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10 Little Life Hacks for Adults with ADHD

Sometimes, small steps make the biggest impact. Improve your daily health and happiness by making one of these 10 tweaks today — and another one tomorrow. They'll add up quicker than you think!

by Dana Rayburn

1. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been called a superpower. A therapy for depression. And perhaps the key to finding calm in a sea of ADHD-fueled distress.

To practice mindfulness, try this: Put your hand on your stomach and turn your attention to just your breathing. The goal is to gently return your focus to your breathing again and again, even after you get distracted. By doing this, you strengthen your attention muscle and block out daily stresses long enough to regain focus and composure.

2. Strike a Pose

It sounds like New Age baloney, but the fact is that body posture can impact your mood, energy, and thoughts. Sitting up straight helps your thoughts turn more positive. Walking slumped over saps your energy. Striking a confident "power pose" can actually increase the levels of testosterone (responsible for confidence) and lower the levels of cortisol (which brings on stress) in the brain.

Tap into your personal power by practicing these two-minute power poses. Watch social psychologist Amy Cuddy to learn body language poses that make you feel more confident when you feel powerless. They really work!

3. Auto-Pay When Possible

You’d be surprised (or maybe not) at how many ADHDers get their power turned off because they’ve forgotten to pay the bill! Avoid this embarrassment — plus late fees and stress — by setting up your online banking account to automatically pay your bills each month. 

If you're intimidated by the thought, ask a technologically-savvy friend to help you for 30 minutes while you walk through the process of setting up auto-pay. It's a small time investment that will pay off big, each and every month.

4. Follow the Two-Minute Rule

You hate scheduling dentist appointments. Or paying your utility bill. Or RSVPing to parties. But putting off these little tasks is often more emotionally exhausting and stressful than just biting the bullet and getting them done. Do yourself a favor and follow this rule of thumb: If you can complete the task in less than two minutes, do it now. You'll free up mental space and confidence in yourself. 

5. Do One Chore Per Day

Stop feeling ashamed and overwhelmed by clutter! The best way to make progress is not in one giant burst, but by scheduling 15 minutes of work each day. For a few minutes after dinner or before bed, eliminate clutter one square foot at a time.

Pick one new mini-project each day — and mark it on your calendar. Weed out the clothes your kids have outgrown. Tame the pantry shelves. File your bills. Focusing on one undesirable task at a time will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Plus, it lets you check things off your to-do list, which always feels good. 

6. Shorten Your To-Do List

Sometimes, writing down and then physically crossing off to-do list items is incredibly rewarding. Other times, just compiling the long list of small tasks for which you're responsible is enough to induce anxiety. In that case, don't bother listing every single task facing you, especially if some are inessential or not time sensitive. Instead, include only the most important things and prioritize them so that each day can really be a step in the right direction. 

7. Plan Ahead

Writing an appointment on your calendar is a good first step, but it's not enough. You need to think about the tasks that precede that appointment — like finding your car registration before the emissions test, or getting a referral before visiting a specialist — and pencil those in to your schedule as well. 

The benefit of this is two-fold: It mentally prepares you for the work ahead, and it helps you create a linear plan. Checking your calendar or planner several times each day is the next critical step to this process. 

8. Leave Room for Improvement

After years of setbacks and disappointments, it sometimes feels easier to lower your expectations — or just quit trying altogether. But instead of saying, "I can't," we challenge you to instead tell yourself: "I can't, yet."

For example, “I can’t get out the door on time” becomes “I can’t get out the door on time, yet.” Saying this to yourself is a powerful reminder that you are on the path to improvement. Soon, you’ll start to believe that the best version of yourself is under development right now — and will come out with hard work and determination. 

9. Live It Up

Say yes to life. Try something new. Stand up for what you believe in, dance, play, or run a half marathon — even if it takes you five hours to finish. Embracing the simple joys in life can make a world of difference for your physical and mental health. Negativity breeds negativity; positivity attracts good things.

10. Think Positive

Write down three positive things about yourself every day — even on those days when you feel like a screw up… especially when you feel like a screw up! If you don't recognize your greatest assets, they'll be hidden from the rest of the world, too. 

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