My Favorite ADHD tools to help you stay focused
I got diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 28. It explained a lot about some of my struggles with details, forgetfulness, and listening well, but also where my creative energy comes from.
Whether you have major attention issues or not, all of us need help staying focused in a world that is so full of noise and distractions. Here are a few of the tools I’ve found that really help.
Shout outs to my friend Tyler who introduced me to the power of the Post-It. The basics of my own system are that you need a Post-It for every unique thought, To Do, or idea. One of the greatest lies we tell ourselves is, “I’ll remember that”. No you won’t. Write it down and stick it to the desk, or the wall, or your computer, or your notebook. Then you can rearrange the notes based on your priorities that day, where activities need to take place, or by project. There is nothing more satisfying than being able to grab a Post-It from your desk and throw it out because you did that task. Even if it’s a note that say “Make coffee”, you’ll feel productive and motivated in your work routine as you start to build out and throw away completed Post-It tasks.
Alarm Timer on iPhone
If you find yourself getting distracted or wondering why some activities seem to take longer than they should, set timers for yourself on your phone. Don’t have time to waste in the shower today? Set a 5-minute timer. Want to check your Facebook feed but not want to go down rabbit trails into your ex’s cousin’s girlfriend’s cruise photos? Set a 10-minute timer for your social media break and then get back to work. It works for nearly any task you need to accomplish, and if you need more time you can always reset it, but it allows you to have a clear sense of how much time a task is taking. You are back in control of your time budgeting.
Normally, when your phone is in silent mode, it’s far from silent. We all know that annoying sound of a buzzing, vibrating phone that distracts and interrupts conversations and quiet environments. People think that setting their phone to vibrate is somehow less disturbing to themselves and everyone around them in a quiet workspace. It’s not. We can all hear your buzzing phone, and every time it buzzes, you become aware of your phone, feeling this strange urge to check it. It’s killing your productivity and the sound might even cause you anxiety. Go into your settings and turn off “Vibrate on Silent”. Then when your phone is on, let it buzz, sing, ring, and make all the noise you like. But when you go into silent mode, make it truly silent. You’ll be able to stay focused, or even sleep better through the night without the incessant buzzing calling for your attention.
Noise cancelling headphones
I love my noise-cancelling headphones. They don’t cut out all noise, but they provide a muffling buffer from all the distractions of the world around you. I currently use the Bose Noise Cancelling headphones, which are apparently the best on the market but come with a price tag to match. I bought mine second hand on Craigslist for a bit of cost savings. They are my favourite earmuffs, allowing me to stay in the work zone, not to mention they are also awesome for sleeping and working on airplanes. Work like a boss, cut out the distractions.
Music is the best. Lot’s of us love listening to music while we work to try and get in the zone, but for many of us, the words in the music can distract us. Have you ever been writing an email and then suddenly the words of the song you’re listening to get muddled into your writing? Or you stop and have a dance break because you just have to sing that song? My solution is epic cinematic music. It’s inspiring, beautiful, and can be upbeat, without the words that slow down our thought process and productivity. My go-to is a free account for cinematic music at MusicBed, where I select the cinematic category and listen for hours. It also comes as an app for your phone. But of course, Spotify or Apple Music can also be a good option if you have paid accounts there.