Susan L Crum, Ph.D. 


Behavioral Medicine,


Living Well With Adult ADD/ADHD

Posted by cfln4646 on November 6, 2013 at 6:35 PM


Living Well With Adult ADD/ADHD

Adult ADD/ADHD can present challenges throughout the lifespan affecting education, employment and interpersonal relationships. Symptoms may lead to procrastination, an impaired ability to meet deadlines, impulsive behavior; which in turn could even involve you in illegal activities and the criminal justice system.

Fortunately, there are ways you can get help for your ADD/ADHD. Many people mistakenly believe that medication is the only way to address ADD/ADHD. Medication may help some people manage symptoms. But, it may also bring unwanted side effects and raise the likelihood of substance abuse for those with addictive personalities. If utilized at all, it should be only one component in a complete plan of treatment. A well researched and effective treatment for ADD/ADHD which does not have the negative side effects of medication and offers long term improvement is neurofeedback. You may wish to ask you local neuropsychologist about this intervention or check it out through You can also pursue another well researched effective intervention: cognitive rehabilitation with attention and memory training.

ADD/ADHD does not mean that you are unmotivated, lazy or lacking in intelligence. You have a unique set of brainwave patterns that interferes with certain typical functions in modern society. For instance, because your brainwaves go slower than the average individual’s you have less inhibition and are more likely to take risks than the average person. In the past, when it was necessary to hunt for food for survival and confront dangerous animals, this attribute may have been an asset. Even today, it can help you function in certain occupations such as paramedics, or fire fighting where it is important to be calm under stress. On the other hand, if this lack of inhibition contributes to you driving a 100 miles per hour in a 50 mile per hour zone, you may be getting a free ride to the local jail.

The hallmark characteristics of ADD/ADD are inattention, distractibility and decreased impulse control. So, getting organized can be a real challenge. You may find that you miss appointments, forget to pay bills on time, lose your keys, misplace your wallet, totally miss that it is your anniversary. But, you can learn to break tasks down into small steps and follow a systematic approach to organization. A smart phone can be your best friend because you can put in reminders which have alarms and repeat until you have completed the task. You can also help yourself by setting up a consistent routine or schedule at home and at work so that you are less likely to miss important things. You can create a “dump box” right near the entrance to your home and immediately put in your wallet , keys and other items that you need, so they are convenient for you grab when leaving the house.

One way to help yourself maintain control is to create space. Get rid of anything you don’t need on a daily basis. Put the things you regularly need in color coded bins that are clearly labeled both in words and with a photo.

To avoid clutter and procrastination make it a habit to do any task that can be done in two minute or less on the spot. If you need to act on a paper do it. If not, toss it. Keep a shredder handy so you don’t accumulate junk. In fact, you may want to oput out of getting junk mail for the next five years. You can do this at or by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT. To avoid getting calls that take up your time go to or call 1-888-382-1222, To stop getting direct mail go to and opt out.

Most people with ADD/ADHD may try to set up filing systems. But, they tend to misplace papers before they are filed. I recommend purchasing NEAT scanner of something similar. Then, as you open an envelope, either act on the paper, put it in the shredder or if you need it for future reference immediately scan then shred. To make this process as manageable as possible deal with mail on a daily basis.

To improve your time management. Figure out how long you want to devote to a task. Then before starting set an alarm for 15 minutes before the task should be concluded. This will help you compensate for your tendency to hyperfocus on preferred activities and to cut short less preferred activities. You might even want to set an alarm to go off a intervals to help keep you productive and aware of how much time is passing.

Also develop the habit of estimating how long a task will take, then set aside twice that much time. This way you will not overload yourself and you wouldn’t be disappointed by constantly failing to complete tasks within the allotted time. If you finish early, you can reward yourself by using the extra time to relax or by pursing a preferred activity.

When you have an appointment, plan to arrive 20 minute early and set all your reminders accordingly. Make certain everything you need is in your “Outbox” by the front door the evening before, so you don’t waste time searching frantically for needed items.

