How to ADHD

An Insider's Guide to Working with Your Brain (Not Against It)

About the Book

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this honest, friendly, and shame-free guide, the creator of the award-winning YouTube channel How to ADHD shares the hard-won insights and practical strategies that have helped her survive, even thrive, in a world not built for her brain.

“The world of ADHD has been waiting for this book with bated breath for many years. If there’s a fairy godmother of our lot, it’s Jessica McCabe.”—Edward Hallowell, MD, coauthor of Driven to Distraction and ADHD 2.0

Forget “try harder.” When your brain works differently, you need to try different.
Diagnosed with ADHD at age twelve, Jessica struggled with a brain that she didn’t understand. She lost things constantly, couldn’t finish projects, and felt like she was putting more effort in than everyone around her while falling further and further behind. At thirty-two years old—broke, divorced, and living with her mom—Jessica decided to look more deeply into her ADHD challenges. She reached out to experts, devoured articles, and shared her discoveries on YouTube.
In How to ADHD, Jessica reveals the tools that have changed her life while offering an unflinching look at the realities of living with ADHD. The key to navigating a world not built for the neurodivergent brain, she discovered, isn’t to fix or fight against its natural tendencies but to understand and work with them. She explains how ADHD affects everyday life, covering executive function impairments, rejection sensitivity, difficulties with attention regulation, and more. You’ll also find ADHD-specific strategies for adapting your environment, routines, and systems, including:
Boost the signal and decrease the noise. Facilitate focus by putting your goals where you can see them and fighting distractions with distractions.
Have less stuff to manage. Learn why you have trouble planning and prioritizing, and why doing more starts with doing less.
Build your “time wisdom.” Work backward when you plan, and track how long it actually takes you to do something.
Learn about your emotions. Understand how naming your emotions and letting yourself experience them can make them easier to regulate.
With quotes from Jessica’s online community, chapter summaries, and reading shortcuts designed for the neurodivergent reader, How to ADHD will help you recognize your strengths and challenges, tackle “bad brain days,” and be kinder to yourself in the process.
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Praise for How to ADHD

“The world of ADHD has been waiting for this book with bated breath for many years. If there’s a fairy godmother of our lot, it’s Jessica McCabe. She has a foolproof way of instilling hope, an uncanny intuition, and a preternatural understanding of the condition so misleadingly called ADHD. She turns pain into the wisdom and hard-earned joy you’ll find in this bountiful gift to us all.”—Edward Hallowell, MD, coauthor of Driven to Distraction and ADHD 2.0

“Jessica McCabe writes with honesty, intelligence and warmth about living and growing with ADHD. McCabe has created something that is more than a guide. This book is like the friend/coach/therapist you’ve always wanted to help you understand how to work with your unique brain, improve daily functioning skills, and love yourself in the process. I learned a lot from reading this book and will definitely be recommending it to colleagues and clients!”—Sharon Saline, PsyD, author of What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew and The ADHD Solution Deck

How to ADHD is a must-read book. From the ADHD-friendly layout to practical tips that help readers feel comfortable in their own skin, Jessica McCabe delivers what they need to take their next leap in life. She is vulnerable, encouraging, and inspirational. But, most of all, she gets what it's like to live with a neurodivergent brain.”—Caroline Maguire, bestselling author of Why Will No One Play with Me?

“When it comes to ADHD, Jess has lived it, sweated it, cried it, studied it, and mastered it. Well, okay, it’s still a work in progress. But she’s learned a lot, often does great, and feels much better about it when things don’t work out. She’s here to share that hard-earned wisdom to make your journey smoother and to remind you that you’re in this together. Jessica McCabe is the ADHD friend that you need most.”—Ari Tuckman, PsyD, ADHD expert and author of four books on adult ADHD, including ADHD After Dark: Better Sex Life, Better Relationship

