ADHD Strategies

Strategies based on ADHD problems and strengths

One of the major problems you probably have deals with getting organized. Try these strategies on your own. If you have problems ask someone to help you. You might ask another student, an advisor, or someone in office for students with learning disabilities.

Time Management

In order to organize your time, you first need to set some goals. Read this if you need help.   Goals 
Otherwise just focus on what you want to accomplish this year. What grades do you want to make? What else do you want to do? You might want to increase self-confidence, self-motivation, or determination. You might want to reduce anxiety. You might want to make friends. You might want to be part of an organization.

After you have a short list of goals, then study the section on Time Management. You cannot do this until you know the schedule for your classes.

Special hint 1. You probably have trouble concentrating, especially for hour-long lectures. When you create your schedule, put a block of exercise time just before the lectures that are most likely to be boring. Exercise, drinking water, and eating a healthy snack will all prepare you to concentrate on a lecture.

Special hint 2. You probably have problems studying one subject for a long period of time. While some students can study French or Biology for two hours, you will learn more if you divide your time into 20-30 minute blocks. You might study biology for 30 minutes, take a 15 minute break, and study math for 20-30 minutes. Then you could repeat the pattern. actually studying each subject for an hour.

Be sure to include meals, enough sleep time, and time for regular exercise.

Special hint 3. When you alternate two subjects like that, alternate two subjects that are different. Reading and doing math problems are different. If you take a foreign language, memorizing vocabulary is different from reading literature. You might also combine your easiest or most interesting class with your most difficult class.

Special hint 4. Carry your schedule everywhere and check it regularly. You might tape  a copy on your binder or notebooks. To help you keep track of what you need to do, you might find it helps to make a “To Do” list every night.  List all your classes and times. List everything you plan to study and for how long. List other things to do such as laundry, meeting friends, a meeting you plan to attend, an appointment with a professor.

Then mark your priorities. You might put a star or asterisk by the things you absolutely must do – classes, Taking your meds, meeting with a professor, etc. For other important things just put a line. For things that are less important, use a question mark.

When you take your meds, check it off. When you go to that class or meet your professor, check them off. When you study math for 30 minutes check it off. When you study math another 30 minutes, check it off. Each time you check off a completed task, you can be proud of yourself for being so organized. Maybe at lunch, you can look carefully at what is left to do and think about your afternoon.

Organize your Materials

Special hint 5.  Read Organize materials . You need to organize your materials. Do not keep all your books and all your notebooks in your backpack.

Make a chart to put on the wall in your dorm room. List the days of the week and the materials you will need for that day. You need to take a math book to class. You won’t need your textbooks in many other classes unless you plan to study that book before getting back to the dorm.

You should pack your backpack the night before. Then you won’t worry about forgetting something in the morning. Keep an adequate supply of blank paper and pens or pencils in the pack. You might also pack snacks or get some fruit at breakfast. Consider filling a water bottle and putting that in your pack. Then you will feel prepared. It feels good.

Organize your money

Read Budget Your Money .  Talk to your parents about how much money you will have and what it will need to cover. Make a budget including buying books (they are expensive!), buying other school supplies, doing laundry, buying meals if you aren’t on a meal plan, clothes if you need them, medicines, snacks, etc. Then keep track of what you spend and check weekly to be sure you are not spending more than you should. You don’t want to run out before the end of the month.

Special Hint 6. Many students take their monthly money and divide it into five or six parts. If you have $100 for the month, you might take $20 a week and when it’s gone, it’s gone. You’ll learn to watch your money more carefully. For the last week in the month when there are a few extra days, you might take $25. The rest of the money should be kept in the bank for emergencies.

Prepare for Lectures

Exercise, drinking water and eating a healthy snack will all prepare you to concentrate on a lecture.

Special hint 7. Another way to prepare for a lecture is to learn a little about the topic. Your syllabus should list the topics. You can look through the chapter in the book. Read the introduction and conclusion. You can find related information on the Internet.

Think about what you already know on the topic. Write at least ten questions about the topic, questions you’re really interested in. Just before the lecture, look over the list and wonder about whether the lecture will answer any questions. Developing interest in the topic will help you focus.

