What Has Helped Me with Adult ADD

This is from someone I coached. Thought some of you might find it helpful.


What Has Helped Me with Adult ADD


I don’t know if you have adult ADD or ADHD (I have ADD), but I sure feel for you. I was diagnosed this summer, shortly before I was fired for the second time. Looking back I realize it’s been going on for 10 years.

It’s caused huge financial and family turmoil that we’re still working through. I was doing good work on individual projects, but missed I appointments, was late on important documents, and felt mentally cloudy – like I was in a shower with fogged up glass around me.

In some ways the worst part was that I never felt that I accomplished enough of the items on my To Do list, and felt panicky and like a failure – even when I was being productive.

The good news: Now that I’ve been diagnosed and taken action, I would say I have my ADD about 80% controlled. At this point I probably fall into the category of “occasionally absent minded” rather than a mess.

This means the things I’m really good at stand out rather than being dragged down by glaring mistakes. I’m pretty confident I’ll keep the next job – I feel entirely different, haven’t missed an appointment, project deadline, paid a bill late, or missed freeway off ramps since then.

People get ADD under control in individual ways. I’ll tell you in a bit what worked for me – but you should see it a menu, not a concrete guide to what you should do. Here are the resources I turned to:

  • Get an ADD coach + maybe a personal organizer: I like the ADD coach I used very much – he’s low key, with lots of good ideas. He’s in Vancouver but we worked well together over the phone and by email. Here he is – if you use him, tell him I sent you: Pete Quily
  • I also used a local professional organizer. She came over and helped me organize my home office – how I should organize my desk and filing cabinets, filing system and so on. Find someone local in the phone book or online. Get someone who has worked with ADD clients
  • The nicest thing she said to me was: “You can get organized, and be successful – you just have to do it differently than most people, because the usual organizing tips don’t work for people w ADD”
  • ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life, by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau. By far the best book on adult ADD I looked at – in fact I bought it. It’s filled with practical tips on how to get ADD under control; many of the others talk more about ADD as a disability but don’t give you concrete tips on taking action
  • Psychiatrist + medication: Find a good psychiatrist who’s familiar with adult ADD. I’m sure my Mom can help you. I got lucky; mine is terrific. There are different meds to use, but he put me on the lowest dose (30 mgs) of Vyvanse, basically it’s like a strong cup of coffee that lasts all day. My mind cleared up amazingly within 2 hours of when I took my first dose. He told me that Vyvanse is somewhat more effective than Ritalin, which is used more commonly – but that’ll be up to your psychiatrist
  • Go to: ADDitude Magazine– good site with lots of helpful articles, plus you can sign up for a free online newsletter. Some good stuff on nutrition in there – for example fish oil is supposed to be helpful
  • Here’s what I’ve come up with as a system that works pretty well for me. I have to be strict about following these rules – when I don’t, I mess up pretty quickly. It took me several months to really get into these habits. Again, it may not work for you

Steve’s 10 ADD Disciplines

  • Ask the right people for help: Not everyone can be helpful to you, but don’t hesitate to reach out to those who can. This is a disability just like a broken arm – no shame in it
  • Stop and listen to the quiet voices inside your head – they often tell me when I’m wasting time on something that’s not a priority
  • Stop and listen to the quiet voices inside your head – they often tell me when I’m wasting time on something that’s not a priority
  • Strict AM routine: I’ve developed a routine that I go through every morning: Create a to do list every morning that you look at during the day and check off what’s done. My list is: Look at my calendar – what do I have to do today? Check emails if case there’s something important. Look at yesterday’s Action list, and create a new one for today. Prioritize what important, not just what’s urgent
  • A place for everything and everything in its place: For example, when I go out my cell phone is in my right front pocket, my keys are in my left front, and my wallet is in my back left pocket. Same with your home
  • OHIO: Only handle it once. Good for emails, bills, and so on. Don’t let things pile up
  • Take small bites (I don’t mean food): When I have a big project that looks hard; just do a little piece of it. Fold half of your laundry – you’ll feel better and eventually get stuff done
  • Prepare first thing for appointments: If I have a meeting today, even if it’s in the afternoon, I prepare for it first thing in the morning so if things get rushed I’ll still be able to leave on time. I even take a shower and lay my clothes out
  • Leave twice as much travel time as you think it will take to get somewhere, and take something to read or do if you’re early. Sometimes you need all that time, and you’ll be more relaxed
  • When it’s good enough, stop: I tend to try to make things better and more perfect than they need to be – big waste of time. Only make things really great if they need to be
  • Do your best, and forgive yourself when you mess up. Don’t beat yourself up when you make ADD mistakes – it’s going to happen. Figure out when went wrong, and change the system so it won’t happen again

