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How long does it take an ADHD student to develop a new habit and overcome challenges?

Hi! I'm assuming you opened this blog because maybe you, someone you know, or your student has ADHD. You may be wondering: How long will it take a student with ADHD to develop a new habit? Or, you may be wondering: How long does it take an ADHD student to overcome Executive Function Challenges such as organization, procrastination, time management, etc? If you are wondering, any of these things, please keep reading to find the TRUE answer!

I always like to start off with the POSITIVE of any scenario. Oftentimes, I feel in society we forget to mention and think about the BENEFITS of having ADHD. Please click the article below written by Kendra Cherry on September 25, 2021 to learn about some of the many BENEFITS of ADHD!

How long does it take a person with ADHD to develop a NEW HABIT?

You may be shocked by this answer, but whether a person has ADHD or not, the time frame to develop a new habit varies. It really just depends on the person, the habit, and how they are working towards forming the new habit. The best way for a person to develop a new habit, is to form a routine and being consistent with that routine. And even with forming a routine, sometimes this can be delayed because you might try out a routine for 2-3 weeks, maybe even a month and realize that that routine does not work for you. You may then begin to try something else. Finding that "just right thing to try and stick to" can be challenging, but it's important to look at the bigger picture to help.

Typically, it takes everyone (with ADHD or not) 18 to 254 days to truly develop a new habit. On the other hand, it takes about 66 to 90 days for a new behavior to become automatic, which is about 2 or 3 months. These numbers have nothing to do with ADHD, this is for every person.

Well... what determines these numbers?

There are several factors that can determine some habits happening quicker/longer than others. I will share the top 3 factors with you today.

1. It depends on the habit needing to be formed. Some habits are easier/harder than others for a number of reasons, and that really depends on the person.

For example: Drinking water at breakfast time may be easier than doing 50 sit ups in the morning. Again, this statement would also depend on the person.

2. It depends on how people choose to change. It's important to develop strategies for change, and replace some of the not-so-good habits with good ones.

For example: Instead of eating 2 bags of Lays Chips everyday for a snack, try replacing that with un-buttered popcorn.

3. It depends on the person's mindset. It's important to not be soo hard on yourself, and it's easier said than done, I know. It's important to realize that some habits are easier to form than others, and there is not a right or wrong timeline. With Executive Function challenges due to ADHD, it's very important to not compare because it really depends on the person, ADHD type, and skill that's trying to be developed.

Here's an example of a real life scenario:

Lets say you are tired of always searching for your keys when it is time to go somewhere. You decide you need to make it a routine to remember your keys. Well first, you need to figure out where your going to keep your keys all the time, and from there you are going to need to determine the steps you will take (as part of this new routine). You may decide keeping them in the kitchen drawer after some time is not working for you. It's important to ask yourself: "Why is this not working for me?" Maybe that doesn't work because you are in a rush most times and the drawer is too far from the exit door, or maybe you realize you need to put them closer to the door somewhere. You may then decide to hang up your keys on a hanger near the door, you will need to practice that for A WHILE in order for this to become a habit.

Which ADHD Executive Function Skills are harder to manage? Which are easier to manage?

Executive Function Definition: The skills we need in order to get things done!

This is a great question that many people often ask! And the truth is, there is no definite answer. It's almost the same idea as forming a habit, it really just depends. I will share research from ADHD students who voted on which ones were harder and easier for them.

The easier Executive Function Challenges to overcome based on votes are:

  • Flexible Thinking-open minded, see things from other's perspective

  • Emotional Regulation-being able to manage strong emotions in challenging circumstances

  • Impulse Control-being able to stop yourself from certain decisions/behavior

  • Self Monitoring-the ability to monitor your ability to get things done

The harder Executive Function Challenges to overcome based on votes are:

  • Organizing-the ability to be able to manage surroundings in a structured way

  • Planning/Prioritizing-being able to determine and plan out most to least important task

  • Task Initiation-the ability to start a task, especially if it's boring

  • Time Management-the ability to manage/use time effectively

Some people may disagree with the votes, and some may agree. That would ultimately depend on the person.

I hope you found this article helpful! Remember, that we are human and everyone is different just like every new habit is different. With consistency and determination, a new habit that you are wanting to develop can be formed, and it has little to nothing to do with ADHD!

If you have any questions, concerns, or just want more information about ADHD, feel free to email me at:

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