ADHD Apps & Tools

Brown Noise? White Noise? Binaural Beats? What Helps ADHD Brains Focus

Are you a bionic reader? A binaural beats listener? Taking sides in the brown noise vs. white noise debate? Perhaps you’re still seeking that magic productivity tool to hack your ADHD brain. Here, ADDitude readers share their experience with emerging focus tools.

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rear view closeup portrait of blonde Caucasian young woman with white headphones and grey sweater working on notebook computer indoor near a window

Willpower alone cannot increase productivity in the ADHD brain. Also not helpful: the standard tips, tricks, and strategies designed for a neurotypical person. If you’re searching for effective, ADHD-friendly ways to get things done, look no further than the ADDitude community — and other readers like you who have found winning strategies by trial and error.

Recently, we asked ADDitude readers to share their experience with buzz-worthy productivity tools, including brown noise, binaural beats, and bionic reading. Have you tried any of the methods below? Let us know if they worked for you (or didn’t) in the Comments below.

Bionic Reading and Binaural Beats

“I had a huge contract to read and sign, which is a nightmare with inattentive ADHD and dyslexia. I knew I could read it more easily online with bionic reading, but wanted a saved copy, too. It took a while to print the many sub-documents into bionic text PDFs, but then it was so easy to read it all! Wow, what a difference in my stress level. I felt I understood the content, rather than fighting with it.— An ADDitude Reader

[Free Guide: 19 Symptoms of Adult Dyslexia]

“I only recently started listening to binaural beats playlists while focusing on work projects that require deep concentration. I find it helps keep me in ‘the zone.’ I prefer the faster tempos, as they seem to create the sense of urgency that I apparently depend on to get things done.” — Kelly, UK

Brown Noise vs. White Noise

“White noise was making my brain itch in an uncomfortable way. I was a bit hesitant to try out brown noise, but it has been a great experience for me. I’m able to stay on one task, like clean a room, even if I had to leave the room. I’m able to stay on my mission and don’t get sidetracked as easily.” — An ADDitude Reader

“I listen to a loop of brown noise on my noise-canceling headphones when I have to block out the world and focus on a single task. I have found that it can really help as long as it isn’t a task that requires me to talk myself through the problem.” — Aimee, Florida

The only [tool] that has ever worked for me is white noise. Something like a fan is even better. The more recent stuff makes my brain feel awful… With the trendiness of fidget toys, I found some really great ones that help when I’m out and about, but brown noise and weird beats and sounds? Not so much.” — Elly, Canada

[Listen: 13 Productivity Playlists to Center and Focus ADHD Brains]

“I discovered brown noise in college, which was great for masking the sound of my roommates and helped me relax. Not all brown noise is the same, though. I really only like the one from” — Jecca, Utah

“I saw an ad related to brown noise and it was fascinating. It really did provide a bit of an ‘off-switch’ when I listened to it. I’m going to try it when attempting to block out other distractions or when I’m feeling anxious.” — An ADDitude Reader

Productivity Apps to Try

“What’s worked for me is following Tiago Forte’s methodology for building a ‘second brain.’ It enables me to store my thoughts, notes, medical information, and other things I need to access at a moment’s notice in a centralized, searchable note-taking app without getting overwhelmed by too much information. I use Craft, though others use Evernote, Notion, Obsidian, etc. It’s been invaluable to my distractible, forgetful ADHD brain.” — Russ, Mississippi

“I use an app called Unpluq that, in short, warns you when you are screen sucking on your phone. You can continue, but only after passing a barrier that delays you for a few seconds, which is just enough time to consider if it’s worth your time. If not, it’s easier to abort because you are already out of your flow.” — Ilse, Netherlands

Focus@Will has surprised me. It reduces the tug of other tasks and increases your desire to get the task done in a set time. Surprising for something that sounds like a broken chainsaw.” — Andrea, Australia

Rain Rain is my go-to app for sleep noise. You can mix multiple noises and many are free. I like mixing ‘leaves in the wind,’ ‘brown noise,’ and ‘crackling fire.’ I also watch ASMR and restoration videos on YouTube to help me wind down before bed. I know screens aren’t great before bed, but it works for me and helps avoid the inevitable anxiety spiral if my mind is left to its own devices.” — Katelyn, Ontario

ADHD Productivity Hacks: Next Steps

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