3 Tips to Better ADHD Shopping

June 10, 2010 Douglas Cootey

There was a time when my wife didn't send me out to the store. I couldn't be trusted not to get lost for two hours in the magazine section. All those glossy covers with their reams and reams of scintillating prose. Some of them didn't even have bathing suit beauties. Ah, the blissful halcyon days of the early 90s, before I discovered the Internet. But surely there was a way to shop without getting lost.


A Key Symptom of Adult ADHD: Distraction

These days I'm pretty good when I head off to the store. You see, I've developed a system. It isn't foolproof, since that's what I am by the terabyte, but it only fails me every once in a while. You know, like those rare times when I have an ADHD flash of distraction and never make it to the store in the first place.

The other day, I zipped into Walgreens and picked up three errand items without forgetting a thing, plus added a few extra items after I had secured the important ones. I know it seems silly, but sometimes something as simple as this can be impossible for the adult ADHD mind. Here's how I do it:

ADHD Coping Strategies to Manage Distraction While Shopping

  1. Keep a mental list of no more than THREE items. If I push it and add a fourth item, I am most likely to only remember three of them, then wander around the store for an hour hoping I can jog my memory.
  2. Write a list. Any piece of paper will do, except tissue, wax, and tax papers, though I'm sure I've used any one of them at one point or other to detrimental results. I've got an iPhone app that will group each item by food aisle, and perhaps one day give me GPS directions via RFID tags, but I find that a bit of overkill. Scrawl the list on a scrap of paper and go.
  3. Avoid stores that you have a weakness for. Certain stores keep me hard pressed to remember why I went there. There is so much to see and explore. If you can't avoid these terribly wonderful places, try to bring someone along with you to drag you out when you get that glazed look in your eyes. I bring my kids to the art supply store or Apple store and tell them to call 911 if I stop responding to vocal stimuli. They have permission to tase me and drag me out for my own good.

As long as we develop ADHD coping skills and mechanisms that work for our unique circumstances, we can work around our more ditzy tendencies. I'd love to hear what other systems you folks have found effective. If I get enough of them, I'll write a followup to this article.

Have fun shopping and don't get lost.

Follow me on Twitter for my ADHD escapades at @SplinteredMind or my novel writing project over at @DouglasCootey. And if you're a glutton for punishment you can friend me on Facebook as well.

APA Reference
Cootey, D. (2010, June 10). 3 Tips to Better ADHD Shopping, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Douglas Cootey

Brenda Dagodard
June, 15 2010 at 12:27 pm

I believe that grocery stores spray something in the air to erase your memory of things you needed to buy and to increase your appetite to buy the things you really don't need. You are great Douglas, never stop writing!

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