Using Technology To Outsmart ADHD —ADHD Tip O the Day 860

Dinos has helped me with technology before, one of my many weak spots.  He has generously agreed to contribute some posts.  Enjoy!


Using Technology To Outsmart ADHD

I’m not sure how many other people can relate to this, but when I think of myself as an individual struggling with ADHD, I think of it something along the lines of this:

There’s the “me” I want to be


There’s the other me. The guy with ADHD. The guy who’s impulsive, forgetful, frequently unmotivated, unreliable, etc. You know. ADHD-me.

Most of my life has been a constant struggle trying to control the other, “ADHD me” and oh man it’s been a mess. That guy has NO boundaries. Or respect for other people’s time.


So instead of trying to control ADHD-me, I’ve instead tried to adopt another strategy: trying to outsmart him.


With technology.

Specifically, I’ve been using technology to shape my external environment to better facilitate desirable behaviors and outcomes. I’m literally modifying my behavior by externalizing behavioral and environmental cues! (Yay behavioral sciences!) The ideal is that I’m more able to rely on my environment to tell me what I need to do instead of relying on my executive functioning/will power.

Here is one example.

  1. Problem:
    My brain and body don’t do sleepy-time well. OR wakey-time, for that matter. This is a problem because sleep debt is not conducive to my day-to-day executive functioning and emotional well-being. What I think happens is that I get so focused on tasks at night (e.g. video games, researching random things on the internet, etc.), I literally forget that I’m supposed to be asleep. And because I’m so focused on the task, I don’t care. As you can imagine, waking up is even worse than trying to fall asleep with a mind that won’t stop chasing its tail.


Stop relying on your brain/executive functioning/circadian rhythm to tell you when you should be going to sleep and waking up. Your ADHD brain is going to fail you. Instead, externalize the responsibility by using your environment as behavioral cues that it’s bedtime and you’re getting sleepy—and that it’s morning and the sun’s out. Stop forcing yourself through sheer willpower to try and go to bed or wake up.



Smart light bulbs! These things are awesome.

So here’s what happens in the morning: at a time that I specify (say, 5:00am), the smart light bulbs installed in my ceiling come on at 1%. They’re super dim. As the morning progresses to a set time (say, 5:30am), the lights gradually get brighter and brighter until they’re at 100% brightness. THE POWER OF THE SUN IS IN MY BEDROOM and that’s really hard to ignore, unlike my phone’s many alarm clocks. But here’s the magic: because the bulbs are gradually and slowly getting brighter, my body’s given a chance to finish up its last REM cycle phases so I don’t wake up angry and groggy.

At nighttime, at a specified time (say, 9:00pm) the light bulbs in my apartment dim a little—from 100% to 99%. And then they slowly get dimmer and dimmer until it’s 9:30 and then they all shut off. Bedtime.

The dimming of the light bulbs is sub-consciously working as an environmental cue to start wrapping up my night without requiring me to utilize my already-spent willpower to make myself to go to bed. And believe it or not, the dimming of the bulbs actually does make me pretty sleepy as those 30 minutes progress.

These are the lightbulbs that I bought:

Note that there are cheaper alternatives out there but in my research these have been the easiest and most pleasant to set up.

Bonus: regarding good sleep hygiene, technology isn’t all that great. The blue light emitted by the screens we’re looking at all day/night suppress melatonin suppression (cite)—not great when trying to go to sleep.

The good news: there’s a strategy for that. There are programs that you can download on your computer (PC/Mac) that make the color of your computer’s display adapt to filter out this blue light, depending on the time of day. My favorite piece of software to do this is currently f.lux—it even tracks when the sun rises and sets to optimize this transition.

Extra Bonus: The newest versions of our mobile devices (Android/iOS) also have something similar built-in called “Night Mode” or “Night Shift” that will also filter out some of this blue light. If you’re using an older phone that doesn’t have it, there are a couple different apps you can download—hit the comments and let me know what you have.

Note O the Day:

I‘ll welcome other guest posts if you’d also like to contribute.  They don’t need to be perfect; I will do editing if needed.  And of course, your comments are always very welcome.

