Recruitment Questions: How to cope with ADHD at work

April 25, 2017

Possibly the most important aspect of not letting ADHD or ADD get in the way of your work is to find a job that you enjoy and that keeps you interested. Many people experience boredom and repetitive tasks at work, which leads to greater problems regarding attention and focus. However, if you are engaging in something you love, you are more likely to stay focused.

It is often recommended for people with ADHD or ADD to find employment that gives them the opportunity to get up and move around. But most importantly, you need to be happy with what you are doing! And if your ADHD or ADD gets in the way of doing what you want to do, then try some of these “strategies that may help you at work”: :

  • Work in small steps – this makes tasks more manageable and you can set yourself time-goals for completing the steps. Making a checklist for each step needed in order to complete a complex task can be helpful.
  • Work on one task at a time. Make sure to finish one task before beginning another.
  • Take appropriate breaks from your work, and fill them with something active, even if it’s just getting up and making a drink, photocopying or having a quick walk up and down the stairs.
  • Taking notes in meetings or during presentations can be a good way to keep your attention focused and prevent you from fidgeting.
  • Use technology such as an electronic diary to remind yourself of tasks and appointments.

Scheduling and Priorities

  • Use a timer to remind yourself to have regular little breaks, go back to work, or to remind yourself that you only have 5 minutes left on this boring task…
  • Develop a schedule for your work tasks that clearly prioritises what needs to be done first. Use self-set deadlines for different parts of your task so that you can complete it on time.
  • Stay organized by using colour-coded schedules and filing systems. Consider asking someone who is very neat and organised to look after important paperwork if you are afraid you might lose it.
  • If you can, minimize routine tasks and choose projects that require a lot of creativity and are not time pressured.
  • Ask to have your desk moved to a quieter environment if you are working in a crowded office, or take work home. Depending on your role you may even be able to work at earlier or later times to have the office to yourself.
  • Use noise-cancelling headphones or listen to calm music in order to drown out office noise if it distracts you.
  • Keep a list in your phone or diary where you can note down ideas that you get during others tasks – that way you can return to them later without disrupting your work at the time.

More Ideas!

  • Use the organisational and time-management skills of your co-workers when working in a team. But if social situations are difficult, consider asking for more solitary work to minimise social challenges.
  • If impulsivity is a big problem for you in work, consider training with a coach or therapist in order to learn more appropriate responses to stressful or frustrating situations.
  • Mediation and other relaxation techniques may be helpful for you to become or stay calm.

It may be worth speaking to your supervisor about having ADHD or ADD and which strategies help you most, since they may be able to help you implement them. If you feel unsure about disclosing your attentional difficulties, however, it may be enough to ask for some support with recording meetings or a quieter workspace simply because it makes working easier for you, without mentioning ADHD.

The Dyscovery Centre offers workplace assessments and support to adjust your workplace to your needs. We can also offer support and counselling if you are looking for work, want to develop your skills or need general advice on how a learning difficulty can affect your working life.

This is an ongoing series of how developmental difficulties can affect working life and how to tackle them. Look out for the next article!

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Tagged: ADHD adolescence adult dyscovery dyspraxia education employment