Special hint 8. Sit near the front of the class. There are fewer distractions. Get your notebook and pen ready. If you have a cellphone, turn it off.  Make a habit of leaning slightly forward and making eye contact with the professor. When you look like you are eager to learn, you actually learn better.

Special hint 9.  You might try several ways of taking notes. You should not try to write everything the professor says. If you need detailed notes, ask to borrow someone else’s notes. They might also want to see your notes.

Focus on the main ideas. Listen carefully and try to identify the main ideas. Write the main ideas neatly and underline them. You want to remember these. Under each main ideas, try to include at least three to five other pieces of information. Your page will be neat and easy to read. You should have the most important information.

If you start feeling like you can’t concentrate then you might try drawing a simple illustration for each of the main points. Since you can do several things at the same time, you can continue to listen while drawing. Drawings that illustrate the information is far more helpful than simple doodling.  Another thing you might do is add to your list of questions about the topic.

If you feel the urge to move, then move your feet. Stretch out your legs and pull them back. You can also just move the upper part of your feet back and forth. You might try doing this for each sentence in the lecture. That way you can relieve the need to move and continue to concentrate on the lecture.

After the lecture, use your notes to create a simple concept map or an outline.

Get involved with your reading.

Special hint 10. Start with surveying the book, the chapter or the section. Look for the main ideas. Look for new terms. Then take a full sheet of paper and use colored pens or crayons to create some sort of chart of what you learned. It might be a concept map. It might be a compare and contrast chart or simply visuals. While you are doing the surveying, you ill be using creative skills to think you might show the organization and main ideas in a visual way.  When you finish, think to yourself what you have already learned, even before reading the chapter.

Learning the vocabulary is important. you might use a separate page in your notebook for vocabulary terms and definitions. I prefer listing the vocabulary with definitions before I start to read. You might prefer to add words to the list as you read. I don’t think it makes much difference.

Special hint 11. Think about your attention span and divide the chapter you need to read into small chunks. You might divide it into 4 or 5 large sections (with main headings) or 15-20 smaller sections (using subheadings).

Special hint 12. Your reading will be divided into four +1 activities.

First read the section, looking for the main ideas and important facts.

Second, look away from the book and go over the material (this is called reciting). You can recite mentally, out loud, or in writing. If you forgot important information check back and recite again.

Third, put the information in reading notes. Put the main idea in a sentence but extra information can be in sentences or short phrases.

Fourth, Create a visual for that small section. Then, if you need to, take a short break.

Do the same thing for each small chunk. Sometimes, when you are able to concentrate longer you can do two or three chunks before taking a somewhat longer break.

When you come to the end of the study session, ask yourself what you have learned so far. If you can’t remember very much, go back through your reading notes and try again.

Special hint 13. When you finish the whole chapter you might use a large sheet of paper, maybe from a drawing pad, and your colored pens or crayons and create a visual that summarizes all the main ideas in the chapter and some of the detailed information. Some people may prefer doing an outline. If so, you could make that colorful too.

Review with your chart several times the next day. Then try to draw the same chart without looking at the original. Check to see what you forgot and make corrections.  At any point you can add additional information from a lecture or from your reading notes.

Ask yourself if there is enough information on the chart that you could make a good grade on an exam just knowing the information on  your chart.

Preparing for a test

Special hint 14. You will now have a detailed chart for each chapter. You might find a way to combine the information for several chapters or even for everything you have read so far.

Continue to do each of these charts at least once a week by memory, and review them briefly in between. When it is time for a test, you should not need to do much additional study.

Studying Math is different.

The four secrets to learning math are
1. Never miss a class.
2  Do your homework problems as soon as possible after class.
3. Re-do at least 3 or 4 problems just before the next class to be sure you remember how to do them,
4. Do several problems from each day’s problems just before a test.

I found it helpful to have a study buddy. We each did the work separately and then compared our methods and answers. It was motivating and fun to work this way. Of course, it means you need to find another student who has time free when you do and who is interested in working with you.

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