How to Focus

When I had to do marking for my second job, I would actually sneak into my office on the weekends but a massive tub of lollies (the size of my head) and just do it, keep the browser closed…

A lot of students go to the library because they are surrounded by others focussing, and the environment is usually quieter.
When covid hit, they started watching twitch sessions to study with other people who were in libraries, taking short breaks together for hydration, or stretching.

I suspect a lot of the students relying on this are ADHD and don’t know it.

Also I have found that if I’m doing a complex task, eg. Writing out the days and times I’m available for consults…. Not complex for others. But for me it means seeing my calendar, then remembering the times and flipping back to,y notes to write down those times! So… either using two monitors, or tiling my programs, one on the left, one on the right of the screen helps.

I also have work hacks. So when I have an email I have to send out frequently, once I get that message about perfect, I put it in a sticky note ready to reuse whenever…. Sticky notes on screens ads all so you can copy paste othe email quite easily… ish… these are the hacks I find help me get through the day.


I learned this from a job I was at for several years. The work ticketing system that we received emails into actually had an email template feature built into it. I adapted this into my own desktop email app, or sticky notes like you’ve done.


Oh like Service Now? We have that feature, but my role is somewhat unique, I did share most of my answers and they’re used i the canned chat responses….
Also having work buddies on projects really helps me, I don’t want a body double or accountability, I just want a friend to chat to and bounce ideas off… until… sometimes I wanna code and then I just wanna be alone!

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Yes, very much like Service Now.
(The first software of the sort that I used was called Footprints, which was bought out by competitor BMC and is now called BMC Footprints. My employer then changed to a cloud based product intended for higher education, which was better than Footprints, but never delivered on the vendor’s promises… Basically they implied it to be “just like Service Now, but better”, but they never said that outright.)

I think that Service Now and Jira set the standard for that whole class of software.


Yes we have those two… Jurassic (hate!) and service now… is BMC as in BioMed Central? I’m sure it isn’t… I can’t help myself… as an academic librarian!


I’m also sure it’s not that.

I found the Wikipedia page for BMC Software. The company has three founders, whose last names have the initials B, M, and C.

I’ll wager that none of those founders has CDO… (that’s “OCD”, with the letters put in alphabetical order). :joy:

Footprints was so out of date when it was bought out, BMC simply replaced it with their own product with the Footprints color scheme, and renamed “BMC Footprints”. Oh, and they offered assistance with migrating data (but they probably would have offered the same assistance to move from any competitor, as well).


Compulsive disorder of obsessing… that really does seem like what they should have called it if they cared

But the DSM does not care. Of this I am certain!


Hey guys

Haven’t been on in a while, work commitments.
Yeah I need something to sort my email out as well. Its all in one folder. Haha

Love inattention forgot what I was going to write. Oh wait here we go. Just with work do you guys avoid tasks that require responsibility? Like counting the stock, I refuse to count it because I just can’t get myself to focus and am afraid of making a mistake so I ask someone else to do it. Same goes for counting the money at the end of the night.

Thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


While I like to be trusted with responsibility, I don’t always like to be given it.

Like you, things like counting stock can be difficult, when I’m struggling with my executive functioning (EF).

I used to have constant issues with very limited working memory. Thankfully, my ADHD meds have improved my working memory greatly, so that I feel like it’s about/almost on par with the average neurotypical person. (Certain things still reduce my working memory, such as when I’m feeling stressed/anxious, am short on sleep, or my energy is flagging because I need to eat.)

It’s been over a decade since I had to count money. I remember that I was always the slowest at it (but due to my desire to be exact with my count, there were never any issues…while my fastest-counting colleagues were the most error-prone).

  • Philosophically, I felt “if you take your time and do it right the first time, that saves time in the long run” (no recounts, no scrambling to find the cause of a miscount, no stern talking-to, no performance evaluations needed).

Throughout the years I worked in retail stores, the usual negative feedback that I got was that I was too slow. But, the work got done, and the customers got served. During store open hours, I put customers first. So, if I was assigned a task, I would take breaks in the task to check on customers. (If the task involved counting stock, I would always write my counts down. If I had to break off to do something else, I would make a note for myself, so I would know where to pick up again. Some people call this “leaving breadcrumbs”.)

Sometimes, I had to make a game out of it when counting stock. (At the moment, I can’t remember what I did to make a game out of it…just that it’s what I had to do sometimes to help keep my brain engaged, and maybe even make the task a little interesting.)


For me it’s statistics, I’m supposed to fill in a form for every client contact I have. But the form is designed for it service desk call centres, not someone who teaches classes, gives one on one consults, gets emails and phone calls….

I hate it, because I’ll never get it right and the busier I am the less likely I roll put the stats in.


Those general forms may cover the basics, but really each organization ought to be able to design their own for the software platform. Usually the first thing that a service desk call center will do is design the form that meets their specific needs better. (The following is just my rant on this subject. Feel free to skip to the end.)

  • Then again, when the organization I was working for changed from an outdated system that we had full control over, to one that was supposed to be managed by the “experts” that designed the software, it could take anywhere from several hours to up to 5 months (with a lot of back-and-forth) to get the customization right. Over time, my peers and I were given more access and control, but the system (while capable) was just too cumbersome, in my opinion.
  • For the record, there were two times that I made recommendations to change to a new system…one that would have been more capable, more customizable, worked hand-in-glove with our existing infrastructure by design (the infrastructure and the platform I recommended are both by Microsoft). It would have been a big one-time cost, but lower annual upkeep, because we could have done most of the work ourselves (only a little training was required)!

