5 ADHD Hacks That Won't Make You Roll Your Eyes
Having ADHD can be emotionally, mentally and spiritual draining.
I constantly have a stack of paperwork that needs to be "dealt with", groceries that I forgot I purchased rotting in the fridge and a long list of "shiny object" projects I have started and have yet to finish. It feels like a never ending uphill battle just to keep up with regular life.
Sometimes the normal hacks I find online sound great but then when I try to implement them I can't find the motivation or willpower to try it. For example, the timer method of getting things done i.e. "I'll set a timer for 10m and work on this" sounds easy to do but in my head I know it's a trick to get me started and then I'll be stuck in hyperfocus for who knows how long!?
I have had to find some unique work arounds for my specific type of ADHD and I'm hoping that sharing them with you will help you feel inspired to try these or empowered to create your own.
Why was the ADHD kid always jumping up and down? Because he was trying to reach his full potential! - Chat GPT Bot that I named Niko
Hack #1: "My groceries keep going bad!"
Boy oh boy this one is a doosey! Throwing out uneaten perfectly good food is the absolute worst! Not only is it wasteful for your wallet, it's wasteful for the environment and now you have go back to the store and get more groceries - only to repeat the cycle yet again.
For me this is a result of every single grocery I bought not being immediately visible when I open the fridge or the pantry... which isn't really practical given the amount of space in the fridge and the variety of foods one might purchase. So, what's the hack?
Simple: A small whiteboard on the front of the fridge. Each week after you grocery shop you make two sections: 1. Menu this week and 2. Grocery List. Under menu this week you write down the individual items or recipes you need to make.
For example, mine right now says:
Leftovers (Pizza and Hellofresh)
Veggie Chicken Patties and Buns
Turkey Sandwhiches for Lunch
Eggs, Bacon, Hashbrowns, OJ
Museli and Almond Milk
At the top I'm prioritizing what is going to go bad first. Then I'm listing this weeks new groceries even down to what's in the freezer or drinks (like OJ). Reason being, my freezer even gets full of stuff I forgot I bought!! This way everything that needs to be eaten is right in front of my face every day when I go to the fridge. There's nothing hiding in the back of the fridge out of sight and out of mind. Not today!!
The other thing I'm doing with the Grocery List section is - you guessed it - recording my list of things I'm going to need on my next trip to the store. As an ADHDer, I have to use lists like my life depends on it... cause it kinda does!
PS: Don't punish yourself making full blown meals from scratch. Use Hellofresh to supplement meals and buy precut vegetables, fruit etc. at the store to make mealtime easier.
Hack #2: I buy too many books that I don't end up reading
My ADHD gets me into into trouble here for three reasons:
1) My brain loves the idea of a new book (usually self-help let's be honest), with new topics and exciting things inside I want to learn about.
2) My brain loves a good impulse buy. And I have a kindle. Do you know how easy it is to make impulse purchases on a kindle??
3) By the next day I'm onto another book, idea or author (thanks shiny object syndrome!) and the book is left mostly unread.
The work around? Well it does require you to have a kindle but I promise it's worth it. Most kindles are $99 and at this point I have saved 2x that amount in a year with this hack.
Ever noticed the "read sample" button in the kindle store? Yeah that one. It allows you to read the first 10% of the book... for free! Yup that's right. You can dive into that new shiny book immediately and you might find one of two things:
1) You read a bit of it, it satisfies your curiosity and you close it down for bedtime. By the next night, you have something else on your mind, you're in a different mood and you're ready for a different book.
2) The book actually isn't written in a style that you enjoy, in which case, good riddance!
Repeat. Until you find one you can't put down and must buy.
This hack has saved me so much money on books that would have been impulse buys and left unread on my kindle. No I'm not paid to sponsor them, but I should be!
Hack #3: Rituals and Routines
I thought I invented this one until I discover it has a name: Habit-Stacking. The basic idea is adding a new habit you want to implement onto an already existing habit. Here are a few ways I have used this one:
Habit: Get home around 4pm from delivery driving
Stack: Take out the trash.
Habit: Coffee is my #1 negotiable first thing in the morning
Stack: While I brew my K-Cup, I quickly open YNAB the budgeting app and categorize transactions from the previous day.
Habit: When I get home from grocery shopping
Stack: I unload the groceries and put my reusable bags back in the car immediately
Habit: Using the downstairs bathroom
Stack: Clean the litterbox
Habit: Put my moisturizer on
Stack: Take my medications
Make a list of your engrained habits and use them as launchpads for new habits. Thanks James Clear!
Hack #4: Do It While You Still Can (Remember)
I could not count on one hand the number of "Oh sh*t I need to do XYZ today", insert task that will take you less than 5 minutes i.e. cleaning the litterbox, starting a load of laundry, picking up dog poop, putting your airpods on charge etc.
This hack is simple but effective - If the task will take you less than 5-7 minutes - do it immediately while you are thinking of it. Sometimes I even repeat the task verbally or in my head until it's done. I'm not gonna lie this hack annoys me most the time but it's a rule and if I absolutely can't do it for some reason I make a note or set a reminder for later.
Hack #5: Every Other Day
For some reason it's nearly impossible for me just do something "daily" (aside from drink coffee)(how many times have I mentioned coffee in this post? Do I need try Adderall?). When someone says "just do it every day" - that might work for a day or two but within the first week I can guarantee that I will wake up one day and it will be like the thing never existed. Blip! Gone! Forever!
But for some reason every other day feels very achievable. This works especially great for chores that are easy but not fun. It's not every day so I don't feel overwhelmed and it's easy to remember if I did it yesterday or not. When the answer is "yes I did it yesterday" I get to have a little party inside because I can skip that chore today. It also keeps things kind of fresh like there's a variety to it. Monotony is the enemy of ADHD.
Discover Your Own Hacks
It takes time, trial and error and testing to find the things that work for you. Experiment and keep an open mind. Make it interesting and fun, yet effective. Find inspiration for and iterate on ADHD hacks you find online. A quick google or youtube search will reveal a ton of tools and tips for ADHDers like you and me. And while you're at it, love yourself, because that's the best solution to anything.