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ADHD Hacks: Programs to Manage ADHD

Updated on February 3, 2015

Living with ADHD

I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 11, but my parents were seeing symptoms as far back as Kindergarten. Living with ADHD honestly feels like a whirlwind of non-stop activity in my head. A better description is a radio that is stuck on constantly sweeping through the channels at high speed. You can catch snatches of songs, conversations, and commercials, but before you can focus on what is going, it's gone. Now, not only is the radio stuck on sweep-mode, but the power button is broken, so you can't turn it off. Also, the volume is broken, so it's constantly on, sweeping through static and stations, and it's blasting in your house! Medication typically helps with the volume control and sometimes even power button (how I would love that feeling). Since I'm in the statistic of those unmedicated, I've somewhat fixed the "volume control" through diet and healthy lifestyle; though I still can't turn off the sweeping radio, even at night.

Through research and trial-and-error of what works for me or doesn't, I've also found different ways to manage my creative ADHD from my phone and computer. In the beginning, I was shocked and overwhelmed at the vast amount of applications fellow ADHDer's recommended through blogs and newsletter. But after trudging through and mucking around with a few, I have three applications that I simply can't live without and highly recommend for others to try out.

Scrivener

First up on the list is my all-time favorite writing program that I've found: Scrivener. Scrivener is a software program from the Literature and Latte company. Built for students, lawyers, writers, or really anyone who uses a word processor, this word processor is drastically different from others.

Features include a corkboard that allows the writer to organize the different bits of their project in the order they want. There are also files called "binders" that the writer can separate different aspects of their project into.

Like any word processing software, Scrivener has a word count counter. But unlike others, this counter can also become a target counter. Just click on the button (the tour and manual will show you how), type in the word limit you want, and start writing. With every word, the program will show the progress of the word count with different colors as you get closer to the target number.

The biggest feature I should mention are the templates. Not only does the program have a blank template that just as the bare-bones features, but there are templates for short-stories, novels, non-fiction, recipes, research papers, and even script writing. It it really fun to go through and play with all the feature to see what each one has. I typically use the blank templates for my school assignments and essays and the novel templates for my fanfictions and actual novels.

Let's go over some pros and cons of this program:


Scrivener is an amazing work processor for writers, journalists, lawyers, and students!
Scrivener is an amazing work processor for writers, journalists, lawyers, and students! | Source

Pros:

Traditional word processors make you start on page one and keep typing until you get until the end, right? Scrivener doesn't do that. Scrivener lets you break up that history paper, thesis, novel, whatever you are doing into as many parts as you need and allows you to skip back and forth on it. In essence, it's much like the templates here on Hubpages; you can go from one part to another and skip around as the inspiration comes to you! For ADHDers, this concept is great because since our brains are skipping back and forth constantly from one idea to the next, Scrivener lets us do that.

Then once the project is finished, you can organize all the bits and pieces into the order you want and Scrivener will compile it all together onto a document file that can be emailed, shared, etc. It can also compile the project into a document that ready to self-publish on iBooks, Kindle, or any e-reader application. It even has an option to copy research links onto the program and look at it next to the document so you don't have to sit and bounce between windows all the time. As a student and a writer, this has helped me tremendously in keeping everything organized and together.

Before deciding to buy the program, I would recommend using the trial version. It is a 28-day trial version of the full program that you can play around with and see if you like it enough to buy it. But here's the awesome catch: that 28-day deal isn't actually 28 days. What happens is the program has a counter that counts every time the program is shut down completely and turned back on. So if you use the program one day, shut it down, then re-open the next day, the counter will take off a day. However, if you're like me and have a bad habit of not actually shutting down any applications, the counter won't count down. So my "28-day trial" actually lasted about 5 months because I simply never shut down the Scrivener application.

While this doesn't have to specifically do with the program itself, there is a pro that needs to be addressed. Literature and Latte as a page on their site that is chock full of links to resources and websites for writers, journalists, and scriptwriters. There are links to various writing resources like Wikipedia and NaNoWiMo, but there are also links to other word processing software if you would prefer to try another one.

Cons:

Because of how comprehensive the program is, there is a learning curve to it. Once you get it, you got it, but it can be overwhelming. I was very overwhelmed when I first got started. I recommend reading the PDF manual that comes with the product and going through the tour of all the gadgets and buttons before diving headfirst. Not only are they both engaging, but you will get a lot of tips, tricks, and even shortcuts to the program that will help in the long run. Since the program is built for both Windows and Mac computers, the instructions for using both platforms will be in the manual. The manual is $10 extra dollars, but its worth it.

Oddly enough, unless I missed the link (which is a strong possibility), the link for the manual wasn't available for the 28-day trial version. I received the link after I purchased the entire package for my Windows computer. You can still take the tour of the product, but in hindsight, I would've like to be able to peruse the manual to help lessen the learning curve. A lot of things I had to figure out on my own that I couldn't find in the "Getting Started" tour, but I found in the manual.

Either making the tour a little more comprehensive or making the manual available for when using the trial version would be great. But overall, there are no drawbacks with the program itself.

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Use Evernote to remember all your notes, lists, and appointments
Use Evernote to remember all your notes, lists, and appointments | Source

Evernote

Next up is Evernote. A lot of people know about the note-taking software, but I wanted to bring my own opinion into it.

Evernote, as most people know, is a great note-taking application available on several platforms. It's features are numerous as instead of bunching a whole pile of notes together, it actually separates them into files called "notebooks". You can even take that further and bunch similar notebooks together, like one of those five-subject notebooks or even a huge binder. As an ADHD student, I take advantage of this as I have several notebooks clustered together into subjects such as school, finances, or research. The software furthers organizes your notes by using tags. So if you're looking for a certain note or notebook, you can search for it by using the tag feature. It's really handy and great for organizing everything.

