What is ADHD?
Do you often face difficulty in concentrating on something, remembering information, following directions, organizing tasks, or finishing work on time? It’s normal to forget things from time to time or have trouble getting yourself organized. Most of us misplace our keys or phones once in a while and even have trouble focusing on a long-winded lecture. But if forgetfulness, inattention, lack of control over emotions and impulses, and poor time management are regular occurrences in your life, there might be a possibility that you are suffering from ADHD.
ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is neurological disorder characterized by a lack of focus, poor organizing skills, and impulse control. ADHD is mainly diagnosed in children, but this does not mean it’s a disorder that affects only children. It has been identified in about 4% to 5% of adults in the US. People with ADHD are different from A typical brain folks, but it doesn’t mean they are unintelligent, lazy, or unmotivated. Their brains are wired differently, making it hard for them to manage their attention, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
Here are the main signs and symptoms of ADHD:
- Lack of focus
- Poor time management
- Disorganization and problems prioritizing
- Weak impulse control
- Exaggerated emotions
- Trouble multitasking
- Difficulty following through and completing tasks
There are three main types of ADHD:
- Predominantly inattentive presentation – people with this condition find it hard to follow conversations or instructions, organize or finish a task, pay attention, remember details of daily routines, and are easily distracted.
- Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation – people with this condition find it difficult to stay still for a long time, talk or fidget a lot, are restless, impatient, and have trouble with impulsivity
- Combined presentation – showcase signs and symptoms of both above conditions
Overall, people with ADHD may have difficulty with memory, concentration, and organization, seem disinterested in tasks and be restless. These qualities might negatively affect their everyday lives, as well as their academic and professional achievements and interpersonal relationships.
However, life with ADHD is not without benefits. Thanks to their neurodivergent brains, people with ADHD think differently and creatively. They tend to have unique solutions to problems, so they are great problem solvers. They are creative, inventive and artistic. They are also more energetic and fun to hang out with. People with ADHD can also turn their impulsivity to spontaneity, being more open to trying new things and breaking away from traditions. Since ADHD makes some people hyperfocused, they can intensely focus on some tasks without noticing any distractions around them and complete that task very successfully.
Neurodivergent Brain vs Neurotypical Brain | What Makes an ADHD Brain Different?
ADHD is not a disability but a difference in how a person’s brain works. In a neurotypical brain, there are networks composed of brain cells that pass information from neuron to neuron. To transmit signals or information, the tail end of one neuron releases a small amount of a chemical known as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters have to cross a tiny gap called a synapse to reach the next neuron.
In a neurodivergent brain of a person with ADHD, this signal transmission process can differ in a few ways:
- The neuron that’s supposed to send the signal may not release enough neurotransmitters.
- The neuron that’s supposed to receive the signal may have difficulty receiving the neurotransmitters.
- Neurotransmitters may get pulled back up by the signal-sending neuron too fast before a good connection is made with the signal-receiving neuron.
When it comes to completing work, people with neurotypical brains use different factors to determine what exactly to do, how to start the work, and how to continue until it is completed. The most important among these factors is the concept of importance, i.e., they think they should get that work done. They are also motivated by others like teachers or employers who think that task is important and needs to be completed. Another important factor is the concept of rewards or consequences they might receive for doing or not doing a task. But a person with a neurodivergent brain finds it difficult to use this concept of importance or rewards/punishments. This is why they face difficulties with choosing between alternatives, prioritization, and time management.
Hacks to Manage ADHD
ADHD is not a condition you can ‘cure,’ but you can make your life easier with the following hacks:
- Use a calendar app or a day planner on your phone to keep track of your deadlines and appointments.
- Before going to bed, write down a schedule for the next day.
- Cross over each task on your daily schedule as you complete them.
- Make lists and notes to keep track of all regular tasks and projects.
- Avoid forgetfulness and procrastination by doing simple tasks immediately – if a task only takes a few minutes, do it on the spot.
- When dealing with bigger tasks, break them down into small manageable steps, decide what to tackle first, and then set your other priorities after that.
- Use a timer to stick to your schedule and avoid getting sidetracked.
- Always keep track of the time by using wristwatches, desk clocks, or wall clocks.
- Use an app to keep track of your spending and manage your financials.
- Set up automatic bill payments or set up electronic reminders.
- Always plan to be early on appointments and set up reminders.
- Give yourself more time than you think you need.
- Designate specific areas for things like bills and keys, which you easily misplace.
- Use noise-canceling headphones and turn off notifications on your phone to avoid distractions while working.
- Declutter and simplify the surroundings at home and office to remove distractions and improve your focus.
- When cleaning or decluttering your house, focus on only one area at one time. You can focus on the next area when you have cleaned the first area.
- Avoid multitasking as much as possible.
- Practice mindfulness.