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Tips for students with ADHD

Having ADHD can be challenging, especially if you are a student. These are the insights from a former student with ADHD who successfully completed their studies — with quite good grades.

I started studying in 2012 and finished my master's degree in 2017. I didn't receive the ADHD diagnosis until a few years later, in 2022. To get through my studies, I had to figure out what worked for me because the general advice didn't quite fit. Here are my best tips and experiences that I hope can be helpful to others in a similar situation.

Body Doubling

The concept of body doubling is simple—it's easier to do something when you're with someone doing the same thing. This applies to studying and other activities, such as household chores. It's a well-recognized technique used by many to increase productivity and focus. If you don't have someone to do this with, it might even help to watch a video of someone doing it. There are also websites where you can study silently with others over video.

Accept Procrastination

In the beginning, I always intended to start my assignments early this time, only to experience guilt and anxiety because I consistently ended up doing them the night before. When I finally accepted that the assignment was going to be done the night before and prepared for that, life became much easier. I planned the assignment early, gathered the necessary materials well in advance, and was ready to work on it when inspiration struck. When the night before the deadline arrived, everything was set up for the assignment to be done well. This minimized stress and anxiety, making my student life much easier.

Ask for MORE deadlines, not later deadlines

If you have a large task to complete, such as a bachelor's or master's thesis, you can ask for more deadlines for different parts of the assignment. I easily got through my bachelor's because my supervisor had set deadlines for each chapter. Setting your own deadlines may work for some, but not all, because there's no one else but yourself holding you accountable.

Exercise and Diet

Everyone says it, and unfortunately, it's true. Exercise can significantly improve concentration, and the same goes for a protein-rich diet. Ensure you don't have a vitamin D or iron deficiency—both can worsen focus and energy levels. Consult a doctor for advice on other supplements that may help.

Change Your Environment

If you start losing focus while working, changing your environment can give you the novelty you need to get back on track. It can be as simple as moving to another room or a bigger change like going to the library or a cafe. Just sitting on the floor can be enough!

Updated 11.04.2024

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