6 ways to manage ADHD at work
If you don’t work at job that allows flexibility, a normal 9 to 5 job can be difficult to maintain for the ADHDer.
Using these tips will level the playing field at your job, sooth frustration of rigidity, and keep your bosses happy with your performance. Not to mention keep you happy so you can finally show case your unique genius!
But before we begin: these will take time to work. Think about implementing each one week after week. Too much change for the ADHDer is a cocktail for disaster.
1. Condition yourself to “turn on” when it’s time for boring detail oriented tasks
When I was in my undergraduate I had the bright idea to go to the library, and find a cubby when it was time to do my philosophy midterm and final papers. This went of for 2 years; same cup of coffee, same cubby, same music to listen to while I typed. As soon as I would sit and immediately be in the zone, my longest stent was 5 hours in the cubby for an A- paper! I digress; what I had down was conditioned myself to switch to work mode when all those things were in place. Think Pavlov and his dogs.
2. Go over one piece of work at a time, silently, out-loud, and if need be with a coworker or boss.
As an ADHDer, details can be kryptonite, especially if they’re details of a boring topic. Reviewing directions may help sink in the task, especially if you have poor reading comprehension, then repeating it or having your boss repeat it will help it formulate in your mind. If you happen to drift off for a moment because someone needs something from you, go over the directions again even if you know what you’re doing.
3. Stand or kneel to do you work
Easily the greatest trick I’ve for myself, and my clients. Why? Because we can’t sit still! But when we stand we can shift from hip to hip, move our feet all while still leaning over our work. If you need to take it up a notch place a ball under your feet to roll while you work. The balance of the ball will also help you focus.
4. Set a timer for how long you will work and how long your break will be
There’s nothing worse for the ADHDer than not knowing how long you have to endure a boring task. Give yourself a timer you can see and race against to get some work done. Then give yourself a breather and a “reset” from the task with a break. NOTE: Per #1 do not take a break at your work space. You may want to sit in a different chair or take a walk, or even start a quick conversation with a co-worker.
Side note: In the beginning stay firm with the breaks, however, as you get better you may develop “hyper-focus”. If this happens, you will get more quality work done then your non-ADHD peers in half the time; if that’s the case keep working!
5. Break down large tasks into smaller to-do’s (especially if you have projects or long pieces of work)
This tip is largely similar to #4. We want to break down everything into small steps, it helps you build momentum and feel accomplished. I prefer to-do lists so I can cross through what I’ve completed, then when I’m completely done (And forgotten what all I did), I can feel extra good about my productivity.
6. Go for quality not quantity of work
In the beginning these rules will be difficult to put in place, because change is hard for everyone. With that in mind, the work might suffer, but once all of these are firing at the same time the quantity and quality of the work will be great! Be forgiving to start, and if you truly trust your boss and you have a great relationship, it may be a good time to let them in on your ADHD and what you are putting in place to be the best you can be. They might take this as a huge step in the right direction. This is entirely up to you though.