It’s no secret that navigating an ADHD brain brings its fair share of obstacles…
Time management, prioritization, transitions, emotional dysregulation, planning, decision making, impulsivity, distractibility (need I go on?)
Despite the extra challenges, however, there are ways we can lighten the cognitive load a bit and that’s where I’m excited to share with you some ADHD hacks I use to make life easier.
In episode 194 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, I share some of my favorite ways to do just that.
Tune in and learn the top 10 things that are making my ADHD life easier right now.
From better sleep, to smoother transitions, to simple meal options, this episode is filled with simple tools you can add to your ADHD toolkit today.
You can listen to the episode above or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here.
Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.
In This Episode, You Will Discover
- Ten ADHD hacks making my life easier right now
- Why these tools are so supportive
- How you might implement similar tools to support your brain
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Episode #194: 10 ADHD Hacks To Make Life Easier (Transcript)
Hey, there! How are you? I’m so glad you’re tuning in today. If you are new to the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, welcome. This show is all about learning how to get things done by working with our ADHD brains and ADHD tendencies. And learning how to do so in a sustainable way that aligns with your values.
In today’s episode, we’re deviating from the norm just a bit. Usually, the topics of these episodes are inspired by a common obstacle or strategy, or concept that’s been coming up with my clients or in my own life recently. Today I thought it’d be fun to do something a little different.
So instead, we’re talking about 10 ADHD life hacks I’ve been using to make my life a little bit easier in hopes that one or two of the things might also be helpful for you.
I should also mention that – as you have probably noticed – I am a pretty fast talker. So if you find that what I share goes by quickly in any of my episodes, don’t worry! I got you…
As we all know, managing our ADHD symptoms can certainly bring with it its set of challenges – especially when we’re navigating things like time management, transitions, prioritization, and self-care. That’s why I always love learning about the new tools and strategies out there available to us.
It’s so powerful when we can find the supports that work best for our individual brains so we can fill up our personalized ADHD toolkit with exactly what we need.
This is one of the things I love doing in We’re Busy Being Awesome – my small group coaching program – as well as with my private 1:1 clients. And while we’re not necessarily talking about specific strategies and approaches today, we are talking about tools that are making a big difference. And as I mentioned, I hope they may spark some ideas for you, too.
I’ll be sharing ADHD Life Hacks from five overarching life categories:
- Time management
These hacks help me work with my ADHD with greater ease. So, whether you’re looking to reduce your decision fatigue, improve your sleep, side-step overwhelm, or simply find some new tips to make your life easier, this episode is for you.
So, let’s dive in and explore the ten things that are making my ADHD life easier right now.
ADHD Life Hacks for Sleep
We’re going to start with a look at the overarching category of sleep. Now I know that many of us have a love-hate relationship with sleep. Or rather… we have a love of sleep but a hatred – or at least irritation – of going to bed.
Now obviously, sleep is an important part of healthy brain function for all humans. When we get enough sleep, it helps us regulate and balance the neurotransmitters in our brain that impact our attention, mood, and executive functions generally.
In other words, lack of sleep can really exacerbate our ADHD symptoms, which makes it much harder to focus, regulate our emotions, and make decisions. You may notice increased impulsivity, irritability, and restlessness. It can show up in terms of memory and processing with learning and retaining new information.
As a side note, I’m not sharing this with the intention of offering one more annoying reminder of why you “should” get more sleep. But rather, whenever I find things that improve my sleep quality or make going to bed easier, it’s a game changer. It definitely makes my life easier.
I have three things that are my absolute favorites right now.
1. Cooling Pillow
I’ll first say that I am a super hot sleeper. I like it when my bedroom is freezing so I don’t get overheated when I sleep. And one of the things that is saving my life right now is a cooling pillow. Seriously, this thing is amazing.
There was this song from 2009 called smile, and it had a line in it that was, “cooler than the flip side of my pillow.”
So the best thing is that your pillow is always cool. You don’t have to flip it over it. It has this magic gel in it that manages to stay cool throughout the night, which helps me fall asleep and stay asleep much more easily.
I should note, they our memory foam pillows, so you’d want to make sure that you get the pillow that’s most supportive for your neck based on whether you’re a side sleeper or a back sleeper are you sleep on your stomach.
This is the pillow I use.
2. Silk Pillowcase
The second thing that I am absolutely loving right now when it comes to sleep also has to do with my pillow. And this is a silk pillowcase.
I know, this probably sounds very weird. Why on earth would you sleep with a silk pillowcase? Or alternatively, maybe you have heard people talk about this. It’s apparently much better for your hair and is supposed to reduce frizziness and breakage. And maybe that’s true. I have no idea. Haven’t paid attention to that very much.
