As a student, you may often find yourself struggling to balance your academic workload with other responsibilities, such as extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and social life. In addition, group projects can be challenging, as you have to coordinate with your team members and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Add a sprinkle of executive dysfunction disorder on top, and managing all of this can feel completely overwhelming. However, with the right tools and strategies, you can make school work and group projects easier and more manageable. Here are some life hacks to help you stay on top of your academic game, even with ADHD.
Develop a Study Plan
One of the most effective ways to stay on top of your academic workload is to create a study schedule. This will help you allocate time for each task and ensure that you are making progress towards your goals. As someone with ADHD, creating and sticking to a study schedule is both essential and almost impossible, but it’s just about finding out what works for you.
I don’t do well working on something a little bit everyday partially because switching whatever it is I’m working on can be an almost Herculean task, so my study schedule is typically all the work for one class that week, per day. It doesn’t always work out that perfectly as sometimes there is more work than can be done in one day, or there is a quiz I have to take on a specific day, or I am taking a class where the professor doesn’t even add assignments to Canvas until 2 days before they are due, but it is as close to that as I can. At the beginning of each week I make little checklists of everything to get done for each class, and then I decide what day to assign to each class.
I also have a schedule of all the due dates for my classes and the calendar/to do list on Canvas, which I obsessively check on my phone multiple times a day. I have also found that having this schedule in several places like my phone’s calendar, my written planner, and a giant calendar on my wall makes it very difficult for me to miss something, and therefore also makes me significantly less anxious.
Create a Designated Workspace
On my long journey figuring out what works best for me, this was probably the most life changing step. Find somewhere comfortable in your house that you designate as your “workspace” where you don’t do anything else besides school work (typically this is a desk). This should be somewhere free of distractions and quiet (but not too quiet), preferably somewhere you can close a door. I like to keep my phone near me but on do not disturb, that way I’m not just thinking about any important missed calls/texts I might be getting.
In this workspace, everything you could possibly need while doing work should be within arms reach, including beverages and snacks, a sweatshirt for if you get cold, headphones, a roll of paper towels, I have nail clippers, the list is endless. You don’t want to have a reason to get out of the chair (besides maybe going to the bathroom) when it is suppose to be school time. For me, this also means not really taking short breaks, because there is no such thing as a short break. Once my butt leaves the chair, there is really no telling when I will return.
I also have multiple visual aids around this workspace to remind me what I need to get done. While this includes obvious things like my giant wall calendar, it also includes just leaving things in my path. This could mean leaving myself sticky notes in the center of my computer screen, or something as simple as leaving open a tab to a specific website.
Be Kind to Yourself
While you want to be as productive and successful as you can, sometimes you will mess up. The arguably hardest life hack is extending yourself some kindness and not beating yourself up when you forget something, or procrastinate, or simply can’t bring yourself to do something you know you are suppose to do. With or without ADHD, you are not a robot.
In conclusion, school work and group projects can be challenging, but with the right tools and strategies, you can make them easier and more manageable. Of course with an attention deficit disorder just saying buy a planner and sit at your desk is easier said than done, and the life hack of finally getting on medication is in part what allowed me to figure out all of the other stuff. Despite capitalism’s best efforts to convince us otherwise, there is no morality in productivity, and there is no specific timeline you have to be on to be a successful person. Try different stuff out and figure out what works for you, and don’t be too upset with yourself when something doesn’t work.