Last updated on November 27th, 2019
Life is painful enough as it is. So, people with ADHD need every single advantage that’s available to them. Luckily, hyperfocus is one of the single greatest advantages that people with ADHD can use.
This article reveals the following important information:
- What hyperfocus means when you have ADHD
- Why hyperfocus is important to people with ADHD
- How to find out what makes you hyperfocus
- How to transform hyperfocus into an unfair advantage for your life
Make sure to read this article through to the very end, because this is a topic that will 100% change your life…
What hyperfocus means when you have ADHD
Have you ever been so consumed by an activity that you forgot to think?
If so, then you’re already familiar with what hyperfocus is. But, just to be clear:
Hyperfocus is the state that someone with ADHD enters when they’re so focused on what they’re doing, that they actually forget about everything else happening around them.
It sounds paradoxical, because most people assume that ADHD’ers have trouble paying attention. In reality, the opposite is true. People with ADHD will obsessively pay attention to the topics, ideas and activities that interest them…while ignoring just about everything else.
Hyperfocus (getting into a “flow state”) is probably the single most powerful ability that someone with ADHD can leverage as long as the hyperfocus is channeled in a positive direction.
So, while you might be dealing with various problems related to ADHD, please keep in mind that hyperfocus just might be your ticket to health, wealth, love, happiness, or whatever else you hope to achieve in your lifetime.
Hyperfocus is the unfair advantage that comes with having ADHD.
Why hyperfocus is important when you have ADHD
Hyperfocus is important when you have ADHD because it gives you legitimate hope.
It means there is something (or multiple things) out there that you enjoy doing, and will eventually succeed at pursuing.
This is really important for people with ADHD – who often feel like their entire life is just one big joke.
For example, if you’re a bad student academically, then you probably worry yourself to death about passing your classes. But, the truth is that most people with ADHD have an extremely difficult time with certain class subjects. This is just a sign that you shouldn’t pursue the school subjects that you aren’t interested in. There’s no need to worry.
(Sure, you might want to pass your classes. But, don’t trick yourself into believing that you need to be amazing at all of your school subjects).
Just forget about dedicating absurd amounts of time to the things in life that don’t matter to you.
The good news is that many people with ADHD also find that they’re extremely interested in certain subjects, hobbies, skills, creative art forms, and projects.
Once you discover whatever it is that constantly grabs your attention in life, and causes you to hyperfocus – that’s exactly what you need to pursue (in one form or another).
If you’re lucky enough to have ADHD and be obsessed with a productive area of hyperfocus, you can actually change your life in profound ways relatively quickly.
How to find out what makes you hyperfocus
In my early childhood, I could barely follow along in math class.
Math was always challenging to me, because either my ADHD or brain in general wasn’t a very good match for math. In fact, there were times when I had absolutely no clue what I was doing during math lessons and tests. I knew that my future wouldn’t involve much math (although I’m OK with math now).
But, when it came to creative writing, I was totally hooked.
I was obsessed with writing.
I could sense what my strengths were as early as the 5th grade, and I always knew that I’d need to pursue writing for a living.
The point is that when it comes to figuring out what makes you hyperfocus, there’s a good chance that you already know what it is.
Just follow your strengths.
Every single person with ADHD is really good at something.
And, there’s a good chance that you enter a state of hyperfocus whenever you’re engulfed in doing something that you’re really good at.
For example, many people with ADHD can enter a state of hyperfocus when they’re pursuing activities such as:
- Creating art
- Playing sports
- Building businesses
- Making music
- Taking leadership roles
Everyone with ADHD has a different set of strengths. So, it’s up to you to find out what your strengths are, and pinpoint exactly which of your strengths cause you to hyperfocus.
If you still have trouble figuring out what makes you hyperfocus, try answering these simple questions:
- What do you really do in your free time?
- When was the last time you forgot about time passing by (and what were you doing)?
- What projects have you worked on that received unbiased, positive praise from other people?
- In what areas of life do you generally excel at?