The reason why I love it is that I have a lot of sensory sensitivity. From grating loud noises to super bright lights to itchy tags on the back of my shirts – I’m more sensitive than your average person.
Now, I didn’t anticipate a silk pillowcase making that big of a difference simply because I never really thought that my standard cotton pillowcase was particularly uncomfortable. It just… was… I didn’t really have an opinion about it.
But when I switch over to the silk pillowcase, it was so markedly different. I’m telling you, I will never go back. I am so in love with this silk pillowcase. Again, I have no idea if it actually helps with frizzy hair and breakage, but I’m a side sleeper, and my face is much happier when I sleep on it at night. Combine that with the cooling memory foam pillow, and it’s a recipe for much better sleep.
3. Light Alarm Clock
The last item that’s been making my life easier has to do with waking up. And this is my light alarm clock.
Again, super sensitive. So if I have a blaring alarm clock startling me from sleep, not only is my heart when I wake up, but I also find myself starting my day feeling agitated, which is not a super fun time.
Enter my light alarm clock. I’ve actually had this thing since 2015… so it’s been making life easier for about eight years now, but I just love it.
It makes waking up in the morning so much easier. The clock itself simulates a sunrise, and over the course of 30 minutes, the light gradually gets brighter to mimic the process of waking up with the sun.
Then if you haven’t woken up from the light itself, at the 30-minute mark you can choose an alarm to go off as well, whether it’s a traditional alarm, birds singing, different melodies, etcetera.
I set mine for birds chirping, though most of the time since I’m a super light sleeper, I’m awake from the light before it goes off and I use the sound of the birds as a nudge to start getting out of bed. So if you are a person who wakes up while it’s still dark out or you want a more gentle way of waking up in the morning, something like this might also make your life a little bit easier.
ADHD Life Hacks For Meals & Meal Planning
The next category for things that are making my life easier is meals and meal prep.
While this isn’t the case for everyone, I know that many of us struggle with meal prep and cooking generally. This is for a ton of reasons.
If we think about executive functioning, both planning and cooking require us to…
- Make decisions on what we want to eat
- Organize what we need in order to prepare that food
- Likely make a trip to the grocery store and remember all of the things we need and not get overstimulated by all the options there
- And, if there are many steps in the recipe, we have to break them down and do all of the individual prep before even beginning the cooking process.
I mean, I’m annoyed just talking about it. Who wants to spend their time there? (Unless this is an area where you hyperfocus and then embrace it! That’s amazing.)
In addition, many of us struggle with time management and time blindness, so setting aside time for meal planning and shopping, and cooking and leaving enough time to do it all can feel extra challenging.
We struggle with task switching, which is often very prevalent in cooking as you’re constantly switching between chopping vegetables, sauteing something in the frying pan, and checking what’s in the oven isn’t burning, all while fielding constant questions from your family.
Then on top of all of that, there’s also the sheer boredom and lack of interest for many of us. The entire process feels understimulating, and we’d much rather focus on something else. Again, I’m not trying to sound like Debbie downer here. But I do want to validate why cooking and meal prep are often quite loaded topics for many of us.
So I have two things that are definitely making my life easier right now. And while they’re nothing groundbreaking or earth-shattering into the food space, they’ve been super helpful for me.
4. Instant Pot
The first is my instant pot. I love using this thing to make up a whole bunch of chicken.
Essentially, I do a very low-key version of meal prepping about once every two weeks. I got a bunch of different proteins from the grocery store, and then I spend an hour getting them ready.
I put two to three pounds of chicken in the incident part this season it was salt and pepper and I turn it on to do its thing period wow the chicken is cooking, I will brown up two to three pounds of ground Turkey or ground beef.
I separate that in half and flavor one with Taco seasoning and leave one plain. And then I usually use my little hard-boiled egg cooker– which could be another thing that’s making my life easier-and I hard-boil eggs as well.
Then I divide these things into different containers. I put half in the fridge and half in the freezer, and I save the containers in the freezer for the following week.
That’s it. So again, it’s not a full-on meal prep. But I do at least have protein ready to go throughout the week to mix and match with whatever I have around, whether that’s serving the chicken with BBQ sauce or creating a burrito bowl with the ground meat or cutting up and egg and some shredded chicken on a salad or whatever.
So again, the instant pot and egg cooker are definitely saving my life in the kitchen right now.
5. Steam-In Cauliflower Rice Bag
Building on that, the other thing that’s making things so much easier is steam in the bag cauliflower rice.
I know not everybody does this, but I am definitely one of those people who hyper fixate on a certain food and can eat it all the time until one day I’m completely sick of it and don’t want to eat it for another two years period right now, I am absolutely in love with cauliflower rice.
