When many people with attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) think about improving their productivity in the workplace, the main thing that comes to mind is creating and maintaining a to-do list. While keeping track of what you do is important, having your office set up in a way that suits your unique needs is vital to success in the workplace. This is true for anyone, but especially so for someone with ADHD, a condition that tends to make it difficult to concentrate and stay on task.
Here are four simple strategies to help those with ADHD create an optimal work environment:
- Get comfortable. To the extent you have control over the furniture and layout, think about your work space. Make certain you have a comfortable, ergonomic chair. In addition to a traditional desk chair, some people find sitting on an inflated exercise ball part of the time or a standing desk attachment to be helpful in reducing fidgetiness. Alternatively, if you don’t like sitting at a desk and aren’t required to, consider other options that may be available to you. For example, some office environments might allow for you to sit on a couch or comfortable reclining chair. In other environments, you may be permitted to mount a large television to the wall in front of you to use as a computer screen, and then use a tray table, lap desk, or similar support item to hold a keyboard and mouse. If you sit with a tray table that is free-standing, make sure the height of it is comfortably proportional to the height of the couch or chair.
- Set up stations for different tasks. Spending all day sitting at a desk can be difficult even for people who don’t have symptoms of ADHD. Varying your seating position during the day can be beneficial. If possible, have a chair or couch in the office that you can use to sit at when doing certain tasks (such as reading, organizing papers, making charts, etc.). In addition, if you have a job where you work on a few major projects and have physical materials for them, try to devote a different portion of the room to each one.
- Reduce clutter. Having papers piled up on your desk can be distracting and may take away from your productivity. If you need a place to pile papers, it may be helpful to place them on a shelf out of immediate view. Of course, setting up an organizational system where papers are filed regularly so they don’t pile up in the first place would be best. Unless you are using items regularly, keep them off your desk as much as possible. Limit the items on your desk to things you use daily—your computer, perhaps your office phone, and not much else. Having an area within arm’s reach for pens, a stapler, hole punch, etc., may be useful to reduce the frequency of having to get up for supplies.
- Stay active. In addition to taking regular breaks, consider small things you can do to stay active while working. For example, using a desk bicycle or elliptical while working may help harness fidgeting while having the added benefit of improving your physical health. Using exercise bands attached to your chair may also be helpful.
Having the optimal work environment, or at least making it as comfortable as possible, is crucial to being successful in the workplace. I hope these suggestions are helpful.
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