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Focus: Multitasking and ADHD: What can you do to regain focus?

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Focus: Multitasking and ADHD: What can you do to regain focus?


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is more common around the world than you may think. Around 5% of all children in the world are affected. In the United States – a country known for high rates in diagnosis and treatment – the figures are even higher. They fall between 8% and 10 %.[1]

But ADHD doesn’t stop at childhood. Although it tends decline with age, it can persist into adulthood. In 2020, the prevalence of persistent ADHD in adults is 2.58% and that of symptomatic ADHD, 6.76%. That’s a staggering 139.84 million and 366.33 million adults affected globally.[2]

It can be difficult for those with ADHD to stay focused. It slips your hands again and again. Multitasking can make this a challenge. ADHD tends to be prone to shifting attention quickly between different things.[3] It is possible to hinder productivity, rather than increase it.

What can we actually do? This article will shed light on the unique challenges ADHD sufferers face, in particular with regards to multitasking. We’ll also provide effective strategies to help them regain focus.

Understanding ADHD and multitasking

Multitasking is a trait that people with ADHD may find attractive. It could even be seen as a skill or tolerance. But here’s the rub: despite popular belief, multitasking isn’t the productivity powerhouse it’s often portrayed to be.

In fact, the weight of evidence suggests that it’s a rather inefficient work technique, undermining our capacity for learning and critical thinking.

Multitasking may be easier for people with ADHD.

ADHD is characterized by a constant need for stimulating stimuli. This could make multitasking environments more enjoyable. A tendency towards novelty and task switching could lead to a feeling of comfort when transitioning from one activity to another.

A study from 2011 revealed something interesting[4] Researchers compared multitasking ability of ADHD-positive and ADHD-negative individuals. The results may surprise you: adults with ADHD didn’t display impaired multitasking performance in the standardized task.

These same adults, however, reported a better mood and greater motivation when they focused on one task without having to switch tasks frequently. It is possible that those with ADHD may benefit from a task structure that minimizes distractions and reduces executive control demands.

However, multitasking can be counterproductive.

When we assume we’re multitasking, juggling multiple tasks at once, we’re usually mistaken. Most of the time, we’re rapidly switching between individual tasks. Every switch requires our brains refocus. This drains our mental energy.

“When we think we’re multitasking, most often we aren’t really doing two things at once. But instead, we’re doing individual actions in rapid succession, or task-switching.” — Neuropsychologist Cynthia Kubu, PhD[5]

What are the results? The result? We face increased costs, lower quality work and reduced cognitive functions. It can be more difficult for people with ADHD.

Multitasking requires us to divide our attention, prioritize tasks and quickly shift our focus between different activities. ADHD patients often have problems with working memory, planning and organizing, and controlling their impulses. This can make it difficult for them to multitask, retain information and coordinate tasks.[6]

ADHD is characterized by difficulties in managing multiple tasks simultaneously, as well as impulsivity and hyperactivity. This can result in decreased efficiency, increased mistakes, and problems organizing thoughts and action.

ADHD Strategies to Reclaim Focus

If you’re living with ADHD, reclaiming focus might seem like trying to capture lightning in a bottle. But don’t lose heart. You can master the art and skill of focussing on work.

It’s about building the right environment, nurturing productive habits, and adopting the right mindset:

First up, let’s think about your workspace.

Concentration can be greatly improved by a calm and clutter-free atmosphere. It minimizes distractions, allowing you to direct your attention where it’s needed.

Create a space that is well-organized and conducive to concentration. Create a mental sanctuary.

The next step is to create a structure and routine.

ADHD can cause your world to feel chaotic. But establishing a structure will help you navigate through the chaos.

Routine provides predictability, creating a pattern that makes it easy to move from task to task. Use a digital or paper planner to track your tasks, set specific times for activities and break larger tasks down into smaller chunks.

Thirdly, develop mindfulness as a habit.

Mindfulness is about being fully present in the moment, paying attention to what you’re doing without getting distracted by the flurry of thoughts and impulses. It helps you focus on one thing at a given time and reduces the need to switch between tasks.

You can read my article on how to stop multitasking. 7 practical strategies to help you focus with ADHD Get more details on regaining focus and increasing productivity.

Final Thoughts

It can be like sailing in a storm when you have ADHD and live in a society that requires you to multitask. You’re trying to juggle multiple tasks while your mind pulls you in different directions. It’s challenging and can be draining, but it’s not an unbeatable feat.

Reclaiming focus isn’t just about being more productive. It’s about managing ADHD symptoms and improving your overall well-being. Concentrating on a single task can calm you down, reduce your stress and boost your self-confidence.

The strategies we’ve discussed can help you navigate the rough waters, maintain your course, and improve your focus abilities.

TL;DR

You don’t have the time to read the whole article? You can read this.

ADHD is a serious condition that affects many children and adults around the world. It can be difficult to maintain focus in multitasking environments, particularly.

Multitasking, contrary popular belief, can lead to poorer quality work, increased energy and time costs, and reduced cognition.

The demands of multitasking may exacerbate ADHD symptoms, resulting in decreased focus and errors.

People with ADHD, despite the challenges they face, may find it easier to multitask in an environment where there is a constant need for stimulation and a natural tendency towards switching tasks.

According to studies, adults with ADHD can perform better, feel happier, and show higher motivation if they concentrate on one task without switching between them.

For ADHD sufferers, you can read this article for tips on how to improve their multitasking skills and regain focus. How to focus when you have ADHD: 7 practical Strategies

Refer to the following:

[1] National Institute for Health & Care Excellence: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder:How common is it?
[2] J Glob Health.The prevalence and global meta-analysis of adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
[3] Postgrad Med.: Understanding Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder From Childhood to Adulthood
[4] Atten Defic Hyperact Disorder Multitasking and ADHD in Adults
[5] Cleveland Clinic: Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work
[6] Brain Sci.Do ADHD Symptoms and Executive Function Predict Temporal Rewards Discounting? A Pilot Study

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