Green Giant – not an ad, I just love it – makes so many different types of cauliflower rice. Some are just regular straight-up cauliflower rice, some are blended with broccoli, some have mixed vegetables in it, and there’s a whole array of flavors. I love being able to throw one of those in the microwave for about four or five minutes.
And then I can serve any of the proteins on top of it; I might mix in a sauce of some sort, and I call it a day. I’m telling you, it is so ridiculously easy and fast, and I love it.
Now, of course, you could also do this by making up a big batch of rice or pasta to have in your fridge ready to go. I just love cauliflower rice because it also is a really simple way to get in more vegetables, which is always the wind in my book.
But seriously, by having proteins ready to go in the fridge, an array of different cauliflower rice in my freezer, and sauces to easily mix in, I am one happy camper.
Life Hacks For Easing Transitions
Next up on my list of things making my life easier is all about easing transitions. I have talked time and time again about how challenging transitions can be for my brain.
And after hearing from many of you, I know this is the case for many of us. This has to do with the cognitive flexibility component of our executive functions… and for many ADHD brains, we tend to be rather inflexible. Meaning we tend to have cognitive inflexibility.
Because of this, it’s often more challenging for us to adapt to new situations, switch between tasks, and deal with unexpected changes. For myself, one of the hardest shifts is when I’m trying to transition out of work into home-brain.
I find that it’s really hard for me to disengage from the current thing I’m working on and shift my focus to the next.
Now the first thing that’s really helping me transition out of work more easily will likely come as a surprise and sound incredibly strange to many of you. That’s OK. I’m willing to share it anyway just in case it helps one person who’s also willing to try it. So the thing that is making my transitions so much easier at the end of the day is…
Yes, really. Dancing!
At the end of the day, I close the blinds in my windows so nobody else can see me – because I am not a good dancer – and I choose a song that is either reflective of the current mood I am in or represents a mood that I want to step into.
I tend to do this on Spotify and choose according to the mood playlists.
Most days I tell myself I’ll just do one song, and the majority of those days I end up doing three or four, and I can literally feel my mood shift.
I essentially keep dancing until I feel that shift in my body and that shift in my mind. Once I do, I know I’m ready to go about my time at home.
Again, I know this sounds very strange. And I will be the first to admit that I felt so ridiculous doing this the first couple of days. But I’ve been doing it for over a month now, and I absolutely love it.
In fact, I miss it on the days that I don’t do it. So if you are a person who finds themselves struggling with transition I really encourage you to give this a try.
And for all of my clients and past clients listening, if you feel stuck in a mood. If you can’t seem to shift out of whatever it is you’re feeling, and you’ve already examined the stories that are going on in your mind and you’ve questioned them and played around with them like we do on our calls together, I’d highly recommend giving this a try as well.
Honestly, what do you have to lose? Worst case scenario, you danced to a couple of songs. Best case scenario, you actually enjoy yourself, you have an easier time transitioning, and you’ve just added a new tool to your toolkit.
As a side note, if you give this a try, would you let me know? Head over to Instagram I’m @imbusybeingawesome, and let me know. And I’d also love to hear which songs you’re listening to. It could be fun to create a playlist or something on Spotify with a collection of all of our favorites.
7. Allow Time To Decompress
Now the second thing that’s really been making my life easier when it comes to shifting out of work mode is not quite as tangible. Instead, it’s been a mindset shift.
I’ve really learned to not only accept but also embrace the fact that I do a lot better when I give myself the gift of time to decompress after work. I do best when I give myself this transition time.
Before I knew anything about ADHD, I would pack my days back-to-back with tasks and projects and work for both work and home. And I would push myself to keep working on things one right after another without any time for transition. But I was crabby, I burned myself out, and I was just not pleasant to be around for anyone- myself included. I didn’t want to be around me during those transitions.
Once I learned about ADHD and transitions I started by creating my shutdown routine, which is a 15 to 20-minute flow of activities that help me shut down the day’s work and plan for the next day.
For a while, I thought that was enough, but there were still days when it felt quite clunky. I’d noticed myself still feeling edgy.
Once I realized that this kind of transition time was so important for my brain, however, I started making it a non-negotiable for myself. I need quiet downtime after work to recharge and transition into my home life.
As I mentioned, this might be:
- Taking Bruno for a walk
- Working on a puzzle
I’ll switch it up or we’ll pair a couple of things together. But I’ve found that if I give myself an intentional 15 to 30 minutes to really let my brain shift at a pace that feels good for me, those transitions no longer feel challenging, and I find I enjoy my days so much more overall.
