If you were a child or teen with If you were a child or teen with

5 Tips to Help You Thrive in Young Adulthood with ADHD

 young woman gazing in thoughtIf you were a child or teen with attention-deficit hyperactivity, chances are your parents and teachers helped you to a large degree to manage ADHD symptoms by helping you to get up on time, making sure you completed your homework, and taking care of basic daily tasks. The transition into adulthood, and being responsible for tasks at home and at work, can be difficult for many individuals. For those with ADHD, the transition is often even more difficult. However, with the right tools and support, including therapy when needed, adults with ADHD are fully capable of thriving.

Here are some suggestions for handling various issues:

  1. Paying bills: Make a list of all of your regular bills (i.e., credit card, student loans, rent/mortgage) and note the due date of each. When possible, use online banking systems to have bills auto-paid from your account. Set a reminder on your phone calendar or through another method to check your balance at least two days before each bill is due to ensure that sufficient funds are available. Also, note the due date of each bill on your calendar. If automatic billing is not an option, set one reminder five days before each due date, two days before, and then on the due date itself to ensure that you pay your bills on time. Additionally, it may be helpful to block out an hour at a set time each week where you sit and pay all bills due in the next week.
  2. Keeping track of appointments and activities: Use a calendar and record all appointments and set activities. Block out time in your calendar to complete specific tasks, and stick to following through (such as doing laundry on Wednesday evenings). If you need assistance following through, try setting up incentives for yourself (i.e., you get to watch a movie only after you do your laundry).
  3. Keeping track of tasks: A to-do list works well for many people. Apps such as Reminders, To-Do, and Wunderlist are great. However, the trick with benefiting from a to-do list is to actually check it and follow through. In addition to keeping a to-do list, especially for bigger tasks, block out time in your calendar to complete them, and set reminders through the calendar and task-list apps. Setting a reminder 15 minutes before and five minutes before may be helpful in preparing you to transition to the task you need to complete.
  4. Getting places on time: Allow an extra 30 minutes beyond the time it should take to get to each place you have to go to. In addition, set a reminder or alarm on your phone and have it go off one hour before you need to leave, 30 minutes beforehand, 15 minutes beforehand, and five minutes beforehand. Begin wrapping up whatever you are doing 15 minutes beforehand and try to leave before the specific time you planned to leave (while allowing 30 minutes beyond the estimated time to get there). There are also countdown apps you can use that incorporate this idea, which can help mentally prepare you to leave when needed.
  5. Grocery shopping: Make a list before you go to the store so you know exactly what you need to buy. When you arrive at the store, go through it section by section, trying to find everything from your list in a given section before moving on to the next section. Alternatively, if possible, order groceries online and have them delivered. This allows you to select the items you want and prevents you from buying items you don’t actually need.

You know yourself best, so try out different strategies, including the ones above, and see which combination works best for you. I also encourage you to share your own suggestions in the comments section below. Learning what others have found helpful and trying those tools can be a great way to improve your ability to handle day-to-day challenges.

If you feel that you need more specific suggestions or help implementing them, I encourage you to seek out a therapist or ADHD coach who can assist you in making these types of interventions a part of your everyday life. Knowing what to do is great, but being able to figure out how to follow through is the key to success in managing tasks effectively in adulthood.

© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Carey Heller, PsyD, ADHD: Inattention, Impulsivity, and Hyperactivity Topic Expert Contributor

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Meryl

    October 2nd, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    For me it is always about having those visual reminders that I can look at and kind of depend on to keep me on track. Sure, my office space is quite a little mess because of all of the little notes that I have posted in various places, but it helps keep me on track and I just have to tell everyone to sort of close their eyes when they go by and just know that if they need me to be prodictive, which I am assuming that they do, then they will have to forgive my messy transgressions.

  • w martin

    October 2nd, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    I would say that the hardest thing for me has been realizing that hey, now I am responsible for a lot of this stuff that my folks always did for me and that is more than a little scary. I think that they tried to give me the tools that I would need to have this under control as I grew up, and for the most part they did, but it is still a little oevrwhelming to understand that they might not be there to pick up the pieces anymore if I mess up. I find that I rely on a lot of the same stuff now that I did when I wa syounger, lists and stuff like that, but there are still times when I feel a little bit out of control and have to slow down and take a deep breath before tackling something new. Overall I feel that I am doing well but it is still a daily battle at times.

  • Joel

    October 3rd, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    This one is for the parents of ADHD kids out there- give them a chance to succeed and to fail on their own.
    Don’t do all of the hard stuff for them when they are growing up.
    Of course you will want to always be there for them, but at what expense? Don’t do so much for them when they are young that they really don’t know how to be an adult later on.

  • stan f

    October 3rd, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    I sure am glad that none of my kids had this because between my own inattention and hyperactive lifestyle, we would have never made it anywhere together! It was almost like they kept me on task most of the time!

  • Whitney M.

    October 3rd, 2014 at 11:47 PM

    Theses tips are great help for me. Those are the tasks that I have difficulties doing everyday. I would always start things and lose interest then start a different one. I always do this and I’m having a hard time keeping myself on track. One of the things listed above that I have been doing is keeping a to-do list. Though sometimes it took me long before finishing it.

  • Maquise

    October 4th, 2014 at 4:52 AM

    I have also heard that there are some really good apps available for those who need more of a tech kind of reminder, and so those should be worth checking out. It might just be something as simple as making those lists on your phone versus sticky notes, whatever helps you remain more mindful of the things that you need to get accomplished on a daily basis.

  • jess

    October 6th, 2014 at 3:43 AM

    Growing up is hard on all of us and taking on additional responsibilities is a huge step toward becoming an adult. This doesn’t mean that the day you turn 18 your mom and dad should look at you and say here you go, all of this is yours now. I think that the better thing to do is to help any kid transition into this role and with that comes varying and ever increasing stints of responsibility. Ease them into it, and that way they don’t feel so overwhelmed like they would if they had to take it all on starting all at once. It is a learning curve for everyone, but it can be done in a way that everyone feels more comfortable.

  • Carey Heller,Psy.D.

    October 13th, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    Thank you for taking the time to read my article and share your thoughts on it and your own experiences in this area.

  • N Williams

    February 28th, 2015 at 3:51 AM

    I think that this is a great reminder of the support that we, our clients and anyone with ADHD continue to need once they complete school and are expected to meet expectations on their own. I especially like the mention of the phone apps since we all depend on our phones so much in general anyway.

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