Staying Focused on a Task: Handy Apps

Have a project to finish but find your mind wandering?

Writing a paper but can’t stay focused?

Reading for class and find you’ve been turning pages with no idea what you’ve read?

Distraction is among the diagnostic criteria for AD/HD. In fact, the DSM IV criteria mentions it twice under symptoms of inattention:

  • “Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks…”
  • “Is often easily distracted.”

One strategy for managing distraction while doing solitary work involves checking in on oneself at frequent intervals. To do this, set a kitchen timer at somewhere between 5 and 20 minutes, based on how quickly your mind seems to wander. When the timer rings, ask yourself, “Am I on task?” Reset the timer and get back on task!

If you have a smartphone, the following apps can be used for the same purpose:

Android: “Stay on Task” is described on Google Play as follows:

  • A simple, unintrusive way to improve your focus and get your work done. It checks up on you to make sure you’re doing your work and not loafing. A random timer means you can’t predict when it will check on you. Perfect for writers, programmers, students, or anyone who needs to stay focused while doing independent work.

iPhone: “30/30” is a bit different, and you’d have to program varied intervals. It’s described on iTunes as follows:

  • You set up a list of tasks, and a length of time for each of them. When you start the timer, it will tell you when to move on to the next task. 

If you try one of these apps, how helpful do you find it to be?

Do you have alternative apps to recommend for a similar purpose?

What other approaches have you tried to help limit distraction while working on a solitary task? 

If you are interested in working with a coach around distraction or other AD/HD-related issues, please contact me for a free half-hour introductory consultation:

Many thanks to AD/HD experts David Nowell, PhD and Michele Toner, PhD for sharing information about these apps.

Posted in ADHD, apps, distraction, focus, stay on task

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