View Full Version : Strategies for Living with ADD Mega Thread

06-13-12, 03:31 AM
To start off, I gave this post some thought, but I can guarantee that I became impatient staring at this trying to write everything I've learned and forgot some stuff I meant to put here. Also, I'm not an expert or a professional and don’t know everything. Please post comments and suggestions, and I’ll add anything mentioned to the OP up here. If there is a topic I have completely left out, let me know and I will add everything I know on the topic, as well as anything you or anybody else suggests. My organization is not the best, so hit ctrl + f to search the post for whatever topic you’re curious about, as there might be some info in there, but just in a stupid place. Also, I'm going to grab the first few posts since this might get bigger.

Table of Contents:

Strategies & Tips


Using Lists:

Carry a notebook with you at all times and write down anything you want to do or remember.. (Consider getting a waterproof notepad as well, you never know what you’ll think up in the shower) (
Make a daily list every morning, and write your lists in order of importance, which should be the same as the order you complete the tasks. Essentially, you shouldn’t be writing bulleted lists, you should be writing numbered lists.
Whenever you’re making lists, put “rewards” into the list so that you have an incentive to complete the previous items in the list (hopefully in order)

Misc. Tips:

If you have trouble remembering something related to a specific place (such as removing pots and pans from the oven before turning it on) Create a reminder for yourself and put it in this place to help you remember. (In my example, put a 3x5 card with a reminder on the knob that turns on the oven so you can’t turn the oven on without moving your reminder)
I’ve heard this is a general rule of thumb for software designers: However long you think something is going to take, triple it.
When you have an appointment, or an errand, or somewhere you need to go, don't just plan for travel time, plan for "prep time" as well. If you're having a first time appointment with a doctor, give yourself some time to look up their address and get directions, to collect your medications, and to write down the things you want to talk with them about. This might be an hour of prep time in some cases.

06-13-12, 03:31 AM

I’m going to be somewhat brief here, but give you lots of resources to look into if you’re more interested, as there is a lot written on these topics that will do a much better job than I will.

Getting Things Done:

David Allen published a book creating this technique, and it is has reached cult status in terms of how fervently its followers advocate its effectiveness and usefulness. I personally never read the book because I have a hard time reading anything that isn’t a novel. This is probably the most popular productivity system, and thus has a very large ecosystem of apps, planners, and whatever you need that fits into it. It is tailored towards business people, so it might not be a perfect fit. A quick, but thurough overview of the system can be found at ( David Allen’s Website is (


Things don’t get lost in the shuffle
You always know what your next action is
Huge ecosystem and body of knowledge available


It’s a very “large” system, there’s a lot to remember
It requires a very large time and effort investment to get started
Not as visual as Personal Kanban
The whole system is not as add firendly as other systems in my opinion

The Pomodoro Technique:

The pomodoro technique is once again based off a book by a guy. This guy is Francesco Cirillo, and his book is the pomodoro technique. At its most basic form, this is really a way to structure your time so you don’t get burnt out. Focus entirely on something for 25 minutes, and then take a 5 minute break. Each 25 minute focus period is a “pomodoro”. After you complete four pomodoros, take a longer 20 minute break. The website is here (


The book is free: ( (I was unaware of this until searching just now)
All you need to start is a kitchen timer
Instant results
helps with sustained mental focus


Not as comprehensive or intricate of a system as GTD
Not as visual as Personal Kanban

Personal Kanban:

This was originally Created in Toyota's Manufacturing line so that everyone could know at a glance the “status” of the plant at that moment. It has been picked up recently in software development primarily, where it is very popular. Only recently has there been any mention of it for personal purposes, and this is primarily fueled by one person who runs the site (
There are really only two rules for personal kanban:

Visualize your work
Limit your work-in-progress

You have a board of some kind, and you split it into columns. The leftmost column is your backlog of things you need to do and the rightmost column is your done column. In between you have your process, also known as your “workflow”. Each task is put on a sticky note or a 3x5 card with a push pin, and placed in the backlog. Tasks move across the board as they are accomplished. You want a minimal amount of items in each column of your workflow. You see where you are at a glance, and when you complete things, you get positive reinforcement. It is very visual and kinaesthetic, and thus a very good option for lots of people.

This has been especially useful in manufacturing and software development because it follows a very consistent process, so you can move your tasks around the board based on where they are in that process. its implementation is similar for personal kanban, but as you might guess, lives don't really follow a process, so you might have to change it up a bit. I personally am using it now as a rough schedule of the week's tasks, so I know what needs to be done on what day, and so that if I don't do something I can easily reschedule it.


Visual - This is huge for me, as I'm sure it is for some of you.
You don’t need a computer.
You probably have everything you need already.
Extremely flexible.


Your backlog can get pretty full pretty quickly
It is not as in depth and comprehensive as GTD, and does not help keeping track of time like the Pomodoro Technique

Time Blocking & Scheduling To-Do Items:

I can't say that somebody has created a system for this, it's just a concept that I think warrants a section in the systems area. This is generally done with students so that they know they have scheduled enough time to study and things like that and so that things don't just magically not get done.