Do you know any of the other teachers who use the same form? If so, can you ask to see examples of how they fill it out? In my experience, sometimes there’s very little that’s required to be input (making irrelevant boxes with “n/a”).
I’ve often found it helpful to copy the block of text that I’ve written in one form and save it as a personal template in a note on my computer, so that I can do a Copy-Paste to save time rewriting the same thing again and again. (Of course, I’ll update any information that’s particular to the situation.) I’ve even saved screenshots of examples, if there were a lot of boxes I had to remember how to fill out a certain way.


Yeah the form is designed for everyone , about 50 different positions. They made adaptations but doing stats for my kind of job. Is kinda ludicrous.

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That’s what I found when the people designing the forms, or dictating what should be in the design, aren’t the people who have to use the forms.

  • For instance, the director I used to work under likes to gather lots of metrics, but that meant that there were more things the Frontline workers had to fill out in every form. Just slowed down responsiveness in addressing customers issues. When customers call and don’t get a response, they might get upset and file a complaint… which goes up to the director, and was the metric he least liked to see go up… But I doubt he realized how much was due to the cumbersome form.

(The previous system, while antiquated, was much easier to customize and streamline. But I didn’t generate as many metrics. Then again, a lower number of complaints is a great, meaningful metric, if you ask me.)


Yeah metrics…. I wish I could just tag my client consults I outlook, and client support emails in outlook, by sending them to an email with a couple of tags that say what they are… then you’d get most of my work encapsulated, without me having to use a whole extra system

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Just like we have muscles for gym, there are muscles for “focus” in the brain, and these need working on, and they have tendency to develop overtime. There is an excellent thread on Reddit on this subject-

Also some natural remedies seem to help with focus, I’m not talking about those caffeine pills or gas station adderall lol, but more research into safe nootropics & herbs that seem to get the job done, everyone has a different experience though -


I don’t know how to focus…I’d love to know too…


Welcome to the HowToADHD forums @Parvez_Khan .

There are many things which can help ADHD. I’ve tried a lot of different strategies and dietary supplements over the years, and some of them helped me somewhat. For me, the most effective treatment by far has been ADHD medication.

I still continue with dietary supplements (a daily multivitamin, extra vitamin D, and an Omega-3 with high EPA and DHA), in addition to my medication.

But many of my attempts over the years to improve my focus using cognitive exercises only led to more problems with focus and attention, and even lower self-esteem.

In my case, it was important for me to get help from a mental health professional. It was that care provider who diagnosed me with ADHD, and my doctor confirmed the diagnosis.

That’s very much the case.

My own treatment has included:

  • Mental health counseling/therapy
  • Medication
  • Dietary supplements and some improvements in eating habits
  • Learning to accept myself and accept my limitations
  • Learning about my condition
  • Support and acceptance of family, friends, colleagues, and the ADHD community (especially this forum!)

Others need more help than me, while some need less.

I continue to learn more, try new things, make lifestyle changes. I also try to spread a positive message that there is help available for people who have ADHD, because I’ve been helped so much.

I still struggle with my ADHD every day, but the struggle isn’t nearly as bad as it was before I began getting the treatment that helps me so much.


Hmm focus!!

I focus well working from home because there are no distractions.

I feel guilty getting up and getting good or taking out the bin, I’m the same at work

But at work there’s so many people to talk to, to catch up with! I feel constantly torn!

You have to make something interesting to focus on it. I do my timesheets at the last minute so I HAVE to do it, and get it right…

But even music… playing music gets boring and pressured…. I learnt I need

  1. Privacy *0(safety from criticism)
  2. Fun (no pressure, play some old stuff, see what interests you
  3. Space (thus cannot be fo e eith the family running around you
  4. Time (time to unwind, let the world go, be in my own space, for however much time I want)

We often expect ourselves to work in ridiculous circumstances that just don’t help US to FOCUS!

So for me it’s about honouring it. Giving it the space… Saturday I will rest, Sunday I will tidy a bit… then play guitar….


I only recently got my diagnosis but I already developed alot of strategies not knowing that they were from my ADD:

  • boring, but easy work can be made more attractive by adding some randomness or creativity. For example when mowing the lawn I do not simply go back and forth, but go in a spiral for a while, or do it in blocks, or make a kind of snake game out of it. If I have to work from on a list I often first pick items randomly and then start to work from top to bottom. This way you have this very satisfactory jumps forward when you get to items you already did in the first random order phase.
  • Promise yourself a reward after x, subtasks and then keep postponing giving yourself the reward.
  • boring computerwork can often be automated, I rather program for a day than do repetitive work for an hour, especially since this hour quickly becomes two days due procrastination and flight behaviour.
  • Do the work at a different place. During university I got behind so much that it made no sense to go to the lectures anymore. I started learning purely from the books but at home or even the library I continued to procrastinate. I then started studying outside in parks and on benches in the inner city. If I got stuck I walked to the next place with a bench. This helped a lot at the time.
  • Sometimes it helps to do things when I am tired, it makes it harder to do the thing itself, but under those circumstances my brain is not jumping around so much, which makes it overall easier.
  • ADHD music tracks on youtube sometimes help
  • Often I do not have a good overview, and I feel like I am looking at things through a keyhole. In that case I start with the thing I can see through the keyhole and expand from there.

None of these methods work all the time, and even if they work it often takes a lot more time than a normie doing the same job. But it is better than nothing. And a lot of times finishing a task at all is an enormous achievement that we can be proud of.


Awesome list! I’ve only recently worked out that I need to be out and about to even do coding, I’ve done more work on a laptop in a t-shirt in the cold than I’d ever have done in a comfy office. Matter of fact, might head outside now, or at least out to somewhere “unfamiliar”.

I even recently bought a fold out table and a foldy chair and have labeled them with “Dad’s Forward Operations Base” so I can try to work outside more. Although summer is imminent and with temperatures at 38 C+ (100 F+) on the regular I’ll be retiring to Air Conditioned comfort me thinks.