- What do other people tell you that you’re good at?
- Which websites do you browse most often, and why?
You have to be completely honest with yourself to discover whatever it is that makes you focus and forget about time.
But, if you’re able to look at your strengths objectively, and understand that your strengths usually lead to hyperfocus, you can accomplish unbelievable things in life. Even with ADHD.
How to transform hyperfocus into an unfair advantage for your life
Once you’ve discovered what truly causes you to hyperfocus, then you’ll be ready to create a powerful unfair advantage for your life:
Here are 5 real-world tips that you can use to make the most of your life’s unfair advantage:
Tip 1. Prioritize whatever makes you hyperfocus
If you want to live a fulfilling lifestyle with ADHD, then you’ll need to prioritize whatever it is that causes you to enter a state of hyperfocus.
This is really, really important, because people with ADHD need to capitalize on every advantage that’s available to them!
For best results, you should actually prioritize what makes you hyperfocus when you’re dealing with all major aspects of life.
- Can you build a cool business out of your hyperfocus? (people with ADHD frequently become great entrepreneurs)
- Are you willing to dedicate at least a little bit of time every day to doing whatever causes you to hyperfocus?
- Can you wake up a little early before work to spend some time working on what causes you to hyperfocus?
You can prioritize whatever makes you hyperfocus as little or as much as you like.
This mostly comes down to how badly you want to succeed through your hyperfocus while dealing with ADHD.
In some cases, you might just want to casually pursue your hyperfocus as a side hobby or form of entertainment.
If you want to live a really interesting life with ADHD, then you might want to make your entire life revolve around whatever causes you to hyperfocus.
You’re in charge of your life. So, it’s entirely up to you to decide how much you want to prioritize what makes you hyperfocus.
Tip 2. Optimize your life around the thing that makes you hyperfocus
If making films causes you to hyperfocus, then you’ll want to move to a city like Los Angeles or New York City.
If you love fitness, then you might want to wake up at 4:30 A.M. every morning to train.
This tip might seem a little elementary.
But, you’d be surprised at how many people say they want to hyperfocus on becoming a YouTuber (for example), and then never upload more than a few videos to YouTube.
You see this all the time with bloggers like myself, too! There are millions of blogs on the internet that have only published one article. When in reality, most successful bloggers have published hundreds or even thousands of articles before achieving some success.
So, if you want to create a really unfair advantage for your life, then you’ll want to optimize your life around actually doing the thing that makes you hyperfocus.
Sounds a little bit obsessive, right? Good! That’s how people with ADHD truly get what they want out of life. If you work hard for whatever it is that you want, you can achieve it. But, you’ll have to fine-tune the details of your life so that you can hyperfocus on your strengths each and every day.
Tip 3. Eat, sleep and exercise well
I frequently emphasize the importance of eating, sleeping, and exercising well on ADHD Boss.
But, I’ll give you a brief breakdown of my personal methodology for eating, sleeping and exercising well:
Eat high-quality food like your life depends on it. The quality of the food that you consume almost always dictates your “life force”. People who eat plenty of vegetables, lean meats, fish, fruits and nuts tend to look and feel really good. Eating high-quality food also provides an amazing source of lasting mental and physical energy to get through the week. This will only help you as you pursue what makes you hyperfocus.
Sleep as often as you can. In my experience, people with ADHD need more sleep than average. Getting high-quality sleep will enhance your life. Don’t worry, you aren’t going to miss out on much by sleeping for 8.5 hours rather than 6 hours. In fact, when you get adequate sleep, you’ll actually be able to think more clearly, and pursue your life’s hyperfocus with more energy.
Go to the gym four times per week (less if you’re new to exercising, more if you’re an experienced athlete). Exercise also adds to the energy that you’re able to dedicate to your life’s hyperfocus. When you exercise consistently, you’ll feel more confident, look healthier, and enjoy a tighter grip over your ADHD symptoms as well.
