10 Practical Tips for Managing Adult ADHD

  1. Consider joining or starting a support group. Much of the most useful information about ADHD has not yet found its way into books, but remains stored in the minds of the people who have ADD. In groups this information can come out. Plus groups are really helpful in giving the kind of support that is so badly needed.
  2. Try to get rid of the negativity that may have infested your system if you have lived without knowing that what you had was ADHD. A good psychotherapist may help in this regard.
  3. Get well enough organized to achieve your goals. The key here is “well enough.” That doesn’t mean you have to be very well organized at all — just well enough organized to achieve your goals.
  4. When it comes to paperwork, use the principle of O.H.I.O.: Only Handle It Once.
  5. Make deadlines — Prioritize rather than procrastinate. If you cannot handle it only once, then prioritize. When things get busy, the adult ADHD person loses perspective: paying an unpaid parking ticket can feel as pressing as putting out the fire that just got started in the wastebasket. Prioritize. Take a deep breath. Put first things first. Then go on to the second and the third task.
  6. Do what you are good at, instead of spending all your time trying to get good at what you’re bad at.
  7. Understand mood changes and ways to manage these.
  8. Choose “good” helpful addictions, such as exercise. Many adults with ADHD have an addictive or compulsive personality such that they are always hooked on something. Try to make this something positive.
  9. Learn how to advocate for yourself. Adults with ADD are so used to being criticized that they are often unnecessarily defensive in putting their own case forward.
  10. Learn to joke with yourself and others about your various systems. If you can learn to be relaxed enough about the whole syndrome to be able to joke about it, others will forgive you much more easily.

*Adapted from Delivered from Distraction, Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., John J. Ratey, M.D., Ballantine, 2005