8 Signs of Inattention in Adults with ADHD

Health Writer

In adult ADHD, just as with children, there are three main symptoms: hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. By the time you have reached adulthood, however, hyperactivity might have lessened to a feeling of restlessness and being fidgety. Many adults have learned ways to tame their impulsivity. However, inattention frequently remains high, interfering with jobs, relationships and daily life.

Signs of inattention can show up in a variety of different ways. The following are signs you might be coping with ADHD - Inattentive type:

Easily Distracted

You might have trouble paying attention to something for any period of time or find yourself drifting off in thought or tune out conversations. You might find it easier to take in information in small bursts, such as reading a slideshow online rather than reading a long article. You might find it difficult to stay focused or attentive to a boring activity. You might have trouble following conversations or be told you are a poor listener.


Your workspace, home, school desk and other areas might be filled with piles of papers or filled with clutter. You might get overwhelmed with the amount of things or paper but yet still not have any idea of where to start to create organization. You might continually make attempts to organize your belongings only to find clutter and piles return immediately. You might have trouble with time-management and planning tasks or activities.


You might have a hard time getting started on projects and tasks. You might put off any task you deem as unpleasant, tedious or boring. You might chronically avoid tasks that require sustained attention.

Difficulty Finishing Tasks

You might have multiple projects going on at one time, all in various stages of completion. You might find that you continuously begin projects and tasks and then become bored or distracted and move on to the next task. You are easily sidetracked, starting one task and moving to another, forgetting about the first task.


You might forget lunch dates, appointments, deadlines or important events. You might have a hard time remembering instructions, even when repeated. You might forget to pay your bills or return phone calls or emails. Others might see you as lazy or that you intentionally forget in order to avoid responsibility.

Losing Items

You might consistently lose your keys, glasses, wallet or cell phone. You might misplace work items, such as pens or papers on a regular basis. You might spend time everyday searching for items you have lost or misplaced.

Poor Reading Comprehension

You might have a hard time remembering what you have read. You might need to re-read paragraphs several times to remember the information.

Making Careless Mistakes

You might have trouble paying attention to details of different tasks. You might make careless mistakes and have a difficult time editing or checking your work.

If you think you have ADHD, contact your doctor to discuss your symptoms.


"ADHD Overview," Date Unknown, Ned Hallowell, M.D., DrHallowell.com

"Adult ADHD - A Common Disorder, Often Missed," 2009, Steven Baskin, M.D., StevenBaskinMD.com