I hope this is helpful. I believe that you CAN control ADD and improve your life. I have.

Best of luck,


25 thoughts on “What Has Helped Me with Adult ADD”

  1. Congratulations and how fantastic to hear of another success story !YES we can have a life and be successful !Good luck with the rest of your life as I know you’ll go from strength to strength !! Love Light and Angels to you and yours always and forever !!x

  2. How can I help my grown son deal with his ADD? It has a very negative affect on so many parts of his live. He seems to just want to pretend it isn’t there. I see it destroying his family and their future. thank you

  3. Not an easy answer, many adults with ADHD are in denial for a wide variety of reasons. I’d suggest spend some time reading books and websites/blogs about Adult ADHD to understand it more and get some ideas. also it’s 80% genetic if a child has it, pretty high odds one or more of the parents have it. If (hypothetically ) he see that 1 of his parents has the same symptoms of adhd as he does or some of them and they’re not dealing with it, he might use that as partial justification that he shouldn’t

  4. I am glad I found this blog. It has a lot of good suggestions. I was diagnosed in October of this year, and I am still climbing out of the hole that it took 36 years to dig. I started my own blog about it.
    addeternal.blogspot.com. Funny thing, my kid has it, and he is adopted by my wife and I, and he was diagnosed first. The diagnoses have explained alot. We both are on medicines now. I will be sure to come back to this blog.

  5. Hi Michael,

    glad you like it. There’s a quite a few adopted children who have ADHD, don’t know the exact percentage but it’s pretty high. good luck with your blog

  6. Hi Pete
    This has always been my thoughts that most children in care have come from ADHD familys ! Also agree with your comment on Adults in denial as have come across quite a few of them ! Still trying to get the message across but hard work when parents do not want to look at themselves and thier kids are suffering as a consequence !
    I know a lady with 4 kids 3 of which live with her all boys ! She thinks she is normal because all of the people she attracts have much worse issues than her ?
    How she copes with 3 teenage undiagnosed kids I dont know !

  7. Jean-Louis Legare

    hi i have had adhd all my life and have tryed not to accept it but have gotten to the point that i am in the prosses of loosing my home and going through bankruptcy. i want to stop this from happining again. i live in edmonton and if you know of any one who can help that would be great thanks

  8. Hi. I’ve never blogged before, but I am desperate. I’m sure I have Add, sure my mother does too. I feel its ruining my life. I’m irresponsible, lazy, disorganized, late for everything all the time, have trouble making friends, keeping friends, can’t concentrate, I am a financial disaster. I am 40 years old and feel it’s time to grow up. But i literally feel stunted. I don’t think like normal people. I don’t see things the way others do. I always feel like I’m in a fog. I suffer from Depression. I am so sick of myself. I am my worst enemy. Years ago, I spoke to my Doctor and he asked about my childhood, school and stuff like that, said I had Add. He put me on Ritalin. Do you remember the game, pick up sticks? That’s what my brain is like, all this stuff just lying in a big mess, thoughts intertwined with each other, can’t make any sense of it. On ritalin, it’s like all those sticks stood straight up, at attention, all in order. It was good. But, it made me irritatible and jumpy, I didn’t like it. So I quit, like so many other medicines over the years, (for depression). I can’t even describe things that happen to my body, you know, like the doctor asks your history or how long have you had this pain, or did this medicine help? I don’t notice things, don’t pay attention. People want to know if I can do something like two weeks from now or something, or want to plan a menu for a camping trip and I cannot wrap my head around it, i can’t do it. I can get a list going once the occasion is staring me in the face, a couple days ahead of time, otherwise, i just literally can’t do it. I’m sure people think of me as immature and irresponsible and lazy. I think I am too. I don’t know what to do or where to go. I’ve managed at work, I have a list of duties I must do each shift, and it keeps me focused, so I’m pretty sure a list should work in my house, too, but I’ve made thousands of lists and schedules and never follow any of them. I have no “stick to it ” ability. My house is a disaster. That’s another thing. I am a huge slob. I’m embarrased to have people over to my house. I am fat and lonely. I have many creative ideas, like crafts, and decorating but don’t have the ability or the know how to follow through on them. I am mess. Everything is messed up. I make a decent living, I shouldn’t be living paycheck to paycheck, owe everyone money. But I do. I should not be in charge of my life. How can I get my head on straight and get my life in order? I am so tired of being so pathetic. I’ve read research about signs and symptoms of Add, but would like to hear how other people’s lives are. Is anyone else like me? Or am I really just a pathetic loser too lazy and stupid to change? I’ve seen a few psychiatrists through the years, never about Add. I was once diagnosed with an Avoidant Personality. Boy am I. I don’t know if that is related to Add or not but it also reaks havak in my life. Where can I go to get help? What can i do? Am I the only one who lives this way?