Tip 4. Connect with people who share whatever causes you to hyperfocus
One of the most powerful things that you can do in life is connect with other people who share whatever causes you to hyperfocus.
If you think that you’re really good at something, just connect with a group of people who share your expertise, and you’ll immediately see how much room you have to improve!
This is why it’s always smart to be “the dumbest person in the room”.
Surrounding yourself with high-quality people who share your same strengths will force you to grow as a human being.
- To become a better person with ADHD, you should join an ADHD success and support program such as ADHD VISION
- If you’re obsessed with martial arts, then you should join the best dojo you can find
- To become a successful business person, you should join a mastermind group of entrepreneurs who have proven their worth
- If you’re an artist, then you should spend more time chatting with creative types
Life doesn’t have to be an independent journey. Especially when you’re dealing with a condition as significant as ADHD.
As a growth-oriented person, I’ve always felt happiest while pushing myself towards some sort of vision in the company of like-minded people.
There’s a very good chance that you will benefit from putting yourself in a similar situation.
Tip 5. Just stay persistent
At the end of the day, I’ve found that living a great life with ADHD is almost entirely about staying persistent at whatever causes you to enter a state of hyperfocus.
People with ADHD need to understand that being persistent at something that causes you to hyperfocus is the closest thing to a “secret” that there ever will be.
Hyperfocus and persistence are the two most important “assets” that I rely on to live my life. I’m not exaggerating.
If you can maintain hyperfocus and persistence while working towards some greater vision for your life, then 90% of the hard work will be taken care of for you.
And that’s the #1 secret to creating an unfair advantage with ADHD.
If you already know what makes you hyperfocus, please leave your comment in the comments section below.
By sharing your story about what specifically makes you hyperfocus, you just might inspire someone else out there with ADHD to keep pushing forward.
The ADHD Boss community thrives off of reader feedback. So, we’d all love to see what drives you every day.
You can leave your comment below.
Peter pans dotter
Working in the garden allows me to forget time and it sometimes also makes me forget to make lunch or dinner for the kids too.😃
Very nice. I agree that gardening is extremely therapeutic. That’s actually a perfect example of a hyperfocus. Thanks for sharing yours!
Thanks for this article!
I’ve spent my whole life thinking I’m not good at anything but now I know it’s because the ADHD made me start 10,000 projects and hobbies but stick to none.
Now I have the diagnosis (Unfortunately late age of 39 – but better late than never, right?) and I’m learning about hyperfocus.
I’m only just starting my journey so let’s see how it goes. I’m hoping to discover new things about myself and change my life for the better! I’ve just started a night class in silversmithing and those 3 hours once a week literally flash by!
Silversmithing is a very valuable skill to learn. I’ve actually been looking for a nice silver necklace over the past few days, and I’m willing to pay a few hundred bucks for a nice, meaningful piece of jewelry. I bet there are TONS of people out there who will pay you great money for your jewelry.
Good luck on your new journey Chanel. It’s never too late to reinvent yourself.
Thank you! Love this article and the message of staying persistent! I agree that is “the secret”.
In the evening I may sit on the couch or pace around talking out loud, thinking, journaling, and rereading old ideas/observations. The thinking is mostly what are some new strategies that I can implement, analyze how certain things sound and how they make me feel so I can better communicate with others.
In summary, I spend a lot of time trying to answer how can I improve some specific system/process in my life to live and be better and how can it be part of my life asap? I am obsessed with this and have been for some time!
I realized I can enter hyperfocus immediately on days when I have no commitments. Weekends are great for this. I’ve observed that usually the first focus in the morning sets the tone for rest of the day.
Thank you for your comment Dipika!
I really appreciate your thoughts.
And I love your dedication to improving systems and processes in your life. That is a winning strategy for living an all-around awesome life.
Yup, I agree that hyperfocus works best when you have complete autonomy to do whatever you’re genuinely interested in doing (the weekends work great for this).
Keep up the great work Dipika. It sounds like you’re on a great path in life!
