Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by hyperactivity, forgetfulness, impulsivity and inattention. ADHD symptoms varies from person to person. Students with ADHD can face many different challenges while studying. It can often be difficult to memorize facts, finish long-term projects, manage time or stay organized. There are many ideas that students with ADHD can use to make studies at university a positive and successful experience. Here are 10 ideas that might be helpful while studying with this disorder.
1. ADHERE TO YOUR SCHEDULE
Start each day with a schedule of activities that needs to be done that day. Prioritize your activities (for example, buying socks does not have the same importance as preparing for a test). Organize time with space for breaks, rest, exercise, social time, and meals. Do not overbook your schedule because it might be too difficult to finish all of these activities in one day and after some time you might feel disappointed in yourself. Be realistic and honest to yourself about how much time it will take to complete certain activity, is there a possibility that you will need more time than planned. Adhering to your schedule can be very beneficial to you. It might help you to reach your goals, avoid temptations of distracting activities and it can form a habit to complete activities at a certain time.
2. CREATE A DEDICATED STUDY AREA
Choose an area that is free of distractions where you can study. While you are studying, turn off your phone, block internet pages that can distract you. Try to use separate folders for each class – both digital and hard-copy. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to clear study desk, sort through papers, files, emails, etc. Toss and delete everything that you will not need. When it is time to study, you will avoid distractions and you will not spend time searching for something you need.
3. KEEP TRACK OF TIME
For students with ADHD, it can be really hard to tell how much time has passed or generally, what time it is. Hours, days and weeks can pass in the blink of an eye. For this reason, it can be difficult to plan and remember important dates and deadlines. You can avoid missing important dates and deadlines by using a wall calendars with days you can mark off, clocks with clear and readable dials, wristwatches, or timers. An electronic calendar can be configured to send you email or reminders a few days or hours before assignments and tests are due.
4. TAKE SHORT BREAKS
For students with ADHD, it can be very difficult to focus for a long period of time. Therefore, it is important to take short breaks while studying. When you notice that it becomes difficult to focus (for example, if you don’t remember what you were reading a minute ago) take a five-minute break. You can use a timer to avoid prolonged breaks. It is more effective to have many short study sessions, rather than having one long session. This way, you can stay alert and focused on the task the whole time. Furthermore, during breaks, you can write down what is done and it can be used to assess the progress of your work.
5. SET SPECIFIC STUDY GOALS
Set goals that can realistically be completed in a single study session, such as: learn the terms in chapter 1, make conspectus of chapter 2, review class notes for 30 minutes. Specific study goals give direction to a study session and provide a sense of accomplishment when completed. Furthermore, it is very convenient to put such goals into your schedule.
6. MAKE LISTS
Prioritizing can be hard when you have ADHD. As a result, it can be difficult for students with ADHD to decide which study-related tasks need to be completed first. Lists can be a way to solve this problem. Take a sheet of paper and list all the tasks that you need to do. While writing do not worry about the order. Take a look at your list a second time and number the tasks in order of importance. Lists can be also used to divide large assignments into smaller steps. Make a list of all these steps and number them in order. This will help you set clear goals for yourself. You can write these steps on the calendar and start from the earliest step.
7. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
Study results suggest that mindful meditations can reduce anxiety, promote social skills and academic success for students with ADHD. Through simple breathing and meditation practices mindfulness teaches you to pay attention to the present moment. Mindfulness meditation improves attention and helps to understand your emotional state. Therefore, it can help to avoid impulsive decisions.
8. HAVE A GOOD SLEEP
Everyone needs sleep, but sleep may be even more important for people with ADHD. Lack of sleep makes it more difficult to focus and pay attention. It can also contribute to impulsive decisions. Besides, lack of sleep can worsen other ADHD symptoms. Adults with ADHD should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep and a consistent sleep schedule.
Many researchers acknowledge that physical activity can improve brain functions. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise (such as running, brisk walking or exercising in a gym) a day, four to five days a week can improve attention, memory, thinking skills especially in students with ADHD. While any aerobic exercise is beneficial, the most beneficial exercises for those with ADHD are those that require focus on their body and their mind. Therefore, it is especially useful to engage in activities such as yoga, dancing or gymnastics.
10. LOOK AFTER YOUR WELLBEING
Research shows that students with ADHD experience more negative consequences as a result of using psychotropic substances and drinking alcohol than students without ADHD. That is why it is really important to avoid using alcohol and other psychotropic substances. Use your ADHD medication regularly if it was prescribed by your doctor. Do not misuse your medication if you are trying to study overnight or you are trying to learn a lot of study material in a short period of time. Not only is it unsafe to use your medication in any way other than as prescribed, it can also disrupt your sleep schedule and make it harder to concentrate in the long run. If you feel that you cannot cope with the symptoms of ADHD and have problems while studying do not be afraid to seek professional help.