"Unlocking Your Potential: The Intersection of ADHD and Mental Models"

Alessio Frateily

Hatched by Alessio Frateily

Jun 26, 2024

3 min read


"Unlocking Your Potential: The Intersection of ADHD and Mental Models"


In recent news, the Policlinico Tor Vergata in Italy has been recognized as the Regional Reference Center for Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). With studies estimating the current prevalence of ADHD in adults at 4.4% in the United States and 3.4% internationally, it is clear that this neurodevelopmental disorder affects a significant portion of the population. In Italy, the average prevalence of ADHD in adults is around 2.8%. Symptoms of ADHD in adults include inattention, impulsivity, restlessness, emotional dysregulation, poor frustration tolerance, and irritability. These symptoms often lead to impairments in executive functioning, which can impact one's psychological, relational, occupational, and social well-being.

Connecting ADHD and Mental Models:

While the impact of ADHD on cognitive functioning and daily life is well-documented, it is interesting to consider how the concept of mental models can intersect with this neurodevelopmental disorder. Mental models are cognitive frameworks or maps that help us understand and navigate the complexities of the world around us. They provide a lens through which we interpret information and make decisions. By examining the relationship between ADHD and mental models, we can gain insights into how individuals with ADHD can train themselves to be smarter and more effective in various aspects of their lives.

The Power of Mental Models:

Renowned investor Charlie Munger once said, "Developing the habit of mastering the multiple models which underlie reality is the best thing you can do." Mental models are invaluable tools that allow us to interact with the world more effectively. They help us make sense of complex situations, identify patterns, and make better decisions. It is crucial to start with understanding the fundamental principles or the "trunk and big branches" of knowledge before delving into the details, as Elon Musk suggests.

The Pareto Principle and ADHD:

One of the most universally applicable mental models is the Pareto Principle, commonly known as the "80/20 rule." This principle states that roughly 80% of outcomes come from 20% of efforts or inputs. Vilfredo Pareto, the economist who discovered this principle, observed that 80% of the land in his area was owned by 20% of the people. This principle holds true in various areas of life, including relationships, productivity, and health.

For individuals with ADHD, understanding and applying the Pareto Principle can be transformative. By identifying the 20% of activities, tasks, or relationships that yield 80% of the desired outcomes, individuals can prioritize their efforts and maximize their productivity. Taking just 30-60 minutes per day for prioritization can significantly enhance productivity. Additionally, auditing personal relationships can help individuals determine which connections bring them happiness and fulfillment, while also recognizing those that may contribute to stress and drama.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace Mental Models: Consider exploring the comprehensive list of mental models and enroll in a mental model mini-course to gain a deeper understanding of how these frameworks can improve decision-making and problem-solving skills.
  • 2. Apply the Pareto Principle: Take time to evaluate your daily activities, relationships, and tasks. Identify the 20% that yield 80% of the desired outcomes and prioritize them. This simple shift in focus can lead to increased productivity and overall satisfaction.
  • 3. Seek Professional Help: If you suspect you may have ADHD or are struggling with symptoms, consider seeking a diagnosis from a reputable healthcare professional. The establishment of centers like the one at Policlinico Tor Vergata demonstrates the growing recognition and understanding of adult ADHD, making it easier to access specialized care.


As we navigate the complexities of life, understanding the intersection between ADHD and mental models can offer valuable insights and strategies for personal growth. By embracing mental models, applying the Pareto Principle, and seeking professional help when needed, individuals with ADHD can unlock their potential and enhance their overall well-being. Remember, knowledge is power, and by leveraging the right tools and resources, individuals can overcome challenges and thrive in all aspects of life.

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