by | Oct 13, 2023

So you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. ADHD affects over 4% of adults and while the symptoms may have felt familiar your whole life, finally getting the diagnosis can be a relief. The good news is, that there are highly effective strategies and techniques you can start using right away to better manage your ADHD. In this article, we’ll walk through the basics of what ADHD really means, how it manifests differently in adults versus children, and provide a toolkit of the top skills you’ll want to develop. Get ready to gain a whole new level of focus and control over your busy mind and schedule. The journey ahead may not always be easy, but with the right knowledge and strategies, you absolutely can thrive with ADHD.

What Is ADHD in Adults?

ADHD in adults can look different than in children. As an adult with ADHD, you may struggle with time management, procrastination, disorganization, restlessness, trouble focusing, and difficulty completing tasks. The good news is there are effective strategies to manage your symptoms.

Staying Organized

Using a calendar, to-do list, and reminders are key. Break down big tasks into smaller steps. File papers and documents in labeled folders. Set alarms and timers. These techniques can help give your day structure and prompt you to start and finish what’s important.

Reducing Distractions

Minimize notifications on your devices and try to limit multitasking. Find a quiet space to work or study and take regular breaks when you feel distracted. Some light background music without lyrics may help you focus.

Developing Routines

Establish consistent morning and evening routines to keep you on track. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Plan and prepare as much as possible in advance. Make self-care a priority with good sleep, nutrition, and exercise.

Seeking Treatment

For many adults, medication and therapy can be helpful for managing symptoms. Talk to your doctor about options like stimulants, antidepressants, cognitive behavioral therapy, or mindfulness techniques. Treatment for ADHD is very individual, so find what works best for your needs and lifestyle.

The challenges of ADHD don’t go away completely, but with the right strategies and supports in place, you can thrive and accomplish your goals. Stay patient and keep making progress each day, however small. You’ve got this!

Common Symptoms and Signs of Adult ADHD

If you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, you’re not alone. Many adults live with the challenges of this disorder every day. The symptoms and signs in adults can look a bit different than in children, though.

Trouble focusing or easily distracted

Do you find your mind wandering frequently, even during important tasks? Do little things like noises or movements sidetrack you easily? Trouble sustaining focus and being easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli are common signs of adult ADHD.

Restlessness or excessive energy

Feeling restless, fidgety or like you have pent-up energy you can’t release is another frequent symptom. You may tap your feet, bounce your knees, drum your fingers or get up frequently. Engaging in regular exercise or physical activity can help reduce restlessness.

Poor time management

Struggling with time blindness, procrastination, or difficulty prioritizing and planning can make managing a schedule and meeting deadlines challenging. Using tools like schedules, timers, reminders and to-do lists can help strengthen your time management skills.


Acting on impulse without thinking of the consequences is a hallmark of adult ADHD. Things like excessive spending, risky behaviors, rapid decision making and frequent job changes are common in impulsive adults with ADHD. Building awareness of your impulses and practicing mindfulness techniques can help improve self-control.

With the right treatment and management strategies, adults with ADHD can thrive. Understanding how the symptoms present in your own life is the first step towards learning effective ways of coping and achieving your goals.

Getting Diagnosed: The Process for Adults

Getting an ADHD diagnosis as an adult can be challenging, but the process typically involves several key steps:

Find a Qualified Diagnostician

The first step is locating a licensed professional trained in diagnosing and treating ADHD in adults, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker. Get referrals from your doctor or local ADHD advocacy groups. Check the diagnostician’s credentials and experience to ensure they are qualified to properly diagnose adult ADHD.

Provide Your Medical and Family History

Be prepared to share details about your symptoms, how they impact your life, medical history, and family history of ADHD or other mental health conditions. Gather report cards, job reviews, and ask family members for their observations of your behavior and symptoms over the years. All of this information will help paint a full picture to support an accurate diagnosis.

Undergo a Clinical Interview

You will meet with the diagnostician for an in-depth clinical interview, where you’ll discuss your symptoms, experiences, challenges, strengths, weaknesses, and more. Be open and honest in your responses. The interview may span multiple sessions before a diagnosis is determined.

Complete Psychological Testing (If Needed)

In some cases, additional psychological testing may be required to confirm a diagnosis. Common tests for adult ADHD include continuous performance tests, IQ tests, and personality inventories. These help evaluate attention span, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and more.

