Managing Executive Dysfunction and Adult ADHD

Those of us who have lived with executive dysfunction can often feel like a tangled ball of challenges. These can intricately affect how we manage emotions, motivation, and behavior in everyday life. Adults grappling with these invisible hurdles often struggle with conditions such as ADHD, autism, depression, and more. This week, we will focus on the often-overlooked topic of adults with ADHD.

Dr. Gabor Mate, in his book, “Scattered Minds,” describes Adult ADHD:

“Rather than an inherited disease, Attention Deficit Disorder is a reversible impairment and a developmental delay, with origins in infancy. It is rooted in multigenerational family stress and in disturbed social conditions in a stressed society.”


Life with ADHD can feel exhilarating, overwhelming, and, unfortunately, chaotic. Our clients often describe the challenge of calming their minds, sitting still, and being fully present. The common threads that stitch the fabric of executive dysfunction are relentless struggles with time management, the hurdle of initiating tasks, the elusive nature of motivation, and the chaotic realm of planning and organization. Add to this the frustrating habit of losing items, the jarring difficulty in task-switching, the tenuous focus, the tides of emotional regulation, the impulsive decisions, and the shadow of procrastination, and you have a tapestry that portrays the daily battles many face.

In a world where resources for children with ADHD abounds, and adults are often left to fend for themselves. However, Adults with ADHD have a greater need for tools and support as life’s responsibilities increase. So, to be helpful, we have compiled some resources we found to work.

Young Adults Running in Desert

Creating extrinsic motivation can be a key to success in the daily grind. It’s about finding external inspiration, whether the reward of a small treat after conquering a daunting task or the satisfaction of crossing off a goal in a habit tracker. Another helpful tool is having an accountability partner as a companion in this journey to relate to and remind you of your shared goals. Breaking down tasks into smaller steps can transform a mountain into a series of achievable hills. It’s about deconstructing the overwhelming into the manageable, turning the act of making a doctor’s appointment into a series of simple actions spread across days, each step a victory on its own.

The concept of “tricking” the brain introduces a playful element into the routine, employing simple actions like wearing running shoes to signal productivity or donning gym clothes to ease the path to exercise. It’s about outsmarting the mind, committing to a mere 15 minutes of a task, and often finding yourself swept into the flow.

Exploring time management techniques invite a journey of discovery, from the focused intervals of the Pomodoro method to the hourly vibrations of a phone. Each technique is a tool for crafting a personalized strategy for navigating the day.

Body doubling and visual organization open new dimensions of companionship and visibility. This process is where one would invite a friend to work alongside them, whether in person or through a screen, and keep essential items and schedules in plain sight to cater to ADHD’s out-of-sight, out-of-mind nature. To-do lists become more than just items on paper; they transform into a narrative of achievement, with each crossed-off task reinforcing a sense of progress and accomplishment.

While these strategies don’t erase executive dysfunction, they are helpful techniques and tools that make navigating ADHD a more manageable and enriching journey. For those seeking continued navigation through the ebbs and flows of adult ADHD, finding a community or support group offers a road map promising guidance, accountability, and understanding in the shared narrative of living with ADHD.

Check out our group page for more information on Navigate ADHD, an adult support group.