How to Maintain Your Focus with ADHD

Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or frustrated can hinder your productivity, making it challenging to complete tasks. Recognizing when you need a break or a change in strategy is crucial for maintaining focus and achieving your goals.

It’s usually during my third cup of coffee, mindlessly sipping while scrolling through Instagram, that I sit back and realize, “This isn’t working.”

“This” being, well, focusing on the work I’m actually supposed to be doing. Which is a daily struggle when you live with ADHD, sure, but a struggle for anyone trying to work from home during a global freakin’ pandemic.

If you’re wondering what you can do to boost your focus — without having to download a complicated email app or rearrange your furniture — these quick tips might just be the lift you need to get back on track.

And since you’re probably procrastinating already, you may as well learn something while you’re at it.

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Close the Door | Take a Bite | Pomodoro Timer | Task Mix-Up | Anticipate Obstacles | Movement Breaks | Belly Breathing | Find the Jet Stream | Task Meaning | Beat the Clock | Self-Compassion

1. Close the door

Minimize Distractions: Literally Close the Door

Despite the allure of working in a cozy living room, reducing distractions is key to sharpening focus. Closing the door not only blocks out interruptions but also signals to your brain that it’s time to concentrate.

2. Find your frog and take one tiny bite

Tackle Your “Frog”: Taking the First Bite

Your “frog” is that daunting task you’ve been putting off, causing procrastination. Instead of facing it head-on, break it down into smaller, manageable steps. Start with the simplest, like crafting the intro slide for your presentation. With some upbeat music and noise-canceling headphones, dive in and watch your motivation kick in once you’ve taken that first bite.

3. Use a fun pomodoro timer

Enhance Your Focus with the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro method is a game-changer for concentration, breaking work into manageable chunks with short breaks. But add a fun twist with apps that reward focus. Search for “focus timer” or “pomodoro” in your app store. I use one where each successful focus session earns me a digital bowl of ramen. It’s quirky, but surprisingly effective in keeping me on task!

4. Mix up your tasks

I like to think of this strategy as “two pots on the stove.” If one task gets dull, switch to another. Productive procrastination, as some call it. It’s like a ping-pong game between tasks, keeping you engaged and efficient.

5. Anticipate future obstacles

Since you’re already procrastinating, why not be productive about it? Take a moment to anticipate obstacles you might face while tackling a task, and plan ahead to avoid them. For instance, if social media notifications distract you, consider putting your phone on airplane mode. Need a snack later? Have it ready on your desk before you begin.

6. Schedule some 10-minute movement sessions

Injecting some movement into your routine can work wonders for your focus and energy levels. Whether it’s a quick dance break, a few jumping jacks, or a stroll from one end of your apartment to the other, physical activity can help reset your brain and enhance your productivity.

As for a midday mood booster, “I Love Me” by Demi Lovato has been my go-to pick this week. It’s a catchy tune that’s sure to lift your spirits, especially if you’re feeling guilty about taking a break to read this article instead of diving straight into work.

7. Give belly breathing a shot

When anxiety and stress start to overshadow our concentration, it can feel like we’re facing an insurmountable barrier. However, incorporating breathing exercises into our routine can help break down that wall of tension and anxiety.

8. Look for the jet stream

At times, what we crave most is momentum, that driving force that propels us forward and boosts our confidence in our abilities to tackle tasks head-on. So, seek out that flow: Is there a task that you’re eager to dive into, one that you already know how to kickstart, or one that aligns with your strengths? It doesn’t have to be the most urgent or critical task; simply getting something off the back burner and into motion can pave the way for tackling more pressing matters later on.

9. Write down why this task is meaningful to you

We won’t delve into why a task is important, since, well, that could be disheartening. If it’s causing you stress, it’s clearly significant. Instead, let’s focus on understanding why a task holds meaning for you. Ask yourself:

  1. What does completing this task provide me? It could be a sense of achievement, relief, or an opportunity for personal growth.
  2. How does completing this task benefit others? Whether it’s making a positive impact on the world or supporting your colleagues, recognizing its impact can be motivating.
    While some tasks may seem mundane, if we can identify their significance, it helps keep us motivated and focused.

10. Try to beat the clock

Rather than resorting to the usual self-criticism, I find it more enjoyable to turn tasks into a challenge of speed. With a countdown timer ticking away and “Eye of the Tiger” blaring in the background, the goal becomes to complete the task as swiftly as possible. It may seem silly, but the aim is to tackle the task by any means necessary.

11. Be kind to yourself

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but berating yourself won’t magically solve your focus issues. That inner dialogue of “what’s wrong with me?” and “why can’t I just start?” only adds unnecessary pressure. Truth is, concentration is a challenge for everyone, not just those with ADHD. Accepting this reality with kindness rather than self-blame can make the journey smoother. After all, sometimes the weather is clear blue skies, and other times, it’s stormy.

Remember: If you’re struggling to concentrate, it’s not because you’re lazy or incompetent or hopeless.

It’s perfectly normal to feel stressed, overwhelmed, or frustrated, especially when it comes to staying focused. So, cut yourself some slack, take a breather, and recharge with a snack or a quick nap. Remember, your worth isn’t determined by your productivity levels. Whether you check off a dozen tasks or none, you’re still valuable. And if focus remains elusive, seeking professional support is always a wise choice.

Jump to section

Close the Door | Take a Bite | Pomodoro Timer | Task Mix-Up | Anticipate Obstacles | Movement Breaks | Belly Breathing | Find the Jet Stream | Task Meaning | Beat the Clock | Self-Compassion