Children who have attention-deficit hyperactivity, better known as ADHD, rarely have much control over their environments at school. As an adult, you may have more control over your situation. For example, it may have been possible for you to choose a career path or job that works well with your ADHD symptoms. Even so, it is difficult for many who carry ADHD from childhood into adulthood to cope with symptoms in an office environment.
Here are some strategies that can help you manage ADHD more effectively at work.
Create a structured plan for completing tasks. Everyone functions in different ways, and the demands of different jobs vary. Some of these tips may apply, while others may not. See which of these ideas might help meet your specific needs:
- Set blocks of time each day to complete different types of tasks (return phone calls/emails, write reports, perform SEO duties, networking, etc.).
- Block out time at the beginning and/or end of the day to make a plan for what you will complete that day or the next.
- Evaluate your work style and workflow. Do you perform better when you work for longer periods of time on one activity? Or do you get more done when you switch between tasks? Answering these questions can hlep you determine how long to devote to each task in one sitting.
- Pay close attention to how much time you think you lose shifting from one task to another.
- Reserve time for breaks. Set limits so you don’t spend more time than you intend on a break.
- If you’re working on something that requires sustained focus, set your phone to “do not disturb” and turn off email notifications. This might not be possible, depending on your job obligations, but it can be helpful to reduce as many distractions as possible. Check and return voicemails/emails at set times (perhaps first thing in the morning, before or after lunch, and near the end of the day).
- Don’t keep personal email, news sites, social media, and other websites unrelated to work open on your computer.
- If needed, block access to sites that distract you.
- Use noise-canceling headphones or an app to improve focus.
- Use Seconds or another interval app that has a chime go off at set intervals. This type of reminder can help you stay focused.
- Take time to organize the physical belongings in your office or workspace. Make sure your desk is free of clutter and that everything has a place to go.
- Make sure your computer files are organized so you don’t waste time searching for files.
- Back up computer files regularly. Check company policy first. But if your work allows it, backing up things to Google Docs, Dropbox, another cloud system, or even an external hard drive could be helpful if your computer ever crashes.
- Take breaks at set intervals.
- Use a device or other prop by your feet to minimize fidgeting.
- Try using exercise bands around the bottom of your chair to push/pull your legs.
It is possible to minimize the impact ADHD symptoms have on your productivity at work. Using behavioral strategies such as the ones above can make a big difference. In addition, medication may be helpful. If you believe medication might be right for you, talk to your doctor about appropriate possibilities.
If you need further help developing and implementing strategies to meet your needs at work, consider seeking out a therapist who specializes in workplace issues, an ADHD coach, or similar professional. There are a lot of resources out there. Take full advantage of them!
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