I think everyone has memories of one class that sends chills down their backs, years later. Memories of long, hard nights and nail-grating lectures… long after the final session and exams have been turned in.
My borderline-traumatic class was Pharmacology. Imagine a 600 page, upper level medical textbook filled with endless chemical tables, dosages, physiological actions and reactions as your core learning material.
Never mind the ADHD; that class was hell on earth for everyone!
The good news is that time goes on. And along the way. we pick up lessons on how to manage. Here are a few ADHD friendly study lessons that I used to conquer the toughest of classes. By using these lessons, I guarantee your nightmare class will become a bit more pleasant as well.
Brute force and acclimate
This study strategy is powerfully effective because it attacks the disinterest problem (our biggest problem) on BOTH ends.
First you will FORCE action to occur. Then you will slowly and steady learn to ENJOY that action.
How to get started on tasks that make you want to prick out your eyes?
Simple: just learn to journal your thoughts about the task.
I picked up this tactic as I began my writing career. When writers attempt to stroke their creative genius — hidden deep within the mind — they literally start writing ANYTHING down without thinking about complete thoughts or sentences.
A detective reading a writer’s journal could only conclude he found a madman.
But that’s okay, because it works. How?
It starts the process of doing and stops the process of overthinking. The genius soon follows, every time.
Journaling need not be about thoughts and feelings. It can work with abstract math concepts or anything else. There are no rules at this stage, just get pen to paper and allow your mind an open canvas to pour out its thoughts about the upcoming task.
Journaling is also mental deloading
Like many people with ADHD, you’ll find that once you get your thoughts onto paper, they don’t gunk up your mind anymore. It’s almost as if the brain was repeatedly flashing those thoughts just to avoid forgetting them.
My ADHD tendencies drop off the map after I’ve had a good journaling session. It’s almost therapeutic!
On making the boring and abstract real
Guess what, my friend: NO ONE cares about the Pythagorean theorem.
Not at first sight, anyways.
But being able to navigate a 17th century ship in the vast ocean. using nothing more than the stars of the night, alongside some clever math?
Now that’s interesting. You may never look at triangles the same way again after reading about that.
Everything is like this by the way. Otherwise there’d be no need to study about it. So find some good stories and case studies that help illustrate the value of the thing you’re trying to learn or do. I guarantee a Google search on the background of your boring math problem will reveal something far more interesting than that latest Twitter alert.
AND you’ll get things done and be productive too, because your mind will be more INTERESTED in the problem.
Examtime notes that the case study strategy works even better with highly complex ideas and theories. By bringing abstract ideas down to the real world, we are able to make sense of the theory and process it more efficiently.
All the more reason to apply this to your physics and philosophy classes as well…
How to force yourself on schedule
You already know the benefits of breaking up study time over multiple days instead of a single cram session.
Knowledge isn’t the problem; implementation is. For the ADHD mind, such a complicated schedule is like walking a hedge maze that changes every day.
So plan on breaking the plan…
And setup an Alcatraz-like study environment — where there’s nowhere to escape!
Only joking. In reality, you need only the slightest of obstacles and peer pressures to get moving.
During my years as an underclassman, I made sure to leave 2 hour gaps in my schedule after my math classes. I discovered this by luck during my freshman year, and never Aced a class so easily as I did in Freshman level statistics. And my teacher wasn’t known for being easy either…
It turns out there’s only one thing the ADHD brain hates more than boring tasks. And that’s a total vacuum of boredom created by not having ANYTHING to do at all.
This is precisely the decision you must force on your mind. A) Nothing to do except stare blankly at a wall. B) Work.
Maybe you can’t force a long schedule gap like in my example. Can you take your laptop somewhere that other people are roaming around? Social pressure will also naturally force you to get more done, and you’ll notice your autopilot web surfing seems to fall away as the potentially judgmental eyes of strangers in the background which you into action and cause you to stay on task.
In this case, peer pressure is a very GOOD thing.
ADHD really kicks into high gear when we’re alone, and when there’s the mere OPPORTUNITY to be distracted. Move locations or get more peers around yourself, and you’ll automatically make progress like never before.