Review the Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Once a diagnosis is determined, the diagnostician will review the diagnosis with you, including the specifics of your ADHD presentation based on the symptom criteria. They will then discuss evidence-based treatment options, such as medication, therapy, coaching, and lifestyle changes. Together, you can develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your needs.

Getting the right diagnosis and treatment for ADHD as an adult can truly be life-changing. While the process requires time and effort, the rewards of effective management of your symptoms are well worth it. Stay patient and persistent, and you’ll get the answers and help you need.

Effective Strategies for Managing Adult ADHD

Managing your ADHD as an adult requires commitment and the right strategies to overcome challenges. Several techniques have proven effective for gaining control of your symptoms.

Create routines and structure

Establishing daily routines and structure is key. Having regular times for waking up, eating, exercising, work, and sleep can help reduce distraction and keep you focused. Set alarms and calendar reminders so you don’t forget important tasks or events. Minimize clutter and organize your living and work spaces. Stick to schedules as much as possible, even on weekends. It may feel rigid at first, but routines become second nature over time.

Break down big tasks

Don’t feel overwhelmed by long to-do lists. Break down big tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. This makes starting and completing work less intimidating and prevents avoidance. Write the steps down and cross them off as you complete each one. Momentum builds as you progress.

Limit distractions

Minimize notifications on your devices and try to limit checking email and social media. Find a quiet space to work or study without interruptions. Let people around you know that you do not want to be disturbed for a certain period of time.

Exercise regularly

Exercise is a natural stimulant and mood booster. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. Walking, jogging, yoga, and strength training are all great options. Exercise helps release pent up energy and frustration, reduces restlessness, and leads to better sleep at night. You will feel calmer and better able to focus after working out.

Get enough sleep

Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to feel well-rested. Lack of sleep exacerbates ADHD symptoms and impacts your mood, focus, and decision making. Establish a calming pre-sleep routine to unwind, like reading a book. Limit screen time and mental stimulation before bed. Keep your sleep environment cool, dark, and quiet. Getting good quality sleep leads to improved daytime functioning and ADHD management.

With commitment to effective strategies tailored to your needs, you can thrive with adult ADHD. Staying consistent and patient through challenges will help make these techniques lifelong habits.

Helpful Techniques to Improve Focus and Organization

As an adult with ADHD, staying focused and organized can be challenging. However, there are some useful techniques you can implement to improve these skills.

Remove Distractions

Minimize notifications on your devices and try to limit other diversions like TV or social media. Having a dedicated workspace free of clutter and distraction can help you focus.

Make Lists and Schedules

Write down tasks, priorities, and deadlines to keep yourself organized and accountable. Break down big projects into smaller milestones. Schedule time for important work and try to stick to the schedule. Crossing out tasks provides a sense of progress to stay motivated.

Take Frequent Breaks

Working for periods of 25-50 minutes with short breaks in between helps rejuvenate your mind and body. Even taking short walking breaks can help you renew your mental focus.

Try Timers

Set a timer for the time period you want to focus. This can make you more mindful of how you’re using your time and encourage you to avoid distractions. Start with small periods of focus, like 25 minutes at a time, and gradually increase the time as your focus improves.

Ask for Help When You Need It

If you feel overwhelmed by responsibilities, don’t hesitate to ask others for help. See if coworkers or family members can take on some minor tasks to free up your mental space. Speaking to a therapist or coach can also help you develop skills and strategies for improving organization and focus.

Using these helpful techniques consistently can strengthen your ability to focus and stay on top of responsibilities. While it will take practice and patience, maintaining focus and organization is a learnable skill. With time and effort, these strategies can become second nature.


So there you have it, a few key strategies to help you manage your ADHD as an adult. Staying organized, maintaining focus, and practicing self-care will go a long way in helping you thrive day to day. It may take some trial and error to figure out what techniques work best for you, but don’t get discouraged. ADHD is not something you can cure, but with the right tools and coping mechanisms, you’ve got this. You have so much amazing potential and there are small steps you can take each and every day to help channel your energy and reach your goals. Keep at it and remember to be kind to yourself along the way. You’ve got this! Now go out there and conquer the world, one distraction-free day at a time.

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