Smartphones, tablets, and, above all, the internet can be huge distractions from work, from family, from life in general. This is especially true if you have ADHD like me. But thankfully, you can fight tech with tech thanks to ADHD-friendly apps. You can also turn to apps for help with procrastination, difficulty creating plans, disorganization and other hallmarks of attention disorders. Here are a couple of favorites of mine and other reviewers.
Anti-Social: I work most effectively when I run this program ($ 15 for PC and Mac). Designed to block social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, you can set Anti-Social to deny access to whichever sites you find most distracting. Just add a URL to the list, set your timer (15 minutes to 24 hours), and press start. For the time selected, you won’t be able to reach the sites you’ve opted to block. For example, nothing distracts me like Gmail. With Anti-Social switched on, that problem’s solved. I can work without the nagging temptation of another email check. The only way to turn off Anti-Social is with a reboot.
Freedom: From the creators of Anti-Social, the original version of Freedom (which I use) doesn’t target particular websites; it blocks the web entirely by shutting off your computer’s internet connection. Absolutely no distractions! The updated version offers that feature in its free version, but if you sign up for a subscription ($ 24 to $ 45 per year; 7 day free trial), you get options that allow you to tailor Freedom to your needs. Plus, you can use it with your smartphone…sort of. Developed for PC and Mac, apps for iOS and Android are in beta, meaning the developers are still ironing out the bugs. It doesn’t work with my Galaxy Note 5 for some reason, so I can’t say how well the app functions.
RescueTime: Need help managing your day? Try this well-regarded app for PC, Mac, and Android. Not only does RescueTime feature alarms, goal setting, and website blocking, it also tracks your computer and smartphone activities and creates a report on how you spend your day. That report gives you a window onto how much time you spend on actual work and how much you waste on YouTube, Facebook and other distractions – time that ADHD’ers easily lose track of. “The cold, hard data right there for you to see,” writes Psychology Today’s Larry Mauceri, PhD. Eric Tivers of ADDitude Magazine likes it, too: “There is a difference in how long you think you spent doing something and how long you actually spent. While it runs in the background, the Rescue Time app quietly tracks all of your activities. You might be surprised, as I was, to realize that you looked at cat videos for two hours.”
Once you’ve banished distractions and are ready to work, what’s next? Check your to-do list. Everyone should have one, especially those with ADHD, who have more than their fair share of trouble keeping track of tasks. There are a lot of apps out there to choose from. I like Tasks Free for my Android devices. It’s super simple to use, syncs with my Google account so I can update my lists across multiple devices, and is, as the name implies, free. ADDitude Magazine recommends Listastic for iOS. Mauceri points readers to Remember the Milk for Android and iOS.
There are loads of apps out there that can make life with ADHD a little easier. These are just a few examples. Experiment with free versions to find which ones work for you before committing any money. And, most importantly, remember to use them regularly! That’s the only way they’ll help.