If you're an adult living with ADHD, then chances are you know just how hard it can be to focus and stay organized.
But thanks to a huge world of ADHD-friendly apps on the devices you already us, it’s never been easier to build a toolbox full of effective self-management tricks.
In this blog post, we'll take a look at 14 different ADHD apps that can help you focus and stay on track.
These are all apps I personally use to manage ADHD symptoms.
Whether you're looking for an app to help you stay focused or one to combat your time blindness, we've got you covered!
Here we go, in alphabetical order.
Note: Some of these links are affiliate links. So if you decide to buy anything, I'll receive a commission. Most creators say something like "100% of this goes back into the business," but I'm not most creators. Some months it goes into the business, others it will be used to buy inappropriate amounts of chocolate. Remember, working brighter is about balance!
Autosleep is a sleep tracking app for the Apple Watch, with a companion iPhone app. It brings much more advanced data than the built-in Apple Health tracking, but it still syncs with Apple Health if you use that app as a data hub.
And it’s my favorite new-to-me app of 2022.
I’ve written about how ADHDers struggle with sleep before, and the importance of sleep hygiene.
Tracking my sleep has been how I honed my self-awareness around my sleep hygiene to figure out what helps and what doesn’t.
I also plan my day around rest: if I don’t get enough at night, I adjust my day to make room for a nap.
And crucially, Autosleep includes daytime nap tracking, whereas the Apple Watch’s built-in sleep tracking doesn’t.
Brain.fm’s focus music has been another fantastic addition to my tech stack in 2022. It’s algorithmically optimized soundtracks help me get into a flow state so much more easily than music that’s not custom-made for the job.
I can’t stand silence, so I use Brain.fm whenever I need to focus too much for a podcast, audiobook, or TV show to be on in the background.
The main activities I use it for are:
Drafts is basically my virtual pad of sticky notes. With ADHD, I have a lot of random thoughts throughout the day. And I at least want the option of remembering them later.
So whenever that happens, I create a new Draft a la the Getting Things Done capture habit.
Drafts is my main inbox that I capture so many random things into all day, then I go through it and clean it out (almost) every night.
Here’s how the triage works:
- Delete things I don’t want to save anymore
- Move notes to my personal knowledge management system
- Move links to my read-it-later app (which syncs with the PKM)
- Move to-dos to my project management system
Those apps are where I store my long-term work, but Drafts is by far superior to them all when it comes to capturing ideas on the go and creating new notes or documents. So it's the go-between between them and my brain.
Focusing on my daily habits has been one of the most important ADHD management techniques for me.
I approach my habit tracker of a checklist of the minimum of what I need to do each day. Only once I finish it, do I move on to making progress on active projects and to-dos.
And with the Everyday habit tracking app, I get a pretty rainbow habit tracker accessible on all my Apple devices. And it integrates with Shortcuts for automation and has a home page widget, so I can make my habit checklist front and center on my phone.
Focused Work is a workflow timer that lets you easily work in Pomodoros, but also so much more. If the specific rhythm of the Pomodoro technique doesn’t work for you for something, you can build your own.
For example, I have a workflow timer for replying to email, that uses work sessions slightly shorter than traditional Pomodoros. But my newsletter writing one has work sessions of 45 minutes, which is slightly longer.
It also has great integration with the Mac OS and iOS system features like Shortcuts.
Forest is another app that helps me focus, this one by gamifying screen time. During a Forest session, you virtually plant a tree or other plant, and it dies when you check your phone.
Starting a Brain.fm. session and then planting a tree in Forest is enough to overpower any temptation to check Instagram when I told myself I would work. And it’s fun to watch your little garden or forest blossom over the course of the week or month!
When I’m really struggling to focus and Brain.fm and Forest aren’t enough, I also break out Freedom. It blocks certain websites and apps, or even the whole internet if you choose, during focus sessions. You can start those sessions manually or schedule them.
They also have browser extensions that I really love.
Limit lets you set daily time limits for specific websites, and Pause makes you pause for a few seconds before it loads specific websites you find distracting.
