How to control your ADD

The Center for Disease Control reports that 8.4 percent of children between the ages of 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD in their lifetime. However, ADD is not limited to children; many adults struggle to concentrate, as well.

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  • The Center for Disease Controlreports that 8.4 percent of children between the ages of 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD in their lifetime. However, ADD is not limited to children; many adults struggle to concentrate, as well.

  • If you are an adult coping with ADD, or if you are a parent or teacher of a child with ADD, these tips can help you get attention deficit disorder under control.

  • Create a focus environment

  • The setup of your workstation can factor into your ability to concentrate. If your desk is in a high-traffic area, for example, try facing the other way or, if possible, switch desks. If your desk is cluttered, clean it off. If your phone is beeping at you, switch it to silent and put it in a drawer. By eliminating distractions in your peripheral vision, you will begin to find it easier to settle into your work.

  • Conversely, you can also stimulate your senses into actually helping you focus. Put a list of your tasks in an easy-to-see place. This means that when you look up, a reminder of what you were doing will be the first thing you see. Also, if you stand while you work or even sit on an exercise ball, you have given your body a release for extra energy. The same principle applies when you play with a stress ball, chew gum, or listen to classical music. ADD can feel like there’s a 3-year-old inside your head. By giving your inner 3-year-old something simple to do, you’re free to be an adult and get to work!

  • Make tasks more engaging

  • Distractions come in many forms, but it becomes easier to ignore them when your work is engrossing. So, try making your tasks more interactive. For example, use colored pencils or highlighters to underline key points in what you read. Also, you can ask yourself questions throughout the task, such as “how would I explain this process to someone else?” or “how do these concepts connect?”. You can also make new information less complex (and easier to absorb) by creating summaries, outlines, and organizers.

  • It also helps to have reasonable expectations for yourself. If you think you can only manage to focus for 10 minutes, set a timer for 10 minutes and then get to work! When the timer goes off, give yourself permission to stretch, look around or get a drink. Taking a short break can actually keep your attention from wandering.

  • Use “reset” strategies

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  • Regardless of how uncluttered your desk or how interactive your task, you will probably still get distracted sometimes. That’s okay — once you realize that you have gotten off track, take a deep breath and imagine yourself successfully focusing on your work. This kind of positive thinking prevents discouragement and a further break in concentration.

  • After you’ve taken a moment to relax, you can glance at your checklist and remind yourself what you were supposed to be doing. Then, set a goal for how long you think you can focus on the task without getting sidetracked, again. Remember to break large projects into small tasks, too; this way, the project (and the attention it requires) becomes less daunting.

  • Get help

  • Setting up positive environments and altering behaviors isn’t always enough. Talk to a doctor, counselor, or other ADD specialist. These professionals can offer medication to supplement your lifestyle changes and may be able to refer you to support groups for adults with ADD. In short, you don't have to manage your ADD alone.

  • While ADD can be a daunting issue, it's not impossible to cope. Eliminating distractions in your workstation, making your tasks more interactive, creating a refocusing system, and consulting a professional each help to keep your concentration intact, regardless of ADD.

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Sara Hagmann is a stay-at-home wife and writer who loves traveling, cooking, and kissing her husband. A lot.

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