Updated 11 May 2017

Manage your ADHD and your time

Living with ADHD can be difficult, especially when it comes to managing your time. Fortunately there is help available.


Let’s face it, we’re all busy. There’s work, school, meals to prepare, the house needs cleaning… For most of us it is a challenge to manage our time and get things done. 

But for adults with ADHD these daily tasks are even more challenging − especially because people with ADHD have difficulty managing their time. 

Dr Renata Schoeman, a psychiatrist based in Bellville in the Western Cape, shares a number of strategies for employers and employees: 

1. Have more frequent check-ins and feedback sessions.
2. Use visual and auditory reminders to draw employees back to the task – like wall calendars and flowcharts, computer-based reminders and personal digital assistants.
3. Use reward systems – for example break longer-term projects down into shorter term deadlines with verbal or tangible rewards to keep up motivation. 

Staying focused

“Adults with ADHD frequently have difficulty staying focused during mundane and boring tasks or lengthy meetings,” says Dr Schoeman. “They often have difficulty switching their focus quickly but can become hyper-focused when required.”

She suggests establishing defined periods of concentration where tasks are scheduled according times of alertness, interspersed with planned movement breaks (e.g. walking to meetings, getting coffee, walking to a co-worker’s desk rather than picking up the phone, and using the stairs rather than the lift).

Using fidget toys or stress balls for “intentional fidgeting”, note-taking for lengthy instructions, recordings of meetings and the use of a notebook to jot down “intrusive ideas” are useful.

Decreasing distractibility

You can also decrease distractibility by using noise cancellation headsets, a private workspace (open-plan offices are problematic for adults with ADHD), working flexi-time, using telecommuting or working from home where there is access to a quieter environment.

“It is crucial to manage technology,” explains Dr Schoeman. “A valuable intervention is to have ‘off-line’ periods where emails can, for example, be addressed and sent later during a scheduled ‘on-line’ period.

“Switch off all alerts on messenger and social media platforms. Phone calls can also be rerouted to voicemail, and responded to during scheduled times during the day. Multitasking should be avoided as far as possible – it merely moves procrastination to within the allocated time.”

Do you have ADHD? How do you manage it? Let us know – email

Read more:

ADHD - a life lived in chaos

From 8 to 80! ADHD has no age limit

Exercise may help ease adult ADHD symptoms


Ask the Expert

ADHD Expert

Dr. Shabeer Ahmed Jeeva is a specialist psychiatrist who has been practicing child and adult psychiatry for 30 years. He has vast experience in treating ADHD, and is also an ADHD patient himself. Dr. Jeeva trained and practiced in Canada as a child and adult psychiatrist and had lived there for 25 years. He had attended medical school at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland (1970-1976). His professional experience and accreditation includes: Psychiatric residency at the University of Ottawa (Canada), Child Psychiatry fellowship at the University of Ottawa (Canada), Diploma in Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa (Canada), and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Canada. Visit his website at:

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