Are you having trouble focusing? Are there many distractions in your life that keep you from getting things accomplished? People who have ADHD often have difficulty blocking out distractions that are unimportant in order to focus on the issue at hand. Many adults and children who have ADHD simply cannot work if there is even the slightest noise. Others have difficulty focusing when something changes in their visual environment. To put it simply, a person with ADHD does not have the “filters” that others have that enable them to block out distractions in their environment.
The good news for those who suffer from ADHD is that there are several coping methods that can be employed to help you complete your tasks despite distractions.
1. Focus on Problem Solving
Many people who have ADHD will get frustrated because of their issues with focusing and will blame themselves. When this happens it is important to remind yourself that this is simply a symptom of ADHD. Instead of focusing on yourself by being judgmental, use your diminishing attention as a reminder that you need to use one of your focusing tools.
2. Use Background Noise
Having some background noise when you are trying to focus may seem counterintuitive. However, background noise can actually help you drive out distractions. When you are working or studying turn on a white noise machine, some music, or your ceiling fan. This subtle amount of noise can actually help you focus on the task at hand.
3. Clean your Workspace
Many people with ADHD are easily distracted by visual clutter. Having a work environment that is free of clutter can help you complete your tasks more easily. Before you sit down to work make sure that your desk is clear of clutter that could distract you when you are trying to accomplish your work or studies.
4. Break Down Tasks
It is easy to become distracted by the mere thought of a large project that you need to complete. Instead of tackling the large task head on and then becoming upset when you simply cannot complete it, break down the task into several smaller ones. Write down your end goal and then divide it into several smaller goals. If you are trying to write a paper, divide it into three or four categories such as, outline main points, plan the intro, and write a rough draft. Take short breaks after each of the subcategories is completed.
5. Get Support
Relying on others can be extremely beneficial. Having a good support system in place is essential for your success. If you are struggling with completing a task, keep a picture of a loved one nearby to look at when you are feeling down on yourself. This can help you get back to your work as you will know that there are people who are on your side and rooting for you.
6. Accountability Partners
An accountability partner can be extremely beneficial. This is someone that is willing to check in with you to make sure that you are staying on task. Just like a gym buddy, an accountability partner will make sure that you are getting your tasks completed on time. You can text your partner each time you complete a task or send them an email when you finish a project.
7. Concentrated Distractions
There are several things that you can do when you feel your mind start to wander during a meeting or other task. If you are in a meeting, bring a stress relief ball with you to squeeze while you are trying to listen to your boss. You can also try sitting on an exercise ball instead of a regular chair if this is allowed in your office. When you sit on a ball you are forced to focus on your balance as well as your work, which can be a good concentrated distraction when you are trying to get something completed.
8. Visual Reminders
Using a visual reminder for your goals can be extremely beneficial in overcoming distractions. Start each morning with a list of goals and then check them off as they are completed. You can keep this list with you throughout the day as it can help you remain focused on your goals. Even if you need to start with small goals, this visual reminder can be extremely helpful. Getting to check off an item on your list works as a reward system as you will be able to see all that you have accomplished throughout the day. Do not get frustrated if you do not get everything on your list completed, but instead be proud of what you did get done.
9. Positive Self-Talk
Negativity gets you nowhere. When you are feeling negative about yourself for not being able to complete a task think of something positive to repeat to yourself. Positive self-talk should be simple and direct. For example, remind yourself of an accomplishment that you have done in the past, such as “I was able to complete the report on time last week and I can do it again.” A simple, “I can do this, “ can go a long way when you are trying to get something done and are feeling distracted.
10. Write Everything Down
If you need to complete some tasks for someone have them send it to you in an email or text. Having tasks written down in front of you can work as a reminder of what you need to do when you are becoming distracted.
Finally, healthy habits will go a long way in helping you focus on the tasks you need to complete each day. Routine is very important and when you include healthy habits such as exercising, sleeping well, and limiting your intake of caffeine, you will find that you will be able to focus on other areas of your life just as well.
ADHD can be frustrating at times, but if you use the tips above you are well on your way to becoming less distracted and more focused on what you need to accomplish.