Jordan McMahon

Clips

Wiring Your Tech to Fight ADHD: An Introduction

Imagine you’re driving a Ferrari, but the brakes don’t work and the steering wheel is missing. You know what the car is capable of, and you know you’re a good driver, but none of that matters when your car doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. That’s what ADHD does to your brain.

I’ve spent a lot of time researching, testing, and tweaking my approach to getting work done with a brain that struggles with braking and steering. In doing so I’ve realized how important our technology can be in keeping us on track, giving us the information we need when we need it, and making us better at doing the things we want and need to do.

I’ve spent a lot of time researching, testing, and tweaking my approach to getting work done with a brain that struggles with braking and steering.

In the coming weeks I’ll be publishing a series of articles talking about how I use tech to fight against ADHD and bring some peace of mind to my life. I’ll be covering topics such as finding the right apps for your needs, effectively capturing thoughts and ideas, and using automation to save time and energy to bring some order to the chaos that ADHD can create.

First, though, I’d like to discuss the thought that went into my setup — because while I have software recommendations based on my workflow, it’s important to tweak it to your own preferences, and that requires having the right frame of mind. You want to find the tools and practices that map to the way your brain works, rather than try to make your brain work the way an app or method says it should.

You want to find the tools and practices that map to the way your brain works, rather than try to make your brain work the way an app or method says it should.

My biggest challenge with ADHD is time management. If you’re not careful, productivity software can become a distraction unto itself. There’s always another feature to test or setting to tweak — and the more time you spend adjusting your setup, the less time you’re spending getting things done. So I approached my work setup with the idea that software should mostly stay out of my way, so I can get out and move forward.

That said, the apps you use should have personality and be fun to use. ADHD tends to like nice aesthetics and fun design touches, so take any chance you get to make the mundane more enjoyable. Apps with vibrant colors and pretty animations can make even the most dull tasks more engaging, so you might find ToDoist and its custom color themes help make your sometimes overwhelming todo list more bearable.

While you’re searching for those tools, it’s important to keep in mind that clutter is your enemy. You don’t want a Swiss army knife app that claims to handle everything, but you don’t want a home screen filled with one-trick ponies either.

If you find yourself with too many single-use apps, try to find a way to tweak what that app does in a way that another, more useful app can somehow mimic. Using a text editor focused on organization for all of your notes and writings will make transitioning between tasks easier than having things sorted between separate apps.

The easier it is to find and access your information, the easier it will be to get through your workload. Finding that balance is key to an effective workflow and ridding yourself of task anxiety.

The best way to do this is to look at each utility and ask: what am I trying to do and how will this get me there? Then, once you have a convincing argument for keeping it, ask yourself how you can get the most out of that tool. Does it plug into another service you use? Is it more useful as a widget than a full-fledged app?

This can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to truly figure out, but taking that time up front will save you a lot of hassle down the road.

When you’re done you’ll have an arsenal of the best possible tools at your disposal, and you’ll be ready for whatever work the world decides to throw your way.

Jordan McMahon