The first 27 years of my life were controlled by my ADD, and not in that adorable puppy-dog-way like how Dug from Up always gets distracted by squirrels. My ADD kept me from accomplishing practically anything, sent me spiraling into dangerous depressions, and forced me to spend almost all my time looking for things I’d lost. Not anymore, though! I finally found ways to cope with and combat my Attention Deficit Disorder, and I’m conquering it nearly every day now. Here are 8 apps that help me. They might help you too!
1. Simply Noise and/or Simply Rain
One of the most frustrating things about ADD is how it screws around with the way your brain processes noise. Complete silence can be worse than the sound of an entire brass band in your bedroom. Foreground noise and background noise flip-flop around inside your noggin. You can’t listen to everything so you can’t listen to anything. I’m mentally and physically incapable of writing a text message if someone is even talking near me. White noise is the answer to all your ADD noise-related issues! It blocks out every distracting thing and allows your brain to relax so it can focus.
Simply Noise offers white noise, pink noise, and brown noise. You can oscillate it or keep it still. And you can set it on a timer, in case you doze off while listening to it. Simply Rain is my favorite nature sounds app. You can choose the how hard you want it to rain and add in thunder at three different intensities, if you want it.
A timer is an absolute must-have for people with ADD. You can break up long tasks into shorter work periods. You can convince yourself to do practically anything for half an hour. If you know a timer is counting down, you’re also much less likely to go clicking around to the other 30 tabs open in your browser. I often just use the timer on iPhone’s built-in clock, but recently I’ve fallen in love with 30/30, an app that lets you make a list of things you need to get done and assign a time to each one. 15 minutes for email, 30 minutes to catch up on Slack, ten minutes for coffee, 15 minutes for a shower, 15 more minutes for email. Then you group the tasks together and the timer guides you through your next few hours. You can even share your lists with other people for extra accountability.
Many folks with ADD are visually oriented, so color coded to-do lists are extra helpful. Clear is a simple, quick task management app that offers a variety of synch options across different devices, and color codes for you. I’ve tried about a zillion task management apps and this is the least cluttered top tier one I’ve ever used. You can set deadlines or reminders for tasks, but you don’t have to if alerts stress you out.
Formerly HabitRPG, this is my all-time favorite task management app, for all the reasons Ali recently wrote about. Also, though, if you were a kid who grew up with ADD, you know the consuming sense of defeat you and deflation you feel when you think about Getting Shit Done. It was so impossible for so long and your teachers and your parents probably punished you for it. So, as an adult, rewarding yourself for seeing things through is a big deal. It’s such a morale booster! Habitca provides those rewards in the form of dragon eggs and coins to buy armor and swords and potions to hatch your own golden wolves! The app synchs to the web-based platform and you can play with your friends (without them seeing that you need a daily reminder to shower). It’s really fun.
I have to write down every single thing I agree to do and every single thing I think of during the day that I need to pick up at the grocery store and every birthday and every anniversary (oh, hey! Happy anniversary, Stacy!), or else those thoughts will float out of my ears and up into the sky and out into the solar system and I will never even remember that they happened. Due is a fast way to write down everything you’ve agreed to participate in, and also it will remind and remind you to do it until you promise the app you’ve taken care of it.
Another great visually stimulating app that helps super creative ADD-ers map their brainstorms. You start with a central idea, add thoughts as they come to you at any time, and then connect them together and grow them into an accomplishable project. You can use different fonts and colors to keep track of themes inside each individual project, and even export your mind map to a PDF to print and hang on your wall or hold in your hand.
You can train yourself to stay on task, but it’s a lot harder to prioritize the tasks you should stay on. Priority Matrix helps you divide your tasks into four quadrants — Critical, Critical but not urgent, Urgent but can be delegated, Uncategorized — so that you can tackle them in an order that makes sense. It’s easy to organize and also allows you to feel out your day at a glance. Again, you can color code with this app. You can also assign icons to tasks to help your visualization and share your projects with other people who use the app.
Okay, now you tell me: Which apps do you use to crush your ADD?