Tips for Managing ADHD at Work
Studies show adults with ADHD are 42 percent less likely to be employed full-time as adults without ADHD.1 This may be attributed to challenges with time management, organization, and self-regulation, along with a higher risk of struggling with mood and anxiety disorders. It can also be due to misconceptions still associated with ADHD and a lack of workplace accommodations.
Read on to explore 10 tips on managing ADHD in the workplace and how to recognize your own strengths as a person with ADHD.
ADHD in the Workplace
Many adults with ADHD face significant challenges when it comes to finding and maintaining employment. Here are some eye-opening stats about ADHD in the workplace:
- People with ADHD are 60 percent more likely to be fired from a job, and three times more likely to quit a job impulsively.2
- People with ADHD earn 17% less income than those without the condition and they’re even less likely to receive promotions compared to their peers without neurodivergence.3
- A study by the World Health Organization found that when left untreated, adults with ADHD lose an average of 22 days of productivity per year.4
But not all the stats are negative.
- Research shows that people with ADHD have more creativity and idea generation than people without the disorder.5
- Having ADHD is associated with a higher risk tolerance compared to people without the condition. This can lead to creative, out-of-box solutions to problems.6
- When ADHD workplace accommodations are implemented, such as frequent breaks or technological assistance, companies almost always see an uptick in staff retention and productivity. Studies have found that workplace accommodations have led to 72% higher staff retention rate and 86% improvement in attendance.7
How Does ADHD Affect Day-to-Day Work?
People with ADHD struggle with symptoms like impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. This can make it difficult to stay focused and complete projects within a reasonable time frame. Some other day-to-day work challenges include:
- Showing up on time
- Paying attention
- Following directions
- Completing assignments
- Catching mistakes
- Resisting the temptation to interrupt others
- Keeping emotions under control
In addition to these challenges, people with ADHD may also struggle with how they are perceived by their colleagues or managers. This can take a toll on their self-esteem and cause stress.
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Best Tips to Thrive as an Employee
With the right strategies in place, employees with ADHD can thrive in the workplace. However, it does require a combination of resourcefulness and a supportive environment. Here are ten tips to help employees with ADHD excel in their careers:
1. Active Communication is Key
Disclosing your ADHD to your HR team can be highly beneficial. This helps your colleagues and supervisors work with you to establish strategies and accommodate your needs. Keep in mind that you are protected by the law. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for people with disabilities, which includes ADHD. This law applies to all private businesses in the United States that employ more than 15 people.8
2. Treat & Reward System
To combat procrastination, implement a treat and reward system to motivate yourself. Break tasks into smaller, manageable chunks, and reward yourself upon completing each one. The reward can be as simple as a cup of coffee, a short walk, listening to a favorite song, etc.
3. Therapy and/or Workplace Coaches
Why do it alone? Therapists, workplace coaches, and other professionals in these fields can provide valuable coping strategies and support tailored to your specific work challenges. They may also be able to help you come up with an action plan to accomplish your larger professional goals.
4. Write Down Tasks Every Day
To-do lists are imperative for people with ADHD. Every day, create a list to prioritize your tasks. Writing down your goals and organizing them by priority will help you stay organized and on track. There are also a number of apps that can make to-do lists more functional with built-in reminders and progress trackers that will celebrate your achievements with you (and provide the necessary dopamine hit).9
5. Use Planners & Timers
Speaking of apps, there are also a variety of digital planners and timers you can use to stay on top of deadlines and organize your time wisely. Set alarms or reminders to stay on schedule and allocate specific time blocks for tasks. If having a paper planner or calendar is more helpful, then stick with whatever works.
6. Limit Distractions
We all have those things that steal our attention away. A colleague’s buzzing phone, an email chime, the air conditioner, and more. Identify your workplace distractions so you minimize them accordingly. Organize your workspace, use noise-canceling headphones, and install website blockers if necessary. Workplace accommodations can also come in handy here. You can request a desk in a low-traffic environment away from noise and other distractions.
7. Take OTC ADHD Medications
Using ADHD medication is another avenue you can use for support. While prescription ADHD medications do have their place, they can also cause a range of side effects like drowsiness, headaches, and upset stomach, which can present a whole other array of distractions. As an alternative, taking a non-prescription medication like Brillia provides a gentle and impactful approach to minimizing ADHD symptoms without causing harmful side effects. Brillia is formulated with targeted antibodies to the brain-specific S-100B protein. This protein helps to improve communication between neurons and stabilize the same monoamines targeted by prescription ADHD drugs, including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. It is part of a holistic approach called the 5 Pillars, which combines medication with healthy lifestyle habits like proper nutrition, adequate sleep, controlled screen time, and mindfulness. This multi-faceted approach helps you manage your symptoms from multiple angles while setting a foundation for long-term success. Learn more about Brillia’s approach.
8. Avoid Multitasking
Trouble maintaining focus can lead you to jump around from task to task, but this can seriously impede your progress. Try to focus on one task at a time and avoid multitasking to reduce the incidence of errors and increase your productivity. If you find that you abandon tasks because they seem too overwhelming, try to break the task into smaller ones to complete the task in increments.
9. Connect with Positive Coworkers
Having social support can make a world of difference for a person with ADHD. Build positive relationships with colleagues who understand and support your needs. They can offer encouragement and empathy when you’re facing workplace challenges and maybe strategize with you to make your workflow more manageable. If you cannot find the support you need in the workplace, connect with others online or find out if there are local support groups or networking events for people with ADHD to meet more like minded peers.
10. Take it One Task at a Time!
Remember that massive change doesn’t happen all at once. Be patient with yourself when setbacks occur and try to take it one step at a time. Also be sure not to overextend yourself. Many people with ADHD set unrealistic goals and then feel disappointed in themselves when they don’t deliver. Be aware of what you can and cannot do and don’t overpromise.
Playing to Your Strengths as Someone with ADHD
While navigating the challenges of ADHD in a professional setting can be overwhelming, with the right strategies and support, employees can and do thrive. In fact, there are now several job boards and resources specifically for neurodivergent individuals, including those with ADHD, such as Mentra, the Neurodiversity Employment Network, Neurodiversity Network, and more. Such networks recognize that people with ADHD have unique strengths that make them invaluable to the workforce, including boundless energy, enhanced creativity, and an enterprising attitude. With the right accommodations in place and the right action plan, the workplace can be a more inclusive and productive place for all.
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