Updated 18 October 2019

Got ADHD? There’s an app for that!

As technology gets smarter, so do the apps available to us. Here are four that will help you remain focused when your ADHD is doing the opposite.

Sometimes you find it hard to concentrate and easier to procrastinate. Unfortunately, that’s a regular concern for someone with ADHD.

Have you ever wondered why someone with ADHD has difficulty concentrating on a task at hand? Dr Renata Schoeman, a psychiatrist based in Bellville in the Western Cape, explains: “The neurobiology of ADHD involves the frontal lobes’ executive function area, which is the part of the brain that helps us to judge, plan, organise and be our ‘brake’ on impulses.

“Noradrenalin and dopamine levels in the frontal areas of an ADHD brain are lower: noradrenalin helps us to ‘drown out the noise’ (prevents distractibility) and dopamine helps us to focus on the task at hand. These differences lead to problems with concentration and distractibility.”

Write it, time it, check it

Dr Schoeman says that apps with reminders or scheduling functions are definitely useful for individuals who have ADHD. Many wristwatches have a vibrate function as reminders to focus our attention. Avoid using cellphones, however, as patients may find themselves distracted by social media and other notifications.

“Although computer-based cognitive training and neurofeedback have been suggested and investigated as beneficial,” she adds, “recent meta-analysis and review articles indicate that more research and evidence are needed – these methods, when reviewed objectively, are not yet proven to be successful.”

However, if you are looking for an app to help you manage your time and keep you focused, here are some to choose from: 

1. 30/30 (iOS) – Free

It’s always a good idea to take regular breaks while you work. Creator Chetan Supur decided to work in blocks of 30 minutes followed by a 30 minute break. “Spending a ton of hours trying to work still feels like a ton of hours of work, even if you end up getting nothing done. With the 30/30 cycle, you're only working half the time, and the relaxation time actually feels like relaxation without the stress of work. This makes many continuous hours of work much more bearable and productive.” 30/30 can help you plan your day, making sure you fit everything in – work, school, kids, exercise. 

2. RescueTime (Android) – Free

Ever feel as though you’re not getting anything done but you’re still losing precious hours every day? RescueTime helps you make priorities, manage your time and then receive reports on how you’ve spent your time. It gives you automatic time tracking of how you're spending your time on your phone − you can see how much time you’re spending talking on the phone, browsing the internet and accessing mobile apps. You’ll be able to learn how to manage your time properly, quit procrastinating and eliminate bad habits. As Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, says: "Simple and powerful. Use this product."

3. You Need a Budget (YNAB) (iOS) – Free

We can all do with a little help when it comes to money management, and for adults suffering from ADHD this can be particularly challenging. YNAB can help you cut back on impulse buys and overspending on your credit, while helping you understand where (and how) you've spent your money.

4. (iOS and Android) – Free

This app will help implement and track healthy personal habits, such as providing resources to follow through on exercise and healthy eating. was designed based on the latest research on psychology and behaviour. You can upgrade and get your own private coach for roughly R206 (US$14.99). According to one user, Jim: “I get more done before my family wakes up than I used to in an entire day. After countless attempts to do this on my own, hiring George as a coach was the lever I needed to shift my productivity fast forward. I've been successful because George helped me create a morning routine that works specifically for me.”

Read more: 

Healthy habits may be key to improving ADHD

7 myths about ADHD debunked

The role of exercise in managing ADHD


Ask the Expert

ADHD Expert

Dr Renata Schoeman has been in full-time private practice as a general psychiatrist (child, adolescent and adult psychiatry) since 2008, currently based in Oude Westhof (Bellville). Renata also holds appointments as senior lecturer in Leadership (USB) and as a virtual faculty member of USB Executive Development’s Neuroleadership programme. She serves on the advisory boards of various pharmaceutical companies, as a director of the Psychiatric Management Group (PsychMG) and is the co-convenor of the South African Society of Psychiatrist (SASOP) special interest group for adult ADHD, and co-founder of the Goldilocks and The Bear Foundation ( She is passionate about corporate mental health awareness and uses her neuroscience background to assist leaders in equipping them to become balanced, healthy and dynamic leaders that take their own and their team’s emotional, intellectual, social health and physical needs into account. Renata is academically active and enjoys research and collaborative work, has published in many peer-reviewed journals, and has presented at local and international congresses. She is regularly invited to present at conferences and to engage with the media. During her post-graduate studies, she trained at Harvard, Boston in neurocognition and neuroimaging. Her awards include, amongst others, the Young Minds in Psychiatry award from the American Psychiatric Association, the Discovery Foundation Fellowship award, a Thuthuka award from the NRF, and a MRC Fellowship. She also received the Top MBA student award and the Director’s award from USB for 2015. She was a finalist for the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s Businesswoman of the Year Award for 2016, and received the Excellence in Media Work award from SASOP during 2016.

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