that I have ADHD. I know and see people with much more advanced states of that disorder. Looking at how they function triggered me to understand my disorder.
When you’re sure of having ADHD
When I was young, I was tested several times by psychologists. They diagnosed both Dyslexics and Dysgraphics in me. Those disorders are commonly connected to ADHD. I also had problems with my behavior. It was hard for me to focus. For example, I didn’t read any books till I was 15 years old. Learning was difficult because of that. I needed real motivation to do a simple task. Deadlines were great for finishing something, but constantly working on a deadline is never a good solution. Despite those problems, I finished university and am doing well work-wise.
I can say that ADHD helped me with finding my passions. I have this blockade for doing things that I’m not interested in. So I needed to find something I love and get paid for doing that. Luckily I found a great passion for programming and design. I started a business called Responsly, an online survey platform for managing people's experience. Coping with day-to-day things in a SaaS business is not boring. A large variety of tasks will keep you busy all the time. If I keep working time healthy, it’s all good.
Sadly even when you’re passionate about your work, You often cannot find focus for a longer period. I found a few methods of tricking myself into focus.
Working with ADHD — more incentives!
Incentive yourself is a common solution for focusing when you have ADHD. Similar to amphetamines that bump up most people, they calm down ADHD. For some people, watching a movie, texting friends, and doing tasks is a perfect setting to do some work.
I worked a lot of time while watching movies that I knew well. Especially old movies with beautiful music and dialogs that are not round shoots from a machine gun. My favorites are movies with Clint Eastwood, because he is not much of a talker, like Woody Allen or Alan Alda. Also, compared to new movies, old movies are slower in action, so it’s not distracting too much. Watching something on the side is not working for me in every situation. When I need to write an article, I need total silence.
Adjust the environment to your mood and task
The best scenario is to have tasks you can’t wait to complete. In that situation, you’re fine. In real life, it’s hard to be well motivated for everything. I developed a way of tricking myself into doing tasks I’m not well motivated for.
In most cases, when I need to do a task, I will think, what type of task is it. Is it writing, calling, research, coding, design, or reading. Then I can put myself in the right setting for a specific task. For example, calling from a car is convenient. When I need to code, quiet office & electronic music without vocals are the best. If I need to do a task I don’t like to do, I go with my laptop to a cafe.
Those tricks are helpful for simple tasks that need a maximum of 2 hours to complete, but if you have something more time-consuming, you need something more complicated.
First, you need to split the larger task into smaller ones. Keeping your focus for a longer time doing those small tasks is the real problem. There is a good solution, and it’s not a tomato on your face.
Pomodoro technique for ADHD
Francesco Cirillo invented the Pomodoro time management technique in the 1980s. It’s about breaking your work into 20–25 minutes intervals with short breaks between them. I found it helpful before I was aware of my ADHD. Today I understand that it’s the best way to stay focused.
I understand that working in those short intervals will not get you bored. You want to do something significant at every interval. You will be amazed how much work can be done in eight 20 minutes intervals.
There are plenty of apps for that with the name Pomodoro. Also, you can buy physical devices or use a simple kitchen timer. For me, the app is enough.
Resting is tricky
One of the symptoms of ADHD is thoughts racing. You are finding yourself in a situation of constantly jumping from one thought to another. You want to rest, watch a movie, or read a book, but you reach for your phone and compulsively scroll down.
I don’t have a super good solution for that. If I were using amphetamines (Adderal/Ritalin), I would use them for resting. I want to utilize my ADHD for work. I believe that well-managed ADHD gives you a good drive to do stuff.
Apart from drugs, physical activities are great for mind resting. Especially those which require more attention, so your mind is busy. For me, biking and roller skating are doing the trick.
There is another method that you can do by yourself. Meditation can calm you down well. It’s not easy, and it needs much work to achieve.
My favorite method for resting will be hanging out with friends, family, and people I love. Talking, dining, and doing activities with them is the best possible solution for resting.