I have always been a tech geek. I have also always been forgetful, disorganized, and time-blind. Being diagnosed with ADHD in college, and being prescribed Adderall, was a game changer for me. However, the best things for my ADHD treatment plan have been the smartphone and the apps that run on it.
Tapping into apps didn't cure my ADHD, just like taking that salmon-colored pill didn't make my symptoms disappear. But using a range of apps has allowed me to evolve from tech geek to productivity geek. When you go through life being clueless about managing any of the details of life, and then you crack the code, it's hard not to geek out.
Technology is a great equalizer that can level the playing field for those of us with ADHD. But with all the gadgets, gizmos, alarms, bells, and whistles that technology provides, understanding its limitations will help you maximize what you get from it. Setting a reminder to "reply to boss's e-mail" is not the same as responding with a well-crafted message to explain why the $250 you spent on Super Sticky Post-it notes was a good investment. Writing down "do taxes" will not get your taxes done.
Still, the apps and tools listed here have helped me a lot. I have organized the list to address areas that challenge ADHDers the most: managing distractions; managing information; managing time; enhancing creativity; getting more sleep and being more productive. Use these apps and prosper.
More Focus, Less Distraction
(rescuetime.com; PC, Mac, Android, Linux; free to $9 per month, depending on the version)
I've used RescueTime for several months. I use the free version, which allows me to see how I spend my time on my computer. If you're looking for ways to save time, you have to know how you're spending it.
I have ADHD and I work with people with ADHD. We all need to improve our awareness of time. There is a difference in how long you think you spent doing something and how long you actually spent. While it runs in the background, the Rescue Time app quietly tracks all of your activities. You might be surprised, as I was, to realize that you looked at cat videos for two hours. It allows you to rate each activity from "Very Distracting" to "Very Productive." You set goals and track your progress.
In the Premium version, which I have used for a month, I have limited my time on certain websites based on my day's goals. If I want to be on Facebook for only 30 minutes a day, it will block Facebook after half an hour.
(focusatwill.com; iOS, Android, Web; free 15-day trial, then $8.33/month)
Designed to increase your focus and attention, Focus@Will uses specially engineered audio in which frequencies similar to the human voice are removed. Why? We are wired to pay attention to them, and they distract us. I've been using Focus@Will while writing this. I'm two weeks into my free trial, and I might spring for the paid membership after it is up. Focus@Will even has a channel called "ADHD Type 1." I can't listen to it, but I do like the channel "Alpha Chill," set to medium energy level.
(freedom.to; Mac, PC, Android; free trial, then $2.42/month)
I first heard about this Internet-blocking program about a year ago. Then I spent 10 months thinking that I should download it. Like many people with ADHD, I have "one-more-thingitus," especially in the evening. I start my day saying, "Today is the day that I will leave work at 7 p.m." The next thing I know, it's midnight. There were many weeks when I didn't see my wife or three-year-old son in the evening. I finally downloaded Freedom, and I love it.
It's easy to set up a weekly schedule. Just highlight the times and days you want it to work, and Freedom will block you from the Internet during those times. The only way to sidestep Freedom is by resetting my computer. I have done it, but the task is enough of a chore that I usually stick to the schedule. Android users are especially lucky. They can use Freedom on their phones.