ADHD Hyperfocus is a commonly reported symptom among individuals living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Though this symptom is not currently listed in the DSM 5 as a diagnostic criteria, it is no doubt, a real thing.
Hyperfocus can pose as both a boon and a bane. When uncontrolled or unmanaged, it can cause dysfunction. At the same time, learning how to channel it can significantly improve a person’s efficiency. This article will guide you through the concept and how to make the most of it.
What is ADHD Hyperfocus
Interestingly, ADHD Hyperfocus is a relatively unexplored phenomenon that doesn’t have adequate research on it. Yet, it is something found universally in the lived experiences of individuals diagnosed with ADHD. In fact, it is so common that researchers cannot deny how ubiquitous ADHD Hyperfocus is .
Essentially, this is a symptom experienced by people with ADHD, which involves recurring episodes of extreme levels of focus. Objectively defined, ADHD Hyperfocus has four elements to it.
Episodes are Induced by Engaging in Tasks
Primarily, the ADHD Hyperfocus episode gets activated when an individual engages in a task. Moreover, if the task is something that you enjoy doing, hyperfocus is more likely to occur.
For example, if you start a hobby task like painting, within a few minutes of doing it, you’ll become super-focussed. You’ll feel a strong connection to the task at hand, and everything unrelated will slowly fade away from your attention.
Intense State of Sustained and Selective Attention
Clearly, ADHD Hyperfocus is almost like having tunnel vision. You stop noticing everything else and might stay engaged in the task for hours on end. Sometimes, due to the selective nature of this attention, you might end up neglecting other tasks that need tending to.
All Other Tasks Tend to get Neglected when in ADHD Hyperfocus
As mentioned above, ADHD Hyperfocus is characterised by such intense levels of focus that other important tasks get neglected. You may end up spending so much time and energy on the selected task that it sabotages your functionality.
For instance, you might neglect your relationships, urgent deadlines, and even self-care when lost in hyperfocus.
Significantly Improved Performance in the Selected Task
Nevertheless, the task that has you stuck in hyperfocus benefits greatly from these episodes. You end up performing magnificently at it due to the sustained and intense focus.
Therefore, if understood and channelled well, ADHD Hyperfocus can actually improve your efficiency at tasks.
Is Hyperfocus a Symptom of ADHD
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough conclusive research to officially label Hyperfocus as a symptom of ADHD. Nonetheless, this isn’t because of factual reasons but due to limitations in research methods.
Mostly, research publications fail to reach a consensus on how to define (and even whether to define) Hyperfocus . Furthermore, various studies have referred to similar episodes as “in the zone” states and “flow” states.
As a result, Hyperfocus isn’t clinically recognised as an ADHD symptom. However, several studies have discussed the high prevalence of hyperfocus as a core symptom in anecdotal evidence .
It may seem counterintuitive for a symptom of intense focus to be a characteristic of a condition known for distractibility. In spite of that, experts’ growing understanding of ADHD includes the acceptance of Hyperfocus as a recognised symptom.
Additionally, hyperfocus is also common in other mental health conditions, such as autism and schizophrenia. You can read more about the cross-disorder aspects of hyperfocus in this article.
Read More About Hyperfixation vs Hyperfocus: ADHD, Autism, and Mental Illness
How to Control ADHD Hyperfocus
In this section, we will discuss some of the ways you can control your ADHD hyperfocus and use it to your advantage. The following are some suggestions that you can try.
In general, individuals with ADHD tend to function better if they are able to establish a structure in their daily lives. Of course, this is only so if the structure accommodates their unique needs and requirements, as not everything works for everyone.
Having said that, structure helps create a sense of certainty or predictability in life. That way, you can time your tasks to make the most of your hyperfocus. Avoid fun tasks prone to activate your hyperfocus when you need to get a particular chore done and instead do it when you have time to kill.
Support and Monitoring
If you have people who you can count on for support, reach out! Simply requesting them to drop texts or make reminder calls can help break your intense concentration. Especially if you’re hyperfocused on your phone and see the notification.
It’s perfectly alright if you don’t know whom to ask for help. You can even monitor yourself using apps, egg timers, alarm clocks, or other creative cues.
Making Tasks Playful
Another way of managing ADHD Hyperfocus is to make the most of it. Normally, people with ADHD struggle with getting tasks done chiefly if they take a lot of time and effort.
By making your tasks more playful and fun, you can activate an episode of hyperfocus and be more efficient. One way of doing this is to split it into parts and make a game out of it. Think Tom Sawyer and the fence painting for ideas.
Ultimately, no matter how many self-help strategies you use, it is always recommended to get professional help. After all, ADHD isn’t just a phase but a clinical condition.
At United We Care, you can find a plethora of resources to help you with your ADHD Hyperfocus and related issues. This article, for example, delves into the details of how to cope with high-functioning ADHD.
Know More About How to Effectively Manage High-Functioning ADHD in Daily Life
What is the Test of ADHD Hyperfocus
In 2019, psychologists published an assessment tool which can be used to measure the presence of ADHD Hyperfocus . This test is titled Adult Hyperfocus Questionnaire and comprises questions that assess the occurrence of hyperfocus (HF) vis a vis other symptoms of ADHD.
They found that individuals with higher ADHD symptomatology reported higher total and dispositional HF. Another finding was that these individuals experienced hyperfocus in four settings, namely, school, hobbies, screen time, and real-world scenarios.
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Clearly, ADHD Hyperfocus is a legitimate concept and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Several people diagnosed with ADHD experience episodes of Hyperfocus. Having said that, it is completely possible to control it as well as use it to your advantage.
It’s imperative to consult a mental health professional as well when going about this. At United We Care, we are dedicated to providing high-quality support and guidance for mental health topics, including ADHD Hyperfocus.
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 B. K. Ashinoff and A. Abu‐Akel, “Hyperfocus: the forgotten frontier of attention,” Psychological Research-psychologische Forschung, vol. 85, no. 1, pp. 1–19, Sep. 2019, doi: 10.1007/s00426-019-01245-8.
 E. T. Ozel-Kizil et al., “Hyperfocusing as a dimension of adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,” Research in Developmental Disabilities, vol. 59, pp. 351–358, Dec. 2016, doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2016.09.016.
 ADDA – Attention Deficit Disorder Association, “ADHD hyperfocus: the secret weapon to unleashing productivity and creativity,” ADDA – Attention Deficit Disorder Association, Aug. 2023, [Online]. Available: https://add.org/adhd-hyperfocus/ K. E. Hupfeld, T. Abagis, and P. Shah, “Living ‘in the zone’: hyperfocus in adult ADHD,” Adhd Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 191–208, Sep. 2018, doi: 10.1007/s12402-018-0272-y.