Due to distractibility, individuals with ADD/ADHD often lose track of what they were planning to go and move from one task or idea to another without finishing the first. They also have a tendency to skip steps in a process or to complete less important tasks while neglecting more urgent ones. To address this, prioritize. Decide what is most important and do that first. Stay with one task and one step within that task until it is completed.

Those with ADHD./ADD can often over commit because they impulsively agree to too many projects or social engagements. This leads to a packed schedule, feeling over tired, feeling overwhelmed and as if you never get a break. So, don’t agree to anything unless you first check your schedule on your smart phone. Don’t agree to anything unless it fits in with your personal mission statement and priorities. Maybe someone wants you to give them a ride somewhere and you want to be a nice guy. But, your priorities in your mission statement are your relationship with God, your relationship with your spouse, your relationship with your children, your career, and your music. If so, before you say yes to giving someone a ride, make certain you have already scheduled adequate time for each and every one of your priorities.

With regards to bill paying, go paperless. Have all your bills sent electronically directly to your checking account. Then, make your payments electronically. In fact, if you have adequate funds in your account, set it up for bills to be paid in full for the exact amount on the date the bill is received. If you only get paid once or twice a month set up automatic bill payments to go out on those dates. Impulse purchases can really impact the budget of an individual with ADD/ADHD. To control this have your check direct deposited with the bulk going to your checking account – for which you should not have a debit card. Then, have your “allowance” direct deposited to a prepaid card like Amscot or Green Dot. Use this for all your purchases. It will avoid your tapping into funds meant for other purposes and give you a complete record of your spending. To avoid further problems, cut up all your credit cards. Open one secured credit card and stick only with that. This way you cannot get yourself in more debt than you can handle.

Begin organized at work is important. So, arrive early and spend the first 20 minutes organizing your desk. Use color coding bins, and reminders on your smart phone of meetings and important tasks. Just as at home, do the most important tasks first. Set deadlines for everything that are earlier than when your employer expects and have periodic alarms to help you track the passing of time. While working play fast paced classical music through earphones. This will improve your focus and your pace of work. If you find yourself getting a bit sluggish, get up and do a few stretches , run in place or do a few jumping jacks, then chew some gum. You can also spray your work area with a bit of peppermint to increase your level of alertness.

Make certain that you set up to work in an area without distractions. Put up a do not disturb sign and establish set times when others can call or stop by. Also set up a specific time of the day to check emails and voice mails. If great ideas pop in your head while you are working, write them down to look at after your work is done.

To improve your direction following, carry a digital voice recorder and record directions from supervisors. Whenever possible, ask for confirmation of expectations in writing. Move around productively. Take the stairs instead of the elevator because exercise improves attention. You can use a fitball chair to improve you attention as it requires more effort to balance and so stimulates your brain, thereby improving your attention and concentration.

Whether at home or work, don’t forget the value of exercise. If you can, take a walk during lunch. Physical activity is one of the most positive and efficient ways to reduce inattention because it increases blood flow and oxygenation of the brain. Find a sport or vigorous exercise that is fun and you will be likely to stick with. Exercise outdoors with others whenever possible because the sunshine and socialization combat feelings of depression which often accompany ADD/ADHD.

Good sound sleep is also essential for anyone with ADD/ADHD. So you will want to avoid caffeine late in the day. Exercise vigoeously and regularly several hours before sleep. Then, take a hot shower, have a high carb low sugar snack, and head into bed at a consistent time. To maintain your energy level and focus throughout the day eat frequent small low carbohydrate, low sugar, high protein meals.

Central Florida Neuropsychology offers affordable home based neurofeedback and cognitive rehabilitation programs for individuals with ADD/ADHD. For more information, contact us at: 866-448-1965 or [email protected]

Offered as a community service,

Susan L. Crum, Ph.D., A.B.M.P., A.B.P.S.

Licensed Psychologist

Central Florida Neuropsychology, LLC

4646 Nadena Drive

Sebring, FL 33872

Voice: 866-448-1965









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