Whether you have been diagnosed as a child or as an adult, learning how to manage symptoms of ADHD in a professional context can be daunting. Unfortunately several common symptoms of ADHD (i.e. difficulty focusing, forgetfulness, distractibility, etc.) are symptoms that can significantly impact an adult’s work productivity, professional relationships, and/or ability to move into higher paying positions.
Below are some tips to assist you with better managing your ADHD symptoms in a workplace environment:
Keep a calendar of all meetings, tasks, etc. handy at all times. Having both a digital and paper copy of your calendar can be helpful to keep yourself up to date on your responsibilities so that nothing falls through the cracks. Review your calendar daily so that you ensure that you are prioritizing tasks appropriately and adding new tasks and/or responsibilities as they arise.
Take “brain breaks” every hour or two during the workday. It is more difficult for people with ADHD to focus throughout a long day if they do not take occasional breaks. Give yourself 5-10 minutes during each break to get up for a short walk and/or stretch. Short meditative exercises such as deep breathing or guided imagery exercises can also be helpful for refocusing your mind on your professional tasks.
Keep your desk and/or computer desktop organized. Create labeled files for needed documentation and make sure at the end of your workday that your desk and/or computer are free of clutter. Organized email folders can also be helpful for people who rely on their email frequently for their work. Keeping organized on a daily basis can keep clutter from piling up and can assist with ensuring that nothing work-related gets lost.
Consider purchasing a “fidget item” or even an exercise ball to sit on at your desk if your workplace allows these things. Often people with ADHD have an easier time focusing if they are able to keep their body somewhat occupied. Make sure that whatever “fidget item” you purchase will be non-intrusive to your particular work environment.
If allowed at your particular workplace, consider the use of either a computerized away message or a physical do not disturb sign on your office door/cubicle wall for use if you have difficulty with interruptions when working on a long task.
If you work from home, make sure you have a designated office in your home that is used for nothing else but work. Having your workspace in the same room as say where you eat or sleep can be too distracting for some adults with ADHD.
If you find that you continually have difficulty with completion of workplace tasks despite the use of above-suggested interventions, consider getting in touch with a psychiatrist for possible medical assistance. There are medications specifically designed for for people with ADHD that may help improve you focus and/or organizational skills.