10 Super Simple Concentration and Study Tips for People with ADD/ADHD

Concentration and Study Tips

If you live with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), also referred to as attention deficit disorder (ADD), you know that it can cause problems with learning at any age. Fortunately, a wide variety of study strategies can help you stay focused, engaged, and motivated—academically and otherwise. Whether you were diagnosed as a child or later as a teen or young adult, it’s never too late to start implementing new concentration and study tools and start achieving all your goals.

THE IMPACT OF ADD/ADHD ON LEARNING

An estimated 4.4% of adults in the United States have ADD/ADHD, which equates to about 10 million people. In addition, approximately 6 million children in the US have been diagnosed with the condition, which is considered a health crisis among kids and adolescents. From an educational perspective, those with ADD/ADHD are found to have increased challenges with learning, incur more school absences, and experience social difficulties with their peers.

Left untreated, adults with ADD/ADHD can struggle with reduced earnings and have challenges with success in higher education. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Learning Disabilities suggests that college students with ADD/ADHD take a longer time to graduate, have lower GPAs, and have higher attrition than students without the condition. And symptoms can continue throughout adulthood and get in the way of career success.

College students with ADD/ADHD take a longer time to graduate, have lower GPAs, and have higher attrition than students without the condition, but a wide range of helpful tools can help mitigate these risks. Click To Tweet

4 COMMON SYMPTOMS OF ADD/ADHD

People with ADD/ADHD can experience a wide range of symptoms that can have a profound effect on academics and learning, such as:

1. Difficulty concentrating and staying on task.

Research published in the Journal of Educational Research and Practice found that children with ADD/ADHD were less likely to stay on task and complete an academic assignment than those without an ADD/ADHD diagnosis.

2. Memory loss.

Forgetting a fact or figure during a course exam is a common occurrence, but those who live with ADD/ADHD are significantly more likely to suffer from deficits in working memory, according to findings in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology. This impacts grades, overall academic functioning, and career performance.

3. Impaired attention.

A review of current literature relating to ADD/ADHD shows robust evidence that college students are particularly challenged with long-term academic success due to inattention symptoms. This behavior can include procrastination and a chronic inability to focus.

4. Trouble with organization and time management.

Although not the case for everyone with ADD/ADHD, some will invest in several organizational tracking systems like calendars and planners then never use them because they become overwhelmed with the idea of tracking their time. It can be deeply frustrating and negatively impact studies and course grades.

10 TOOLS TO MITIGATE ADD/ADHD SYMPTOMS

While the challenges that come with ADD/ADHD can feel daunting, there is a wide range of tools that can be implemented to support the academic process and result in great success, whether in middle or high school, college or graduate school. These same strategies can also be beneficial for continued education, learning new skills on the job, or stepping into a new position in the workplace.

1. Create serene scenery.

Your physical environment can lend itself to a successful study session. Make sure there aren’t too many distractions. Take down any busy artwork and replace it with photographs of the ocean or mountains. Surround yourself with colors that help you feel calm and tranquil. Clear your workspace before you dig into your studies to facilitate an organized space.

2. Sit front and center.

Sitting at the front of a lecture hall, classroom, or conference room can help you avoid being distracted by others and your focus can remain with the teacher, professor, or speaker. Data from a 2020 study show that students who sit farther from the front of the classroom had a decline in grade performance compared to those who sit closer to the instructor.

3. Turn down the volume.

A study in Plos One shows that a noisy environment decreases attention in people who have ADD/ADHD, so keeping the music turned down or wearing noise-canceling headphones can be a helpful way to stay focused.

4. Put on the brakes.

Taking short breaks helps with focus and concentration, as is working in short spurts of 15–20-minute intervals. Walk away from your desk and be careful not to fill this break time with scrolling on social media or other use of screen time. Resting your eyes, avoiding stimuli, and spending time in nature are ideal during break time.

5. Get moving.

Physical exercise is shown to have a positive effect on lowering ADHD symptoms according to research in the Journal of Attention Disorders. Get outside for a walk or run, dance to a song or two to shake out some excess energy, and keep your blood flowing. A 2019 study in Frontiers in Psychology suggests that movement has a significantly positive effect on attention in people with ADD/ADHD.

