How do you stay productive and dicipl... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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How do you stay productive and diciplined when dealing with ADHD?

michael682 profile image

Hi everyone! I'm new here, (A little backstory)

I am 20 yo Male with ADHD Predominantly inattentive type. I am currently in a relationship with someone older and truly care about them. I've recently been very stressed with College and have decided to switch from a Major to a Certificate program for Graphic Design. It is difficult for me to do this but I know it what will be best for me. I am currently trying to become more structured and disciplined in my everyday life.

Also before continuing please understand that I do tend to go down "rabbit holes" when typing but will do my best to minimize them for the sake of everyone's sanity.

(now to my question)

I want to become more productive and disciplined but as you all know ADHD doesn't always agree with productivity and discipline. "Lets out a big sigh"

So here are 3 things I wanna ask,

1, What things are helping you achieve your goals and what things are not or have not in the past?

2, Do any of you use APP's to stay organized, focused, etc?

3, How do you communicate what you're going through to your SO? Is it normal to have anxiety and fear of failing them when you don't see growth or productivity in yourself?

Feel free to be as open or closed off as you want when answering these questions. I am an honest person and always try to be open so feel free to ask clarifying questions.


21 Replies


Hello there, I'm also a male with Inattentive ADHD, got diagnosed in my mid 20s. My early 20s were really difficult for me school wise since I was not getting any type of help. After I got diagnosed I started taking a very small dose stimulant medication along with supplements in order to help the medication work to its full potential, fight off side effects, and to help out the neurotransmitters that are low with people with ADHD. It RADICALLY changed my life around. I got my BA in exactly 2.5 years, have about 1.5 years left of grad school, and will be obtaining for my PhD. in hopefully 3 years in order to become a clinical psychologist. Before my medication and supplements, I would have never dreamed of achieving almost any of that. I have been studying ADHD for about the last 4 years and have learned that people with ADHD need to help boost certain neurotransmitters that we have low levels of. Stimulant medication works only with Dopamine and Norepinephrine, but that still leaves other important neurotransmitters like Acetylecholine and Serotonin without getting the boost they need.

If you're interested, you can click on my pic, which will then take you to my profile, and in my bio, you'll find links to a video series I made of the struggles people with Inattentive ADHD go through throughout the lifespan, a book I published on Inattentive ADHD, and a link to all the supplements I take along with information on what these supplements do and how they help out people with ADHD. Also there's multiple posts I've made about specific low neurotransmitter levels and their correlation with ADHD problems. Hope this helps

Sorry for the late reply, Wow such good information in your response. I have actually been thinking about googling for an ADHD food diet. Maybe something with less caffeine and sugar. I will definitely look at your profile and find those vids! I am currently trying to get my life organized before it gets too far out of control.

OK, Michael682. I don't know. Maybe we can help each other!

I, too am having an ineffective run at self-discipline, focus, the whole sha-bang!

I was diagnosed a while ago (maybe 1-1/2 yrs?), but couldn't go at it with much force due to a debilitating spine surgery last October. STILL recovering!

Earlier this year I started working it to the bone, but it's so hard to focus on the wealth of info out there for crying out loud!

*There are problems with depression getting in the way, but "workin' on it"!

*I found the C.H.A.D.D. website helpful.

*From what my psychotherapist told me lately is about a "sure-fire book!" that IS A MUST and if you only get one book on ADHD, then this would be IT!

I picked it up, but like I said, .............! I have GOT to read at least the first chapter!

So the name of it is "Delivered from Distraction" by a couple of doctors with ADD/ADHD and their names are, Edward Hallowell and John Ratey.

The cool thing is that they put the crucial points all in the first chapter due to the fact that, "Who with ADD reads a whole book"? As a matter of fact they don't even care if a single person reads the whole book!

*This link will get you to a great article one of our members posted.

*Lastly, I found a little book at Half-Price Books called "The One-Minute Organizer". I'm trying to apply it in my life. Yeah. It works if you work it.

So, can check some or all of these things out. I wish you wonderful, wonderful success, Bro!

Take Care,


michael682 profile image
michael682 in reply to Imakook

I too go through days of depression and it totally sucks. Though the anxiety is worse for me than the depression. I recently explained to my SO how anxiety is for me and they couldn't really follow because the anxiety I have is different from what they've had. The never-ending feeding off each thought type is what I get and sometimes I have to just sit there and remind myself to live in the moment instead of the future that my thoughts create. I know that the only thing that will help minimize these problems is working on them a little each day and that's what I aim to do.

I love reading books and will check out the ones you've listed! Of course, I may never completely read them but its all good as long as I take a little something from the book and apply it to my life.


Michael C

Oh my God "live in the moment and not the future that my mind creates" can I use that if I eventually ever in the future do what this rabbit hole I'm currently in actually produces an outcome lmao?

