How I Manage my ADHD

As I work with a lot of neurodiverse clients or parents of children who are neurodiverse, I am often asked how I handle life with ADHD. Although I find everyone is different, I’m always happy to share what I have found helpful.

When I first entered adult life I struggled with remembering to pay my bills and getting them paid on time. I have always had a close relationship with my dad, so I felt comfortable going to him and explaining that I was often late paying my bills because I was so forgetful. He suggested that I pick one day a week and always go through bills and any other finance related things that needed attention on that day. I chose Friday and now, a few decades later, it’s still on my calendar to check in on the app that I use to make sure everything is in order. Looking back, that was my first step toward finding a way to adult with ADHD.

Having a child with autism was another turning point for me. As soon as he could move about and had a collection of toys, books, and videos, it quickly became apparent that everything, in his mind, had a place. If items were placed on a different shelf or drawer, he would become distraught. I soon learned that he needed a lot of consistency in where things were located, but I also realized how helpful it was to always know where things were. At the same time I was spending a lot of time with my grandma and I noticed how distressing it was every time she needed her credit card and it wasn’t where she expected it to be in her purse. Between my autistic son needing everything to be in its place and the anxiety my grandma would experience from not putting something where it belonged, I had some frequent, real life lessons on getting in the habit of putting things where they logically should be. Learning that in my mid 20s is probably a big factor in why I don’t typically have the problem that so many with ADHD do…I know where my keys are (in a tray in the closet in the foyer), my handbag (in same foyer closet), and other important items (water bottle in the pantry on the top shelf), so it’s easier to get out the door when I need to go someplace.

After the birth of my third child and embarking on a business venture with my husband at the time, I did a deep dive into time management. Don’t you just love that hyperfocus! I was at the point that life had gotten busy and I wasn’t able to function at the level I wanted to. I had not yet been diagnosed with ADHD, but I knew I was struggling with organization and time management. I read a lot of the time management books that were popular at that time, such as Eat That Frog, Getting Things Done, One Year to an Organized Life, which I see has an updated version, and many others that I have forgotten.

The most important thing that I learned from that deep dive, and something I have learned not to veer from, is keeping a notebook. It’s often a simple spiral notebook which allows for a pen or pencil to be clipped to the spiral binding, or sometimes a bound hardcover journal. The size has varied over the years depending on if I have a lot that I’m juggling and I need the larger pages or I’m out and about a lot and need something that fits in my purse or backpack.

I use this notebook to “collect” everything! Things I need to do, phone numbers I need to call that don’t need to be stored in my phone, books I want to read, topics I need to look up to help a client, measurements for shelves I want to add to the bathroom…anything and everything goes in my notebook.

From there, I will create a master to-do list. This list contains things I need to do in the next few days as well as longer term items that I may refer to when I have some free time and want to work on (such as the shelves for the bathroom). This master to-do list is sometimes handwritten on a separate page in the notebook, or it might be put into a google doc, printed out, and attached to a page in the notebook. Although I have this often long, master to-do list, it’s not front and center throughout the day. That would be overwhelming. I will update this master to-do list every week or so.

Towards the end of most days I will sit with my notebook and master to-do list to create a 3-5 item to-do list for the next day. Anything more than that can be overwhelming. This short to-do list for tomorrow is often on a sticky note so it can go with me throughout the day. Especially if the items on it relate to errands or things throughout the house.

Although I love pen and paper, I also use my phone. I set alarms for medication and to eat. I use a GPS app that is tied to my calendar so I get notified when it’s time to leave in order to get to an appointment on time. I will use the reminder app if I think of something that needs to be added to the master to-do list and I’m not able to access my notebook such as during the night or while driving by using voice to text. At times I will use an app based on the Pomodoro method to take breaks from working at my desk. 

What about chores around the house? When I was young I remember seeing this book in our house. I didn’t think much of it at the time since our house was always a mess when I was growing up, but I came across it again when my children were young. Another reason I love hyperfocus is that when I find something I’m interested in, I go all in! So I took a deep dive and learned the author’s method. Not all of it stuck, but I learned a few key habits that have made a big difference. I wipe down the bathroom every morning. It’s just easier than letting it get icky and having to do a deep clean. It may not be perfect, but it’s good enough. I start the dishwasher every night. I’m mostly an empty nester now except for when my daughter is home from university, but I start the dishwasher regardless of how empty it is. It actually saves on water compared to handwashing and I need my vitamix blender clean each morning for a smoothie. When I had all my kids at home, I found it easier to do a load of laundry each morning. I would set a reminder to switch it to the dryer and a reminder to get it out, fold it, and put it away (or give it to the kids to put away). There were certainly times when I was behind on laundry, but doing a load everyday definitely eliminated the problem of not having anything clean to wear.

Another way I use my phone is for shopping lists. If I’m running low on something I’m pretty good at remembering to add it to my list before running out. If I stop at the store for my dad, I don’t have to think about whether I need anything as my list is likely up to date and I can just look at that.

The last thing that comes to mind for this article is medication. Whether you opt for medication or not is a very personal choice, and one that might change from time to time. I finally received a diagnosis about 15 years ago. I was doing prerequisites for med school and my stepmom had come across a bunch of my report cards from elementary school. Although my grades were good, there were a lot of comments about me daydreaming and being in my own world. There were also notes about needing to apply myself and not being focused. I already had a good idea that I had ADHD and I was able to go to my doctor with the report cards as well as my current signs and symptoms with the added stress of taking four science classes at one time. As soon as I was diagnosed I was started on adderall (immediate release). Over the years I have gone from taking it everyday, taking it some days, as well as using coffee and exercise in place of medication. At the moment, I take a lower dose on days I want to sit at my desk to get work done. The rest of the time I rely on being active to have focus after the workout and sometimes coffee. I’m not trained to give advice about medication, but I will say it may take some time to find what works for you. And that might change depending on current circumstances. And if you don’t want to take medication, that’s okay, too!

As I wrap up this blog post, there’s one more piece of advice, and that is to give yourself grace! We may see and interact with the world differently than others around us, and that’s okay! It may take a few extra trips back into the house to retrieve something we’ve forgotten, but have fun with it. I know to allow extra time to get out the door and when my daughter is home we have a good laugh at the process.

Those are some of the things that I have found helpful in managing what’s important to me while having ADHD. There’s a lot that I haven’t covered, so if there’s anything you need help with feel free to post a comment, send me a message, or book a session!



  1. BruceGeals

    nd_user – Nice Article! Stacy Finch

    • Stacy Finch

      Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Feel free to browse my site for other articles!


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