Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects an individual’s ability to concentrate. In young children, it’s often characterized by being unable to sit still or concentrate for long amounts of time. For adults with ADHD, it can be challenging to stay on task for work projects or stay focused on what you’re working on. It’s easy to get distracted by less important tasks. For adults with ADHD, this might mean getting easily distracted by social media or games on your mobile device.
While living with the symptoms of ADHD can be challenging, it also can confer some strengths. Research shows that individuals with ADHD tend to be very creative and have strong problem solving skills. Learning not just to live with ADHD but to use it to your advantage can help you become even more productive.
If you have ADHD and are looking for some ways to stay organized, stop procrastinating, keep track of due dates, and improve time management and executive function, there are a variety of apps that can help you accomplish these goals. But before we jump into those, let’s take a look at why it is important to be aware of adult ADHD.
ADHD awareness is important — here’s why
Dr. Len Adler, one of the leading adult ADHD researchers, believes that roughly 75% of adults with ADHD are undiagnosed. Undiagnosed ADHD can have a major impact on an individual's life — both personally and professionally.
Adults with undiagnosed ADHD are at higher risk for mood swings, anxiety, sadness, and lower self esteem than their counterparts without ADHD. They are also significantly more likely to be fired from a job or quit impulsively, or to suffer from substance abuse.
Researchers believe there is a genetic aspect to ADHD. They have found that 3 out of 4 children who are diagnosed with ADHD have at least one relative with ADHD.
As with any mental health condition, if you feel you may have ADHD, talk to a medical professional. They can help you find the diagnosis that fits you and, if they believe it will be beneficial, prescribe the ADHD treatment that will help you thrive.
Too often, adults living with the ADHD symptoms are labeled as “lazy” or “scatterbrained.” Nothing could be further from the truth. There are so many ways people with ADHD can thrive professionally and personally. Here are a few apps that can be helpful in keeping on task and remembering details that otherwise might slip through the cracks.
Apps that can help you thrive with ADHD
While iPhones can easily be a distraction for someone with ADHD, when used strategically, there are mobile apps that can help ADHD minds stay organized.
Here are ten apps, listed in alphabetical order, that can help adults with ADHD thrive — in life and work. Some take a to-do list approach to help you organize your tasks, others help by removing distractions and improving focus time, while others help you capture your ideas before they leave your brain! We chose these apps because of how they can help users stay organized and motivated. Each app approaches those two goals in a different way, allowing each individual to find what works best for them.
Asana is a project management tool that’s typically used by teams to keep track of projects and subtasks. The founders of Asana created it to help teams stay organized and decrease the amount of time they needed to spend in meetings.
It’s a great app for individuals as well — especially those who are looking for ways to stay organized and combat the symptoms of ADHD. Asana allows you to break larger projects down into subtasks and focus on accomplishing one subtask at a time. (AKA “task chunking,” a great method for staying focused when you have ADHD.) This helps adults with ADHD not get overwhelmed and fall into procrastination.
Asana also helps keep track of due dates so that you don’t accidentally miss a deadline. You can even organize your tasks by priority, so you know where to start first thing in the morning.
Try out the basic plan for the first month for free. After that, it costs $10.99 per user per month. It’s compatible with iOS, Android, or your preferred internet browser.
For those looking to set goals, routines, and strengthen good habits, EpicWin might be the game changer (pun intended) you’re looking for. This app is designed to feel like a game that lets you level-up as you accomplish the tasks on your to-do list. Users can even create avatars that look like themselves.
It is especially helpful for those who struggle with concentration and are motivated by novelty and reward.
EpicWin is only $2.99 to download from the App store or Google Play. It’s available on both iOS and Android.
Evernote is a note taking app that helps keep all of your ideas, to-do lists, lecture notes, and team brainstorms in one place. You can create different “notebooks” for different situations. These can either stay private or you can share them with others.
Notebooks in Evernote can be used to keep track of everything from brainstorming sessions with colleagues to creating personal budgets. Having all of these notes in one place can be incredibly helpful.
Within the app, you can also create to-do lists that will help you keep all of your tasks organized. The content on the app is searchable, so if you can’t find something, just try a few keyword combinations and you should be able to find it.
Evernote offers users a free version that many feel is sufficient for their needs. If you fall in love with the app and want a bit more, you can access the premium features for $7.99 per month or $69.99 per year. It’s compatible with iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows.
