I Manage Adult ADHD and Hyperfocusing with Rewards

September 16, 2013 Elizabeth Prager

Adult ADHD symptoms include hyperfocusing. Adult ADHD isn't always about losing attention, but about being unable to shift attention with flexibility and ease.I get into adult ADHD hyperfocusing phases. Right now, I love doing crossword puzzles. In the past, my phases have been actual puzzles to video games to tv shows to cross-stitching. You name it - I've done it. Hyperfocusing in ADHD is something that I find isn't always talked about in relation to adult ADHD, because it's sort of assumed the "A" for attention means only lack of attention. How could someone with difficulty focusing have period of hyperfocus? Who knows? ADHD's hyperfocusing certainly happen, though.

A good friend and classmate of mine recently went through a serious hyperfocus phase where she looked up info about her [hopefully] future dog. While in class, while not in class, and probably in her sleep, she was researching the best environment for the dog and the activities it would like to do. When it came time for a test, she had all but forgotten to study in favor of dog researching.

How I Manage Hyperfocusing in ADHD

How can we balance these periods of hyperfocusing in ADHD, or at least shift the hyperfocus to something more productive? One Saturday a few months ago, I got my head and heart stuck on the need to create a mosaic of the Icelandic flag. I spent nearly 7 hours in my car going from store to store and spending well over $200 to complete my task. What should I have been doing? Studying, spending time with my wife and cats, or doing anything else.

I find time limits and schedules help with ADHD, but they're not always perfect. When I feel my brain taking off without me, I can't always trust myself to follow a time limit/schedule, so it helps to trust my wife and friends to remind me to calm down.

What really helps is allowing myself to fully let go and enjoy the hyperfocus once I have completed a certain amount of other task. For example, if I study for 1 hour or memorize at least 2 charts, then I'm allowed to go crazy for as long as is necessary to fulfill my crazy ADHD hyperfocusing needs.

Do you all experience hyperfocus? Does it take over your weekends ever? What do you do?

APA Reference
Prager, E. (2013, September 16). I Manage Adult ADHD and Hyperfocusing with Rewards, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 19 from

Author: Elizabeth Prager

November, 12 2015 at 8:12 am

My problem is I get so focused on tasks that take months to complete. I ignore things that need to be done at my house and my wife takes it as I don't care about her, what she wants, or our home. Then when that big task is done I feel great for a short time, then empty and a little down. Then I get focused again and the cycle continues. I have tried to turn over the long tasks over to someone else to do but I can't let go. It is really effecting my Job and Marriage.

September, 17 2013 at 7:30 am

I get hyper focused on so many things. It affects my job and my life at home. It's frustrating, but also so satisfying when I stick to whatever I'm hyper focused on and complete it. One of the problems I've found is that I sometimes think I've developed a good habit (when it's work related) but then I suddenly lose interest in whatever it was and the "good habit" is gone forever.
I also have bipolar 1 and moments of mania combined with moments of being hyper focus charge me like you couldn't believe. The problem is that I usually crash hard into depression and I get easily frustrated and angered. At least I'm aware and working on it.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Elizabeth Prager
September, 22 2013 at 8:28 am

I couldn't agree more - at least you're aware and working on it! I can't stand when I find a new strategy and think it's going to fix my life for good - and then I get bored of it. So aggravating!

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