Adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD): Are you looking for treatments that help curb symptoms such as poor memory and attention issues? Do you forget to pay bills, call back a friend, or clean the cat’s litter box? Do lists and sticky notes no longer work? They don’t work for me -- and I know why. Below are some alternative treatments that help adults with ADD/ADHD, like me, forget less and remember more:
How to Pay Attention Consistently
Think of a nugget of information as a nail and your memory as a board. Attention is the hammer that drives the information into your memory. ADD/ADHD causes you to have inconsistent attention, so some nails don’t get hammered in. To remember better, you have to maximize your attention while the information is entering your brain. Here are strategies that help me:
Limit external distractions. When having an important discussion with your partner, or planning out the week’s tasks, shut off the TV or computer, let the barking dogs out in the yard, or move to a quieter room. At work, when getting directions for a project, close the door or put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on it to limit interruptions. Or schedule a one-on-one meeting in a conference room.
Practice being more attentive. Before a meeting, write a note on a pad, telling yourself that it’s important to pay attention for the next 20 minutes. Turn away from the computer and make eye contact when talking with a colleague or the boss. At home, schedule a special time -- at breakfast or before bed -- to plan the following day.
How to Remember More While Doing Less
All of us are trying to keep track of too much information. Our memory reaches its saturation point. If you want to forget less, reduce the load you’re trying to remember:
Cut out lower-priority items. Continue to read to your fifth-grader at night, but arrange to have a friend drive her to basketball practice.
Don’t try to be perfectly organized. Your home office is "organized" if you can find what you need, even if it’s in piles and boxes.
Delegate tasks or hire help to handle some of the chores on your list.
Learn to say "no," politely, when someone asks you to do something. Alternately, you can say, “I’ll have to think about it,” to buy yourself some time to think it over.
More Adult ADD/ADHD Treatments
This article appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of ADDitude. SUBSCRIBE TODAY to ensure you don't miss a single issue.