My passion lies in creating passionate businesses, sewing and knitting. I started an Interior fabrications business, making window coverings, selling wallpaper, soft furnishings, etc. Shortly after I began that business I decided to throw a little yarn in there and see if a yarn store could work in my area. Both businesses took off and were extremely successful! I loved them both and was completely immersed in my true hyperfocus here! But they got too big at the same time and I had to let the interior business go. Hyperfocussing completely on the yarn store. Then one day something “shiny” caught my ADHD eye, and I sold my business just to see if I could land that other “job”. I did. Won the challenge, but lost the loves of my hyperfocus. I didn’t know I had ADHD at the time and now so many stupid things I’ve done make perfect sense.
Hi Patty. I think this is so awesome. I think we share similar passions…
Selling a business is something that very few people get to do, so I still think that you “won” in that situation. It’s a great accomplishment.
Is there anything stopping you from starting another yarn store? Did you have to sign a non-compete agreement?
I did have to sign an agreement, and this is also a small town, not large enough to support 2 stores of this kind. The bigger issue that I have though is that after my husband of 30 years sudden death 4 years ago, i remarried last year. While this man is awesome, he doesn’t understand my ADHD side and we are polar opposites! He is very disciplined in all things, and it was HIGHLY important to him that I have a job with benefits. Now I do, and those benefits are worth a lot. Now I’m stuck and can see no way out of this kind of job, at a desk (yikes!) I do completely immerse myself in my sewing and knitting on the weekends, as well as in the early mornings, so I am getting my fix. I love your website. What a wealth of great education! I’m 59 and just now found out why I’ve been such a “goof” all my life. Thank you so much for all the positive reassurances! Your website makes me feel almost normal!
Ah that’s a bummer about the non-compete agreement.
I would have an attorney read over the agreement that you signed, and find out if you can compete on the internet rather than in your small town.
You might be able to sell your products on Etsy.com or even Amazon.com without competing directly against the person who purchased your previous business.
(Obviously not legal advice, I’m not a lawyer, so please confirm this with a professional.)
There are millions of people in the U.S. who you can sell your goods to. You just have to connect with them over the internet! Shopify makes it really easy to open an e-commerce store.
Yeah I hear you about feeling stuck at a desk job. It’s really difficult to make the switch from entrepreneur to employee. I would say that there’s no going back to “normal life” after you’ve had a business of your own.
You should absolutely find a way to start another business, since that’s where your passion lies.
And thank you so much for the kind words. I’m really happy to hear that my website has helped you so far. You’re very welcome for the positive reassurance.
Angie Danae Fuentes
Thank you for the article and words. Very aspiring.
I neeeded that. Waking and carrying myself thru the day…misplacing…forgetting…impatiently…anxiously and feeling like a shoe too small for my size is overload overwhelming pain.
That I get shit down and stuck.
But Yes we alll have a ADHDPower/Ability or Abilities that makes us bolders. And stand out even more — with something to show for….
My ability is that I bring a different detail perspective— Im an Artist.love working out. I love adranaline-speed- CARS. Up side to multi tasking….hyperfocus. I’m a sick maneuvering..thinking ahead…thinking a lot …impulsive..driver. I love cars.
I currently start reading and watching videos on Auto Collision Repair/ Auto Paint/ Detail.
I know this is a fit for me. I’m very excited about this.
I appreciate you Angie! Thanks so much for your comment.
I read this to help me- help my 7 year old now and help guide him the best I can till he is on his own and he knows who he is and what he wants. Thank you so much for this and everyone else for the comments… I want him to feel and know he is capable of anything he wants to really do and that others understand him out there and that thinking differently is a gift.
So happy that you and your son will benefit from this article Amanda. This is what I live for! Helping families like yours 🙂
I just want to comment that I love the encouragement/positive vibes that exude from adhd boss! Keep up the great work.
Thank you so much Mandi. I appreciate hearing from awesome people like yourself.
I focus on stock charts.
Cooking, gaming, adventure!!
