6 Ways Adults with ADHD Can Benefit from Hyperfocus

Eileen Bailey | March 14, 2016

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Hyperfocus is the intent focus on one single activity. During times of hyperfocus, you might become oblivious to your surroundings, including the passage of time, and forget completely about other responsibilities.  And while it seems hyperfocus may be a strange symptom of ADHD, it is yet another byproduct of not being able to regulate time management. When you harness your hyperfocus, you can use it to your advantage. Here are a few ways to harness hyperfocus.

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Understand how hyperfocus develops

According to Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, tasks that often cause hyperfocus usually have four features: instant feedback, are active or interactive, are fast paced and are enjoyable.

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Keep track of the situations and activities that cause you to hyperfocus

There may times when you aren’t even aware that you have entered into hyperfocus. You start an activity and then look up to realize that an hour, two or three have disappeared. By writing down each time you hyperfocus, you gain a better understanding of what types of activities will draw you into hyperfocus.

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Always keep your goals in mind

Hyperfocus can be used for unproductive tasks like online shopping and gaming. Use these as “rewards” and set time limits for these activities. You might want to set a timer to remind you to end, however; many times hyperfocus activities can last well into the early morning, leaving you tired the next day.

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Practice your hyperfocus so you can better focus it when you want to use it

Use the tasks and activities that cause you to hyperfocus and practice starting and stopping it with timers and being conscious of your state of mind. Using hyperfocus purposely and for activities of your choosing changes it from a disadvantage to an advantage.

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Enlist your family’s help if necessary

If you are starting a task that you know might draw you into hyperfocus, ask them to remind you when it is time to move on to the next activity or task. If at work, set a reminder on your computer to stop one project and move on to the next task. You might ask a coworker to email you, text you or call you at a certain time to break your hyperfocus.

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Write a to-do list each morning, with the most urgent tasks at the top of the list

Complete these first so that if you do begin to hyperfocus, you have already finished important tasks. If you have tasks that need to be completed later in the day, write down the task and the time it needs to be completed (such as picking your children up from school). Keep the to-do list, as well as setting reminders on your phone, to remind you to stop what you are doing so you can get to the next task.

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The Takeaway

No matter what strategies you use, there are times you might find the best course of action is to avoid tasks that have a good chance to lead to hyperfocus, especially if there are important tasks that need to be completed at a later time.