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How To Focus With ADHD: 10 Tips You Should Try 2023

Luke Sumpter

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

how to focus with adhd
Lifestyle interventions may help to reduce ADHD symptoms.

If you’ve been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD, chances are you struggle to pay attention when you need to stay focused the most.

Thankfully, there are various steps people can take to improve their ability to focus and minimize the risk of becoming distracted. Many people with ADHD find that medication helps solve their symptoms, but many lifestyle factors also show great promise. Check out 10 of the most well-researched below.

10 Ways To Focus With ADHD

Research suggests a variety of lifestyle changes may help to counter the symptoms of ADHD, including:

1. Exercise.

2. Sleep.

3. Less screen time.

4. Eating a healthy diet.

5. Meditation.

6. Cognitive-behavioral therapy.

7. Turning off your phone. 

8. Healthy distractions.

9. Omega-3 supplements.

10. Green environments.

What Is ADHD?

The National Institute of Health defines ADHD as “an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning and development.” Both the causes and risk factors of ADHD remain unknown. However, researchers are currently exploring[1] the role of brain injury and low birth weight as possible causes. 

Overall, ADHD symptoms fall into two main categories,[2] including:

• Inattention: Difficulty with organization, poor listening skills, and difficulty following instructions.

• Hyperactivity—impulsivity: Fidgeting, talking excessively, difficulty waiting, frequently interrupting.

These symptoms partly arise from processes observed within the ADHD brain. Altered brain chemistry results in lower levels of neurotransmitters responsible for attention and reward.

10 Tips For ADHD Hyperfocus

If you live with the condition, you’ve probably wondered how to manage your symptoms. While pharmaceuticals help many people manage their symptoms, there are also several ways to adhere to different lifestyle practices. Below, you’ll discover 10 tips to help you maintain focus and accomplish tasks quickly and efficiently. 

Studies have examined the effects of acute aerobic exercise of moderate intensity in test subjects with ADHD, which equates to a light jog. So, going for a brief run before sitting down to study could put you in a better mood and increase your capacity for focus for longer periods of time.

Exercise Often

how to focus with adhd
Exercising regularly can increase your capacity to focus.

Frequent exercise helps with keeping the body healthy and staying focused. Research[3] shows that exercising helps produce dopamine and norepinephrine, which might help compensate for the lack of chemical signaling in people with ADHD that drives focus. 

Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep

how to focus with adhd
Get 8 hours of sleep each night for improved focus.

Excess stress, irregular shift patterns, and too much screen time mean many people have difficulty sleeping. Interestingly, ADHD and sleep deprivation feature overlapping symptoms.[4] Getting adequate sleep helps optimize cognitive function, improve mood, and regulate behavior. Setting a firm schedule for restful sleep[5] that equates with the amount that makes you feel at your best will help to keep your ability to focus at an optimum level.

Accumulative lack of sleep can cause cognition to drop off in numerous areas, including:

• Intellectual performance.

• Academic achievement.

• Creativity.

• Productivity.

Limit Screen Time

how to focus with adhd
Excess screen time is linked to hyperactive behavior.

In the modern age, people spend more time watching television, viewing movies, and scrolling on social media feeds. Even children between the ages of 8–18 spend an average of 7.5 hours[6] each day in front of a screen, which adds up to 113 days per year staring into a device.

While technology enables us to stay in touch and up to date, it can interfere[7] with our ability to concentrate and stay on track with specific tasks when used excessively. A 2022 study found that as little as 90 minutes of screen time per day[8] is associated with hyperactivity behavior in children under the age of three.

Minimizing screen time and choosing to read, play board games, exercise, or pursue other hobbies away from technology could help you pay attention for longer periods of time.

Eat A Healthy Diet

how to focus with adhd
Diet can help to tame neuroinflammation.

Consuming a healthy diet rich in whole foods and their nutrients brings benefits beyond physical health and a reduced risk of chronic diseases. Scientists are starting to discover the crucial link between diet, the gut microbiome, and brain health and function. 

