But depending on your budget, it also can be pricey. It’s absolutely worth the investment, but you might not have the funds available right now.
So what can you do?
For starters, it’s important to take a closer look at your budget, and reevaluate. Maybe you can spend less somewhere else. Maybe you can go without a few of your normal but non-essential expenses (like cable). Maybe you can use your holiday bonus. Maybe you can take money out of a savings account, which you’ll replenish on a set date.
If coaching still doesn’t seem like a possibility, consider the below tips from two ADHD experts, who also have ADHD.
Get effective treatment. Terry Matlen, MSW, ACSW, a psychotherapist and ADHD coach, stressed the importance of making sure your ADHD is appropriately treated, which often means therapy and medication. And, if you have insurance, it’ll likely cover some or most of the cost. The key is to find a therapist who has a deep understanding of ADHD, and can integrate coaching techniques into your work, she said. For instance, they might help you navigate concerns like chronic lateness and poor sleep.
Try group coaching. Many ADHD coaches offer group coaching programs, which is a lower-cost option than one-on-one sessions. Group coaching typically is still structured and proactive and provides great insight into navigating your symptoms, and getting important things done. Plus, it includes the added bonus of a built-in support system from peers, said Matlen, who offers an online group coaching program for women with ADHD at www.queensofdistraction.com.
Join ADHD organizations. “Educating yourself is one of the best things that you can do,” said Christine Kotik, ACC, an ADHD coach, trainer and speaker who works with individuals of all ages at CKADHD Coaching & Consulting in Columbus, Ohio. She suggested joining CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), and ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association). Both organizations offer valuable resources, including information, online support groups, in-person meetings, webinars and annual conferences.
Try online support groups. Matlen, who runs an ADHD group for women, suggested searching on Facebook using the term: “Adults with ADHD.” Some online groups even include working alongside a fellow ADHD member. Each person works on a project of their choice, while supporting and checking in with each other on their progress, she said.
Consider good friends. Both Kotik and Matlen noted that sometimes a friend could serve as a good source of support. For instance, you could schedule weekly calls with your friend to talk about your progress with different tasks. Or you could ask them to sit with you as you work on an activity you’ve been putting off, Kotik said.
Importantly, a good friend makes a good support only if: they understand your ADHD and how it affects you; they’re supportive, sensitive and kind; they don’t have unrealistic expectations; and they don’t criticize you, Matlen said. She’s been asked if spouses make good “coaches,” but in general, she’s found it doesn’t work and can lead to needless stress and conflict within the relationship.
Trying Specific Strategies
You also can practice specific strategies on your own. Kotik emphasized that ADHD can show up in many different ways, so what you work on really depends on what’s going on for you personally. However, below are some general tips to try.
Have a planner. The key is to find a system that works for you. That might be a paper planner or computer-based programs or apps, such as Evernote, Dropbox, Remember the Milk, and Wunderlist, Matlen said. She uses a teacher’s planner with big daily boxes.
Work backwards. Kotik frequently works with clients to plan backward from their final “product,” breaking down seemingly overwhelming projects or tasks into smaller, feasible steps. “Using backward planning helps make sure you have identified all the steps, estimated how long each will take and then given deadlines for those steps to make sure you can complete the goal in a timely manner.” In other words, it gives you a roadmap.
Kotik shared these examples: You have to complete a report for work in seven weekdays. You define all the steps, which are researching, interviewing, writing, editing, and printing. You start with the step closest to your deadline. That’s printing and will take half the day (6.5 days left). The editing process takes half a day, as well (6 days left). The writing process, which includes adding charts and graphics, takes 3 days (3 days left). Interviews take a day if you schedule them right away (2 days left). And research takes a day and a half (.5 days left). So you get started immediately.
If you’re taking a trip to Disney World with your kids in September, the steps include: picking a place to stay; buying plane tickets; getting the dogs into the kennel; ordering park tickets; having a friend watch the house while you’re away; and packing. Then you identify the dates you need to complete each task by (starting with the closest one to the trip, like packing). And you write the tasks on your calendar on the designated dates.
Be gentle with yourself. Kotik stressed the importance of having compassion for yourself, and not fixating on the negative. Instead of telling yourself, “Oh, here we go again. I will never manage to get this project turned in on time,” switch to: “I have three pieces of this project complete, which is actually more than usual. If I spend an extra 20 minutes every day this week, I should be in good shape,” she said.
Learn from your missteps. It’s natural to get upset when something doesn’t work out. Maybe you missed a deadline, got a low grade, got demoted (or not promoted). But, according to Kotik, we learn a lot from our missteps and “failures.” She suggested reflecting on these questions: “How can I do this differently next time? What am I missing here? Were my expectations too high? What resources are available to help me with this? What did I learn from this? What went right (something always goes right)?”
Turn to books. Thankfully, today, there are many excellent books on ADHD. For instance, Matlen is the author of The Queen of Distraction: How Women with ADHD Can Conquer Chaos, Find Focus, and Get More Done. She also regularly recommends these books: ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life; Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD; and The Disorganized Mind: Coaching Your ADHD Brain to Take Control of Your Time, Tasks, and Talents. (Because reading is difficult for many people with ADHD, try audiobooks, she said.)
When working through a book on ADHD, it’s essential to prioritize. Matlen suggested the following: Skip to the parts of the book that seem to be the most applicable to you; have a place to jot down what you need to work on; prioritize your list by importance and urgency. “In other words, what do you feel you need to do or want to do now, and which of those things urgently need to be handled right now?” Create reminders in your planner, and carve out time to work on these tasks. “Even 10 minutes a day will bring you 10 minutes closer to your goal.”
Matlen also suggested starting a small book club with other people with ADHD so you can work together on following an author’s suggestions. If you don’t know anyone locally, after joining a Facebook group, ask if any members would like to join you.
Check out videos and podcasts. This is another great way to get helpful insights and strategies. Matlen suggested checking out: How to ADHD; Dr. Ned Hallowell’s Distraction Podcast; Attention Talk Radio and ADHD Support Talk Radio. You also can search iTunes for other podcasts on ADHD.
Even though you can’t afford ADHD coaching right now, you can still work on your ADHD—and that is empowering. There are plenty of reputable, helpful resources, whether they come in the form of support groups, programs, podcasts, books or videos. Make sure you take advantage of them.