Studying with ADD can be a struggle. Three of the biggest issues for those diagnosed with ADD whilst studying can be organisation, staying focused and sitting still and while traditional study techniques don’t work for those with ADD or ADHD, there are still some super easy and effortless things you can do to make studying a lot easier.
First and foremost, I’m going to preface this by saying that I don’t have ADD or ADHD but I have worked with several children who have ADD, pre and post diagnosis, in a teaching setting and I’ve sought guidance from both educational psychologists and from other students with ADD to help give advice to others who may be struggling.
ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder is defined as a syndrome of disordered learning and disruptive behaviour and includes symptoms of impulsive behaviour, inattention, and hyperactivity. ADD is completely different to being a kinesthetic learner which means that you’re able to learn things and retain information best by moving and being active. Being a kinesthetic learning does not mean you have ADD.
There are several things often recommended to students who have ADD to make studying easier, including using a planner or scheduling study time to include distractions but this list goes beyond the basic tips and tricks.
1. Record lessons, if you can.
Recording a lesson means that if you do get distracted or lose focus, you aren’t falling behind in work as you have the ability to catch up. Obviously, you’d need to see permission to be able to do this (especially at university level) as some work can be subject to copyright and you could be breaking the law by recording it!
2. Handwrite notes. Less distraction.
The internet is a massive distraction for everyone, so handwriting your note will limit that distraction. If it’s not possible to handwrite for the task you’re doing – use an app like self-control that makes it impossible to do anything but write your notes!
3. Read ahead.
This means you have a bit of knowledge before class and getting distracted is less likely as you can follow on with the lesson. It also means that if you do get distracted, you aren’t falling behind.
4. Break your workload into manageable ‘chunks’.
Instead of looking at your work as a singular task, break it down into more manageable sections. For example, instead of trying to read an entire chapter of a textbook, break it into sections of two or three pages or subheading. After each chunk of work, get up from your desk and take a five-minute break before getting back to work. You’ll find that you can actively study and focus a lot better and you’ll be more productive!
5. Use a distraction list.
This is something I do because I find that I lose attention easily with tasks that I find a bit boring! All you have to do is keep a notepad or some sticky notes beside you while you work, then when something pops into your head that isn’t work related quickly write it down and get back to working. When you’ve finished your work you can read through your distractions list and either get to working on them or if they’re a little silly, like mine always are, laugh at them and move on!
6. Fidget. Move. Listen to your body.
There are some things you’ve just got to accept and make work for you and if that’s something like fidgeting than own it. My little sister learns her spelling words while doing star jumps because otherwise, she’s a fidgeting ball of energy at her desk.
If you need to tap your foot to work, do it.
If you need to walk around while reciting a poem, do it.
If you need to tape notes onto your wall so you can stand and study, do it.
Obviously this won’t work in class but if you talk to your teachers and explain that you may need to get up and walk to the back of the classroom sometimes, I’m sure they’ll understand (Plus, it’s better than the alternative which is distracting other students whilst you squirm in your seat to get comfortable or tap your pencil incessantly as an energy outlet!)
Sometimes getting rid of the hyperactivity through exercise can also help, so if you’ve been sitting at your desk for an hour and feel the need to move, take a break and go for a walk! You’ll come back feeling better, I promise!
7. Get the most important stuff done first.
The fact of the matter is, you’ve probably got a short attention span. You don’t have the luxury of doing the easy math problems first when you’ve got that massive geography assignment looming. Break the hard, important work into manageable chunks, use a planner to organise yourself and get to work on the important stuff first, then you can focus on the easier stuff! You’ll find yourself less stressed and more importantly, able to get your work done this way!
If you have ADD, my main tip would be to seek help through your school. Check out what services available to you (not that you have to use them) and make sure you take advantage of any concessions that may be useful to you. This is your education, don’t be afraid to make the most of it! If you have any tips, don’t be afraid to share them in the comments below! They’re always well appreciated!