Wiring Your Tech to Fight ADHD: Navigating the Maze
I’ve been in the workplace long enough to know that organization is crucial to my success. I’ve also lived with myself long enough to know that ADHD can and will do everything in its power to counter this necessity.
When it succeeds, I’m left inside a maze of things that need organized, completed, or otherwise handled that I’ll inevitably fail to navigate. The longer I’m stuck in this maze, the further away I get from accomplishing my goals. Resentment builds, and I start to feel like a failure for being incapable of simple tasks.
Nowhere has this cycle of frustration and inadequacy been more apparent than on my phone’s home screen, where I often find clusters of apps that I promise can change my life, only to create a pile of misfit apps that makes it more difficult to find the ones I need to get my work done. Since my phone is the device I have with me the most, this is troubling.
Years of cycling through this process beat down my motivation. The growing barrier between me and my work ensured I’d never get things done. I had to get it together.
Finding meaning in the mess
Once I hit my breaking point, I had to ask myself what role my phone should play in my life. The roles will vary for everyone, but I use my phone to stay in touch with the outside world, be mindful of my obligations and schedule, get some writing done, and consume content in my spare time. This doesn’t cover everything, but it does serve as guidance while trying to bring sanity to my second brain.
Defining the role your phone should play allows you to identify the apps that best fill those roles. Once you’ve found them you can organize them by purpose and secure a spot on your home screen for the most necessary ones.
Your all-star apps
You’ve figured out what your phone is for, now you need to find the best tools for the job. Prioritizing in the moment can sometimes be impossible with ADHD. Save yourself the trouble and structure everything before you hit your breaking point.
Take a look at all the apps you need to get your work done and keep you sane, then narrow those down to the ones you use every day. These are the apps that will be front and center on your home screen.
Somebody once told me this phone is gonna roll me
I try to use as many apps with 3D touch functions as I can so they’re more than just icons on a page. This saves time by keeping your most-used apps within view and keeping their most important functions within reach. Since our goal is to reduce the amount of thought we have to put into using our phones, this is invaluable.
The single life
If you have ADHD, you’re all too familiar with forgetting where that thing you need is. Committing to a single-page layout has been the best way to manage this on my phone by helping me keep my main apps to a minimum and reduce clutter.
Anything I don’t need on a daily basis gets put in a folder; I know they’re not going anywhere. This keeps my less frequently used apps out of the way so I don’t have to worry about feeling overwhelmed whenever I look at my phone.
You can set these folders up however you’d like, but I organize them roughly by function into four folders to maintain symmetry. Each folder is labeled by an emoji to mirror my Drafts setup: work apps, creation apps, leisure apps, and miscellaneous apps. This has kept me focused on the tools I need for work and kept everything else out of sight until I need them.
In the spotlight
My phone has become my most organized and accessible device for my daily needs. This works thanks to Spotlight’s system-wide search, which I use to launch any app that’s not on my home screen. They’re just a down-swipe from the home screen and a few key strokes away.
A lot of modern apps also provide Spotlight integration, so you can search for more than just apps. I use it to open specific notes and documents, search through messages, quickly get to Pocket articles, and find contacts.
Spotlight can save you time and energy by giving you quicker access to everything you need, whether it’s the scanner app you use once a month, or the note of songs you need to download, without having to swipe your way through distractions.
My life often feels like a disorganized maze, and it’s something I’ve had to accept comes with the diagnosis of ADHD. When I leave it untamed, I know I’m letting myself get further away from my goals.
Keeping your most important devices organized and trained to fight the chaotic instincts of ADHD is imperative to success. To do this, you need to be mindful of what your devices are for and set them up to do their jobs in a way that’s simple, easily integrated into the way your mind operates, and reliable.
Designing your home screen through this lens will give you a hub of your most important tools that are exactly where they need to be, exactly when you need them, whenever you find yourself about to enter that maze.