Throughout my life, I’ve put together a few tricks and tools to help people who may be prone to distraction, find it hard to complete tasks with a lot of steps, or tend to forget things out of sight. Read on to discover 7 hacks for people with ADHD!
* If you buy goods via the links in bold, I get a commission! But I won’t know that it’s you… that’s your business ;-).
1. Buy canned goods to prepare as sides and additives for your favorite foods.
Extra points if the contents inside can be microwaved to prepare!
This will encourage you to cook more often and reduce unused goods piling up in the pantry while you order take-out. No shame! I’m guilty of the same thing, far too often.
My favorite thing to stock up on here in China is Heinz Baked Beans (which are vegan! If that matters to you) and canned tomatoes. I can get two servings out of a single can of beans, and it adds fiber and flavor to my fave Beyond Burger treats, which I often order along with sweet potato fries from a local burger joint.
As for the canned tomatoes, I usually buy them diced, and I use them in everything: pasta sauce, as a topping in pasta, in scrambled eggs or omelets, and on sandwiches, among others.
In England, it’s referred to as “takeaway” instead of “take-out.” In China, it’s called “da-bao” (打包, pronounced “dah-bow,” like “ow!”), a word that refers to packaged foods, or “waimai” (外卖, pronounced “why-my”).
2. Store leftovers in clear containers so that you can easily remember what’s inside.
I don’t know how many times I’ve forgotten what’s inside a restaurant takeout box. It was only when I started using glass or clear plastic containers that I would remember–and want to eat!–leftover food. Don’t let your dabao go to waste!
|I know that glass is better for the environment, but even reusable plastic is better than ordering and then wasting one-use paper and plastic containers from restaurants.|
As a bonus, to be extra honest, you can also see when food starts to go bad or even (*ahem*) get moldy. Not that I am speaking from experience (cough cough), but it eliminates that dread that can emerge from cardboard containers at the back of the fridge, when you know that opening them will reveal something oozing, stinky, or downright gross.
3. If you are cooking for one, get out the plate you want to heat the food up on and a microwave-safe storage container before you begin.
When you open those cans to prepare food, put the first half, which contains extra liquid, into the storage container. Then, you have the more “chunky” food left over to eat right away, while the liquid keeps the unused serving fresh and moisturized.
Put the extra serving away while the food you want to eat now heats up, and you’re halfway cleaned up before dinner!
4. Before mixing ingredients into any hot beverage or food, put the dry or lesser ingredients in first, and then pour in the hot liquid. Voila! No need for a spoon!
I used the trick most often when I would add cream to my coffee, but I take it black these days. If you prefer it a little softer, just pour in the cream, and add any flavorings that you like into your coffee mug before adding the coffee. As you pour the coffee, it will mix everything together! It’s useful when adding sugar or honey to tea, and even when making ramen that comes with the little packets of seasoning and freeze-dried veggies.
This might just be me, but I hate having a dirty spoon to deal with after just a few seconds of stirring. It seems like a hassle to have an extra utensil to clean, and I used to just leave it out rather than clean it. Ew!
Now, I don’t need to bother. No wet, dirty spoon left out on the counter; things mix automatically; and I’m good to go!
5. Keep things you use every day in plain sight, close to where they’re used, and give these items an official place to “live” so that you’re not constantly looking for them.
We’ve all heard of the “put your keys in the same place every time you get home” trick, but it’s a great idea for any items that are a part of your routine every day. Toothpaste should go near the toothbrush; clothes should go by where you get dressed; toilet paper rolls should be placed near the toilet; and in the kitchen, put the coffee filters, coffee and grinder (if you use one) all in the same area.
|It might sound obvious, but sometimes, spaces aren’t designed as logically as they should be. You may need to buy containers or create places to store ingredients that go together, but the time saved is huge. (Researching, I found this adorable rose gold makeup brush holder on Amazon and am now fighting the urge to look it up on Taobao, China’s Amazon/eBay combo, where you can search for stuff via photos. Oops! But isn’t it so pretty?!)
|Rose gold beauties aside, as basic as it might seem, when I started putting my coats, scarf, boots and earmuffs by the door, it suddenly felt much easier to get ready for work!|
6. Buy reusable items to reduce the need to restock them…
|Honestly, I prefer coffee via the pour-over method, using unbleached cone filters like these. That said, I ran out of filters this morning before my next batch arrived, bought new ones to use locally, and realized later today that I already had a reusable filter that I could have used! It came with my current coffee maker. D’oh! I forgot #5, which matters because it’s common for people with ADHD to forget what they own or have bought in the past.|
I personally don’t like the taste of coffee with this kind of filter, but I did find these, which look promising, on Amazon. I think they’ll deliver something similar to what I’m used to with the Melitta filters I like, so now I’m off to Taobao to look for them in my world!
On a less niche note, much was made of the bidet during the pandemic, when toilet paper became scarce in the U.S. It’s common in parts of Asia and the Middle East, and if you’re adventurous, worth a try. You can find out more about it here.
If that’s not your “cup of tea,” there’s another option!
7. … Or stock up on one or two items you use up a lot with every paycheck.
I struggle with managing money, and one of the worst experiences I had was nearly running out of toilet paper–repeatedly–when I lived in Kuwait. I was in a part of town far from grocery stores and kept refusing to simply stock up each month when I would get paid. Something in me found it difficult to plunk down the cash, but it took COVID in China to break the bad habit.
Running out of essentials like contact lenses, medications and TP is more common for people who get paid once a month, which is an unfortunate side effect of teaching abroad (in my experience). In the spring of 2022, China’s COVID policy led people in Shanghai to get stuck for days or weeks without easy access to essentials (as well as friends in the city where I used to live in Zhejiang Province). As a result, when we went online here in Beijing in April 2022, my desire for security finally overcame my cheapness. I stocked up on toilet paper, contact lenses, birth control, water, paper towels, and canned and dry goods. What followed was pure BLISS! I went months without needing to worry about things whose scarcity had plagued me for years–and never even got locked down in my neighborhood.
Now that China has ended its restrictive policies, I no longer have to worry about being locked down. As a result, I’ve found an easier system than “buy everything at once and live like a hermit.” A more balanced approach is to buy extras of a couple of essential goods each month. For example, I buy multiple packs of TP and paper towels one month, and then the next, buy extra contact lenses and coffee filters. Slowly, an excess builds up, and when rent is due where I live in China–which is every three months, all at once–I don’t have to worry about needing basic goods.
If you aren’t a fan of the bidet, I highly recommend Cottonelle’s flushable wipes. Pre-COVID, I’d import them or bring them in my suitcase on flights back from the US–then, a few months ago, I was overjoyed to find a similar product by Kleenex here in Beijing. Woohoo! #itsthelittlethings.
None of these tips will massively improve your life overnight, but they can ease some of the little stressors that add up over time. It’s helpful to employ tools to make life easier where you can! I hope these little hacks can improve your life, whether or not you have ADHD.
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