ADHD at Work

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Creativity, high energy levels and innovative problem solving are some of the characteristics of ADHD that enhance workplace performance. Some adults with ADHD also indicate their ability to hyper-focus allows them to complete more in a shorter amount of time. But some ADHD traits can make it difficult to perform well. Forgetfulness, inattention to detail, poor listening skills, hyperactivity, and short attention spans can create problems in the workplace. See how you can

For some, requesting accommodations help by giving extra assistance when needed. Not all adults with ADHD are comfortable asking for help. Adults, after all are supposed to be self sufficient and able to complete the work assigned to them. They may feel that asking for accommodations is the same as saying they are a failure. Or they may fear that their boss will view the accommodations as unnecessary and unreasonable. They may worry that co-workers will feel resentment, wondering why one person is treated special. Additionally, some may feel that they will be seen as making excuses for their poor job performance.

Accommodations are sometimes necessary and when approached correctly, can enhance a job situation. Some commonly requested extra help might include: bringing a tape recorder to meetings, flexible work schedules or delegating some of the more menial tasks of a job.

Requesting accommodations is a personal decision. Only you can decide if it would be best for your situation. No matter what you decide, there are a number of ways that you can use to begin to manage your symptoms of ADHD in the workplace.

If you find you are having difficulties with inattention or memory:

  1. Use a watch with a vibration alarm. Set the alarm to go off several times each day. When you feel the vibration it will remind you to stay on task.

  2. Use your computer to set reminders throughout the day of what you need to complete.

  3. Use your email or voice mail to send yourself messages or reminders of tasks that need to be completed or deadlines that must be met.

  4. Use a PDA to keep track of appointments, projects, meetings and "things to do" lists.

  5. Enlist the help of a buddy or a coach to remind you of important dates, projects, and deadlines.

  6. Use a "32 file system." This system includes the use of 32 manila folders. Mark the folders 1 through 31 and "later". Each time you need to complete something, mark it down and place it in the date it will next require attention. Anything that needs to be completed more than one month away, mark the date for it to be completed on the top corner and place it in the "later" folder. Each day, you only need to pull out the work for that day. Everything else will be filed in the date system. This will help to keep your desk uncluttered with papers that do not need to be looked at today.

  7. Each Monday morning review your goals, projects and expectations for the upcoming week. If needed, ask your supervisor to meet with you to receive their input on the upcoming week.

  8. Keep a notepad on your desk. If you are interrupted, write down what you are doing. This way, after the interruption you will be able to immediately get back to what you were doing.

If you find hyperactivity interferes with your job:

  1. Create times during the day you can release excess energy. Organize your work so that there are breaks from sitting or doing menial tasks. Break up the tasks with something that requires getting up and walking around.

  2. Pack your lunch each day to eat at your desk. Once finished, use the extra time to go outside and take a walk.

  3. Use flexible hours or working at home to vary your work environment and schedule. This can help reduce restlessness during the long workday.

  4. During meetings, keep a notebook and take notes on what is being said. This will give you something to do and keep yourself busy, decreasing your restlessness.

  5. Complete the tasks you dislike or have a difficult time doing early in the day. Finishing up the boring projects first and leaving the more interesting work for later will help you keep a positive attitude.

If you have a hard time controlling impulsiveness:

  1. Before committing to extra work or extra projects, take time to think about them. Get into the habit of asking for 24 hours to think about fitting the work into your schedule before jumping in to additional work. If you do not think you will be able to complete the work, it is better to say so rather than to accept it and not complete it.

  2. Create structure and routine in your day to avoid situations that would allow for impulsiveness.

  3. To stop yourself from blurting out answers or interrupting others, keep a notebook with you at all times. When others are talking write a few words down to remind yourself of what you would like to contribute to the discussion. This way, when it is your turn to speak you remember what you wanted to say.

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.