By Charlotte Bates, Recruitment Advisor at Legal Futures Associate Bhayani Law
Doing an admin or office-based job can often be challenging when trying to stay focused, for people with ADHD this is a struggle that is faced daily. I know from personal experience that I flourish in active jobs that can always keep my mind busy, but when it comes to sitting down at a desk all day and having to concentrate for long periods of time, this can fill me with feelings of dread and anxiety.
Watch Charlotte’s video where she talks about how she manages ADHD in the workplace and tips she has found useful.
Whether you’re working from home or in the office, here are some tips that I have found useful to overcome any feelings of stress from being overwhelmed at work and help to maintain high enough levels of focus to be productive:
Set up a good workspace
I know the idea of lounging around in bed or on the couch on your laptop all day when working from home sounds appealing at a first glance, but if you suffer from getting distracted easily and can often lose focus, this may not be the best choice of set up for you. Sitting at a desk can improve your motivation to get your work done as you can have all your resources around you and are sitting in a more professional environment. I stick by the rule of the tidy desk, tidy mind. When I have lots of clutter on my desk it completely throws me off. This is not the only advantage; it can also help you to separate your time and create more of a work-life balance so that once you are at your desk you can concentrate solely on the work that you need to produce.
Set tasks for the day
When starting a day at work, something that overwhelms me the most is not having a schedule of jobs for the coming day. I stress if I am doing everything I should be and that I haven’t missed anything. The first thing I will do every morning is to write a to-do list of tasks that I need to complete by the end of the day. Doing a weekly schedule can also help to ensure you are on track. This also helps me when I have one large task that might take me a few hours consecutively to complete, I break the task up into sections, and then I can check off each part as I do it, which makes it seem less challenging to start and can reduce the opportunity of losing motivation to keep going.
Sticking to a schedule
For an adult with ADHD, it can sometimes be quite difficult to stick to a schedule. This might be because of distractions getting in the way or being so hyper-focused that you completely lose track of time. It might not come naturally to think about taking a break, however, it is important to let your mind rest and re-charge frequently. If sticking to a schedule is a problem, there are lots of apps that can help with time management. The best way I have found to stop myself from getting distracted, and especially from constantly going on my phone is to totally isolate myself from everyone and everything. I keep my phone in a separate room and don’t speak to anyone so that I can dedicate these hours completely to my work.
Break up the day
Something that I always find challenging is staying focused for long periods of time. The thought of sitting for hours on end and working continuously is very stressful for me because I know at some point my brain won’t be able to take it anymore and will start getting distracted. What I do to overcome this is to make sure I’m breaking up my day by having small but frequent breaks, whether this is making a cup of tea, going on a small walk, doing very short tasks, or having 5 minutes away from my desk to let my mind take a break from work. This helps me to avoid overworking my brain to the point of exhaustion and stops the frustration of getting distracted again.
Have visual reminders
If you’re anything like me and have the memory of a goldfish and can become easily confused if you have numerous different tasks on your mind, the best thing that I have found to do is to jot all your ideas down. Mind maps can be a great way to do this, especially if you a brainstorming new idea. Having a wall calendar as a daily visual reminder of important tasks that need completing is also a great way to remember. Post stick notes are always beneficial to keep to hand, especially when trying to write something down in a hurry so you don’t forget.
Listen to your mind
Having ADHD can be very frustrating at times, especially when you have a busy day at work and don’t know where to start, but hopefully, these tips can help you clear your mind and improve your productivity. The most important thing to remember is always to listen to what your brain is telling you. If you are struggling or are finding that your ADHD symptoms are worsening, the best thing you can do is tell your employer as they have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities under the Equality Act 2010. Remember, you are not alone, there are plenty of other people that struggle in the exact same ways that you do. Try reaching out to people who also suffer from ADHD to see if you can support each other.
To learn more about how ADHD can affect people at work, watch our Webinar about Neurodiversity in the Workplace.