ADHD Tricks to Tame Your Pony

April 15, 2010 Douglas Cootey

It's easy to think of solutions to fix your life—even easier to read about them—but not so easy to put the solutions into play. With ADHD, I'd wager that you might even forget about your epiphany the moment something distracts you. I know that's happened to me. I'd think of ways to get projects done, wrestling my attention span as if it were a hungry alligator trying to eat my day alive, then forget all about my solutions the next day. Let's look into ways to get a handle on ADHD even when it has a handle on us.

[caption id="attachment_502" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="El Lyman by genewolf"]This is not a pony[/caption]

So far I've written about how Adults with ADHD either never finish projects because they abandon them for newer and more exciting ones or they collect projects and cycle through them. Either way there aren't very many projects being completed. I've also written about the importance of pruning your project list down to something manageable that you feel passionately about. But if you have impulse control issues, how are you supposed to stop picking up new projects? And if you can stop doing that, how the heck are you supposed to stay focused on these amazing few projects? Won't you just pick up new projects again anyway when your attention wanders?

Make plans to work on those projects.

ADHD will have you happily distracted like a frolicking pony unless you pen it in. Getting to the next level of productivity will take a bit of work. You may need to train yourself over time. Some people use medications to help pen in their minds. Others look for alternative sources. Either way the next step is to plan on working.

I've met some people who are fabulously successful. They retire for bed and wake up on a regular schedule. They have time to read news, update email, and even touch base with people on their social networks - all before breakfast. They don't even need a timer. Their internal clock keeps them ticking along like a machine. Then there's me.

I neither retire nor wake up at a regular time, and when I read news, update email, and touch base with my social networks first thing in the morning, I'll likely forget about breakfast. Or I'll leave the milk poured in the cereal and discover it hours later. Many a mushy bowl of sugary sludge has taught me not to get busy working before breakfast. Creating productive habits that are bullet proof from ADHD takes a bit of motivation and higher organization to remind you of the goals at hand.

Here are a few things that can help you manage your newer, tighter, project list:

  1. ToDo Lists - I don't work like a clock, and sometimes I still forget to eat, but I have trained myself to use a ToDo list. As long as I update it regularly, I find it very effective, especially when juiced up on a device like an iPhone with alarms and pop-up reminders. This system works for both visual & auditory people.
  2. Sticky notes - Some people prefer sticky notes up on a mirror or all over the house to keep them on task. This system works for visual people.
  3. The Pomodoro Technique - This system was recently introduced to me. It involves a timer, a piece of paper, and a pencil. Work until the timer dings, take a break for a short time, mark down on paper that you've taken a break, then work again (for 20-30 minutes, e.g.). After four work sessions, take a longer break. By dividing your working time into smaller increments, you might find you're able to accomplish more. The timer functions as a pen for your frolicking mind. Works great for auditory and tactile learners. (more info)

Whatever system you use, you will need to train yourself to make time for your main project. This will take practice since it will likely not come naturally to adults with ADHD. Gear up the motivation, pull out whatever incentives you need to dangle on a stick to get yourself to knuckle down, but don't give up. I took years to break myself of bad habits and learn new ones, but I'm so very glad I made the effort.

How do you manage your tasks and keep yourself on target? Please share your tips below.

APA Reference
Cootey, D. (2010, April 15). ADHD Tricks to Tame Your Pony, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 18 from

Author: Douglas Cootey

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