12 activities for ADHD adults to find focus and manage boredom
Some people with ADHD struggle to find focus and concentrate, and are easily bored. Here are some activities that can help…
By Eleanor Hope-Jones
Oct 10, 2022
An ADHD brain works differently than most people’s, so it’s important you learn how your ADHD brain works and what activities help it thrive.
Having a set of ADHD activities in your back pocket is a great way to improve your brain’s ability to switch into the right mode at any given time. Especially if you’re trying to discover new ways to manage your ADHD in your workplace.
We’ve broken down these activities into ones that will help you:
So feel free skip down to the type of activity you need in this moment, and remember there’s no one size fits all.
Everyone experiences ADHD differently so take what works for you, and leave the rest.
How can I train my mind to focus
When it comes to ADHD, finding focus can feel elusive as your attention span isn’t always interested in what’s on your to do list.
These activities can help you learn to ignore distractions and stay focused by building new skills and flooding your system with useful hormones.
1. Practice attentive listening
Studies have shown that listening can be tricky for the ADHD brain.
An ADHD brain often works faster than the conversation and is overloaded by all the other visual and auditory information in the environment.
Attentive listening is a way to try and manage that, by consciously focusing on what the other person is saying with the intent to understand, rather than respond. While listening try asking clarifying questions or paraphrasing what the person is saying back to them so you stay engaged.
Find your inner curiosity and push yourself to really understand what the person is trying to communicate beyond just their words. It’s alright if there are pauses in the conversation because you’ve spent time focusing on listening rather than preparing a response.
If you feel like you need to say something and there are no lulls in the conversation, try asking if you can jump in or if now’s a good time to interject. Interestingly asking for permission to interrupt makes the other person feel more respected than interrupting without notice.
Over time attentive listening, and focusing in general, will become easier.
2. Schedule regular moderate physical exercise
When we perform physical activity our brain releases dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, which happen to have the same effect as some kinds of ADHD medication.
These hormones affect focus and attention, and even a short exercise session is proven to increase your motivation, brainpower and energy. You can even think of physical exercise as a dose of medicine as its mental health boost effects only last for a certain period of time afterwards.
So try and do some moderate aerobic exercise where your heart rate speeds up and you sweat 4 to 5 times a week to get regular doses of those focus-boosting hormones.
3. Give your mind time to wander
Finding time to daydream is important as a way of giving your brain a rest from constant focus and instruction.
Creating pockets where you give in to your ADHD brain’s urge to jump from topic to topic while staring off into space can be a huge brain boost. Especially if you need to focus for long periods later in the day.
In fact, scientific research has shown that people who take the time to daydream about their goals are more likely to achieve them.
4. If you have a few minutes: Sign up for a FLOWN Flock
If you need to focus on a task right now, FLOWN can help. Our Flocks are daily deep work sessions held on Zoom that use body doubling, intention setting and the power of community to help you get more done than you thought possible.
Lots of our members have adult ADHD and use Flocks to increase their attention span, and create a daily schedule and routine to improve their impulse control.
Learn more about flocks today.
5. Why is routine important for adult ADHD?
Routine helps you focus. It might not be fun or stimulating, but it can help to normalize things that otherwise would become distractions.
When you have ADHD, you might struggle to regulate your emotions and focus because everything around you is trying to grab your attention.
But if you have a regular morning routine and daily schedule, all those things will start to become less interesting as they’re more repetitive.
We’re not saying remove novelty and spontaneity from your life entirely! But if you can make the more monotonous daily tasks, like getting ready in the morning or setting up your laptop, into a routine then you’ll find it easier to focus.
Want some help on creating your morning routine? Read our article on 5 steps to a procrastination-free morning routine.
Join a Flock for free to help you find focus and routine
Our expertly facilitated deep work sessions will help you focus and get more done than you ever thought possible. Many of our members have ADHD and tell us how much Flock’s have improved their focus.