Bonus Link:Dystechnologica

@addstrategies  #adhd  #add  @dougmkpdp
,facts about ADHD,ignorance about ADHD, denial and ADHD, science, science and ADHD, research and ADHD, ADHD brain, brain, brain dysfunction, stimulants,,#adhd, #add, @dougmkpdp,@adhdstrategies,diagnosis,effects of diagnosis,medication,medicines, myths about ADHD,facts about ADHD,ignorance about ADHD, denial and ADHD, science, science and ADHD, research and ADHD.

Me and my computer – a strange love affair.

About doug with ADHD

I am a psychiatric physician. I learned I have ADHD at age 64, and then wrote two ADHD books for adults, focusing on strategies for making your life better. I just published my first novel, Alma Means Soul. Your Life Can Be Better; strategies for adults with ADD/ADHD available at, or (for e books) Living Daily With Adult ADD or ADHD: 365 Tips O the Day ( e-book). This is one tip at a time, one page at a time, at your own pace. It's meant to last a year. As a child, I was a bully. Then there was a transformation. Now I am committed to helping people instead abusing them. The Bully was published in January, 2016. It's in print or e book, on Amazon.
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9 Responses to Using Technology To Outsmart ADHD —ADHD Tip O the Day 860

  1. Pingback: Word vs ADHD | ADDadultstrategies

  2. Pingback: Dystechnologia and ADHD — ADHD Tip O the Day 912 | ADDadultstrategies

  3. rammkatze says:

    Great guest post!
    And great strategy!
    Though I induce my sleep with pills (anti-psychotics). I work night-shift and my bedroom is never 100% dark (even with extra-thick blinds and a set of dark curtains on top of it, some light always seeps in). But this strategy defenitely deserves its own kudos 🙂

    Meanwhile, for Doug: I’m working on my post about anecdotal evidence of Vanilla vs ADHD brain, but I’m having a hard time getting started. I’ll have you know, though, that I’ve been applying your strategies to go at it. Like, small steps: open the word processing software at least. :p


    • ram
      thank you for contributing, and for your forth coming post. strategies will help. can you identify the block?
      do you think it needs to be perfect? do you not have enough information? something else?
      if you just get something down i could help you with it if you’d like?
      good for you


      • rammkatze says:

        Hi Doug

        The block seems to be about being afraid to spend too much time working on it and end up making a “ranty” post – or try to compensate that and make something that’s just dry and not enjoyable to read. Maybe I’ll set an alarm and say: I write until the alarm rings and no more. Later that day or the following day, setting an alarm again and re-read and/or write some more.


        • ram – good for you , coming up with a strategy. you might want to consider deciding how much time you want to devote to this. one hour? two hours? certainly no more than four. if its not done by then, you could just send it to me or just forget it.
          are you trying to make it too good? if you just get something done, anything, I can do any editing needed.
          are you trying to edit as you go? most writers recommend just getting something down on the paper, and then editing. the great writer, Ann Lamott says, ” the first draft is always crap.”
          thank you for your efforts – remember, the perfect is the enemy of the good, ‘always do your best’ is nonsense, and some things are not worth the trouble. and think about how good you will feel when you either get it done or say to hell with it, either one.
          best wishes


          • rammkatze says:

            Whew! Haven’t been here for a while. There’s plenty of stuff I put off. If I had to “guesstimate”, the fear of writing something either too long or too uninteresting was what made me put it off. But I’ve had a wonderful week of vacation and I’m feeling generally more motivated, so a couple of days ago, I wrote the first two (short) introductory paragraphs. 🙂
            Next step is locating the pictures I want to use. Thanks to Google fotos, it should be a breeze. Then I’ll see from there. 😉


        • holdthatthought says:

          the way i’m able to write stuff like that (& i guess these last couple of guest blog posts) has been to first outline what it even is that i want to say.

          step 1. write an outline
          step 2. sleep on it
          step 3. revise outline
          step 4. expand outline/talking points and soon they’ll start to look like paragraphs
          step 5. profit

          Liked by 1 person

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