ADHD Life Hack #1. The Grab and Go
I’ve heard this ADHD life hack called “creating a capture area.” I never called it that. That makes it sound fancier than it actually is. For us, it has always been “the grab and go” or “the catch-all.” It’s a designated area in the house that collects the things that go in and out daily. Note: It should not be the living room floor, although your children may assume it is 🤦♀️.
To be most effective, it should be out in the open, and items should be visible. I suggest having a shoe rack, a basket for keys/wallets, and a hook for jackets and/or hats. This grab and go area makes sure that everything you need to leave the house is in one place. It takes a bit of time to train yourself and your family to put everything back upon entering the house. Having it near the door or in a hallway on the most used route to the exit can be helpful.
#2. Colorful Stickies
I have to admit I’m a little bit sticky note crazy. I have stickies everywhere and in every color possible. They are an excellent way for me to stay focused on a task or to have reminders of what I still need to do or things that need to be done soon. While I was teaching my desk and computer were covered in stickies of things I knew I’d forget if I didn’t put it where I could see it. This is basically my favorite ADHD life hack.
#3. Planners Save Lives
Okay, I’m sure this is a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s pretty close. There have been many times that I agreed to do something important at a specific time and didn’t write it in a planner. Every time… that vital thing was forgotten. Luckily, none of those things were ever life-threatening, but I shudder to think what could’ve happened if they were. The good thing is, planners are readily available on our phones now, so you probably already never leave home without one. Just remember, when you agree to do something, check your calendar first and add it IMMEDIATELY. Trust that you’ll thank me later 😉.
#4. Timing Is Everything
Oh, how true this is. If you’re like me, you’re habitually late to everything. No matter how much planning and prep you do. I’ve finally overcome my chronic tardiness by using this hack and planning what time I need to LEAVE to get there on time. Instead of planning around the time, I need to be there. I also add a 20-30min cushion to that time. We are known for being poor judges of how long it really takes to do something. Adding in the extra time usually makes sure that my poor judgment doesn’t lead to embarrassment or a missed appointment.
#5. Set an Alarm (then set 3 more to be safe)
This ADHD life hack goes along with timing. Once you’ve figured out the best time to leave set an alarm for at least 10 minutes before. When it goes off, stop what you’re doing and gather what you need to leave. Before this alarm, you may want to have one that tells you to start getting ready. If it usually takes you an hour to get ready, set an alarm that is at least an hour and a half before you need to leave. This gives you a cushion in case your morning routine takes longer, or you realize there’s something else you need to do before leaving.
This next one has saved me many times… Set an alarm for the exact time you need to be walking out of the house. This one is probably the most important. Too many times, I’ve looked at the alarm that was 10 minutes before and decided to continue what I was doing because, well, I still have 10 minutes. Next thing you know, it’s 10 after, and now I’m going to be late. Don’t be like me!
#6. Prep the Night Before
I’ve found that most people I know with ADHD also have sleep problems. Which, in turn, ensures that we are definitely not morning people. People who wake up early and are instantly productive scare me. If you’re one of those people, I envy you… but seriously, what drugs are you on and can I have some? As for the rest of us, I’ve learned to do what I can the night before, and save time in the morning. I lay out my kids’ clothes the night before, pack lunches, bathe, and even do hair(when possible). If it can be done the night before I do it. Even things I know will need a touch up in the morning like hair or washing up.
#7. Write Down EVERYTHING
This life hack relates to the planner I mentioned earlier. You don’t have to go analog and keep a pen and paper handy, although I have found it to come in handy in a pinch. The most you need is a notepad on your phone. I can’t stress enough that you have to write down EVERYTHING you want to remember. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re going to remember it because it’s essential or exciting. After all, the second someone says something equally essential or exciting the first thing will be gone for good. Save yourself the drama and just jot it down on your phone.
#8. Brain Dump
Periodically I have too many ideas and tasks jammed into my brain to filter through. I have a hard time prioritizing or even concentrating on any one thing when I get like this. That’s where the brain dump comes in. It can be in any form you like, as long as you get all the ideas and to-dos out of your brain and into something else you can refer to later. Make a list, write in a journal, tell Alexa or Siri to record you, tell a friend. Choose anything you want as long as you do it.
#9. Create a Backup (and backup the backup)
Even if you’re using an ADHD life hack to make sure you don’t lose things, some times accidents happen. You may still lose your wallet or forget a flash drive. So, always have a backup and a backup to the backup. I have all my photos saved to my phone, laptop, and google photos. When I write a post, it’s saved in Word, Grammarly, and my website. I have scanned copies of everything in my wallet saved on my computer and printed copies in the house. If it can be lost or forgotten, I have a backup for it.
#10. Sort Immediately
This is an important one if you have a lot of mail or paperwork at home or work. I’m married to a dinosaur who still refuses to go paperless on all our bills 🙄. So, we end up with a bunch of mail. I also dealt with a lot of paperwork while teaching. The only way I kept my head above water with the daily influx of paper was by sorting through the noise the moment it hit my desk. I suggest using read now, read soon, and trash categories. Note: the trash category is actually the trash bin (or recycling bin if you have one). Trust me, you do not want to put it anywhere else. If you set it down, you’ll forget, and it’ll become a clutter problem later.
Bonus 1: Think Out Loud
This one has been especially useful for me lately. I find myself speaking out loud and narrating my thoughts and life to my infant son. In return… I’m somehow remembering things more and more. I guess my teachers weren’t crazy when they kept telling me to read the flashcards out loud when I was studying 🤷🏾♀️ who knew?
Bonus 2: Record Yourself
Another fun trick I’ve learned recently is keeping a video or audio diary. I’ve always struggled to type or handwrite fast enough to get all my thoughts down… but I’ve never had any trouble talking at lightning speed 😉. So, I’ve taken to recording my thoughts for future reference. It’s also an excellent way to brain dump… Oh and my favorite part of keeping an audio/visual journal… I can do it in the car! For some reason, that’s where I get my best ideas and epiphanies!
Bonus 3: Have a Good Laugh
I know 10 new things may seem like a lot to take in all at once. But let’s be real… you’ve already been doing half these things in your own way for years. It’s why we think adulting is so hard! So, next time you lose your keys or forget a playdate, just laugh and blame your wonderfully Atypical brain. Don’t forget to read more about how ADHD affects you.
Until next time…