Run on Zoom more than 6 times a day and guided by one of our expert facilitators, Flocks are unique, fun – and so effective that 88% of people who try one come back for more
What helps with ADHD boredom
If you have ADHD your brain often has lower levels of a chemical messenger called dopamine that helps you to feel rewarded and regulate focus. Boredom is often the result, so we’ve collected together some top tips for managing boredom as an ADHD adult.
6. Human contact
Spending time with people you like, or meeting new people if you’re an extrovert, can be really helpful in busting boredom. Studies show that frequent micro-social interactions, like smiling at someone on the street or being friendly with the shop owner you buy coffee from, can have a positive effect on your mental health.
We’re hardwired to be social animals, and often get the most satisfaction from spending time with each other.
If you often find yourself bored at work try scheduling time to have a coffee with someone you’ve not met before from your company, or adding an icebreaker question into meetings that’ll help you get to know your colleagues.
7. Audiobooks and podcasts
Lots of people with ADHD love books for all the juicy new ideas, fascinating information and engaging stories they are fully entertained by reading. But for some people with ADHD the focus, time and energy reading requires takes a real toll on their ADHD brain.
Enter audiobooks, and their cousin podcasts.
A way to overcome boredom and experience the joy and excitement storytelling can give us, without using up too much focus and energy.
A bonus is you can go for a walk or do household chores while listening!
8. Fun kinds of movement
We’ve already referenced aerobic exercise as an excellent way of promoting focus, but fun kinds of exercise like Zumba, martial arts, and surfing are all excellent ways of staving off boredom and getting your heart rate going.
This kind of activity is also going to reduce screen time, stress and offer a bit of a challenge which is a fantastic kind of entertainment for the ADHD brain.
9. If you have just a few minutes: Puzzles and brain games
From crossword puzzles to sudoku you can refresh your brain in just a few minutes with these, especially if you feel depleted by a particularly boring and monotonous task.
Brain exercises can stimulate and excite our brains from the challenge, whilst simultaneously building up our focus and endurance skills.
This is useful if your ADHD means your struggle with procrastination.
How to calm down as an adult with ADHD
ADHD means you tend to experience life more intensely than others and notice the sounds, sights and stimulations around you more than others. This can be overwhelming to say the least, so try thinking about your go to tactic when the world gets a bit much.
Everyone can benefit from meditation as it grows the brain’s prefrontal cortex, but if you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder you may find it even more useful than most.
The prefrontal cortex improves the brain’s ability to focus, control impulses and plan for the future. Which is often a real struggle for people with ADHD.
We recommend trying FLOWN’s breathwork taster session, as entirely still and silent meditation can also be offputting for someone with ADHD.
And watch as your ability to be mindful and pay attention to your body grows over time.
11. Spending time in nature
We all know that going out into nature is beneficial for everyone’s mental and physical health, but did you know about the specific effect it has on the ADHD brain?
In a nationwide survey run by Professors from the University of Illinois they found that children with ADHD who took part in outdoor activities appeared to reduce their ADHD symptoms.
This included new outdoor spaces, like visiting a forest, and familiar outdoor spaces like spending time in your garden.
Further studies by Rachel Kaplan, PhD, and Stephen Kaplan, PhD found that even having a desk facing a natural environment, or any kind of area of natural fascination can help improve mood and focus. As the wonder of nature lets your directed attention rest and your automatic attention take over.
12. If you have just a few minutes put down your phone
Phones and electronic devices can trigger overwhelm or sensory overload.
Though not everyone with ADHD will experience sensory overload, it is a common symptom of ADHD.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the physical stimulus of the phone’s sounds, vibration and colors, and the mental stimulus like lots of emails, notifications or endless information on social media.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed or want to find a calm space see if you can put your phone down for at least a few minutes.
Everyone’s ADHD journey is unique
Remember these are just some of our favorite activities to help soothe an ADHD mind, and we hope you found one that works for you.
Learning to manage your ADHD symptoms and finding activities that will work for you is a lifelong journey that will take time and getting to deeply know yourself.