Research suggests that an altered gut microbiome could underpin some ADHD symptoms[9] by giving rise to neuroinflammation and oxidative stress. Scientists believe the microbiome could serve as a therapeutic target for ADHD. Common foods known to support this population[10] of microbes include prebiotics and probiotics, such as: 

• Pickled vegetables.

• Kombucha.

• Kefir.

• Sauerkraut.

• Fruits and vegetables.

Try Mindfulness Meditation

how to focus with adhd
Meditation trains the mind to pay attention.

Mindfulness meditation serves as a simple but effective way to strengthen your ability to pay attention. The entire goal of the practice is to essentially tame the mind. Every time the practitioners feel their thoughts drifting away from the present moment, they are taught to redirect their focus and bring themselves back into the present. 

Researchers agree that mindfulness meditation[11] poses a feasible and accepted intervention for people with ADHD. It teaches how to focus on ADHD without medication.

Go To Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

how to focus with adhd
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps to cultivate relaxation.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychological treatment designed to change negative thinking and behavior patterns. Concerning ADHD, CBT aims to help clients to develop adaptive thinking skills. 

Research shows that CBT can significantly reduce[12] ADHD symptoms, improve executive function, and decrease feelings of anxiety and depression. If you don’t have any CBT providers nearby, you can always try online therapy.

Turn Off Your Smartphone

how to focus with adhd
Smartphones are a serious distraction in the modern world.

If you’re still wondering how to help with ADHD, several strategies to combat symptoms involve attempts to limit distractions. Of all of the possible factors that can pull you away from your work, mobile phones rank as one of the most tempting. 

Ideally, you should turn off your phone when trying to work and even move it to another room to eliminate the potential distraction altogether. That way, you can remove the temptation and focus on reading, writing, and studying instead.

Use Healthy Distractions

how to focus with adhd
Not all distractions are a bad thing for ADHD

It might surprise you, but another means of cultivating concentration is distracting yourself healthily and constructively.

Anything from using a stress ball and fidget spinner[13] to chewing on some gum can help you to release some pent-up energy while still focusing on your work, especially when dealing with boring tasks. Music can also be a positive distraction while working at a computer, especially when using noise-canceling headphones. Combine these strategies with a concise to-do list, and you’ll check off one task after the other. 

Supplement With Omega-3 Fatty Acids

how to focus with adhd
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial to brain health.

Studies have concluded that deficiencies in specific fatty acids correlate with ADHD behavior; supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids in high doses[14] could help to resolve symptoms caused by a lack of key nutrients. While not a cure-all, these nutrients play an important role in brain health and may help to support people experiencing a lack of focus.

Enter A Green Environment

how to focus with adhd
Natural environments slash stress and boost cognition.

Changing your environment may help you to resist negative distractions. Instead of spending all your time cooped up in an office, why not take your laptop or book into your garden or a local park?

Reduced access to green spaces during early childhood is correlated[15] to childhood ADHD, and research shows these natural areas could help to decrease symptoms.

Why Can’t You Concentrate With ADHD?

As you’ve read, ADHD impacts a person’s ability to concentrate for several reasons, including a deficit of certain neurotransmitters in the brain associated with drive and reward. Thankfully, researchers are constantly exploring new ways to help combat symptoms and cultivate ADHD hyperfocus. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how to help with ADHD, you’re now aware of ten distinct lifestyle interventions that may help you pay attention for longer periods of time.

When To Seek Professional Help

If you find yourself struggling with ADHD symptoms, you should reach out to your healthcare provider, especially when you feel as though these feelings are impacting your relationships and job. Your doctor may refer you to a therapist to help reduce your symptoms or prescribe suitable medication if required.


The symptoms of ADHD are diverse and include fidgeting, trouble paying attention, and finding it hard to carry out instructions. While the exact cause of the condition remains unknown, research shows that a range of lifestyle factors could help to counter symptoms and make people more productive. If you’re struggling with ADHD symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor.

