I have diagnosed ADD. Mild but enough to affect my work:

  • Easily distracted
  • Can't concentrate on one project at a time
  • Addicted to the web
  • Procrastination
  • etc.

What strategies do you use to compensate?

One clarification

I have real ADD. I was diagnosed with it when I was a child and have wrestled with it all my life. I am not talking about artificial ADD, which is induced by media overload.


I just read this description ADD/ADHD. It's a great description, especially for us programming ADDers:

I am like a toolbox,
with all the tools I will ever need
lain gently and neatly in the box,
ready for me to use them.
The toolbox is translucent
so I can see them there.

The key to the toolbox is locked inside of it.

  • 9
    Please don't patronize the OP.
    – bzlm
    Sep 26, 2008 at 11:17
  • 9
    You've just diagnosed me with ADD!
    – Ates Goral
    Oct 5, 2008 at 12:25
  • 3
    Thanks for this post. It's good to see others open with their issues, which I share with you in this case.
    – Chris Serra
    Oct 16, 2008 at 14:26
  • 3
    – vitule
    Dec 12, 2008 at 20:10
  • 3
    Google the personality type INTJ
    – TheSoftwareJedi
    Dec 13, 2008 at 5:56

36 Answers 36


Anonymous said: "No, the answer is that they conviced you that you have ADHD/ADD and you bought it because you trust the doctor. Giving a name to a set of symptoms, does not mean that the "illness" really exists"

What a fool! ALL illnesses and conditions are a set of symptoms that a name tag is attributed to.

Let's give an example... cancer is a name given to a set of symptoms, but it doesn't mean that this "illness" really exists. Dur!

Whether you call a set of symptoms ADHD or X does not matter.


Say there are 3 symptoms, A, B and C.

One could describe an illness as follows:

Illness X = {A B} Illness Y = {C}


Illness P = {B C} Illness Q = {A}

As a doctor I could treat illness P by helping symptoms B and C, or I could treat illness X by treating symptoms A and B. So it doesn't always matter what labels we use.

The REAL issue in how to label conditions is how symptoms statistically occur together in the general populace. e.g. does symptom B often occur with symptom A? If so it would be sensible to designate it as illness X = {A B}... BUT if symptom A rarely occurred alongside symptom B then that designation would be foolish. Anyone can see this surely!?

So the real questions to work out if an illness "exists" are as follows:

1) Do the symptoms themselves exist? 2) Do enough of the symptoms statistically occur together more than say 60% of the time (or whatever) in the general populace?

In ADHD's case 1) and 2) seem to be true. Therefore it exists! Simple as!

If you're going down your route of reasoning then we get in to foolish philosophy. Does a chair exist? It's just an arbitrary name for a set of "symptoms", e.g. 4 legs, and a back... but would then a table with a piece of wood nailed to one side to be a "back" then be a chair and if not why not!? You get my point, it's easier to get along in the world if we have some understanding of what a chair actually is.

It's the same with illnesses... especially neurological ones, as we currently understand the human brain less than 1%... so it's our best shot!

Another one might be PTSD, you might say it doesn't exist, but as a label it is useful in treating people with a particular subset of symptoms. If you don't understand what I'm trying to say then forget it.

You can't disagree that the symptoms of ADHD exist, and statistically it has been agreed that the symptoms of ADHD occur together enough to be useful in diagnosis. Once someone is labelled as having such a condition they can then use that SHORTHAND to be treated by professionals that specialise in that particular label.

To highlight this there are subset of illnesses within higher level illnesses. e.g. cancer usually designates some form of tumour(s), but there are so many different types of cancer... but why? Because they need to be treated differently.

The problem with MOST human beings is that we often don't believe someone's difficulties until WE experience them directly! I am evolved enough to give people who seem to be genuine the benefit of the doubt... but hey I work at empathy, as it's certainly not a natural state of most people.

Heart disease is a set of symptoms too! Maybe that doesn't exist either lol.

As a human race in general we need to improve our empathy skills.

  • It's not an illness, it's a syndrome.
    – EvilTeach
    Dec 12, 2008 at 22:32

Get professional help. and I'm not being cynical. I know people who's life turned upside-down since they started using Ritalin.


I actually have ADHD as well... I find it helps though, let me explain. First and very important is work on one project at a time, yo can multi task on that project but it has to be the same project, so the brain doesn't go to overload. I actually found that people with ADD/ADHD (judging from myself and my friends with it) are great brainstormers. I will sit down to work on something to say make 1 feature, at the end with my mind all over the place it will turn to 10 features, or 7 different implementations of that feature. Very important though is noting, when you mind starts going somewhere else, write down what you're doing. I've noticed by writing your brain starts "hypothesising" on different thing related to the project. I've also noticed that occasional breaks help too, something systematic, for example every hour get up for 5 minutes and get a coffee. Also contrary to the previous statement cut on your stimulants, i.e. coffee, energy drinks, etc. It's hard but will help quite a bit


Get prescription drugs like Adderall or Ritalin. Careful though because they're highly addictive.

  • 2
    Maybe his doctor should prescribe that? Those drugs are no joke.
    – axel_c
    Sep 26, 2008 at 11:30
  • 1
    Yeah, that's why they're prescription drugs :)
    – Roel
    Sep 26, 2008 at 12:21
  • For someone with an ADHD-type brain, they are not typically addictive. People with ADHD react to stimulates in a completely different manner than people with normal brains. This is one reason why ADHD deniers are full of...misinformation. Oct 1, 2008 at 19:03
  • here is a napkin to wipe away your tears jeffrey l whiteledge
    – theman_on_vista
    Dec 15, 2008 at 14:14

I really don't think you can be a programmer if you suffer from ADHD - sorry.... Considering the necessary high-concentration levels.

I've been accused of hating or being negative.

This is nonsense, I feel great sympathy with anyone suffering from such problems.

I am just pointing out that programming requires higher concentration levels than the norm, yet ADHD means you have lower concentration levels than the norm.

So programming will be a problem. I'm being honest. There are many other good careers in IT, such as design work, that wouldn't require high concentration levels.

If you can solve the ADHD then programming would always be an opition again.

UPDATE: Now I'm accused of saying high concentration levels means you are smarter!!!

Again, that is nonsense. I don't see that correlation necessarily.

  • OP already is a programmer with ADHD. Hating doesn't help.
    – bzlm
    Sep 26, 2008 at 11:32
  • 1
    Although it can be a challenge to be a programmer with ADHD there can also be advantages. Many people with ADHD can sometimes experience moments of hyperconentration where they're super-focused while in the zone. Having a disability shouldn't discourage someone from doing what they enjoy. Oct 1, 2008 at 19:05
  • Exactly. Just look at Ty Pennington. The guy from extreme makeover home edition. He has AD(H?)D, but when he locks himself in his project room, and focuses on doing just one thing, he can get amazing results.
    – Kibbee
    Oct 16, 2008 at 14:20
  • 2
    I think you'll find several references in this list (and I'll add my experience) to the fact that ADHD lets you hyperconcentrate on the right types of tasks, and programming is one of them. (Two others are video games and music.) Would that affect your point of view?
    – le dorfier
    Dec 12, 2008 at 20:13
  • 1
    @Oak: Actually, programming is what I can concentrate most in. Everything else (documenting, meetings, time-managing, etc.) is what I stumble on.
    – lamcro
    Sep 25, 2012 at 14:32

I have ADD, I am a programmer, and I use timeboxing as my main time management technique and it works well for me. I also wrote a windows app that automatically conversts todo lists into a timeboxed list with an alarm and progress bars. Here's a link: http://ericjorgensen.com/TimeBoxer.html


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