Tips to help adults with ADD/ADHD to stay focus at work
Having ADD/ADHD as an adult is hard but not impossible to deal with. Aside from taking medication to control your symptoms, there are some simple tasks that you can do to help manage your symptoms.
Why is the workplace so tough for people with ADD/ADHD? Here are some of the top challenges that may get between you and career success:
- Staying focused on tasks
- Tuning out distractions
- Taking on multiple tasks and not finishing them
- Failure to meet deadlines
- Paying attention in long meetings
- Missing important details in conversations
- Effectively communicate with others
- Feeling undervalued
Try these tips for working with ADD/ADHD
Try to stay focused and on one task is necessary in order to get work completed. Some people find that multitasking is difficult while others find that multitasking is the only way to operate. I have sometimes found myself working on two projects on my computer, watching television, and doing leg lifts with my two-year-old sitting on my legs. In the process of multitasking, I have found that a usually do a little bit of Project A, some of Project B, and then I start thinking about what I am going to cook for dinner. Either way, it is hard for me to complete a specific task from start to finish in one sitting. So rather than stating to only focus on one task at a time, I have found that creating a to-do list can help an individual to stay focused and not be distracted by multiple tasks yet allowing them the opportunity to see all the tasks that still need to be done.
When one’s mind begins to wander and is distracted, not only does work not get done, many individuals find that they end up working late or taking work home at night or on the weekend in order to catch up. This often creates more stress and less downtime for fun. It also impedes on home life and makes it more difficult to keep a healthy work-life balance.
It is also important to find some way to reward yourself once you have completed a project or if you have successfully completed everything on your to-do list. This reward can be anything.
One Thing at a Time
Having ADD/ADHD and being asked to do one thing at a time is laughable. However, by starting your day with a plan and a to-do list can help you to stay on track. Do not be afraid to schedule in a few breaks between each task. These schedule breaks will allow yourself the opportunity to mentally close the first task and to prepare for the next.
Breaking tasks down into smaller pieces can help you to feel less overwhelmed with all there is to do. When work feels insurmountable, procrastination can quickly take over and it can be hard to get started on any task at all. By working into smaller, more manageable steps helps.
Taking breaks through the workday to allow you mind to wander. It is understandable that sometimes this can be easier said than done. Depending on the workload for the day, it may be impossible to escape for a moment or two. A great way to sneak in a break is to take the stairs instead of the elevator as those extra minutes used to take the stairs could allow your mind to wander and to mentally escape the hustle and bustle of work.
Paraphrase Instructions and Recap Meetings
If you tend to lose focus while someone is talking to you, try to paraphrase back what is said periodically during the conversation. This keeps you active and involved and helps assure that you are getting and understanding the important points the person is trying to convey.
You can do this by sending a follow-up email or memo at the conclusion of the meeting or conversation. Alternatively, if you catch yourself drifting during a conversation and realize you have no idea what was just said, do not be afraid to simply ask for it to be repeated.
If possible, request a private office and shut the door to block out the distractions from others. If this isn’t possible, ask to be placed in a spot away from the hustle and bustle of the main work area. Of course, these options aren’t always available and if you work in a cubical it is nearly impossible to limit distractions. A technique that I use, whenever I need to focus, is to wear my earphones and play soft music or play the same song over and over. Another method that can help you stay focus is to reposition yourself so that high traffic areas are not within your view.
Planners, to-do lists, and checklists are an excellent way of helping to keep track of your day to day activities. I personally use digital planners and for the most part, have switched to digital altogether. I have developed a habit of losing my physical planners and checklists but surprisingly I have never lost my iPad. The transition from paper to digital was an easy switch.
Sometimes it can be hard to take a minute to slow down and gather your thoughts. When feelings become too intense, just excuse yourself from the conversation or room until you have better control. A technique that I use is to either ask for a follow-up meeting and let it be known that I would need a minute to review the discussion and will respond via email with any questions or comments that I may have. One of the hardest things for me to realize and accomplish is recognizing that sometimes our initial reaction to something may not always be the best reaction. Taking a minute to soak in the information is a great way to provide a more appropriate response.
Controlling your ADD/ADHD symptoms will require a lot of trials and error as there is no “one size fits all” approach. If needed be sure to visit a mental health professional for more advice on what is the best way for you to manage your symptoms.