Like ADHD itself, college life tempts with irresistible distractions and inviting risks, so trying to cope with ADHD symptoms in such an environment might be more difficult than you expect. When a distraction, such as a party, presents itself, and you have a paper to write and a quiz to prepare for, your mom won’t be there to keep you on track. But you can employ a few simple techniques that will serve you well and still allow you to partake in much of the fun and excitement that college has to offer.
One deceptively simple technique is self honesty. This requires admitting to yourself that you are unlikely to forgo an evening social activity to study; it is admitting that you intend to perform well and know you can, but will have great difficulty making yourself sit down to do your work, even without distractions; it is admitting that you have trouble getting up in the morning, and are at risk for missing those early morning classes. It is true that you are beginning college with a clean slate, and that anything is possible for you. But recognizing your weaknesses is the best way to keep them from defeating your strengths.
Once you have honestly confronted the challenges to your success, devise a game plan to outwit them. For example, if you know you won’t be able to resist those evening dorm parties, plan to visit the library after your classes during the day and get your work done then. Make the evening party a reward for work performed, and don’t allow yourself to attend any social gathering if you did not do your work during the day.
Even at the library, or wherever you choose to work, you might find it hard to buckle down. You see a friend, you log into Facebook, or you decide you’ll have more energy for schoolwork if you go to the gym first. Begin with the most difficult task, and promise yourself that you only have to do the first problem, or write the first paragraph, or read the first chapter. Only continue if you feel engaged. Otherwise, your promise to yourself won’t mean anything next time. Chances are though, that you will feel engaged and energized to continue. If not, at least you made a little headway.
If you can’t for the life of you get out of bed in the morning, try to avoid registering for early morning classes. If that is not possible, get a loud alarm clock that you place far enough away from your bed that you must get up to shut it off. Set it so that you have enough time to get ready and eat a little something before class. Promise that you will reward yourself with a nap later in the day, and keep the promise.
Lastly, be fully present in whatever moment you have chosen for yourself. If you are at a party, don’t spend it stressing about schoolwork. If you are writing a paper and hear laughter coming from down the hall, take a few deep breaths, count to ten, and remind yourself that you have chosen this time to focus on your paper. Mindfully choose your activities, and always honor your choices.