You’re awesome Kyle!
I was extremely hyperfocused while reading your words! At different times I am an entrepreneur, a livestock farmer, an avid cook, I draw, I exercise, I fish from a kayak, I constantly relandscape my yard. And I love doing each of these things while listening to Jordan Peterson or Joe Rogan podcasts. It feels good in my head. Thank you for turning it around as a gift!
So awesome to hear this Trisha. Like you, I love listening to Joe Rogan while doing all kinds of exciting stuff. But you seem to have LOTS of interesting stuff going on. That’s awesome. Yes it’s a gift!
What if the activities you can hyper focus on are not practical to pursue as a career? Any advice on shifting hyper-focus towards something more tangible?
Great question Kevin. That’s probably one of the most difficult challenges to deal with. I’ll need to publish an article on that topic for sure. Thank you.
Thank you, this article has given me some useful perspective. I’ve just completed a university degree that required lots of writing and reading. As someone with ADHD it was an exhausting experience, but without quite realising, it was probably my ability to hyperfocus on my writing that got me through. Fortunately I was very supported by the teaching staff, because I was forever missing assignment deadlines. I suspect it was my hyperfocus that made it possible at all. Maybe not quite the curse I thought it was. Again, thanks for the insight.
Thanks for your comment Simone!
OK i am not new to adhd.diagnosis official 1998 by neurologist the one thing that will stick with me for ever “Dawn I do not know you did u should not be here you have 30 yrs of coping skill…” I said ok,I was main stream school then special ed..youngest of 4 oldest 150 IQ sister 140 IQ the brother 13 month older AP classes7th grade.
I was born 3/12/65 to alcoholic nasty biological it (some would say dad) he raped my mother 7/1964 u did not say no than I have fetal alcohol effect my mom drank on weekends heavy but never missed a day of work in 47 years..
They had know idea what was wrong with me…
So I taught myself about ADHD (clarify small 10 there is only adhd with 4 sub categories ADD in my opinion was stupid it was for girls because “girls do not get hyper”
My ADHD IS SEVERE I MAKE A 5 YEAR OLD OFF MED WITH ADHD LOOK CALM.
OK hyper focus… my life saver though in the beginning I was scared I kind of panicked until I did research..
My hyper focus is art and writing and gardening but I have learned over last 2 year being on tamoxifen for breast cancer i can use i hyper focusing as a medication (no not a pill)
I certainly found out my ADHD 10 pt worse i am starting a master program in August..
So i am hyper focusing on thinks over weekend i need to get done.
I hyper focus when i am organizing and spring cleaning hyperfocus can be used anytime
To accomplish a lot…
Just breath and focus on how you want the back room to look (not the junk room it is) look on internet of spare rooms used multi functional..
Start farthest for corner of room make 3 spots in your yard or living room keep give away donate clean everything out of room redo keep pile have you used it in 6 months? Would get better use by someone who can not afford it…
Congrats on starting a master’s program in August even with so many challenges in your life. That is incredible. Sounds like you’re doing great so far. Keep it up.
Hyper focus for me happens when I can teach myself a new practical skill like troubleshooting and fixing a small engine, solving a storage problem by re-arranging furniture/closets to suit changing needs, thinking about different scenarios in relationships that may contribute to increased connection, mastering a new home improvement skill using epoxy resin on countertops to save money on a remodeling project, and many other life hacks.
Problem solving sound like a strength of yours Carrie – keep leveraging that!
For now, I am hyper focusing on reading articles you have written on your website. I am currently working in an office processing paperwork and feel as though I am suffocating in minutiae. Was diagnosed w/ADHD in my early 50s about 10 years ago. For me, hyper focusing usually means I am creating stuff – sewing, photography, scrapbooking, repurposing vintage items into new / useful / pretty things. OR, talking to people (old and young alike) to find out about their lives, their passions, and their beliefs. Not sure where all of this could lead but after having read your articles specifically on homeostasis and hyper focus I know I have to DO SOMETHING!!!