It is only one minute before your deadline. You swore you would never put yourself in this position again. This isn't your best work, and you'll be lucky to get anything in. If you could turn back the clock, what would you do differently?
It doesn't have to be like this on a daily basis.
For millions of adults throughout the world, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a persistent disorder that begins in childhood and is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Complicating the diagnosis is that it can be mistaken for other health conditions like anxiety or substance abuse.
Some people with the disorder may have low self-esteem because of the constant negative feedback they receive about their productivity, organizational skills and time management. But rather than being a defect, it is a condition that can be treated. According to research, behavioral strategies and medication can help people improve their focus and ease of functioning.
I am a psychologist and an assistant clinical professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. I have compiled a number of strategies to help anyone who has trouble paying attention, even if they have received a formal diagnosis.
A way to keep track of important activities is provided by a simple organizational system. If the phone is not too distracting, the system should be centered on a notebook or phone app. A daily schedule, a regularly updated to-do list, and a calendar to remind you of appointments can provide a foundation for building focus and a sense of control.
The to-do list needs to be broken down into manageable parts and prioritized. The Eisenhower matrix divides tasks into four quadrants: urgent and important, urgent and unimportant, urgent and unimportant, and unimportant, like a request that someone else can fulfill.
Many with attention deficit disorder are motivated to first fulfill urgent and unimportant tasks such as responding to the requests of others, because someone else's sense of urgency seems more important than their own needs. Doing something for someone else can lead to quick positive feedback and provide a welcome break from what may be a difficult task. What is most important is prioritized over what is most gratifying in the Eisenhower matrix.
The matrix of decisions made by Eisenhower. There is a stock photo of Chavapong Prateep Na Thalang.
You can use several strategies to stay on track. It is important to create an environment that is productive. Setting up barriers to temptation means limiting distraction. Put your phone and computer in airplane mode if you use social media web blockers.
To make sure you stay on top of your priorities, set up environmental cues, like alarms and visual reminders.
Waiting to focus on a task until just before the deadline causes last-minute stress, and it also has a domino effect on other priorities, like eating and sleeping. This can be fixed with distractibility delay, a method of staying on task that is especially useful for tasks you want to avoid.
The first thing you need to do is designate a time period. If you want to repeat the cycle, take a five-minute break after 25 minutes.
Have your notebook with you when you set a timer. You may discover that other activities are urgent when you start doing the challenging task. If you don't want to act on those tasks, write them down in your notebook and remind yourself that you can do them later. At the end of the focused period, take a look at what you wrote down and see if any of the tasks need to be taken care of immediately. You can either do them during your break or add them to your to-do list.
To stay on task, you need a support system that will hold you accountable and give you encouragement. Your support network could include friends and family, a therapist, group therapy, or an online forum to share goals and receive feedback.
Body doubling is an effective support strategy. This means working with someone you know who is also working. mutual accountability is created for staying on task.
People with attention deficit disorder have trouble falling asleep and going to bed at a certain time. A large body of evidence shows that irregular sleep can cause attention difficulties.
Getting up at the same time every day is part of a good sleep hygiene strategy. Tobacco, coffee, large meals and alcohol are things that can be avoided if you sleep well. If you want to sleep, try not to nap within eight hours.
There are ways to relax before bed. It is normal to take time to fall asleep, but if you can not sleep after 45 minutes, get out of bed and do a relaxing activity. It's not helpful to watch the clock.
Start with the strategies that are most accessible to you. Developing a routine is worth it for people with attention deficit disorder. You can spare time and be proud of what you have done, instead of racing to finish at the last minute.
Rob Rosenthal is an assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry.
This article is free to use under a Creative Commons license. The original article is worth a read.