ADHD Survival Tips for College
Apparently, "piddly" is not a real word, but it's the best way I can describe having to do those little annoying tasks that us ADDers prefer to put off as long as possible. It seems logical, right? Printing off that email, taking the trash out, running that tiny errand. We think we can keep putting it off because in our minds we will eventually get to it and it will only take a few moments. But, when we have a bunch of piddly tasks that we keep putting off, they become overwhelming. Most people with ADD get little satisfaction over completing tasks. In fact, a common symptom of ADD is failing to complete tasks. So, we are fighting an uphill battle on a daily basis.
Here's my advice. Make yourself find 30 minutes in your week to devote to handling these tasks. Put them in a list in priority order. Write down how long you think it will actually take you to do them. (Probably 5-10 minutes per task) and commit to doing what you can in 30 minutes. I'd be willing to bet that you get more done in that 30 minutes that you imagined. And, I'll bet that you will feel much better knowing those things are done.
Many ADDers feel overwhelmed when they think about sitting down to study for numerous classes. But, most of my clients have found that if they carve out just an hour at a time, they are able to make progress without feeling overwhelmed. Instead of planning a marathon study session, try finding a couple of times a week where you've got just one hour free. You will most likely be surprised at how productive that hour feels. You can get short assignments completed or get a little reading out of the way. Reading often feels like the most overwhelming task, especially when you have to read super dense material. But, doing a little at a time can make a huge impact. Try it this week and let me know how it works for you.
I know what you are thinking. Only a few more weeks until school starts back. You are convinced that this semester is going to be your best one yet. You've told your parents this semester will be the best yet. But, do you really know how you are going to pull this off? One mistake us ADDers make all too often is thinking that we have discovered the one thing that made us fail before. Now that we know what is was, we will make sure we don't do it again. Except, that little small thing that made all the difference usually turns out to be much bigger and much more complicated than we originally anticipated. Maybe you've figured out that all you really need to do is make it to your 9:30am class every day. Sounds easy enough, right? WRONG! Let me introduce you to a myth that many ADDers fall prey to:
Myth: Small changes are easy.
Truth: All changes are hard, even when they are small. This is because we are all creatures of habit and even a small change breaks that habit. It's much harder to actually follow through and maintain.
But, don't worry. There is a way! Start now by thinking about all the things that keep you from getting up. Like, beditme. It's got to be a steady time each night (as much as that is possible). Your body (and your brain) needs training for this change. If you've spent all summer sleeping in and you suddenly you think your body is magically going to transform itself into a morning person, you might need to change that thought.
So, acknowledge that it is going to be hard and start at least a week in advance (more if you can). Start going to bed by midnight and setting you alarm for 9am. Figure out a morning routine. Ask yourself what it takes to get yourself going and try to carry out a morning routine each day. If you try it out a week early, you might find you need to make some adjustments. Then, you can start making those adjustments BEFORE the chaos of the beginning of the semester goes into full effect.
If you find that you have trouble thinking of this routine, ask someone for help (a friend or parent). Us ADDers need our support systems like we need air.
And if you need a little extra support, coaching is always an option.
How did it get to be December already? The good news is that in just a few short weeks your semester will be over. The bad news is....in just a few short weeks you will have multiple final exams. This can be a stressful and overwhelming time for anyone, but particular for those of us with ADHD. You may have just gotten into the swing of your routine and now you have to modify it to get through your finals. Here are a few tips for making it through:
1. Start studying now. Research shows that studying in short periods over several days is a much more effective memory strategy than cramming it all into a short period. Even if you think you don't have time right now, I recommend spending 30 minutes on each subject this week.
2. Make a study schedule. Think about how long you might need to review for each of your classes and add up all those hours. Then, look at your schedule and mark out times to fit in all those hours.
3. Give yourself at least 1 day extra. We ADDers often miscalculate how long it will take us to accomplish something. This can really put you in a bind at this point in the semester. If you can't carve out one full day, I suggest carving out at least two extra hours for each course.
4. Do review questions. Practice questions have been found to be the most helpful in making sure you remember information. Those flashcards are great.....to a point. But, you may find that you need to get your brain thinking in a different mode. Practice questions, which are usually at the end of your chapters, are a great way to do this.
5. Reward yourself! If you stick to your schedule, you deserve a reward. It's so easy to get distracted or lose track of time. If you can get through these next two weeks, you will absolutely deserve a reward. Tel yourself that you will buy yourself that extra special dessert, new CD or video game IF you reach your study goals. This little extra incentive will make your accomplishment all the more real:)
I know what you're thinking. You are so excited to have a few days off (if not the whole week) from classes. You are so close to the end of the semester that you can practically taste it. Time is a tricky thing with us ADHD folks. We think we've got more than we can possibly use or we think we've got no time at all. So, if you are thinking you could just take the week to relax (even though you've got a that big paper due just around the corner), do yourself a big favor.....DON'T TAKE A BREAK!
Take a 3/4 break. That is enough of a break to feel like you didn't have to work so hard this week. But, it still gives you a little work to do. At a minimum, look at your calender for the rest of the semester. Make a plan for how you will accomplish all of the things left (including studying for finals). Your plan should include how long you think it will take for you to accomplish each task.
Then pick at least one task that you can get done this week. Pick one that will only take a couple of hours. Then, schedule at least two hours over this week to work on that task. Once you've put in those two hours, you will undoubtedly feel accomplished and less stressed. Then, by all means.....enjoy your holiday!