6. Be creative.

A study in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, people with ADD/ADHD are shown to have creative abilities that people without the condition do not. Take a few minutes out of your study time to explore a new hobby such as crocheting or learning how to play a musical instrument to fire different areas of your brain. Just make sure it’s relaxing and enjoyable rather than overstimulating and stressful.

7. Don’t cram for exams.

It might be tempting to put off studying until the last minute, but it is detrimental to academic performance. Rather, provide yourself plenty of time to study in shorter bursts rather than long, exhaustive hours of studying the night before an exam.

8. Get some zzz’s.

Getting a full night of restful sleep will help optimize focus. If you’re mid-study session and find that you’re sleepy, take a break and close your eyes for as little as 15 or 20 minutes to refresh your brain and reset yourself mentally.

9. Have a snack.

Not just any snack! Ditch the chips and cookies and be sure to stay away from all foods with artificial dyes, preservatives, processed sugar, soy, dairy, and gluten. Instead, fill your kitchen with fresh fruits and vegetables, “clean” carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and lean protein.

10. Rewrite to reinforce learning.

Rather than re-reading your notes, which can give a false sense of understanding information, re-write them as a way of relearning each time you do so. The familiarity of already-written notes can deceive you into thinking you know the material, but when you spend time using a pen and paper, slowly rewriting notes helps process the information more effectively.

ADD/ADHD and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

11 Comments »

  1. Read this article today in my constant search for helpful tips on how to deal with my adhd. I was diagnosed early this year at age 53 and although after an initial sense of relief, I was angry. I only had to watch a documentary on tv once to know that my problems in life, my lifelong eating disorder and social problems were all due to this.
    I contacted my go who has been prescribing anti depressants to me for over 30 years now and she agreed that since I mentioned it, this was highly likely. I was subsequently tested and assessed and lo and behold, I came back with a confirmatory result for add and adhd.
    I had suspected that it wasn’t just anxiety and depression that were causing my eating disorders for years but it wasn’t really diagnosed when I was younger, especially not in women. If I was a badly behaved boy that caused disruption wherever I went, then this probably would have been picked up but I was a middle class girl with parents that knew nothing about this condition and they just thought I was different! Some people thought I was difficult and some people gave me a wide berth!
    I was talented in many ways but I never had the concentration to see any of these blessings through to result in better things. My concentration was too poor. I could pick up a flute, clarinet, oboe, virtually any instrument and just play whatever I was asked to. My grandfather on my maternal side became an alcoholic and since him and my grandmother ran a very busy pub together, it resulted in my Nan throwing him out and causing a lot of grief for my mum. He eventually became homeless and spent 20 years living in hostels or wherever he could. He’d returned from WW2 after being torpedoed three times and had to work in the pub where he apparently constantly got drinks orders wrong, took the wrong money or gave too much out and clearly was displaying all the signs of adhd and more than likely some PTSD too. He began drinking , now I see this was probably to cope with the stress and this eventually became the problem rather than the adhd. He was a Frenchman whose family had moved to the channel isles before the war and such a gentleman. He was handsome and always dressed immaculately and it was clear to see why my nan had fallen for him. They had one daughter my mother and she idolised him. He was more of a mother to her than my nan ever was and she was desperately sad that he left our lives. I remember as a young child he would take me and my two elder brothers to the Isle of Man for the day on the boat from Liverpool, I now realise this was so he could have a drink and didn’t have to drive anywhere. This was his “Ritalin” and what he turned to for a coping mechanism. He would frequently end up calling my mum as he could never remember where we lived and ask her to come and get us. When I was 6, my nan threw him out and I never saw him again until I was 21 and we found out he was in a hospice dying of cancer. Probably caused by rough living for 20 years. My mother was told by my nan that if she ever made contact with him again that she would disown her. Nan was a hard woman and my mum was devastated. She had three young children and didn’t have a lot of choice. My dad was a brilliant man though and tracked him down many times over the years and gave him money, he wanted to buy him a home near my mum but again my Nan said if he did, that was it, she’d go and sadly mum was torn and grandad being a gentleman didn’t want her to suffer so he kept away.
    When I was diagnosed it became crystal clear that this was initially what my grandad had but was never even thought about as it wasn’t a recognised condition in the 1940s.
    I loved him dearly and like him, I was left handed, the only ones in the family and I think this is all connected. My only son is left handed too and when he joined the police at 19 he was diagnosed with dyspraxia, again a condition completely missed by the schools he attended for 12 years.