8. Intentional Time For Fun, Relaxation & Play
Speaking of being intentional, that brings me to the next area, which is making intentional time for fun, relaxation, and play.
My latest hyper fixations in this area are puzzles and knitting.
First of all, I am absolutely obsessed with puzzles.
I can get sucked into them for hours and hours and hours. I love doing them because it gives my brain space to wander and decompress. While working on a puzzle, I’ll often listen to a book or catch up on podcasts, and sometimes, I just sit and think. All of it’s awesome. All of it is so fun.
The thing that’s really making this hyper fixation easy is my puzzle board. It’s essentially just a giant felt board that you might see at a school, but it’s so awesome for building puzzles on. I can’t put it in my lap and use it while watching a movie with Ryan. I can move it to a table to work on. And I can slide it under the bed if we need to show the house, and no one will be the wiser. I’m telling you, this puzzle board is a game-changer.
I’ve also been really big on knitting since probably November.
So it’s been quite a while. One of my clients got me hooked on it, and I haven’t looked back.
It’s such a great thing that I can do with my hands while also- again- watching a movie or catching up on a show with Ryan. And if we’re not doing that, I will also listen to books or podcasts as I mentioned with puzzles.
I’ve found that having something repetitive to do with my hands is super relaxing. It’s like it gives me an output for the hyperactivity in my body so I can focus on something else with my mind.
The thing that I absolutely love when it comes to knitting or a particular set of knitting needles that my client told me about. For those of you who do not care about knitting, stick with me for 20 seconds. For those of you who are interested, listen up. These needles are incredible.
They are double-ended, and you can easily unscrew the needles from the cord that attaches them so you can switch between projects. This was mind-blowing to me.
Because sometimes I will start a really large project, and after working on it for several weeks, I will want to switch to something different to take a break. But if I need those knitting needles, I can’t.
Being able to remove the needles from the cord is so awesome. Because now I can have different projects going at once and switch between them whenever my brain is ready for some change. I do try and keep it to two or three projects going at once, however. If I’m up to three, I make myself finish at least one of them before I start the next.
Self-Care ADHD Hacks Making My Life Easier
9. Dropping Expectations of Myself
One of the things is intentionally dropping expectations for myself in different areas of my life for different seasons.
Sometimes I have more capacity to focus on different areas of my life than others.
For example, I really allowed myself to drop expectations on meal planning and preparation.
As I shared with you earlier in this episode, it is super basic. Years and years ago, I used to give myself a really hard time if I wasn’t thinking of new recipes and creating new meals each week because that’s what I thought I was “supposed” to do.
However, once I realize that this is an arbitrary rule someone made-up and I don’t agree with, and I was able to really release those expectations and find what works best for me and my brain, it’s been a game changer.
I was just talking about creating a time budget with the February cohort of We’re Busy Being Awesome last week. And when we explore this concept, it always helps reinforce this idea for me.
We get to choose how much time we want to dedicate to the different areas of our life. We get to choose what’s a priority and where we want to focus our energy and our attention. And when we do this with intention, I find the experience is so much more enjoyable overall.
10. The Arrival of Longer Days & Warmer Temperatures
The arrival of longer days and warmer temperatures. Oh my gosh, this makes such a big difference. I love the fact that when I end the workday, I still have – at the time of this recording – almost two hours of daylight left.
In the winter, it’s pitch black, and it feels like the day is done. And when you combine that with the fact that it’s above freezing, I am one happy camper. Early spring is here, and that is definitely making my life easier.
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That’s it! Those are the 10 things that are making my life easier right now. I hope that you find one or two of the ideas useful or that they inspire a new approach or tool that could work well for you, too.
Also, I didn’t expect how fun it would be for me to make this list, but it was! And if you’re interested, I’d invite you to create your list, too!
What’s ADHD hacks are making your life easier right now?
What are you loving? And if you want to share it with me, please do! Again, I’m @imbusybeingawesome over an Instagram. You can share it in the comments of this episode’s post or send me a DM.
I can’t wait to hear what’s making your life easier right now!
Links From The Podcast
- Tempur-Pedic Cooling Pillow
- Silk Pillowcase
- Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock
- Instant Pot (I have the 6 quart)
- Egg Cooker
- Cauliflower Rice
- Spotify Playlists
- Puzzle Board (aka Felt Board)
- HiyaHiya Knitting Needles (There’s a small and large set)
- Learn more about We’re Busy Being Awesome here
- Learn about 1:1 coaching here
- Get the top 10 tips to work with your ADHD brain (free ebook!)
- Discover my favorite ADHD resources here
- Get the I’m Busy Being Awesome Planning System here
- Get the Podcast Roadmap here
- Tune into Episode 119 3 Reasons to Use a Shutdown Routine