The platform also has several ways to take the notes. You can record your notes using your phone, hand-write or draw diagrams, type the notes, and even take snapshots of lists or numbers your need to remember for later on.

Pros

As already stated, there are a lot of features to help organize your notes as well as ways of taking notes. There are also three ways you can use Evernote. Not only can you go on the website and use it from there, but you can download the software onto your computer and use the application offline. When you get back online, the application will automatically sync back up. Evernote is also available as an app through Playstore and iTunes, so you'll have a way to take notes and use them without having to carry your computer around all the time.

Cons

There aren't many cons with this software. With as many features as Evernote has, it can be a bit overwhelming figuring it all out, but its still really easy to pick up on. I would advise just play around with it and figure out the system you want to go with. The tour also answers any questions there might be with some features.

Habit RPG

Now this one maybe a surprising one to some people, but it has certainly helped me with keeping on task and building good habits. If you like or have kids that like RPG games or like the idea of an interactive way to keep on track with daily things, then you should go check out Habit RPG.

Habit RPG is basically a habit-building tool that is set in an interactive, RPG-type video game setting. You choose your avatar, make a list of good habits you want to build (or bad habits you want to break), and you are good to go! For every task you succeed in, you level up and for every task you fail, you lose health. You can earn coins, turn those coins in for different accessories, raise a mount for your avatar, and just have fun while you're making new habits!

Habit RPG is a great tool for building better habits and breaking bad ones!
Habit RPG is a great tool for building better habits and breaking bad ones! | Source

Pros

Besides the major one of building good habits, there are a lot of good things you can take advantage of with Habit RPG. For one, it's not just a place where you are alone in it. There is a community of people doing the exact same thing you are. You can join groups of people with similar interests as you (there are ADHD groups here) and help each other out with quests and such. It's a really great tool for not only building good habits but getting accountability in those habits.

There is also an app that you can download and take your habits on the go. For someone like me who is on the go a lot, I can easily check off tasks that I have done that day. The app makes it a lot easier to get on and get my daily lists done. Bonus is, next time you actually get on the site, you can be pleasantly surprised with the amount of coins you have, what you can buy, and how far you have leveled up if you haven't visited the site in a while.

Cons

Like with any video game, there is a risk of getting addicted, especially with the app. While you can use the app to go in and check off all the things you got done, you have to be careful to not let the things actually run your. I made this mistake in the beginning and ended up having to close down my account temporarily and get away from it. I'm getting back to using my account again, but with a better idea of what I want to use it for.

Also, with groups, you can add different tasks you want to make into habits such as reading a certain number of book pages a night or drinking more water or getting more sleep. These are called challenges and are proposed throughout the various groups. This little feature however, ties into the whole "don't let this run your life" warning. Because you can go through and click on a bunch of challenges that you want to partake in, there is a good chance of you actually overloading yourself with challenges. This negates what you are actually trying to do. For one, if this happens, you end up not being able to accomplish all the tasks, which in turn, depletes your avatar's health. Secondly, it ends up running your life.

So if you have the personality or have a kid who has the personality of getting addicted to something or over-tasking themselves with too much, then this is something you really need to be careful of. I made that mistake and had to get away from it entirely for a few months before picking it back up with a wiser frame of mind.

Conclusion

Okay, so I just threw a whole bunch of information at you. So here's what you need to know in the small scale of it:

Scrivener is a really awesome word processor that allows you to break up your writing project into as many pieces as you need, organize them the way you want, then compile them together into a word document, pdf, or even self-publish it for an e-book. This program is excellent for novelists, lawyers, students, poets, or really anyone who likes to write. Although this program does has a steep learning curve, it does have a tutorial and pdf manual that make it easier to understand. It's totally worth it.

Evernote is a great platform for taking notes, lists, and reminding you of appointments. The application can be taken anywhere too via the app for smartphones and iPhones.

Habit RPG is a really fun and interactive way to help build good habit and break bad ones. With a community of people to help give accountability, this is a great resource for adults and kids to focus on tasks and make deadlines with.

Living with ADHD can sometimes be really hard, but technology has come a long way in helping those with the disorder manage the symptoms in a healthy way and organize their lives. These just some of my favorite tools I use to help organize my life. There are lots of other applications and platforms ADHDers can turn to help manage their symptoms. Its just a matter of finding the right one that fits perfectly.

What applications or software do you use to help manage your life a little better?

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    • JessyFreeland profile image
      Author

      Jessica Freeland 3 years ago from Florida

      Thank you, moviesreviews. As to answer your question, firstly, its not a disease. It's a mental disorder and it has been treatable for a long time through the use of stimulant medication, such as Ritalin or Adderall. In fact, stimulant medication has been used for ADHD for as long back as the 1930s while ADHD has been documented as far back as 1902, just under different names like Minimal Brain Function Disorder. So the diagnosis is very true. While I agree that many kids are being misdiagnosed ADHD when they have something else, I also think the rise in diagnoses around the world comes from that science and technology has been able to catch up to an extent and study the brain and how it works with more clarity and detail.

    • FlowerCS profile image

      Lindsey A S 3 years ago from Delaware

      Hey This is a great Article!!!! Well written great tips and tools!

    • moviesreviews profile image

      Cacey Taylor 3 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Nice article. But I have participated in ADHD debates in the past and I was wondering what your take is on how true this diagnosis is. When did this disease start being recognized as a treatable disease?

    • Joel Diffendarfer profile image

      Joel Diffendarfer 3 years ago from Ft Collins, Colorado

      Outstanding article! As I, and as I know many other writers are also, ADHD is a both a challenge and a gift. Using the power of our gift by learning to use it effectively turns a frustration into a tool. I definitely am going to try some of what you have suggested. Well worth a thumbs up!

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