ADD Dopers - what tricks have you found to cope?

Have you found anything that helps keep you on track? Anything that you insist on doing because it makes life easier? Can you use them anywhere?

Get more sleep. If you have trouble sleeping; get more exercise then- get more sleep.

TheoS - do you find that you can exercise just before bed? This is supposed to make it harder for people to fall asleep, but I find it actually helps me sleep.

Write everything down that you need to remember. I get distracted easily and have a horrible short term memory. I can think to myself “I need milk, butter and eggs,” drive to the store, shop and be home in 30 minutes. Two days later I’ll realize I never got the butter.
Once the amount of things I have to remember for any specific project goes past two, it gets written down (or on a list in my phone).

Joey P - I’m the same way about short term memory, but so often I find myself thinking “Of course I can remember that, it’s only xxx”.

My ex-wife used to get so mad at me for forgetting the stuff she wanted (from the store, things done around the house etc…). Of course this was just confirmation bias, but that’s besides the point. I could never get her to understand “It’s not that I get to the store and think Mrs. P needs milk…I’ll get it when I’m done with everything else” or “Mrs. P wants milk, I don’t need to write it down” or “I should see if Mrs. P needs milk” It’s that checking to see if she needed milk honestly didn’t cross my mind to begin with or that if she told me that as long as I’m going to the store I should get he some milk, that if I didn’t write it down right then and there, three seconds later it was forgotten and that was the end of it. The entire time I was at the store I never even thought about it. It didn’t have anything to do with my feelings towards her, just the way my brain is wired WRT remembering things.

I have changed my life in the last few weeks by writing EVERYTHING down. My only problem now is making my notes legible. A couple hours ago I wrote “Make s/m for IE prbs?” and have no idea what that means.

Not even sure I’m ADD, mind you, but I am a fucking disaster - can’t concentrate on anything I don’t find really interesting, and I forget everything immediately I think of it. I recently missed a flight by 24 hours, which cost me hundreds of $$ to rectify.


Read this thread: ADD Dopers - what do you hate about ADD? and read the DSM-IV entry to see if anything sounds familiar. IANAPsychiatrist, but that sounds familiar.

Also - Make something/something for Internet Explorer problems? Maybe?

My handwriting is and always has been pretty atrocious. Hence using my phone (Colornote for Android). I also have the Post It Note Gadget on my sidebar in Windows Vista.

Routine, routine, routine, followed by a closely managed level of OCD. You have to create routines, certain ways of doing things that have to be done before you allow yourself to feel OK. I’ve cultured a deep-seated need to have every item on a to-do list checked off; to wipe down the toaster oven every time it’s used; to put my keys on the key holder; and so forth.

Also, keep the house clean. Make your bed. Keep the sink free of dishes. A cluttered living space or work space prevent a clear mind.

Sorry; I wasn’t paying attention.

Amphetamines. Seriously. Legally prescribed by my shrink.

Absolutely no gluten. As much exercise, sunshine, and outdoor time as I can manage.

I’ve also trained myself not to get sullen or snippy if someone points out something I’ve forgotten. Because I do forget. All the frickin’ time. So, when someone says “hey, you forgot this,” my answer is “oh, thanks. I’ll do that now.”

Hmm, 9/9.

I think “IE” means “Ireland” but I’m still stumped.

The best trick I found, though, was putting myself in a job with a lot of continuous mental and physical stimulation. Most people find it stressful, but I love it.

Like others, I make lists. Lists of things to do, lists of things I want to remember, lists of things I’ve lost and need to look for (my Lost List). Unfortunately, the Lost List often includes entries representing other lists, but there ya go.

It’s only been in the last year or so that I’ve really started to comprehend just how much of my basic personality is made up of my ADD traits. It’s absolutely amazing.

I refer to these habits as my habitrails (you remember those yellow plastic “cages” for fashionable 1970’s hamsters?). For example, I perform the same actions in the same order every morning. When I forget something, I can usually trace it to where I got off my habitrail. I almost didn’t brush my teeth this morning because when I looked at my medications, I realized I had to call in refills, and going to the phone took me off my habitrail.
I drive the same path to work every day. I park in (almost) the same spot every day at work, and in the same lane every time I go to the grocery store. This way I don’t have to remember where I parked, I can just walk to the right area and look around for my car. I find saying things out loud helps me remember that I’ve done them. Every morning when I take my pills, I say “Today is (MTWThFSaSu)day and I’m taking my pills”. That mantra crops up again when I’m locking the front door. My neighbors may think I’m a crazy old bat who talks to herself, but who cares?

