How To Study When You Have ADHD

In 2010, just two months after completing a three year BSc in Florida, I relocated to the UK, to commence my MSc. One year, 195 credits. Looking back, I wished I had taken the part time, two year option. It was one wild year! Though I did graduate with Merit, had I chosen the two year option, my final grade would have been with a Distinction- the highest in the British education system.

 I remember the long sleepless nights. Not much time to date, even less to enjoy more of life. What if II had to contend with ADHD? Oh boy! It’s not easy for most people to study. It’s even more challenging for those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Those with ADHD have above normal levels of hyperactivity and a below normal ability to focus on a single task. This makes studying especially difficult for adults and children with ADHD. If you are enrolled in school, diagnosed with ADHD, perhaps the following strategies can make studying less challenging:

  1. Remove distractions.  Most of us are easily distracted these days. Those with ADHD are even more susceptible. It’s worth the effort to create a place to study, devoid of distractions as much as possible. A completely bare room with a desk and maybe a clock is ideal. The fewer the number of distractions the better.
  2. Focus on one task at a time. No one is particularly good at switching back and forth between tasks. This is even more challenging for someone with ADHD. Choose a task and commit to working on it until either the task or the allocated time is complete. Then, take a break and move forward.
  3. Take regular breaks. There are people with very short attention spans that have accomplished amazing things by alternating 10-minute work periods with 10-20-minute breaks. A break doesn’t necessarily mean sitting there staring into space. It can be a good time to do a chore around the house, do some pushups, or call a friend.
    • Find the right ratio of working time to break time for you. You’ll never know what works for you without experimenting. There’s a right combination for everyone.
  4. Avoid waiting until the last minute. Plan ahead. Look at your schedule and begin working on papers and studying for tests well in advance. Avoid the temptation to cram the night before. It’s a poor strategy for anyone, but can be even worse for someone with ADHD.
  5. Exercise. Exercise can help to bleed off some of the excess energy that can make it hard to sit still and get to work. It is a great remedy for a variety of ailments. Regular exercise can be a tremendous boost to your ability to focus and study.
  6. Try taking a nap. Naps are a wonderful tool for some but seem to help others very little. Again, experiment and see what works for you. Try short naps, long naps, and everything in between. A little sleep can reset your brain in a way that simply relaxing cannot.
  7. Schedule study time. Have a schedule that you stick to. A routine can be highly beneficial and ensure you don’t fall behind. Catching up is always challenging but is especially challenging for someone with an attention disorder.
  8. Talk to your school. Your school might have accommodations for students with learning challenges. You might be entitled to free tutors, altered testing conditions such as a private room, or additional time for tests. This is true from elementary school to college. You’ll never know if you don’t ask. What do you have to lose?

If you or someone you care about has ADHD, you know how challenging it can be to sit down, focus, and study. However, the tips above can help anyone to be more effective at studying whether they have ADHD or not! 

The key is to experiment and to keep an open mind. The right solution might surprise you. Be sure to get in touch with an appropriate medical professional if a satisfactory result isn’t attained. The right medication, treatment, or expert advice can make a huge difference.

Until the next post,  ADHD and Money Management,


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