By Hallie Bulkin
As a college student, I was diagnosed with ADD. Since I was a young adult I was able to start my journey with many self-created and self-implemented coping and study strategies. Nothing like throwing yourself into the fire!
There were many strategies that worked and many strategies that did not work. It was a matter of trial and error but I did find specific success strategies that I used to carry myself through college and graduate school with a lot of success! Today I am sharing some of my top success strategies for managing my ADD.
Become a note taker.
I became a note-taker for others with special needs. This helped me to focus in class because I was working to take notes both for myself and for others. It was most important that I made sure I delivered great notes to others so that kept me at the top of my game. Give this a try!
Type or write the notes in class.
In class, in order to keep up, it may be a good idea to type up the notes. That said, I always preferred to hand write the notes because I felt I could be more expressive with diagrams compared to the limitations I had when typing. You have to decide what is both most efficient AND most effective for you. Not just in the moment but for remembering the value and meaning behind the notes when it comes time to study a month after the notes were originally taken.
Copy the notes by hand.
Whether you type your notes OR hand write them, it is always a good idea to re-write the notes AT LEAST once before an exam. I used to do this 2-3 times when studying. I wrote my notes on a legal pad, I wrote them on note cards and sometimes I wrote them on a notepad again!
Start studying a week before the exam.
Using the above strategies and starting at least a week before the exam helped to reduce any anxiety and general stress associated with test taking. I studied in 30-minute increments and reviewed information repeatedly over the week leading up to the exam and felt very prepared each time. The repetition was a big piece of what helped to keep my test anxiety in check!
Use my F.O.C.U.S. strategy when studying or completing any work task!
F = find a quiet space
O = open only the items needed in the moment (e.g., close all other items on your computer and hide all the other files and documents on your desktop both electronically and on your physical desk!)
C = create a strategy for dealing with interruptions (e.g., set a timer and let a distraction happen for 3 minutes, then return to studying once the timer buzzes! Distractions can actually give you needed breaks, but it’s important to have a strategy to return to your work.)
U = UNPLUG!!!!!!! <– self-explanatory!
S = stretch your legs every 30 minutes. It’s good to give your mind and legs a break. Research shows studying in 30-minute chunks is most effective, especially when you start studying a week before the exam (and not the night before).
The FOCUS strategy is one I still use today as it can take me twice as long as the next person to complete a task. This is probably why I prefer the nighttime hours. As a night owl, it is much easier to focus since there are naturally less distractions when everyone else is sleeping! The unplug portion is REALLY important as a night owl, since Facebook and other social media platforms NEVER sleep!
I hope that you find at least one of these strategies useful. They have helped me push through and find a lot of success and I share the strategies so they can be of help to others. If you know of anyone who might benefit from these strategies, please share this article with them! And, if you struggle to focus at times, try the FOCUS strategy. It’s good for ALL of us to remember to focus as it can improve everyone’s efficiency, ADD or not!