  9. Chris –
    My heart goes out to you. You are so not alone. Let’s just say I can relate to nearly everything you said. I am trying so hard to be positive, but life gets in the way. People think, oh, yeah, that’s life, but they don’t know how much I hurt, how totally out of control I feel. I’m avoiding doing math homework (I’m 28 going back to college) because it’s SO HARD to wrap my head around numbers, and b/c I keep getting distracted by other things that I’ve done NOTHING and it’s due in 6 hours. In 12 I have to wake up and go to work, feeling miserable because I’m tired and overworked and IT’S ALL MY FAULT.

    But I started reading “Driven to Distraction” and it’s helping so much. So many relatable stories and tools to use. Read the book this guy said to read – ADD Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life. I haven’t read it but I will (thanks for the reference!). Implement some of the tools that work for you. For me, I’ve found that a strict AM routine and a PM routine work. I have a pathological need to know what’s coming in my day. We can’t know everything, but my wake up and bed time routines don’t have to change, no matter what else happens.

    Never stop looking for help – you might just find it. At least that’s what I’m hoping. For now, back to math. Good Luck.

  10. I am still learning how to be a functional ADDer. I have been on medicine since october of 2009. I am 36 now. I have dr hallowells books on CD. “Driven” and “Delivered” They help alot. I will check out the other book you mentioned. Thanks for this post.

  11. Sara Valderrama

    I’m a Trainer and I’m having some difficulties with training one of my Supervisors at the company I work for. He’s very smart but has difficulties following structured processes . He gets frustrated because he can’t focus and as a Supervisor he needs to train others as well. He needs to be able to transmit his knowledge on to his new associates but I want to find a way to help him without making him feel bad.
    He has ADD although I don’t think he’s under treatment. Please help me help him.
    I’ll appreciate any help you can give me.


  12. Adults with ADHD tend to be very creative. When I first read that people with ADHD were creative, I found it hard to believe. I only painted a picture in high school are class.

  13. Sometimes, by the time you have hard proof, it is too late to avoid danger. ADHD provides us with “gut feelings”. These gut feelings are meant to help us avoid danger. If we learn to listen to these feelings then we can avoid many potentially harmful situations. In business, this intuition can help us spot trends or avoid bad partnerships.

  14. Sheena Crankson

    To follow up on Aiping’s comment read up on Indigo Adults !
    The only thing I do not agree with is that they are against ADHDers taking medication but the rest is very informative.

  15. Collette Dean

    Hi Steve,

    Do you really think your Mom could help me find a psychiatrist familiar with Adult ADD in the Vero Beach, FL area? The Zip code is 32962. I used to see a psychiatrist in Fort Lauderdale, FL; my ADD symptoms were well controlled then with a low dose of methylphenidate and I also took buproprion hydrobromide for depression. I cannot find a doctor here willing to treat me for this – even though I’ve had it my whole life (I am 30 years old now). Thanks for trying to help.

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