Credit Michael C(michael682)

Of course

But really that set off a lightbulb in my head (while opening up another rabbit hole of course)

Of course. Just gotta keep me in the loop for when you complete it!

JMPhD profile image
JMPhD in reply to michael682

Hi Michael,

It's pretty hard when you open up, and those close to you can't relate due to different experiences (e.g. for you regarding anxiety) I feel for you. I have struggled more with depression than anxiety (and ADD...don't buy the lumping of ADD with ADHD... inattentive type. But having worked clinically for 16 years, while pursuing a doctorate in Clinical Psychology, and having quite a few friends with significant anxiety issues...I've found Cognitive-Behavioral Approaches most useful, especially the easily accessible self-help stuff- like REBT- Rational-Emotive-Behavioral-Therapy! It sounds as if you struggle with anticipatory anxiety. Please consider the following, hope it helps and that you keep expressing yourself/sharing with loved ones!

Best, Jeanmaire

What's the Worst Thing That Could Happen? - Albert Ellis ...

Search domain › 2017 › 02 › whats-the-worst-thing-that-could-happen

Anticipatory anxiety, or anxiety leading up to a potentially negative event, is an extremely common form of anxiety. Often, we are more afraid of the uncertainty of what MIGHT happen, and don't even want to think about it possibly happening. ... If I stop and use my REBT training, I would force myself to think about the worst case scenario.

This keeps getting better for me with new info this past week.

I received an email from an ADD magazine called ADDitude. It offered a free webinar of one of the authors of the book I mentioned.

His website (if interested) is and looks like he has an award-winning blog! Fancy-shmancy!

The site address for that is

I simply wanted to share with anyone who wants to access healthy solutions that were made for us!

Of course, these posts on HU are where I find help and comraderie. This is a necessity for me.

Have an awesome week!

michael682 profile image
michael682 in reply to Imakook

I will totally look at it! I love podcasts, web vids, etc. I recently picked up a book I hadn't finished called "Faster than normal" by Peter Shankman. Truly helpful and tons of (OMG THATS ME) moments. Full of honest and relatable stories and definitely full of helpful advice.

I found Peter Shankman and subscribed to his podcast too after I added Dr. Hallowell's podcast. Thank you both for your recommendations. I am always looking for good podcasts.

Thanks for the podcasts. I thought I added Dr. Hallowell podcasts on my Apps. Thanks for the reminder. Distraction is added to Google Podcasts and Podcast Addict now. I did not see him on Stitcher. His podcasts are pretty on his website. I have his book Driven by Distraction. I wonder does Peter Shankman has a podcast too. :-) Thank you both for your recommendations.

JMPhD profile image
JMPhD in reply to Imakook

I love ADDitude, thanks for mentioning this source! I received more help from them via information than from any Psychologist, Social Worker or Psychiatrist, unfortunately!

Sounds like it's excactly fitting that I will "almost totally read" that book. I will check it out! Thanks, Michael!!!

michael682 profile image
michael682 in reply to Imakook

Not a problem, its actually mentioned in the blog you mentioned!

I have always had the same issues with productivity and discipline. I suffer from the inattentive type of ADD and it manifests as lack of motivation and discipline.

I too take most of those same supplements mentioned above with my Vyvanse. I also take Wellbutrin and Clonopin for depression and anxiety.

But those are temporary answers to my symptoms. Some stop working as well after a few years - and they never address the root causes. In my case, I look at talk therapy and CBT the same way. Really good tools for the moment, but not addressing the root causes.

I know this because there are Saturdays when there’s no work anxiety, I’m so engaged in something I like and/or have hyperfocus — that productivity and discipline come naturally and I don’t realize I occasionally forgot to take my meds.

The best thing I did was get an ADHD coach. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

- I’m more accountable to others then to myself. Having a coach creates deadlines and accountability.

- I have an Activation problem. I’m either in 1st gear or 5th gear and rarely in the middle.

- The hardest thing for me is activating from first gear to second gear - especially if it’s a Quadrant 2 (Q2) task (google Covey’s quadrants), which is something important but not urgent.

- Like most people with ADD, I have a finite amount of Time, Energy, and Attention. I need to limit the everyday things that sap my energy and attention. I need to do more of the things that provide me with additional energy and attention, and by extension, time.

– The biggest everyday item that zaps my energy and attention is overwhelm – whether it’s physical or mental overwhelm.

- Examples of addressing physical overwhelm are keeping my place clean every day and putting out my meds, supplements, and clothing for the next day.

- Examples of addressing mental overwhelm are preparing my schedule for the next day and addressing one Q2 task per day.

- I was terrible at these things and did nothing to fix them because I never before saw any connection with my ADD.

- I now see the reward. Addressing overwhelm helps me preserve my time, energy, and attention for the more draining work activities when I most need them.

