Memory problems are very VERY common for us ADHDers and many other neurodivergencies. Hardly surprising as it connected to attention, organisation and all of the other executive functioning challenges that face the majority of us.

Here’s a lighthearted article from ADDitude’s website, offering monotasking as one possible solution to cope with poor working memory.

Having a poor memory in our day-to-day lives is frustrating and often makes us feel like we are living in chaos. We probably are. What I like about the article above is that he recommends limiting our never ending lists, to 3-4 items per day. Better to do that and get those things done, than to put all 27 items that have built up over the week on to our list for that day; we’re just setting ourself an impossible mission there – we’re doomed for failure, which is not a very nice feeling. It leaves us feeling overloaded and with no sense of progress or achievement.

On top of the daily To Do list, poor working memory* affects our performance in test situations, such as exams, and, though we may well be very intelligent, our results don’t reflect that. The exams are testing our memory not our intelligence.

Memory problems cause us additional anxiety and can be quite frightening for us, especially as we get older and we may worry if there are other health problems causing memory loss. Research suggests that mild connective impairment (MCI), a form of dementia, is known to have a number of the same presentations as ADHD, including sleep problems and depression, particularly in those people aged 50 or older.

Stimulant medications are frequently prescribed (by psychiatrists only) for ADHDers as these can really improve memory and focus for some people – here’s a link with more information on the various medication options for ADHDers.

Medication isn’t for everyone but there are other things we can do to help:

  1. Cut out caffeine! This is tough for some of us but I find it does make a huge difference, both in terms of focus, anxiety reduction, and reducing that overwhelming exhaustion that kicks in as it pleases.
  2. Drink herbal teas. There is such a huge variety out there now and there are plenty that are known to increase focus, particularly ginseng.
  3. Refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, fried food, refined carbs (such as white bread), full fat dairy, alcohol, recreational drugs – all are known to contribute to memory loss for all neurotypes (sorry to be such a killjoy).
  4. Eating nuts, berries, oily fish, green vegetables, pumpkin seeds, to name but a few – there are loads of foods that improve brain health and memory, not to mention the many other aspects of our physical health.
  5. There are SO many phone apps out there for us ADHDers that cover all aspects of life – ready to step in and help us organise, create routines and reduce our chaos.
  6. I would be lost without my smartwatch (probably literally). It told me the other day that I have 205 alarms in it! I set alarms and reminders for everything!

If anyone has any good tips that work for you, that you’d like to share, please let us know via one of our community groups – thank you!


*Above, I’ve referred to this as if it is a real thing, for the sake of readability and familiarity. In the interests of accuracy, working memory is purely a concept, a psychological model, a theory put forward to explain the part of our memory that handles stuff that we’re currently working on. It’s not a real thing, in the same way that a brain is or a heart is. The mind is mysterious because it can’t be seen, hence the plethora of competing theories surrounding the study of it.