Learning how to concentrate better when you have ADHD can seem like a daunting task unto itself. The following are five top tips to get you started:



9. Take Breaks

Taking regular rhythms of break helps us to sustain focus for longer periods. Breaks teach us how to concentrate better because they let us hit the mental and physical reset button. While we are working, the prospect of a break also helps us to concentrate on the task in the now.

Taking a break by doing light exercises helps release the tension built up in our bodies, which is a great way to concentrate better.


8. Alarms Help

People with ADHD brain tend to have a warped sense of time. You may believe you have more time than you actually do when working so the brain feels free to wander off to other distractions. 

Alarm setting gives us a framework for deadlines and expectations, which is good for the ADHD brain. This also ties into the last point. Setting work and break times with an alarm is a great idea. Alarms also give a sense of urgency to the work at hand, which motivates the brain to focus. 

Note that alarms work better as a guide and not as a measurement for perfectionism. The expectation to complete everything on time, all the time, is unrealistic and harmful. But using the alarm as a guide for time will help your focus.

7. Exercise

Exercise helps the brain release ‘“happy chemicals” like endorphins and dopamine, which not only elevate our mood, but also improve our motivation and concentration, and make our bodies more relaxed. If you can fit in some exercise sessions between your work periods, it would be a great strategy for how to concentrate better.


6. The Rule of One

According to ADHD Coach John Tucker, it is the Golden Rule for ADHDers- focus on one task at a time. For example, if you plan to clean your apartment and you have a bunch of things to do, concentrate on one thing at a time, like tackling laundry. 

In the process of doing laundry, if you noticed something else that needs to be done like reorganizing your file drawer, take note of that, but stay with the laundry and refrain yourself from rushing off to open the file drawers!!! Otherwise, you may open Pandora’s box for things you don’t have time to do and end up having nothing done.


5. A Holding Place for Later

Learning how to concentrate better is at times more about what you refrain from doing. Sometimes we are doing a task and we may notice another chore that needs to be done. Going back to the laundry scenario, we can’t stop thinking about the file drawer and feel the urgency of starting it RIGHT NOW, and it is disrupting our focus. That’s when the holding place comes in handy. 

This is the back-burner concept. Developing a holding place system allows you to store the “ interruptions” that come up while in the middle of a task, and saving them for later. Having a holding place is a great way to bring your focus back to the NOW.

Examples of Holding Place systems include Post-It, notepads, and note-taking apps on phones or laptops.


4. Identify Emotional Triggers for “Derailing”

Sometimes there are emotional reasons for getting distracted. Identify the emotions when you can. Having too many tasks to do feels overwhelming. For example, a call to inform someone of bad news feels difficult, starting a project you deem not useful feels dreadful and unmotivating. Understanding the emotional triggers that are stopping you is the first step to coping with them and getting yourself back on track.


3. Hold off the Self-Criticism

According to ADHD coach Christine Adamec, author of Moms with ADD, in order to learn how to concentrate better, we need to learn to curb the negative self-criticism in our heads while working.

Learning to silence our self-critic is a process. But becoming aware of it is a great first step. Most of us are constantly putting ourselves under scrutiny, and this is no exception when we are working or completing a task. We judge ourselves on our progress and speed, efficiency, quality and quantity, ideas and originality, and the list goes on. We also tend to compare our work with others.

The self-criticism is often counterproductive with our work because it triggers emotions such as frustration, which clog our mental processing and make us lose focus. One strategy to counter self-judgment is putting them in Holding Place to deal with later.

Note that self-criticism is different from the practice of constructive self-reflection and evaluation. For the purpose of how to focus better, it’s best to complete work at hand with as little judgment as possible.

2. Scheduling Your Time

Preparation is always useful for a person with ADHD. Take some time to schedule your week with tasks for each day, deciding which tasks should be done at what times. Set your priorities. Of course, things happen in life and plans need to be changed sometimes. But having a schedule gives you a framework, and expectations, which lead to clarity, understanding and motivation. All of which is great for concentration. If you have planned an hour for laundry before having someone over for lunch, it doesn’t make laundry more fun, but keeping in mind what is next, you are actually more likely to stay focused and burrow through the task. 

1. Support and Accountability

Having other’s support is extremely helpful for concentration. Buddying up with a friend or coworker to work together also makes the work much more enjoyable. 

If you need to work independently on a project, having a trusted coworker or a supervisor who can hold you accountable and check up on your progress makes a significant difference. 

If you choose to disclose information about your ADHD, always choose people who do not judge, but instead show love and support, and have proven themselves trustworthy. 

To sum it up, nobody can, or should, do life alone. Having support from others is critical for learning how to concentrate better in different areas in life. 

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