How to cope with ADHD

The demands of life can be overwhelming for a person with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but there are ways to gain control. Dr Bhanu Gupta, a senior consultant at the department of mood and anxiety at the Institute of Mental Health, said many people with ADHD devise their own strategies to cope with it.

1 BREAK DOWN TASKS INTO BITE-SIZED ONES This is so a bigger task does not overwhelm you and cause you to feel that you are not achieving, said Dr Gupta. You will feel better when you complete each smaller part.

For instance, if you have an essay to write, do not attempt to do it all in one sitting. Work on the introduction before lunch, for instance, and the body afterwards.

2 SET YOUR OWN DEADLINES If you are always doing things at the last minute, set an earlier deadline for yourself so you complete tasks in time.

3 USE CALENDARS Use this to plan and organise your life so you will not forget appointments and deadlines. Some people with ADHD get their wife or secretary to plan their activities for them, said Dr Gupta.

4 RECOGNISE HOW YOU WORK BEST Find out which is the best way to stop yourself from getting distracted when you work or study.

A person with ADHD may find that he can work while listening to music, for example.

Dr Gupta said some may take a walk while doing their work or thinking about an idea.

"Sometimes, they sit at a cafe to work. Quite often, it helps them to be less distracted when there is background music playing and there is buzz around them," he added. "Paradoxically, it calms their mind and helps them to tune themselves out and focus. Maybe their mind is consciously trying to focus."

5GET A JOB THAT PLAYS TO YOUR STRENGTHS Certain jobs are more suited to people with ADHD as some of its traits - creativity, multi-tasking and high energy - can be turned into strengths in the right jobs.

"If you're a disc jockey, work in marketing, are a sports teacher or in a job where you don't have to sit down for long hours, ADHD may work in your favour," said Dr Gupta.

The worst is doing something you are not interested in, he said. Things becomes difficult then.

Famous personalities said to have ADHD include Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the late Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2019, with the headline 'How to cope with ADHD'. Print Edition | Subscribe