How to Focus at Work With ADHD
Work can cause many frustrations for those suffering from attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Finding effective strategies to help you cope with areas of weakness can make a big difference in your work success and overall happiness. Here are some tips and techniques for making your work life easier and more productive.
An overview of the challenges of having ADHD
Why is the workplace so tough for people with ADD/ADHD? Here are some of the top challenges that may get between you and career success:
- Staying focused on tasks
- Tuning out distractions
- Taking on multiple tasks and not finishing them
- Failure to meet deadlines
- Paying attention in long meetings
- Missing important details in conversations
- Communicating with others in an effective way
- Feeling undervalued
Tips to Help Focus and Concentration at Work
Below are some tips to try which could help improve your productivity at work while working and coping with ADD/ADHD:
1. Avoid Multitasking
Staying focused and on task is necessary to get work completed promptly. However, some people find that this is when multitasking becomes a problem. Rather than staying focused on one task at a time, an individual becomes distracted by multiple assignments, yet none get completed.
When one’s mind begins to wander and is distracted, not only does work not get done, but many individuals also find that they end up working late or taking work home at night. This often creates more stress and less downtime for fun. It can also impede home life, making it more challenging to keep a healthy work-life balance.
2. One Thing at a Time
You can create a variation on this strategy for the office: Power down on one project for 45 minutes, change focus to a different project for 45 minutes, and take a 30-minute break.
This strategy ensures variety and the opportunity to get up and move–both great ways to complete tasks without too much pain!
3. Manageable Chunks
Breaking tasks down into smaller pieces can help you feel less overwhelmed with all there is to do. When work feels insurmountable, procrastination can quickly take over, making it hard to get started on any task. Chunking work into smaller, more manageable steps helps.
4. Use a Timer
There is more than one way to use a timer. For some people, setting a timer for 45 minutes of work followed by a 15-minute break can make it easier to get through the day. Shorter work/break periods may work better for other people.
The trick is to be sure that the amount of time you allow for work is significant enough to complete a portion of the task at hand. While also making the break time is long enough to feel refreshed but short enough to avoid getting involved in a new activity.
5. Use Visual Reminders
Here is a very creative and fun way to stay alert and focused on tasks. Try posting personalized acronyms around the office to remind yourself of social and work rules that will help you manage your day. A few suggestions:
- TTF: Time to Focus
- LABP: Listen and Be Present
- CTT: Count to Ten
6. Connect With Positive Co-Workers
A supportive co-worker who understands your issues with staying on task can be a great help in redirecting you. Some people have found that it has been helpful to share information about ADD/ADHD with their employers and come up with simple accommodations to make work more successful.
7. Hand-Held Fidgets
Bring an object with you into meetings, like a small ball to roll in your hands, a tactile Koosh ball to squeeze, a pen to twirl through fingers, or paper for doodling. A pen and paper are also helpful to take notes or jot down any thoughts, questions, or ideas that pop into your head during the meeting.
8. Paraphrase Instructions
If you tend to lose focus while someone is talking to you, try to paraphrase back what is said periodically during the conversation. This technique keeps you active and involved and helps assure that you understand the essential points the person is trying to convey.
You can do this by email or memo if it’s easier and more effective. Alternatively, if you catch yourself drifting during a conversation and realize you have no idea what was just said, ask for it to be repeated.
9. Limit Distractions
If possible, request a private office and shut the door to block out the distractions from others. If this isn’t possible, ask to sit in a spot away from the hustle and bustle of the main work area. Of course, these options aren’t always available. Many have found earplugs, white noise, and soft music to be helpful.
Get into the habit of actively using large calendars, day planners, PDAs, daily to-do lists, and routines. Stick with the strategy that works for you.
We hope the information helps you cope better at work with ADHD, but above all, be patient with yourself. Remember, you’re doing the best you can! Which isn’t always going to look like your personal best from last month, last week, or even yesterday.
And if focus continues to be a challenge, don’t hesitate to get professional help by reaching out to us at Smart Health & Wellness Centers to set up an appointment as soon as possible.
You’ve got this.