10 Tips on How to be Successful at Work with ADHD
By Lynn Miner-Rosen, MEd, ACC, CDCS
Do you ever feel that your ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADD) is the reason you have not been at your best at work? Have things gotten so bad at work that you are thinking about quitting or completely switching careers?
Are you so fed up that you are about to march into your boss's office and say, "I have ADHD, and I need accomodations," even if you are not entirely sure about which accomodations you need? By the way, please do NOT do that without getting professional advice first!
Before you do anything further, read this blog!
OK…now take a big deep breath, you can do this! Really. You are not alone.
Even in 2022, many employers and co-workers still do not fully understand what ADHD is. In addition, many people don't recognize the "invisible" symptoms of ADHD, Executive Functioning Deficits (EFD), Learning Disabilities (LD), and any neurodiverse differences.
You also have unique gifts that come along with ADHD and it is important to identify them so you can be successful at work. By knowing ALL about YOUR ADHD at work, at home, and in social situations, in advance, you will be able to rise above the challenges. The difficulty with this at work is that EFDs are often mistaken for laziness on the job, not completing projects or coming in late. You don't really have to tell anyone you have "executive functioning challenges," but you can begin to make small changes to be a HUGE success at work.
YOU CAN BE A SUCCESS AT WORK
Having ADHD is not all bad. I have read many research studies (going back to the 1970s) showing a link between ADHD and high intelligence, creativity, thinking outside the box, and a bundle of energy! We also know that creativity is an executive function and a benefit of ADHD. Be creative with your strategies at work. You will be amazed at the unique "self-accommodations" you can create! Oh, did you know that creativity boosts dopamine??? (mind blown) So, be creative, increase your dopamine and get your shit done at work! lol
You can do this! I came up with these top 10 suggestions based on my eight years of career coaching experience with people ages 17-70! This blog will benefit anyone struggling with any Executive Function at work!
Here are my top 10 suggestions for my clients when they struggle with focus and distractions at work.
My top suggestion is the obvious one, wear a headset if you can. Not every supervisor is keen on that, so ask first. Everyone is different about what music or noise works best for them. It is trial and error, but keep a "playlist for focus" that is just YOURS!
Use a small desk fan to drown out noise or get a slight "noise" machine.
Find peace. Ask to work in a quiet space where you won't be easily distracted.
Always carry around a small notebook and a pen! There have been many times when I have thought of an idea or thought and cannot access my computer or phone. Plus, your creative side will remember things better if you write them down instead of typing them! It is about the Act of writing and memory. I will go into that more in a future blog!
Use a planner or large desktop calendar and compare your planner to your online calendar each night! Find a planner you love and USE IT. Decorate it; use colored pens and highlighters often! Remember, you do not and should not store all of your thoughts in your head. Instead, write down important dates, facts, and things to do! Then, make it super easy for you to find important information when you need it!
Managing Your Time Effectively
Find a large, traditional "old-fashioned" analog clock. Last year, I interviewed Leslie Josel for an "invitation-only" live interview on the ADHD Job Squad website. Leslie is an expert organizer and author of How to Do It Now Because It’s Not Going Away. I asked her a few questions about how an ADHD brain can visualize how much time is left better with the hands of a clock as opposed to the digital reminder on your computer or phone.
Get your mornings in order. Rushing in the morning starts your day on a stressful note, and chronic lateness can affect your career and impact your job. My advice: NEVER be late to work! NEVER!
Learn to Better Manage Long-Term Projects
Break up the project into smaller chunks, and even smaller again, so that you have a realistic daily plan!
Buddy UP. Work with a well-organized manager or colleague who can help guide you through challenging projects and be a "buddy" when you have to focus and work!
Relax, and make it a habit. Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Mindfulness, deep breathing, and micro-meditations for 5 minutes each hour can help.
Meditation is good for you, whether you have ADHD or not. Meditation exists in every spiritual tradition. It calms the body and mind, is impossible to do “wrong” and costs nothing. - James Ochoa
You might need some extra support at work! Do you have a friend at work that can support you when you forget about these tips? Staying organized and productive is the key to job success for everyone in today's challenging times.
The bottom line of ADHD at Work? You have so many unique advantages that often come along with ADHD. Use your energy, creativity, and your other notable strengths and skills to get the most out of the job you are doing! Be the superstar that you WILL be!
Please add a comment below. I would love to have you share an example of a small change that YOU made at work that helped.