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One of the most common and frustrating problems facing students who have ADHD is the feeling of being overwhelmed at the prospect of having to do homework or study for a test. The prospect of reading a book can provoke anxiety in a student who has ADHD. While all of these feelings are very real, and clearly unpleasant, the reality is that with a little bit of careful planning and a good strategy for proper time management, students who have ADHD can do just as well as other students in any academic subject. By practicing good study skills, they often do far better than students who don't have to think about how they manage their time in order to complete required school work.
Use a Day Planner
A Day Planner, assignment notebook or any type of pocket calendar or book-size calendar is a great way for a student who has ADHD to keep track of when their assignments are do. As soon as a teacher gives an assignment, write down what that assignment is, and when it is due. When you get home, you may want to make a note of it for each day leading up to the due date. That way, you can't forget what you have to do.
Make a Daily To-Do List
Time management is constantly an issue for students who have ADHD. When it comes to your school work, make a daily to-do list. If you use one notebook for all of your classes, the smart thing to do is to keep that to-do list at the front of the notebook. Write down all homework assignments, reading, studying for tests, memorizing or other stuff you need to do. If you have long term projects such as research papers, make a point of including that work in your to-do list. Don't wait until a couple of days before the assignment is due to look for resources, only to discover that they've been checked out of the library. Start looking for the material you need to do your project as soon after you get the assignment as possible.
Schedule Study Breaks
People who have ADHD almost always find it impossible to work productively if they have to focus on something for long periods of time. Figure out how long you can work productively and then schedule breaks. This doesn't mean that if you study for an hour, you can take a break of several hours. After studying for an hour, take a ten or fifteen minute break. Use that break time to get up, walk around, get some fresh air or a drink of water.
Break Up Tedious Assignments Into Smaller Pieces
This is especially helpful when it comes to reading assignments. Most students who have ADHD cannot focus well enough for long enough to read large assignments at one time. When it comes to reading entire books, regardless of whether or not they are interesting or pleasurable to read, the same thing is true. A smart strategy is to divide the amount of reading you have to do into the number of days you have to do it.
If you have to read 250 pages of very technical stuff in a week, that means that you'd have to read no less than about 36 pages a day. Reading 36 pages a day is a lot easier than trying to read, digest and understand 250 pages in a day or two. If the prospect of reading those 36 pages at one time seems overwhelming, break it up into two sittings in a day.
Your study environment is also very important. Make sure that you have a place that's neat, well-organized and free of any potential sources of distraction. If you study in your bedroom or dorm room, you may have to get into the habit of tidying up on a regular basis. It is far easier to study productively in a neat and well organized environment. If you are like many people who have ADHD or ADD and find it hard to block out sound and activity around you, then be sure you have the necessary quiet. If necessary, consider using ear plugs or noise canceling headphones.
Every person who suffers from ADHD has to figure out what strategies are most effective at helping them be more productive. It takes time to figure these things out and to learn to adapt to doing things differently. Change is always difficult -- especially for people with ADHD because they get used to routines. Over time, better grades and positive feedback, coupled with less anxiety and frustration will make all of this work worth the while.