Strategies/Techniques for ADHD

Compiled by Kim Collins, Ph.D.

Strategies and Techniques

Study Skills

  • Plan for longer study time.
  • Find a quiet space that is used for studying only.
  • Develop a regular routine.
  • Take frequent breaks.
  • Keep up with work and do not wait until the last minute to study.
  • Allow extra time for writing assignments to includes editing & rewriting.
  • Use tutors when necessary.
  • Highlight or color code important information in text and notes.
  • Rewrite notes.
  • Test self on information studied, including making up practice essay questions.
  • Use active reading techniques—read headings before reading chapter, skim chapter to see what comes next, takes notes while reading, make up questions using chapter headings, practice answering these questions while reading, review major points.
  • Use a laptop computer to take class notes.
  • Space studying throughout the day into one hour sessions rather than having to spend 3-4 hours in the evening.
  • Find your prime study time when you are most attentive and at your best.
  • Figure at what type of environment is best, white noise versus absolute quiet.
  • Figure out if you study better alone so you won’t get off track talking to others or if you need others around to make studying more interesting and help you stay on track.
  • Review notes as soon after class as possible, filling in any gaps, and helping to remember the information, then review notes prior to the next class.
  • Use the SQ4R method, Survey Question Read, Rite (write) Recite Review-survey sections by looking over the main headings, make up questions, read the entire sections, rite answers to the questions, recite the information out loud if possible, and review your work.
  • Use movement (reading, underlining, writing in margins, highlighting , stimulation, and conversation(reciting information out loud), to stay alert while studying.

Organizational Skills

  • Keep desk clear of mess.
  • Use folders/binders to organize class notes and study notes.
  • Leave margins when taking notes to add information from the text.
  • Keep track of books and other supplies.
  • Get books and articles from library before you sit down to write.
  • Clear/straighten desk at the end of every day.

Time Management Skills

  • Start each day with a list of what needs to be done and prioritize your goals, for example buying socks does not have the same importance as completing your assignment that is due in class that day.
  • Do not procrastinate.
  • Finish “to do” list each day.
  • Do not overbook or overschedule.
  • Allow extra time for assignments, readings, and studying.
  • Organize time with space for breaks, rest, exercise, social time, and meals.
  • Use a daily planner to write down all important tasks/activities for the day.
  • Stick to the plan and avoid temptations of distracting activities.
  • Be realistic about how long things will take and block off study time, lab work, library research, and writing time in daily planner.
  • Build in extra room in case things take longer than planned.
  • Break down large tasks into small components and put these in planner. A large task may feel overwhelming however, when it is broken down into small parts each component is quite manageable.
  • For paperwork use the O.H.I.O principle – Only Handle It Once. When you receive a document try to respond on the spot, throw it away, or file it permanently.
  • Do not use a “To Do” box. For people with ADHD, these become Never Done piles.
  • Use an appointment book with a semester at a glance, month at glance, and week at a glance features.
  • Get into the habit of carrying a pda (personal data assistant) or daytimes and writing things down frequently. The more you use the reminder, the more you will come to rely on it. Check entries in you reminder each morning before you start your day and throughout the day.

Course/Assignment Strategies

  • Develop a relationship with each professor and discuss needs.
  • See the professor immediately if anything was missed in class.
  • Take a break between classes to get a snack, walk around, sit and relax for a moment.
  • Try to schedule classes carefully to allow enough time to get from one part of the campus to another.
  • Alternate between harder/easier or challenging/less challenging courses and spread class load over 2-3 days (M, W, F are heavy but T, Thu are light) to allow for study and writing time.
  • Plan big papers in advance to allow time to meet with professor to discuss topic, do library research, editing, rewriting, and organization, and use of several drafts.

Test Preparation Strategies

  • Review information frequently—this is the only way information is stored in long-term memory.
  • Understand information rather than just rote memorization.


  • Frequent use of lists and notes to self.
  • Color code (e.g., files, texts, schedules).
  • Consistent use of routines and rituals.
  • Reminders.
  • Computer software program that assists in managing time.
  • Use of calendar, computers, phones.


  • Stick to your daily plan.
  • Do things that were put off from the day before.
  • Tackle tough assignments early.
  • Pick interesting paper assignment to avoid boredom.
  • Evaluate choice of major and seek help from advisor or career center.
  • Learn what motivates you.
  • Work before play.
  • Use little rewards throughout the day (e.g., soda break, snacks, telephone calls, visiting a friend).
  • Time breaks to avoid letting a 10-15 minute break turn into 30-45 minutes.
  • Avoid the TV when studying; use this as a reward for finishing or plan studying around a tv break.
  • Give bigger rewards for getting a paper done (e.g., weekend away from campus, game away from home).