+ 15 sources

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  1. CDC (2021). What is ADHD? [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html
  2. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). (2022). Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. [online] Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd
  3. ‌Mehren, A., Reichert, M., Coghill, D., Müller, H.H.O., Braun, N. and Philipsen, A. (2020). Physical exercise in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – evidence and implications for the treatment of borderline personality disorder. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation, [online] 7(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1186/s40479-019-0115-2.
  4. ‌Sleep Foundation. (2021). ADHD and Sleep Problems: How Are They Related? | Sleep Foundation. [online] Available at: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health/adhd-and-sleep
  5. ‌Chaput, J.-P., Dutil, C. and Sampasa-Kanyinga, H. (2018). Sleeping hours: what is the ideal number and how does age impact this? Nature and Science of Sleep, [online] Volume 10, pp.421–430. doi:https://doi.org/10.2147/nss.s163071.
  6. ‌Kff.org. (2019). Available at: https://www.kff.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/8010.pdf.
  7. ‌King’s College London (2022). Are attention spans really collapsing? Data shows UK public are worried – but also see benefits from…. [online] Kcl.ac.uk. Available at: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/are-attention-spans-really-collapsing-data-shows-uk-public-are-worried-but-also-see-benefits-from-technology
  8. ‌Wu, J.-B., Yin, X.-N., Qiu, S.-Y., Wen, G.-M., Yang, W.-K., Zhang, J.-Y., Zhao, Y.-F., Wang, X., Hong, X.-B., Lu, D. and Jing, J. (2022). Association between screen time and hyperactive behaviors in children under 3 years in China. Frontiers in Psychiatry, [online] 13. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.977879.
  9. ‌Checa-Ros, A., Jeréz-Calero, A., Molina-Carballo, A., Campoy, C. and Muñoz-Hoyos, A. (2021). Current Evidence on the Role of the Gut Microbiome in ADHD Pathophysiology and Therapeutic Implications. Nutrients, [online] 13(1), p.249. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13010249.
  10. ‌The Nutrition Source. (2017). The Microbiome. [online] Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/
  11. ‌Mitchell, J.T., Zylowska, L. and Kollins, S.H. (2015). Mindfulness Meditation Training for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adulthood: Current Empirical Support, Treatment Overview, and Future Directions. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, [online] 22(2), pp.172–191. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpra.2014.10.002.
  12. ‌Anastopoulos, A.D. (2020). Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for College Students With ADHD: Temporal Stability of Improvements in Functioning Following Active Treatment – Arthur D. Anastopoulos, Kristen A. King, Laura H. Besecker, Sarah R. O’Rourke, Allison C. Bray, Andrew J. Supple, 2020. [online] Journal of Attention Disorders. Available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1087054717749932
  13. ‌ Aspiranti, K.B. and Hulac, D.M. (2021). Using Fidget Spinners to Improve On-Task Classroom Behavior for Students With ADHD. Behavior Analysis in Practice, [online] 15(2), pp.454–465. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s40617-021-00588-2.
  14. ‌ Pei-Chen, J. (2016). Delay Aversion, Temporal Processing, and N-3 Fatty Acids Intake in Children With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Jane Pei-Chen Chang, Li Jingling, Ya-Ting Huang, Yu-Ji Lu, Kuan-Pin Su, 2016. [online] Clinical Psychological Science. Available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2167702616637820
  15. ‌ Environmental Health Perspectives. (2020). The Association between Residential Green Space in Childhood and Development of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Population-Based Cohort Study | Environmental Health Perspectives | Vol. 128, No. 12. [online] Available at: https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/full/10.1289/EHP6729
Luke Sumpter

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Luke Sumpter is a writer and health science researcher with 8 years of experience specialising in the areas of health and fitness, nutrition, and musculoskeletal medicine. He holds a First Class Honours Bachelor's Degree in the Clinical Health Sciences and completed a dissertation exploring the emerging role of the endocannabinoid system in musculoskeletal medicine.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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