How can I improve my attention if I have adult ADHD?

One of my clients had difficulty in sustaining a stable job throughout his life.  Whenever I talked to him, he seemed to have difficulty in listening the details of our conversation.  He had difficulty in focusing on boring tasks such as writing a detailed sales report for his boss.  He was disorganised in most of his execution of projects at work.  He was frequently complained by his clients of missing deadlines, making careless mistakes, and forgetting clients’ requests.  He was diagnosed to suffer from adult ADHD and felt helpless in managing his deficits.

People with adult ADHD have difficulty in focus attention for the tasks in demand.  They also have disability in organising and planning.  Their physical environment may be disorganised.  They have difficulty in planning and starting their projects on time.  In addition, people with adult ADHD are also mentally inflexible sometimes.  They cannot come up with multiple options in any given situation and see from another person’s perspective. In fact, emotional regulation problem is also a weakness in some people with adult ADHD.  These people cannot regulate their emotions.  As a result, their emotional fluctuations affect their work performance and cause procrastination.  Furthermore, deficit in impulse control is also one of the symptoms in adult ADHD.  It affected these people’s interaction with others, such as, interrupting while their friends are talking.

Can people with adult ADHD learn to compensate their deficits?  The answer is yes.  It is because of the plasticity of our brain.  This means that our brain is flexible and can be changed.  Recent neuroscientific studies found that our brain can be changed throughout our lifespan.  The important key for a positive change is hard work and persistent training.  It is like running a lifelong marathon.  In fact, managing adult ADHD is a lifelong journey.  To start with, let’s learn how to improve the focus attention of this group of people.

With problems in focus attention, people with adult ADHD have weakened working memory.  They have difficulty in retaining information in the moment for them to execute the task at hand.  For instance, everyone of us has experience that we forgot what we plan to do after walking into our bedroom from our sitting room.  This blankness in our mind at times is the occasional breakdown of our working memory.  Research showed that regular physical exercise and good quality of sleep are beneficial for those with weakened working memory to strengthen it.  Furthermore, regular practice of mindfulness meditation can also enhance focus attention for this group of people.

In the middle of a task, people with adult ADHD can simply state or label their task at hand while switching to another task shortly.  For example, when you were working on entering expenses for monthly accounting record, you may name this current task when your boss called you and asked you to go into his office.  Another simple strategy is to tell yourself all the steps of a task you are about to do.  You may also write the steps down in a notebook.  It will reduce the probability that you forget what you are doing in the middle of the task while being distracted by other people or stimulus.

In order to enhance the focus attention, people with adult ADHD may also need to get rid of sources of distraction, such as mobile phones.  An important tip is to turn off notification of chat apps, emails, and news apps while you are focusing in a task.  You may also use a notebook to write down any popped up ideas irrelevant to your task at hand.  This can prevent yourself from being distracted by those ideas and making you having difficulty to focus on the task at hand.

To improve focus attention, people with adult ADHD have to be persistent in paying adequate effort to compensate for their deficits.  It is important to stay positive in this lifelong journey.  No matter how serious is your problem in focus attention, persistent effort is worthy for a notable effect in the long run.

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