Tips for managing money and bills
Money management requires budgeting, planning, and organisation, so for many adults with ADHD, it can pose a true challenge. Many common systems of money management don’t tend to work for adults with ADHD because they require too much time, paper, and attention to detail. But if you create your own system that is both simple and consistent, you can get on top of your finances and put a stop to overspending, overdue bills, and penalties for missed deadlines.
Control your budget
An honest assessment of your financial situation is the first step to getting budgeting under control. Start by keeping track of every expense, no matter how small, for a month. This will allow you to effectively analyse where your money is going. You may be surprised at how much you’re spending on unnecessary items and impulse purchases. You can then use this snapshot of your spending habits to create a monthly budget based on your income and needs.
Figure out how you can avoid straying from your budget. For example, if you’re spending too much at restaurants, you can make an eating-in plan and factor in time for grocery shopping and meal preparation.
Set up a simple money management and bill paying system
Establish an easy, organised system that helps you save documents, receipts, and stay on top of bills. For an adult with ADHD, the opportunity to manage banking on the computer can be the gift that keeps on giving. Organising money online means less paperwork, no messy handwriting, and no misplaced slips.
Switch to online banking. Signing up for online banking can turn the hit-or-miss process of balancing your budget into a thing of the past. Your online account will list all deposits and payments, tracking your balance automatically, to the penny, every day. You can also set up automatic payments for your regular monthly bills and log on as needed to pay irregular and occasional ones. The best part: no misplaced envelopes or late fees.
Set up bill pay reminders. If you prefer not to set up automatic payments, you can still make the process of bill paying easier with electronic reminders. You may be able to set up text or email reminders through online banking or you can schedule them in your calendar app.
Take advantage of technology. Free services can help you keep track of your finances and accounts. They typically take some time to set up, but once you’ve linked your accounts they automatically update. Such tools can make your financial life easier.
Put a stop to impulse shopping
Impulsivity from ADHD and shopping can be a very dangerous combination. It can put you in debt and make you feel guilty and ashamed. You can prevent impulsive buys with a few strategic tactics.
- Shop with cash only—leave your credit cards at home.
- Cut up all but one credit card. When you shop, make a list of what you need and stick to it.
- Use a calculator to keep a running total when shopping (hint: there’s one on your mobile phone).
- Stay away from places where you’re likely to spend too much money, throw away catalogs as they arrive, and block emails from retailers.
Tips for staying focused and productive at work
ADHD can create special challenges at work. The things you may find toughest—organisation, completion of tasks, sitting still, listening quietly—are the very things you’re often asked to do all day long.
Juggling ADHD and a challenging job is no easy task, but by tailoring your workplace environment you can take advantage of your strong points while minimising the negative impact of your ADHD symptoms.
Get organised at work
Organise your office, cubicle, or desk, one manageable step at a time. Then use the following strategies to stay tidy and organised:
Set aside daily time for organisation. Mess is always distracting so set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day to clear your desk and organise your paperwork. Experiment with storing things inside your desk or in bins so that they don’t clutter your workspace as unnecessary distractions.
Use colours and lists. Colour-coding can be very useful to people with ADHD. Manage forgetfulness by writing everything down.
Prioritise. More important tasks should be placed first on your to-do list so you remember to do them before lower priority tasks. Set deadlines for everything, even if they are self-imposed.
When you have attention issues, where you work and what is around you can significantly affect how much you are able to get done. Let your workmates know you need to concentrate, and try the following techniques to minimise distractions:
Where you work matters. If you don’t have your own office, you may be able to take your work to an empty office or conference room. If you are in a lecture hall or conference, try sitting close to the speaker and away from people who chat during the meeting.
Minimise external commotion. Face your desk towards a wall and keep your workplace free of clutter. To discourage interruptions, you could even hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign. If possible, let voicemail pick up your phone calls and return them later, turn off email and social media during certain times of the day, or even log off the Internet completely. If noise distracts you, consider noise-canceling headphones or a sound machine
Save big ideas for later. All those great concepts or random thoughts that keep popping into your head and distracting you? Jot them down on paper or on your smartphone for later consideration. Some people with ADHD like to schedule time at the end of the day to go through all the notes they’ve made.
Stretch your attention span
As an adult with ADHD, you are capable of focusing—it’s just that you may have a hard time keeping that focus, especially when the activity isn’t one that you find particularly engaging. Boring meetings or lectures are hard on anyone, but for adults with ADHD, they may pose a special challenge. Similarly, following multiple directions can also be difficult for those with ADHD. Use these tips to improve your focus and ability to follow instructions:
Get it in writing. If you’re attending a meeting, lecture, workshop, or another gathering that requires close attention, ask for an advance copy of the relevant materials—such as a meeting agenda or lecture outline. At the meeting, use the written notes to guide your active listening and note taking. Writing as you listen will help you stay focused on the speaker’s words.
Echo directions. After someone gives verbal instructions, say them aloud to make sure you got it right.
Move around. To prevent restlessness and fidgeting, go ahead and move around—at the appropriate times in the right places. As long as you are not disturbing others, try squeezing a stress ball during a meeting, for example. Or taking a walk or even jumping up and down during a meeting break can help you pay attention later on.