College means a new found independence. For most students, their parents won’t be looking over their shoulders, although it may still feel like it at times. With this new freedom comes new responsibilities such as remembering to do laundry, taking your medicine (if you are using medicine), getting enough sleep, and remembering where you put your various belongings.
Here are some of the more common, mundane, daily living tasks that college students face.
Who really likes doing laundry? Not many I am sure. What are the top reasons for this? Not knowing how to do laundry on your own, not scheduling time to get it done, finding the task of doing laundry boring, and not having the supplies available. Remember, the ADHD brain is looking for fun; so make laundry a fun, scheduled habit to get into! Clean clothes will not only keep you happy, but will also keep your roommate happy. No one likes to live in a pile of smelly clothes. Since living space is tight in a dorm room, doing your share to be considerate will go a long way. So, right now you are probably asking yourself, “How can laundry be fun?” Get creative, the ADHD brain likes that. Try to incorporate music or socializing with friends into your laundry time. You can also reward yourself with a healthy treat or a favorite activity once the laundry is done. You could also use that time to take a run or do some baking in the dorm kitchen.
Steps to ensure that the laundry will get done:
- Recognize the importance of it. Why is doing laundry important (to you and others)?
- Designate a time each week (or every other week) to do your laundry. Make sure to make this laundry appointment with yourself and add it to your calendar. It is helpful to schedule the same day and time for laundry each week to create a routine.
- Have enough laundry soap on hand. If you run out, make yourself a note to buy more.
- Have enough quarters or money loaded on your campus card to pay for your laundry.
- Plan something fun while you are doing your laundry or plan a study group nearby.
If you choose to take medicine, you need to be aware that along with the increased independence that is necessary in college, comes an increased responsibility for managing your medications. Medications can only help if they are taken on a consistent basis and in conjunction with proper sleep and nutrition. Taking medication is a decision that you will make in partnership with your parents and a physician or psychotherapist that specializes in the field of ADHD. Even if you did not take medications in high school, you may decide that they are important when you get to college. You may benefit from exploring this option BEFORE you get to school, and more importantly, before you find yourself in a complete state of overwhelm. Medications can be an important tool in your plan for success.
Things to think about when considering medication:
- Benefit of improved attention and focus.
- Scheduling doses for peak performance.
- Monitoring effectiveness of medicine – checklist.
- Monitoring dosage and schedule – Is a longer acting form of medicine more beneficial? Work with a physician to provide the appropriate delivery system for your medication.
- Monitoring side effects – and setting up a system to record side effects/checklist.
- Maintaining a relationship with appropriate medical personnel.
- Renewing prescriptions within an appropriate period of time: not allowing the prescription to run out.
- Obtaining prescriptions locally if at all possible– identify a local provider or a system to receive your medication. Doing this before the start of school will help to ensure a smooth transition.
- Keeping medicine safe: not stolen or having people badger you to buy pills.
Check with your local provider, appropriate personnel at the college, how to best handle medication, specifically renewals, when at school. Stimulants have the potential to be abused. Be proactive in your planning and storage of these medicines to prevent theft or loss. Using a small locked box might help to ensure others won’t steal your medication. Also, research apps to help with reminders for when to take your medicine. Packing your pills the night before is helpful if you find yourself running short on time and mental clarity first thing in the morning.
Launch Pad – Keep Track of Necessary Items
A launch pad is a designated space where you can place all the “stuff” you need to “get out the door” each day. Create a launch pad by finding a convenient space in your room (as close to the door as possible) where you can empty your pockets, place your keys, phone and possibly leave your backpack. You can think of this area as “command central” where you can charge electronics and put all of the items you carry with you, or supplies you use, on a daily basis (dorm key, key fob, cell phone, book bag, wallet, class materials, and appointment/meeting reminders, tickets, directions, daily planner).
You can get as creative as you want when designing your launch pad. The key is to find something that works for YOU. A launch pad might be as simple as a colored piece of paper or a drawer. It could be as elaborate as having a place, such as a basket, to collect things and also having a calendar, chalk board or dry-erase board to keep track of reminders. Search the internet for “launch pad” ideas, but don’t get caught in the planning phase or sidetracked by the internet. Pick one design that you think will work for you and make modifications when needed. Design your launch pad with YOU in mind. If the ADHD brain perceives that the system is too complicated, it will not be motivated to consistently use the launch pad. Consistently using a launch pad will allow you to get items organized and in place the night before to ensure a smooth ritual of getting out the door and to a desired location on time.
Sleep is essential if you are going to navigate college successfully. Sleep not only keeps your body healthy, but it allows your brain to work at its peak performance. Sleep is also a key ingredient in managing stress. Without adequate sleep, balancing academic, extracurricular, work and social demands becomes difficult. Getting to sleep around the same time each night, and waking up at the same time each morning, helps to build a healthy sleep pattern.
There are several steps you can take to manage your sleep:
- Create and set a desired bedtime in your schedule. If you want to be asleep at 11:00, you will probably need to stop doing schoolwork or other activities around 10:00 to allow your body time to wind down from the day’s activities.
- Create a bedtime ritual that sends a signal to your body that it is getting close to bedtime. Ending your day listening to soft music, getting a shower, visiting with a friend on your dorm floor or drinking a cup of herbal tea are just a few activities you can incorporate into your nightly routine.
- Step away from the computer and other screens! Limit the amount of screen time at least an hour before bed.
- Engage in a mindfulness activity.
- Do a short yoga routine.
- Listen to environmental sounds or white noise to help filter out the sounds of the dorm.
The best time to set up routines that will help you get out the door in the morning, get to bed at a reasonable time and remind you to take your medicine and do your laundry, is before the college year starts. Spending a few minutes to search for helpful apps, set up calendar reminders and identify a desired bedtime, will help make your daily life in college easier. If you find that you didn’t set up a system to help with daily living tasks don’t worry, start to build one today.
Kristine Shiverick, M.Ed., ACG, CACP is a professionally trained ADHD and Executive Function Coach. Kristine received her B.A. in Severe Special Needs Education and her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education. She received her basic, advanced, and family ADHD coach training through the ADD Coach Academy. Kristine provides coaching to help students, adults and families impacted by ADHD learn about the unique wiring of the ADHD brain, discover effective strategies, minimize the challenges of ADHD, and live the life they want to live. Kristine believes in taking a strength-based approach to help her clients grow in all areas of their lives. Kristine runs an ADHD parent support group in her local community, and co-facilitated a virtual college support group for ADDA. Kristine is a member of ADDA, ACO, CHADD, and PACC.