How to ADHD is an intimate and charismatic guide to understanding someone with ADHD that has actually managed to hold my attention. I could feel the love with which it was written, and I laughed, cried, and had breakthroughs alongside Jessica as I was reading. I have no doubt that this guide will save many lives and help strengthen and improve relationships.”—Pina Varnel, creator of ADHD Alien and author of Feeling Like an ADHD Alien

“Jessica McCabe has once again proven why she’s the leading voice of modern ADHD education. How to ADHD is a masterful blend of science communication, life hacks, and raw vulnerability. If ADHD is your brain’s unique operating system, then this book is the ultimate user’s guide.”—Dani Donovan, ADHD creator and author of The Anti-Planner: How to Get Stuff Done When You Don't Feel Like It
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How to ADHD


Hello, Brains!

You found my book! A BOOK! How did that happen? Well, first I had to write one. So why did I, someone with ADHD, do such a long and forever-taking thing? Because I lose and forget things, and what I have learned over the last seven years is too important to do that with. As I’ll explain in Chapter 1, my intention in starting the YouTube channel How to ADHD was to put everything I learned about ADHD in one place so that I could actually find it again when I needed it.

Well, it’s years later. Over the course of building the channel, I’ve developed a deep and detailed understanding of the invisible obstacles those with ADHD tend to run into, as well as our options for dealing with them. The (almost) weekly videos in which I’ve shared what I learned, every step along my journey, have helped me and millions of others learn to work with our brains, not against them.

In fact, my team and I have made so many videos that even I’m a little overwhelmed by the amount of information we’ve put together! Sometimes I wish I could just flip to a table of contents, or control-F my channel or my brain.

Until that is possible, I’m putting the most important information I learned—what’s been the most helpful for me and for my community—in a book. Something tangible, with a cover and a table of contents and an index. A reference to remind myself of a tool I can use when I’m feeling stuck. And if I accidentally leave it on the bus like half my school notebooks, I can just buy a new one—wherever I am in the world. (Hello, International Brains!!)

More importantly, though, I wanted to write a book that would give people the experience they’d have if they saw my TEDx Talk, binge-watched my videos, hung out in the comments section, and went to coffee with me. I wanted to give others, if I could, what I had found on my own journey: a deep understanding of how our brains work, a sense of solidarity, and a toolbox full of strategies tailored to the specific challenges we face in achieving what it is we set out to achieve. I wanted to make our invisible obstacles visible for as many people as possible, so we stop blaming ourselves for tripping over them and understand how to navigate them. And I wanted to do it all in one book.

It was an ambitious project, and I wasn’t sure how to make it happen. I was pretty sure it wasn’t even possible many, many times while creating it. But I used the book I was writing to push me over the finish line—tapping into the tools, reading the ending anecdotes for each chapter when I felt discouraged, and . . . well, here it is!

What you are holding in your hands right now is the book I needed and didn’t have. Maybe it’s the book you needed and didn’t have.

Think of this as a user’s guide to ADHD full of insights, research, strategies, and validation, one that both explains and embraces how our brains work. You won’t find definitive solutions for managing ADHD, but a menu of tools I’ve collected from the community, ADHD experts, lived experience, and research. You’ll also find deep dives into why we even need these strategies, so you can choose the ones that fit your unique life and brain. The information and strategies I share in these chapters are meant to empower those with ADHD, enlighten and support the efforts of those who love someone with ADHD, and be helpful and insightful for anyone who is simply human.

About the Author

Jessica McCabe
Jessica McCabe is the creator, writer, and star of the award-winning, pioneering YouTube channel How to ADHD. Since its founding in 2015, How to ADHD has grown to over a million subscribers. The channel—widely respected by treatment providers, ADHD researchers, and especially the ADHD community—has become a trove of scientifically backed and experientially affirming information on how people with ADHD might work with their brains in a world not built for them. Her work has been featured by the New York Times, Washington Post, ADDitude Magazine, Today online, Upworthy, and more. More by Jessica McCabe
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