Tips for Living Successfully with ADHD

By Ted Behr, M. Ed., CPCC, ACC


Yes, I know we all hate structure. If the world was perfect place we would not need it. It may be one of the most important things to help us survive in this non-ADHD world. We also need the correct amount of structure in our lives. Too much makes us rebel or feel trapped. When we don’t have enough structure we lose track of the world around us.

A schedule works well for adults with ADHD. Make a plan for each day. Make sure you give yourself “free time” or “self time” in that schedule. I think adults need at least an hour a day to daydream, meditate, or just do nothing.

Positive Reinforcement

This is one thing that everybody needs more of, not just ADHD people. We respond better to positive reinforcement than we do to punishment. Try to take the words DON’T, CAN’T and NEED out of your vocabulary.

Focus on the positive things that you do.  Make sure each day that the positive things you say to yourself outweigh the negative. Instead looking at all the things you haven’t done, make a list of ALL the things you have done. This may be hard at first but it will start to become a lot easier.

Break Things Down

Quite often people with ADHD get overwhelmed with tasks and projects. Chunking things down into smaller parts helps us not to feel swamped.  Working on a task in smaller time increments can also be helpful.  Many people with ADHD find doing things in 15-minute increments works well.

Good Nutrition

It helps to eat more fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water. Stay away from processed foods. Eat some protein for breakfast. Stay away from things like “pop tarts”. I’m not trying to say that poor nutrition causes ADHD. However, good nutrition can help with many negative ADHD behaviors. Processed foods aren’t good for anybody, ADHD or no ADHD.


Daily exercise is a good idea for everybody, but it is especially helpful for adults who have ADHD. It is especially helpful if the exercise requires complex movement, because that exercises our brain along with our body. Exercise also seems to help people with hyperactive type ADHD release some of their excess energy while it seems to give those of with Inattentive ADHD more energy.

Turn it Off!!!!

Turn off the TV, video games, computer, etc.  No, I am not saying these things cause ADHD, but too much does not help it either.

Research and Education

Do your own research about ADHD. There are many great resources with information about ADHD. Educate yourself and then make your own decision about ADHD.  A good Web site is

Ask for Help and Support

Many people with Attention Deficit Disorders have trouble asking for help. Sometimes we are too embarrassed or we don’t even realize we need help. Asking for help with little things may stop them from becoming HUGE problems

Be Consistent!

You must be consistent! Even the best of advice won’t work unless you do it on a regular basis. We all know that once we stop doing something it can be very hard to start up again. Things get easier once they are done regularly.