What You Need to Know About Managing ADHD as an Adult  

Jake Newby

| 3 min read

Digital artist contemplates during coffee break in his home office
It’s easy to picture inattentive or unsettled school children when thinking of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and the symptoms synonymous with the chronic condition. And while ADHD is the second-most impactful neurobehavioral disorder found in children, it can also be common in adults, many of whom tend to unknowingly struggle with the disorder and misidentify it as depression or some other condition before being diagnosed. While children with ADHD might have trouble paying attention or controlling their impulsive behaviors, or be overly active, adults may have different symptoms. In adults, hyperactivity may appear as extreme restlessness. Adults undiagnosed with ADHD sometimes lean on excessive drinking or substance abuse while grappling with the brain disorder. Inconsistent performance at work, difficulties executing day-to-day responsibilities and chronic feelings of guilt, frustration or blame are all common symptoms of adulthood ADHD. Based on diagnostic interview data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, the overall prevalence of current adults with ADHD is 4.4%. Whether you yourself have ADHD or you’re a loved one of someone learning to live with the condition, below are five important facts to remember:
  • ADHD is a chronic disorder
  • ADHD is treatable
  • Symptoms change with time and adults tend to adapt
  • ADHD runs in families


When it comes to ADHD treatment for adults age 18 and older, primary care providers may prescribe U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medications for ADHD, recommend counseling services, or suggest a combination of both. Once treated, medicinally or otherwise, developing good habits at work and at home can put you on the fast track to a more mentally peaceful life. 

Organizational and time management tips to practice

Coping and living with a mid-life diagnosis of ADHD can be daunting in the early stages. Everything from paying bills to focusing at work to managing your social life and relationships can be adversely affected, but simply striving to survive doesn’t have to be the expectation. By learning to manage daily tasks without overexerting the mind, adults with ADHD can overcome the symptoms, overcome the stigma and thrive in their everyday lives. 
  • Prioritize your most important daily tasks and tackle them first.
  • Set aside 10 to 15 minutes a day to organize your desk and declutter your office or at-home workstation.
  • Use color-coded lists and day planners to jumpstart day-to-day structure and routines.
  • Give yourself more time than you need, whether it be completing a task virtually or commuting to a work-related or social event.
  • Avoid procrastinating when it comes to tasks that can be handled relatively quickly, like returning phone calls or cleaning up a small mess at your desk.
  • Use timers and become mindful of clocks and watches to keep track of time and stay ahead of daily tasks.
  • Utilize notes applications on your devices or physical pads of paper to write down tasks, ideas and personal reminders.
  • Minimize distractions by setting your personal cell phone aside during certain times of the day to avoid the urge to scroll through social media, recreational websites or personal emails.
  • Reward yourself for completing more tasks at one sitting. Start by giving yourself a reward after one or two tasks, and then grow the number of tasks you complete before the reward. Rewards can be specialized to your personal tastes. A licensed therapist would be able to help you set these small goals and rewards.
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