ADHD in Adults: Solutions for effective lifestyles
Written by: Sharon Dominica, Occupational Therapist

Jim (name changed) is an adult with ADHD. He completed high school, got a job, and was married. His ADHD interfered with his ability to maintain relationships, which led to a divorce. He now is staying with his parents. He is not able to organize himself enough to plan appointments with his lawyer to get visitation rights with his children.  Jim’s impulsivity means he has difficulty budgeting. He would like to move out of his parent’s home and live independently, but does not seem to be able to get organized enough to look for his own place.

This is a very typical example of ADHD in adults. They have normal IQ, and emotional development. They can get jobs, and have families. However their impulsivity and disorganization can cause chaos in their life. This article on ADHD in adults covers some aspects of independent living and suggests ideas that can help such people to get organized, and live responsible lives.

Planning and organizing:
Adults with ADHD struggle with planning their time. Schedules are a great way to help them organize their time. A daily schedule as well as a planner for the week can help a person with ADHD plan out all his activities. Timers, alarms and cell phone reminders can be used to help a person with ADHD to keep track of time. Another option is to set the timer for 15 minutes and do an activity. When the timer rings, the person can move on to the next activity. This ensures that they do not miss out any important work. People with ADHD can use a diary to write down things that they don’t want to forget. Color coding lists can also help to get organized.

Adults with ADHD tend to get caught up in one thing and not think about other important things. Decisions are made on emotions and impulses rather than on what is important. For example, in the story above, Jim is unable to prioritize how to spend his time and his money. A person with ADHD needs to take out time and decide what’s most important to him. He can then write these down in order and put them up in a place which he can see regularly. He can then use this list every time he makes decisions, and also plans out his time.

Clutter and maintenance:
Clutter and maintenance can be a big issue for people with ADHD.  Labeling boxes where things are supposed to be kept around the house will help put things into place, as well as find things. Every object and paper should have a place where it needs to go. Each day, ten minutes can be allotted to putting things back in place and throwing away things they don’t need. When the home is free of clutter, and things are in their places, it will be much easier for an adult with ADHD to work and live comfortably. For more resources on organizing clutter, read this.

Shopping and money management:
Money management can be a major issue for adults with ADHD, just as it was with Jim. They may end up spending all their money in the first week of the month, and not have enough to buy groceries. One suggestion is to pay all bills and buy groceries for the month as soon as they get their paycheck. This will make sure their major expenses are covered. Another idea is to give a part of their money to a trusted friend or relative at the beginning of the month (or even their ATM card). Thus, they have a limited amount of money to spend. In the second half of the month, they can take the money from their friend or relative and use it for the rest of the month.

Making a shopping list before they go shopping and sticking to it is a good option. If a shop does home deliveries, calling them up and ordering on the phone will prevent impulsive shopping.

People with ADHD also struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. This often results in draining a lot of their money. Counseling and psychotherapy can help them to learn other ways of dealing with stress and overcoming addictions.

Saving is an important part of money management. People with ADHD can maintain a savings account which does not have an ATM. At the beginning of every month, they can deposit a small amount of money into that account.

Decision making:
Adults with ADHD struggle with decision making. This is one of the reasons why they make bad decisions. They tend to use the first solution they think of. Adults with ADHD can be taught decision making skills. They can learn to identify multiple solutions for problems and choose the best one based on logic and facts. This will help them deal with many issues they face in daily life.

Social skills and relationships:
Impulsivity and inattention can cause a lot of hurt in relationships. This is one reason why people with ADHD find it hard to maintain relationships. However, relationship skills can be learnt. People with ADHD can learn to listen to their loved ones, spend time with them, and respond to their needs. They also need to learn to communicate their thoughts, ideas and needs. They may also need help to learn to control their emotions, and stop themselves from hurting others when they are angry or upset.

Thus, these are some solutions for people with ADHD who want to live independently. For more ideas and solutions on independent living, continue to browse through


Kathleen G. Nadeau Ph.D., Helping Your Teen with ADD (ADHD) Prepare for Independence. ADDvance. Retrieved from:

Jocelyn Block, M.A., and Melinda Smith, M.A, 2010, Self-Help for Adult ADD / ADHD. Retrieved from:

National Resource Center on ADHD, A guide to organizing the home and office. Retrieved from:

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