    I only hope that awareness of this condition becomes more prevalent and that not every person who has this condition fits in to the stereotypical disruptive, badly behaved person that is a widely held belief. It simply isn’t true.

    I am coming to terms with my diagnosis although I’m still incredibly angry that it’s never been suggested before and I’m angry that I lost my grandad and I’m angry that I’ve passed a relative condition of this on to my son.

    We need to change things for the better. This is an affliction that can ruin a person’s life and the sooner it is recognised, the sooner we can help people with this condition and let them have a happy fulfilling life like everyone else.

    Comment by Gill — December 3, 2022 @ 6:09 AM

  2. I’m 72 and have discovered I have many symptoms of ADHD. I make lists. With me it helps keep me focused on tasks I want to accomplish. When I was in school we went diagnosed with things like this and mostly learned to cope on our own I was a good student and was surprised to see that many of the suggestions on your list were techniques I discovered on my own. I’m so glad the problem is recognized and adjustments can even be made for those affected

    Comment by Wendy Crawford — December 5, 2022 @ 4:29 AM

  3. GOOD MORNING MY GRANDSON IS 25 YEARS OLD HE IS DIAGNOSED WITH APRAXIA AND SEVERE LEARNING DISABILITIES HE CAN'T WORK ETC BUT HE HAS OTHER CAPABILITES THAT ARE OUTSTANDING KNOWS THE WORDS TO EVERY SONG CAN DANCE LIKE A PROFESSIONAL ETC IF MY DAUGHTER AND I WERE TAKE MY GRANDSON FOR A BRAIN SCAN WHAT WOULD THE FOLLOW UP BE IF U SEE WHAT IS WRONG IN HIS BRAIN CAN U FIX IT THAT HE WOULD BE ABLE TO LEAD A NORMAL LIFE. LIKE GET A JOB BE ABLE TO LEARN HOW TO DRIVE ETC. PLEASE ADVISE

    Comment by CAROL REID — December 5, 2022 @ 5:27 AM

  4. Thanks so much for this article. I have read and forwarded it to several family members. Those of us who claim to have ADD (not diagnosed by a doctor) are also high achievers in many fields. Our creativity abounds but sometimes is hard to focus and finish.

    You make this a better world. Best of luck in your personal and professional endeavors. Judy Helm Wright–Author/Historian/IntuitiveWiseWoman

    Comment by Judy Helm Wright--Author/Historian/IntuitiveWiseWoman — December 5, 2022 @ 8:46 AM

  5. At the age of 76 + I still dealing and struggling with adhd despite the practice of some of your recommendations which are Welcomed and Appreciated it But you forgot the Nutrition factor.

    Comment by Jorge — December 5, 2022 @ 10:07 AM

  6. Although I do not have ADHD, I used most of you suggestions to earn almost all A's in my Math major in college.

    Comment by Terri — December 5, 2022 @ 10:57 AM

  7. Have learned this over the years and always good to be reminded! LOL

    Comment by Penny Keating — December 5, 2022 @ 1:38 PM

  8. Dr. Amen pioneered the use of Spect brain-imaging to identify the perfusion of blood flow in the brain and determine what limitations arose. Would you share what those limitations are for ADHD and how they affect the ADHD patients? Thank you.

    Comment by Jim Lohr — December 5, 2022 @ 1:42 PM

  9. I'd like to learn more science backed data about how healthy foods affect ADHD. Can you help me with that?

    Comment by Susanna Beach Stratford — December 6, 2022 @ 9:46 AM

  10. Love this article! Super short & to the point, yet still packed with science. VERY HELPFUL! THANK YOU!
    – Someone with lifelong, severe ADHD

    Comment by Katrina — December 13, 2022 @ 5:52 PM

  11. Hello Susanna, thank you for reaching out. Here is more information for you: https://www.amenclinics.com/blog/category/nutrition/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — January 9, 2023 @ 11:24 AM

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