Focus@will is a music streaming service that helps listeners through perfectly curated playlists aimed to help with brain focus. They are made by platinum-selling music producers and backed by neuroscientists.
You can choose between different playlists like NatureBeat, The Deep, or Atmosphere — whatever will help you stay on task. They even have one channel within the app that’s specifically designed to help those with adult ADHD.
The music is designed to blend into the background and help block out distractions from your surroundings — whether chatty coworkers, construction down the street, or other distractions.
Focus@will even has an in-app focus tracker so you can see how much it’s actually helping stay in deep Focus Time.
Try the first week of Focus@will for free, and if it’s the right fit for you, an annual subscription is $52.49. It’s compatible with iOS, Android, MacOS, and Windows devices.
MindNode is a mind mapping tool that allows users to brainstorm ideas in a visual way. MindNode can be used for everything from planning your next holiday to outlining an essay.
The visual aspect of this app helps users connect their thoughts in a way that makes sense. The user begins with a central idea, and then is able to build a web of connecting points from there.
You can use the basic version of MindNode for free. It is available on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows devices.
Remember the Milk is basically a big to-do list, with some handy features. It helps users stay organized by allowing them to create lists, rank priorities, and add color coded tags. The app will send you notification reminders via text messages, Gmail, Outlook, Twitter, or instant message. It also integrates seamlessly with other programs like Google Drive and Dropbox.
Basically, once you put a task in a to-do list, it will be almost impossible to forget about it. No more missing due dates or forgetting to pay a bill.
Remember the Milk has a free version, but if you want to upgrade to the Pro version, it’s $39.99. It’s designed to work on iOS and Android.
RescueTime is designed to help the user keep track of how they are spending their time. It tracks usage across different sites and apps throughout the day. Adults with ADHD can then use this information to analyze what’s distracting them, what times of day they tend to be most productive, and from there strategize a plan for maximizing productivity.
You can use RescueTime to block distracting apps for certain periods of time to help you stay focused. Try using it to implement the Pomodoro technique keeping you accountable to spend chunks of time in deep focus.
RescueTime is a free app, and it’s available on iOS or Android.
SimpleMind is a mind mapping tool that allows you to brainstorm ideas, organize projects, and visualize — it’s especially great for visual thinkers. SimpleMind allows you to have multiple mind maps on the same page, so it’s not a problem if your brain is jumping from one project to another.
It allows you to add images, videos, links, and voice memos into the mind map you’re creating. It also integrates seamlessly with Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. You can share your mind maps with others as they are, or choose from any one of 15+ style sheets to make it look how you want it to.
SimpleMind has a free version, or you can pay $6.99 to use all of the features. It’s available for iOS and Android.
Todoist is an organizational tool that helps adults with ADHD keep track of their to-do list. Getting all the things that need to get done out on paper helps clear up mental space and reduce stress as you work to find a work-life balance.
The items on your to-do list can be broken up into subtasks. You can set reminders for tasks that regularly repeat (like monthly bills, or weekly check-ins with your boss) to automatically repeat and send you a reminder. You can assign levels of importance to individual tasks so you’re sure to prioritize doing the most important things first.
The app is free, or you can do a $3 in-app purchase per month to access the premium features. It’s compatible with iOS and Android.
Trello is a Kanban board-style app. In it, you can create boards for different aspects of life. Fill these boards with columns, and then fill the columns with cards that represent different projects or items on your to-do list. You can expand each card to include due dates, subtasks, and other details that you need to keep track of.
This will help you see at a glance what needs to get done. Try adding a time length estimate to each item so that you know before starting your day how long you intend to spend on each item. This will help you keep from procrastinating as it sets your intention for brain focus from the start.
Trello is completely free for up to 10 boards. You can use it with iOS, Android, or access it on your computer via the internet.
Finding the right tools for managing your ADHD can be challenging and time consuming, but in the long run, it’s well worth the effort. Try out a couple of these apps and see what works best with your lifestyle.
Along with trying these apps out, also check out Clockwise. Clockwise optimizes your calendar by time blocking your activities. In doing this, it helps users free up valuable time, and group things together in a way that promotes deep focus. It will help you stay engaged and know what to focus on next throughout the day so you don’t get side tracked on social media or with other distractions.