Time & Productivity

10 Productivity Hacks for Getting Things Done with an ADHD Brain

Can you improve your productivity? Absolutely. How? By employing to-do lists, brain dumps, and these other ADHD-tested solutions recommended by ADDitude readers.

Close-Up Of Purple and Yellow Adhesive Note. Jordan Lye/Getty Images
Close-Up Of Purple and Yellow Adhesive Note Against yellow Background. Jordan Lye/Getty Images

Your to-do list is powerful, but it’s not magic. When facing an onslaught of distractions, interruptions, and digital overload, that “to-do” list may become a “nope-not-even-gonna-try” list for people with ADHD and weak executive functioning skills like time management, prioritization, and sustained focus.

This is just one reason why ADDitude readers harness their creativity to develop ADHD-specific hacks to improve their productivity. Try out one (or all) of these unusual, compelling, reader-created strategies to get stuff done and see what works best for you. Add your solutions in the Comments section below.

“Instead of rereading emails eight times and still not comprehending them, I use a screen reader to listen to emails and texts. I also alter the playback speed of videos and audio to match my brain’s processing speed, which reduces the likelihood of getting distracted. Wearing wireless earphones so audio doesn’t pause when I need to get up and grab something also helps maintain my flow and focus.”

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“I set my Fitbit alarms to go off in 15- to 30-minute increments. When my wrist vibrates, it reminds me to stay focused.”

“I make my appointments in Google Calendar. Using a timer, I block out chunks of time where I don’t answer the phone, respond to texts, read email, or accept any distractions.”

Post-It notes! I write important to-do items or commitments on colorful Post-Its and place them on my desk so I don’t forget. When the task is completed, I toss the Post-It into the recycling bin. I also like using colorful gel pens for hand-written to-do lists. I can cross off items when they’re done, which provides a sense of accomplishment.”

“I create a ‘brain dump’ before bedtime. It helps me sleep better and prepare for the next day.”

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“When I inevitably become distracted and disinterested in work tasks that take longer or are more tedious, I find that all I need is a little ‘stimulation fix’ to reboot and refresh. I don’t mean searching social media or Wikipedia for an hour, just a short, five-minute activity like answering some ‘Quiz Daily’ or ‘Trivia Genius’ questions. I love the thrill of answering correctly, which satisfies my need for stimulation and dopamine as well as my knowledge-gathering compulsions.”

“I use Trello boards, noise-canceling AirPods, and fidget toys at my desk.”

“I switched from pen and paper notes to a tablet with Microsoft OneNote, which syncs with my phone. (I still handwrite my notes with a stylus because it helps me remember.) No more searching for notes or notebooks! Even if I forget my tablet, I can find the same notes on my phone, which is pretty much always with me.”

I break my to-do lists into teeny-tiny tasks so I can regularly cross things off — that’s the most important part. I also keep things perfectly organized since a messy work or study space completely kills my concentration and focus.”

“I treat work and everyday household tasks the same. Anything that can be done in less than two minutes I do immediately; everything else goes on a list through TasksBoard.com, which syncs between my phone and computer.”

Getting Things Done with ADHD: Next Steps

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