This may amuse you.

I was out in the company parking lot earlier thinking about this thread. My internal monologue went:

“God, ADD. I answered 9/9 questions on that mini-diagnosis. Would my doctor take me seriously? Would I be able to persuade a GP that I needed Ritalin? I wonder what the long-term psychological effects of amphetamines would be on an adult. QASHQAI?! What the hell kind of name for a car is that? It’s made by Nissan, maybe they’re be appealing to the Chinese market. Visitor Parking. I remember parking there when I came for my interview. Wonder if anyone uses the disabled spot ever - the office is really bad for disabled people, too many stairs. :smack: Jesus, what a cliché I am.”

  • Little / no alcohol
  • regular exercise - in my case, yoga
  • stay focused on a daily/weekly routine
  • write everything down - and manage and revise lists daily as part of routine (I keep a pen and paper with me at all times)
  • find a job that is varied and requires engaged multi-tasking
  • at least one hobby/outside interest that enables relaxation/escape - in my case, reading, guitar

Perhaps most importantly, I structure my life to regularly achieve flow (wiki link) - i.e., that “in the zone” feeling where time both slows down and speeds up simultaneously. Any given day, I look to get into Flow a few times - exercise in the morning, an hour or two at work where I am heads-down creating some thought-piece, some guitar or reading before bed, etc. Flow allows my head to slow down and relax and “reset”. Very refreshing and essential to getting me ready to re-engage the world…

Well, once again I find that I’m the odd one. Well, you have to realize that I got my Bachelor’s in psychology, so I’m practically required to utilize my education.

One thing I’m noticing is that several of my tricks are to manage my feelings of “I can’t stand doing this anymore”. I don’t know if this is a different aspect of ADD than impulsiveness, or if I can exert more control over my impulsivity but pay a price in mental stress.

I use a timer almost constantly. I started using a timer to train myself to be able to work on things for longer periods of time, and initially I could only spend five minutes on things like cleaning. At this point, I could probably spend an hour or more on many tasks if there was a good reason, and I’m in good mental & physical health. I’ve pretty much settled on 20 minutes though, because I can accomplish a lot in that amount of time and can usually sustain my attention for that long without stress.

Another thing I do to improve my stick-to-it-iveness is to listen to music, or better to listen to audio books. As long as what I am doing doesn’t require verbal skills (so yardwork & general cleaning work well, but bills/letters/emails not so much) I can work until I’m tired or until I run out of book.
I use lists, often with sub-headings to keep track of details.

You know that infinite loop of task prioritization problem? I.E. I have to wash dishes, but I need to pay the bills, but I must wash clothes, but I have to wash the dishes? I started out managing this by simply going room to room in one direction, working a little on each room (twenty minutes, right?). Then I found that sometimes I have things that don’t have a particular spot, and some tasks need their own slice of time. I started keeping a list on index cards, one task/room per card, and now I do my chores in whatever order the cards are in. I’ve found that adding one card that says “Most pressing task” helps, and I sometimes add or remove cards as things shift around. (Really, I don’t need to do yardwork when there’s snow on the ground) Here’s where I get really strange - I found that doing things in the same order was getting stressful, so now I shuffle these cards…

I’m going to have to add another recommendation for routines. Especially checklists. I used to poo-poo the idea, as I can keep a lot of stuff in my head. Um, used to be able to keep a lot of stuff in my head. Then I noticed that if I got distracted, all the stuff in my head fell out and rolled away in different directions.

When I’m really on the ball, I have a Morning list and a Night list posted in my bathroom to remind me, because otherwise, my impatience gets the better of me, and I run off without brushing my teeth or taking my pills. I’ve posted a list on the door to the garage to remind me of all the things I need to take with me. Even better, when I can, I create a staging area near the door where I can pile all the stuff I’ll need the next day. Then, when I think of it the night before, I take a moment and put it there. Saved my ass more times than I can count.