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How Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders Can Improve their Decision Making

written by: Daphne Matthews • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 2/9/2011

Adults who suffer from attention deficit disorders often make poor decisions due to their impulsivity and inability to organize their thoughts, but there are coping strategies that can help. Read on to find out more.

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    Decision Making Problems

    With Adult ADD or ADHD decisions, there seems to be a thousand thoughts running through the brain at once and then suddenly the adult focuses on one thought and reacts immediately without thinking through the process. The other fleeting thoughts go unnoticed and seem unimportant to the sufferer who feels that the focused thought is the most important in the world.

    With adult ADD or ADHD, the sufferer’s brain is unpredictable, even to him or herself, so what comes next is hard to plan (Kelly, 2006). However, learning to plan is at the root of self-discovery.

    Due to the deficit in attention, adult ADD sufferers often seem to mishear or fail to remember information that they have been given (Pera 2008). This can be a problem in school or work-related situations as well as being frustrating for families.

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    Help with Adult ADD or ADHD Decisions: Listing Important Tasks

    Lists are a great way to evaluate the tasks that need to be completed. At first, the list should include everything that the ADD adult feels needs to be done. It can then be broken down into things the person wants to do, things they should do, and things they must do (Kelly 2006). The 'Must-Do' list should be tackled first, the 'Should-Do' list second, and then if there is time, the 'Want To Do' list can be wrestled with.

    These lists can also be organized more thoroughly. Once the 'Must-Do' list has been drawn up, rewrite it by placing tasks in the order that they must be done. Then, as each one is completed, mark through that item or put a check by it so that progress completed can be easily assessed. This will also keep the adult ADDer on the job at hand so that they don't continuously switch tasks before the previous one is completed.

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    Cutting Unnecessary Tasks

    A great way for an adult with ADD or ADHD to learn to make decisions is to cut tasks that are unimportant and unnecessary. An adult with ADD often feels that all the tasks they are thinking of are a priority. This person can consult with family members to decide which tasks can be cut from the daunting decision making process. Or they can cut tasks from their 'Want To Do' list.

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    Post-It

    Those pesky thoughts that won’t leave the sufferer’s brain can be put on a Post-It note and placed on the wall, fridge, or office cubicle. This way, the thought is not lost so there is no immediate need to carry out what the person was thinking. Also, by posting it, the ADD adult can look at it later and determine which list it belongs to and move it there so that an appropriate action can be carried out at an appropriate time.

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    Cooking Tips

    For those who suffer from adult ADD or ADHD, decisions are difficult to make and prevarication is commonplace. This is no more apparent than in the kitchen where food is often over or undercooked as the individual has trouble keeping up with foods that require different cooking times and temperatures. The main dish may be perfectly cooked but the side dishes can be burned or near raw.

    Plan meals in advance: Put a note beside the stove with the cooking times for each dish. Learn to stagger the times so that all the dishes have completed their cooking cycle at the same time as the main dish. Don't start cooking everything at once.

    As always, an adult with ADD or ADHD can be helped with the support, guidance and encouragement of friends and family.

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    References

    Kelly, Kate and Peggy Ramundo. You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy. Scribner. New York. 2006.

    Pera, Gina and Russell Barkley Ph.D. Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? 1201 Alarm Press. San Francisco. 2008.