Don’t waste your time and money on a brain-training program that is paint-by-numbers. Be certain you’re building meaningful skills by following this advice for ADHD brains.
1. Make a weakness into a strength.
Choose a brain training program that targets a specific, identifiable weakness. If you seem to do everything slowly and have trouble processing information efficiently, look for products that improve slow processing speed. Research suggests that it is easier to improve a weaker cognitive skill than one that is already a strength.
2. Choose a training method you will like.
Improving your brain is not easy; it requires sustained attention and a willingness to work hard. Look for brain training tools that are fun, offer variety, are easily accessed, and keep you excited.
3. Build a set of related skills.
Select brain training that addresses related sub-skills, not just one repeated exercise. If you use a program that addresses executive functioning skills, select exercises that work on related skills, such as organization and planning, as these skills are often combined in daily activities.
4. Training should broaden basic skills into a wider array of related skills.
Think about instruction for a forehand in tennis. Once the basic stroke is established, instruction can then challenge the trainee with different paces, heights, speed, and spins. If all you do is train one swing at one speed in one place, it will be hard to apply the training to an actual game of tennis.
5. Think about what you are doing.
Brainless brain training, in which all you do is practice screen-based exercises, is unlikely to help you in the real world. Think about how brain training can help you in daily routines. For example, in a work meeting or a lecture, consciously apply the focusing techniques required in many of the brain training programs.
6. Do more than brain train.
There are many tools and strategies that complement brain training to improve cognitive skills, such as chunking, connecting emotions, storytelling, and using visualization to improve working memory.
7. Detect, reflect, and connect.
Learn to identify (detect) real-world situations in which you need the trained skill, consider (reflect) how it is helpful, and then apply (connect) the trained skill to new activities. When you are learning how to cook something new, detect how you need to use time management skills, reflect on how time management skills impact the success of the recipe, then try it out, connecting and practicing your newfound time management abilities.