Tackling Adult ADHD – Difficulties with Focus

One of the chief complaints for adults with ADD of ADHD is difficulty focusing. Paying attention can be a challenge because often adults with ADHD become bored easily, especially with routine or mundane tasks and responsibilities. If you have ever found yourself uninterested in something, no matter how hard you try to focus, you are not alone. Adults with ADHD have difficulty making themselves be interested in something they feel or become bored by. Because of this, many projects get started, but few get finished because boredom sets in. This causes piles of projects to amass in the home, or in boxes in storage increasing in number over time. Many people ask: ‘How does an adult with ADHD maintain focus for an extended period of time in order to complete the projects they start?’
Multi-Tasking: Friend or Foe?
Adults with ADHD sometimes find themselves with several tasks on their plate at once, often because they have lost interest in one/some and picked up other interests along the way. A myth exists for some that multitasking is a valuable asset in the home or at work. However, the answer to being able to focus and complete projects/tasks is NOT by trying to multitask. Recent research suggests that people who try to focus on more than one task at the same time are less likely to complete their tasks as efficiently as if they just focused on one through to completion. For example, chatting on the phone while driving has shown significantly increased driving time to reach a destination – not to mention being more dangerous for yourself and others. It is more efficient and time-effective to focus on one task at a time, rather than try to juggle several tasks at once.
Solutions for Problems with Focus
So now that we understand the importance of focusing one task at a time, how does a person with ADHD manage to do so? Medication and therapy are two solutions. Medication enhances the wiring and chemicals of the brain to allow us to focus better. Therapy can have a similar, and often more significant and long-lasting, effect by working with the client to understand and educate them with tools and tactics to become better at focusing. Some of these tactics found in therapeutic services may include:
Dismissing Distraction
It is possible to become more aware of when distractions arise. As we train ourselves to do so, we are able to feel our emotions (anger, fear, excitement) briefly, then and contain them for the moment in order to stay present with the task at hand. Over time, this skill develops into a distraction-proof way of being.
Managing a Wandering Mind
If you catch your mind wandering during a conversation, look at the person in the eyes and ask them to repeat themselves, offering that you do not want to miss (or misunderstand) what they are saying. Once they repeat themselves, say it back to yourself in your head to anchor it in your mind. They will be grateful for your honesty and both of you will stay on the same page.
Fiddle Your Way Into the Present
Research shows that doodling, wiggling fingers and toes, and other fidgety-type movements actually help you stay focused when someone else is speaking.