HI! I’m Trina, founder of My Lady ADHD, a community for people discovering their ADHD. My journey as an ADHD Advocate started the second that I was diagnosed at 35 years old. I wanted to find other ADHD women to connect with, and when I couldn’t find that, I started my own community. My Lady ADHD has blossomed into a place for ADHDers to find validation, empowerment, tools, and resources for their ADHD symptoms. I’m passionate about helping neurodivergent people who are struggling at school and at work, as those are areas of my life that have been deeply impacted by my ADHD. To learn more about the My Lady ADHD community, visit www.myladyadhd.com.
Studying with ADHD can be daunting. Research suggests that college students with ADHD experience less academic success and greater difficulties than other students, but that doesn’t have to be the case for everyone. One of the most important things to remember with ADHD is to have many tools to keep in your ADHD toolbox. Not all these tools will work for you 100% of the time, and that’s OKAY. With that in mind, here are 10 tips for studying with ADHD.
#1 Time management
Trying to manage class schedules and assignments can be a total disaster for someone with ADHD. One method for managing time blindness is to use the Pomodoro method while studying. Grab your to-do list and a timer. Set your timer for 15-25 minutes and focus on a single task until the timer rings. When the timer goes off, set it again for 5 minutes and take a 5-minute break. Repeat this process for as long as necessary. My favorite timer to use for this method is the Time Timer. This award-winning, innovative product is designed to “show” the passage of time using a patented red disk that appears as time elapses. They are also adorable, come in fun colors, and do not have a repetitive ticking sound (that can sometimes drive an ADHD person batty).
#2 Body doubling
Body doubling is a relatively new term that has been coined by the ADHD community. It is a practice in which a person with ADHD works on and completes tasks alongside another person, essentially becoming a “body double” for the person with ADHD. Many online ADHD communities offer virtual body doubling sessions, where someone is working quietly in the background while you focus on your tasks at hand alongside them. This practice can either be beneficial or NOT, depending on the quality of the body double, distractibility, etc.
#3 Optimize your workspace
A clean, clutter-free workspace is pretty much mandatory for most people with ADHD. Spend a few minutes at the END of your day to tidy up—this includes not only your desk but also the space around your desk. Use the timer method mentioned previously and knock out a few minutes of cleaning before starting your study session.
#4 Stay organized with Evernote
Evernote is an app designed for note-taking, organizing, and task management. It allows you to create and assign tasks inside your notes with due dates, flags, and reminders so that nothing gets left behind. Evernote also automatically saves notes online and syncs them to all your devices. My favorite function is the app’s ability to search for titles, dates, content types, and keywords, making it easy for you to jump back into specific topics with ease. Evernote also has a built-in scanner, among many other features, and is handy for students who struggle with keeping up with paperwork (i.e., most people with ADHD). You can also connect Evernote to your Google Calendar or use their daily planner template to help you focus on what’s critical by the hour. Download Evernote today to try it for yourself.
#5 Ask for accommodations
Some of the accommodations that your school may offer include extra time on tests, additional or longer breaks, taking tests in a different room with fewer distractions, allowing movement, or individually tailored assignments. Some colleges will even offer recorded lectures, audiobooks instead of written books, and more one-on-one assistance.
#6 Brown noise
While the verdict is still out on whether different noise frequencies are really helping people with ADHD, many in the ADHD community swear by brown noise to help with focus. Brown noise is basically a sound that is sort of a low hum. There are many other frequencies to try, such as white, pink, or red noise; available on Spotify, YouTube, or anywhere that you stream your music.
#7 Build routines
Many studies have found that implementing regular routines can be a great way to help people with ADHD feel less overwhelmed and more in control of their tasks. Build a daily routine that works with your ADHD brain and energy levels, instead of against them. I do this using a workbook called The Daily Check-in—A Routine Builder for The ADHD Mind. This workbook includes 30 days of fillable worksheets that help users tackle their daily routine.
#8 Switch up your environment
People with ADHD have interest-driven brains and tend to crave novelty and excitement. Therefore, it’s important to change your scenery periodically. Try studying from the floor (yes, the floor), in a quiet café, or outdoors.
#9 Take breaks
Taking time for breaks increases attention and focus. Dance around the room, go for a walk or do some sort of physical activity to help with mood and executive functioning. Yoga and Tai Chi are said to be especially beneficial for ADHD, as they both help to calm the body and mind.
#10 Get a good night’s rest
Getting inadequate levels of quality sleep can negatively affect concentration, memory, and mood—things that people with ADHD already generally struggle with. Many people with ADHD have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up in the morning. There are a few things you can try if you’re struggling with your sleep schedule:
- Have a dedicated quiet time before bedtime. Try using deep breathing exercises, meditation, or reading
- Aromatherapy, particularly scents like lavender, jasmine, and chamomile
- Sleep aids like melatonin, or drinking decaffeinated hot tea before bed
Developing good study habits takes time, grace, and patience. It’s important to understand that not all these tips will work for you all the time, but if some of them help some of the time, that’s likely an improvement. To learn more about how to help navigate your ADHD, visit www.myladyadhd.com.