The Guide to Improving Focus and Productivity While Living with ADD/ADHD

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How to Improve your Productivity While Living with ADD/ADHD?

For people who are affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it can be quite a challenge to focus on a serious task. Luckily, mild to moderate symptoms of ADHD can often be controlled through adaptive behaviors and mental strategies designed to increase concentration and attention. If it happens that these methods do not work, all is not lost. There are several possibilities for professional help to treat ADHD.

Let’s talk about the use of time and three essential tools that must always be kept with you to help you stay productive and on track.

1. The mind map: From ideas to concrete actions


The mind map is a mental map that serves to concretize and put in order our ideas . It can be used to rate a course, an action plan for an activity, or organize its projects for example. All mind maps have a central theme. They can have several related topics and function as a neural network (or tree), with main branches and small connected branches (thus a tree structure).

The mind map is the first stone we can put to our building! The main theme being the organization of our life, the main branches (or subjects) will be the different spheres of our life. The goal is to start from the ideas of projects that one has and to cut each idea more and more finely until getting a list of small concrete actions to be done.

So we go:

1. Write down all the ideas that come to us from projects to be accomplished in each of the spheres (these are the big branches).

2. We will then note the subprojects or major actions / themes of each project.

3. And so on until you reach the very small branches. Each of these small branches must really represent small, concrete and notable actions in a to-do-list or agenda. For each of them we will estimate the time we will take to accomplish it. In general, we need to add about 25 to 30% more time than our estimate to actually perform the actions. But the most important thing is to ask yourself this question:

“Usually, how long did I exceed my estimates?”

So you can add more time to your estimates more accurately.



2. The agenda: what should it NOT contain

busy schedule

The first rule I learned is that an agenda should not look like a display of ideas or non-concrete tasks overlapping each other. You can not be in two places at once, and you can not expect to do 4 hours of work in 2 hours. Having a busy calendar makes it either unreadable or impossible to follow.

The second rule is that an agenda should not reflect our wildest dreams about what we would like to accomplish in a day. One day has only 24 hours, and no matter how many important and urgent things you have to do, it will still be 24 hours! For hyperactive and overworked people, we must accept to postpone tasks that are less urgent (even if they are ultimately more important). For that we will prioritize the tasks. I will come back to this point a little further …

The purpose of an agenda is to remember and visualize in time the different tasks that we will have to accomplish in a day or a week. This is something that can be very difficult for someone who has a hard time representing their time, as is the case with ADHD. So at first do not hesitate to note in your agenda all the activities that take you a long time, even if it is not work strictly speaking. The important thing is to be able to visualize the time that you will put for all your actions during the day.



3. The to-do-lists

to do list
Make a list of what is done and to be done. It’s important to always have a so-called to-do-list or to-do list at your fingertips. This is a place where we will note all the tasks that go through our minds , which is why it must be easily accessible at all times and wherever we are.

We can use a small notebook that we will always have the same place in the house. For more tech savvy people, they may prefer an laptop or tablet that will be easier to transport anywhere. In this case the best is to have an application interconnected between all our devices (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.) I personally use Evernote which is free and has great possibilities, but use what suits you best according to your habits and attractions.

At first, it is better to use only one list. The more we multiply the lists and the more we have the chance to mix the brushes, even to lose them.



4. How to Manage Our Different Tools

organized person calendars

“Well, that’s all very good, but how do we communicate all these tools? And how to do all this without spending hours and precisely hurt our productivity?

At first, we will have to put everything in place and it will necessarily take a little time, we can not escape! But if, thanks to these tools, we can better visualize our activities over time and have a better organization, it will be not only time regularly won in the future, but also an increase in our capacities.

Communicating these three tools is very simple, but there is a fundamental rule to follow:

Be productive thanks to the rule of priorities.

There are four priorities (From most to least urgent)

1. To do today or tomorrow

2. To do in the week

3. To do in the month

4. To do a day

All the elements you have noted on your to-do-list, regularly refer to the mind map (the best is to do it every day to be as up-to-date as possible and do not forget an action that would be urgent) .

There is only one solution. Accept that you are human and that this is your reality.

The priority rule is there to give you a direction to follow depending on what you would like to accomplish. The agenda is there to remind you of what is possible. When you have been able to place all your most urgent actions, proceed in the same way with the actions to be done in the week, in a month and so forth, and be able to achieve more than the high achievers.