Time blocking is creating a recurring weekly schedule for yourself that includes scheduled time for everything you do. This should include:

Classes and/or your Job
Travel time to and from classes and/or your job
Exercise time
Study Time
Meal times
Time for Household chores and such
Recreation time
etc...... you get the idea

Anything that you do consistently should be in here. Leave space for errands and things that don't happen on a daily or weekly basis. These items will probably be part of your scheduled to-do items.

Scheduling to-do items is essentially filling in the holes in your weekly schedule with things that need to get done. Estimate how long something will take (you'll probably have to triple your estimate) and put it into your weekly schedule. It's that simple. If it's an errand, don't forget to schedule travel time. If it's an appointment, don't forget to schedule travel as well as preparation time.


You always finish your todo list

You ideally will be efficiently using your time


This can be a big commitment

Not quite as comprehensive as GTD

06-13-12, 03:33 AM


Improve your sleep:

Zeo: ( ($100 - $150) A band you wear around your forehead (a mini eeg if I’m not mistaken) that measures your sleep cycles and wakes you up when you are in your lightest stage of sleep and before you absolutely need to be awake. Works by itself, or with an Android or Apple smartphone

Wakemate: ( ($65) A wristband that tracks your sleep and wakes you up when you’re at your lightest stage within a 20 minute window. Compatible with Apple and Android smartphones, but the android app is complete crap so don’t waste your money buying it for Android.
Sleeptracker: ( ($150)A watch similar to wakemate, but expensive.
Lark: ( ($100 - $160) Again similar to Wakemate, Apple iOS only.

Note Taking:

Livescribe Smartpen: ( Records audio as you write, and syncronizes the audio with your writing. After recording, tap on your writing, and the audio associated with that writing will play back through the pen. This also syncs with your computer so you can view and listen to your notes on the computer digitally and share them with anyone. I have some Pencast PDFs from the pen on my website you can look at. Pardon my handwriting: (

Software & Web Apps:

I’ve used all of these programs, and they’re all great, you just have to find what works for you. You can use a combination of these as well. All the individual applications I link here are free to use, but might have a paid version with more features or something like that, the list links have no guarantees in that regard.

Workflowy: ( An infinitely nestable list of everything in your brain. You can tag things and search so nothing ever gets lost. Dump anything and everything you ever think of in here and get it on your computer or smartphone or anything that can access the internet. Can be used with GTD
Reqall: ( This is the only software up here that will remind you to do things. It can remind you of things based on time, date, or location. When I used it you couldn’t tag or categorize things, and that was a real bummer, but it is the only software I found that will remind you of your shopping list when you get to Target. ( People love evernote. You can add pictures and make notes and notebooks and it’s another program to store everything in your brain. Can be used with GTD to great effect as mentioned below.

GTD Software & Web Apps:

The Secret Weapon: ( GTD using Evernote. The pinnacle of my personal experience with GTD.

There are probably millions of GTD applications and web apps, I just haven’t used all of them. Most of them cost money too FYI.

Pomodoro Technique Software & Web Apps:

Focus Booster: ( A simple adobe air timer application. It times your pomodoros and your breaks.

Kanban Flow: ( Combination of the Pomodoro Technique and Personal Kanban. You get the visual aspect of Personal Kanban, as well as the time management (and even time tracking!) aspect of the Pomodoro Technique

Personal Kanban Software & Web Apps:

Kanban Flow: [link above] My personal choice for Personal Kanban software. It’s free and combines pomodoro & kanban.
Limited Work in Progress Society: ( This is a very large list of Kanban applications. Most of them are geared towards groups, but you can still use them just for yourself. I haven’t really tried any of these extensively, but they’re all good options from what I remember


I’m gonna be honest here, I probably haven’t finished reading any of these, and some I haven’t even started, but I’ve had them recommended to me by very reliable sources, so they’re all here.

The Disorganized Mind by Nancy Ratey ( A self coaching book.
Spark: The Revolutionary Science of Exercise & the Brain By John Ratey ( A book about the benefits of exercise, and how to do it so you get the benefits
Organizing Solutions for people with ADHD By Susan Pinsky ( Pretty self explanitory
Seeing What I Need to Do By Marydee Sklar ( Helps with executive functioning.
The Now Habit By Neil Fiore ( Help with procrastination
Driven to Distraction By Edward Hallowell ( A new york times best seller, and one of the first “eye opener” books for ADHD
Delivered from Distraction By Edward Hallowell ( “Sequel” to Driven to Distraction, strategies to cope with ADHD

Websites: ( They have some good articles ( DUH! ( An organization for ADHD support. They organize support groups across the country, and have regional websites as well. ( A website run by CHADD ( A site and magazine with some good articles ( The attention defficit disorder association website

06-13-12, 04:56 AM
Totally didn't realize you can't edit posts more than a half hour after you originally post it. Oh poop.

06-13-12, 09:15 AM
People have liked my strategies thread here (