- I am the type of person that has tremendous difficulty activating from first gear to second gear, but once I just get started on a boring task, I usually have the momentum to finish it.

– The best way for me to address a Q2 task or try to break a bad habit like keeping my place messy is chunking.

- With Q2 tasks, that’s breaking up one discrete task into 16 or 20 smaller tasks and just focusing on accomplishing the first one — even if it’s just doing the Google search to find the websites I need to research, to then write a report. If I can just do that two minute Google search and nothing else, it’s a victory in my mind. Often, however, that first task gives me the momentum to get to the second and so on and so on.

- With keeping my place clean, leaving out my supplements, planning for the next day, it’s about not trying to do it all at once. If I can do it once a week, that’s a victory. Once I realize it’s actually not as difficult or time-consuming as my irrational mind told me it would be, I can add a second day a week, and so on, until I’m doing it every day.

– Let me mention aerobic exercise in the morning which I hate, but which makes such a big difference in terms of giving me additional energy and attention during the day. It was important for me to find an activity that I enjoyed, at which I wanted to get better, that I could do from home and which had a tangible reward for getting better.

- For me, that has been taking salsa lessons on the weekends and then getting up in the morning during the week to practice steps and follow along with videos so I can get better. While I love playing basketball, there’s no big reward for me shooting around for 45 minutes. I’m not gonna make the NBA, and it’s not going to make a significant difference when I play pick up. That lack of reward makes it tough to go downstairs and do it.

- With the salsa dancing, however, there is a lot of motivation for getting better, beyond the self satisfaction. One can quickly get to a point where he or she can at least get out on the dance floor and know enough to hold his/her own. There’s a huge difference between that and sitting on the sideline watching. And, as a guy, if I’m at a club where there are more women than men, just that basic level of proficiency ensures there will always be five or six partners hoping I will pick them to dance.

- Then, you get motivated to become better to be able to dance with the more talented dancers.

- Then you want to learn the flashy tricks to look good out there and impress people. There’s always a new goal to achieve by getting just a little bit better.

- The final thing about dancing that I think is helpful is that you’re building up to learn a sequence of moves, and when you successfully complete them on the dance floor, there is some combination of immediate gratification, self-satisfaction, and accomplishment - like the feeling you get when you finish a difficult puzzle or a beautiful painting, or write a great song.

All those things seem to help with my ADD and preserve/increase my energy and attention — thereby improving my productivity and discipline.

I hope that helps.

LM0830 profile image
LM0830 in reply to Radddd

Good stuff! That was definitely a “5th gear” post. I can 100% relate to that analogy. I often move waaayyy too fast, especially when exploring a new idea.

Coaching has been really helpful for me so far, and I would second that recommendation.

Do you listen to podcasts? There are some great podcasts on adhd. Driven to distraction and the adhd podcast are two I am currently listening to the most. Check it out 😁

Hi Michael

I know this is an old post. I have ASD and ADHD mixed type so I can empathise (contrary to popular belief that Autists don’t experience empathy - social empathy maybe in some aspects)

I recently discovered an APP called ‘productive’ and I have to say it’s been a life changer for me. You can plan your life on it, daily habits, tasks to complete daily, weekly, monthly etc it’s amazing. It’s the first thing I open in the morning to start the day and o actually feel as though I’m achieving something and functioning like a neurotypical. It’s easy to use too and you just swipe them off when completed and it resets for the next day. I’m constantly adding to mine to challenge myself!

I must also add that since January I have trained 6 days a week - this helps me stay grounded and diverts my focus to the pain in my muscles rather than being plagued by intrusive thoughts and negative feedback loops - again, a life changer.

I hope this helps

Good luck and all the best

Trisha ’

Hi Trisha,

Are you talking about "Productive" an business app that charges $12 if you pay the annual fee upfront or $43 monthly? Is it worth the price?

I have ADD, I don't like using the terminology ADHD-sounds like something straight out of the looney bin. First and foremost, the vast majority of us here are adults and we can view this from a logical standpoint. Being productive is mind over matter, however continual focus is what is key in any activity or task being performed. Biologically, our brain will only allow us to handle one task at a time before completing it, I threw out multitasking out the window a long time ago. Being disciplined and rigid when working is always evident in our performance, so I think it's the mindset and the effort we put into whatever we do. I went all the way through my schooling career and college with ADD. In the 90's nobody really knew what it was?? 1995 was the first year for Ritalin to hit the market, I do remember that. In any event, testing was rare and psychiatrist were scratching the surface with dx.

I would not recommend going through life struggling with inattentiveness, short-term memory etc. I self medicated using illicit drugs (THC, etoh, pills) to anesthetize my brain in essence to slow it down-which made things worse. Hence, if you need to seek treatment please do so-and do not be prideful about it-you are only hurting yourself!!

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