Those plugins are the only reason I don’t spend 6 hours a day on Twitter, I swear.
(Not that 5 is much better! )
I was a meditation skeptic for years, but only until I realized that it could help me train my executive function to be less…chaotic. Now I kind of view it as a daily exercise to train an important muscle.
And Headspace’s structure and branding made it easy and fun to get started.
Given our own “bright sun” logo, it’s no surprise I love their bright, cheery branding. Watching the bouncing sun on the screen gives me something fun to focus on when I’m getting started.
They have lots of guided courses for meditation newbies or anyone who prefers structure to their practice, and I’m both of those things.
And I think my favorite part is that a lot of meditations have multiple versions of different lengths. Some days, I’m in the mood to meditate for 10-15 minutes, and that’s great. But I can still listen to the same lesson on days I only feel like showing up for 3 minutes.
And the streak tracker motivates me to show up as much as possible, even if just for one of those 3-minute breaks.
Matter is a read-it-later app, which is a must-have for anyone who tends to fall down internet rabbit holes easily. You can easily save almost any kind of web content to your queue to read when you actually have time.
Here’s why I think it helps with my ADHD:
Whenever I find myself Googling something weird or close reading a random Wikipedia page when I should be doing something else, once I “catch myself,” I save the links to Matter.
Knowing they’re there for me later makes it easier to go back to work, and revisiting them becomes a reward for completing what I was supposed to do.
If you know me, you know all roads lead to Notion. I mean that literally. Most of the other apps on this list, I somehow integrate with Notion. It’s the hub for my entire work and life.
I have enough other Notion content on the site, so I won’t go into the details of how I use it here.
RescueTime is a desktop productivity tracking tool.
Once you install it, it tracks how much time you spend on each app or website on your computer. And with that data, a whole new world of self-awareness opens up around your energy and productivity.
And in addition to understanding your productivity better, RescueTime also helps you take action on it with features that let you set goals for how much productive and distracting time you spend on your computer per week, set focus hours to block certain websites, and more.
I personally only need the productivity score and trends:
I track my daily score in my Notion journal, and use the trends to keep an eye on what time of day is best for certain tasks.
Time blocking ahead of time doesn’t help me be productive, but time tracking in the moment does. Starting and stopping the timer creates a moment where I can pause and be mindful, and the ongoing timer reminds me what I’m supposed to be working on.
Feature-wise, Toggl has everything I want. Interface-wise, there’s a lot to be desired. So instead of interacting with that, I start and stop all my tracking through Timery.
It’s so much easier!
It’s just a nicer looking app (no offense, Toggl), and has deeper integration with the Apple ecosystems. That their demo images show the Pawnee Parks Department’s hypothetical time tracking doesn’t hurt, either.
It’s just a friendly-looking and -feeling app that Leslie Knope would approve of.
Next we have Todoist.
Fun fact: this is the longest running productivity tool in my stack; I’ve been using it since at least 2015.
Whereas I braindump all possible tasks for active projects in my Notion project management system, and holds everything I can do over the next few months, Todoist is where I prioritize what I’m going to do today.
I look at it as, Notion’s “to do list” holds everything I COULD do, but Todoist’s to do list hold’s everything I HAVE to do TODAY.
And it’s deep integration with Apple products means my top priorities for the day are never more than a click away, on my phone’s home screen and lock screen and my computer’s notification center.
Finally, we have Zapier, another long-running one. I probably started using this around the same time as Todoist.
It’s a tool you can use to automate different workflows and move information between different tools. For example, it’s how I easily send my top priorities for the day from Notion to Todoist. There’s a zap that adds an item to Todoist when I check a field in my Notion task manager called “today’s priority.”
Since ADHD brains have such a hard time forcing ourselves to do things we find boring, it’s crucial to automate as many boring tasks and to-dos as possible.
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These apps work for me
Although the apps mentioned in this blog post work well for me, everyone is different and will need to find what works best for them.
I hope explaining WHY these apps work for me help you think about which apps do the same for you.
The important thing is that you experiment with different tools and strategies until you find something that helps.