ADHD at Work How to Interact with Coworkers Manage Tasks and Find Your Strengths

Learn ways you can be more productive at work despite your ADHD diagnosis.

Young businesswoman managing ADHD at work.

If you’re one of the nine million Americans who have ADHD, you’ve probably seen your symptoms manifest at work. After all, a 40-hour work week is a long time to try to hide part of who you are.

Although Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can come with strengths, such as creativity and energy, it can also sometimes make work difficult. Mismanaging time, being disorganized, and missing details are some of the symptoms of ADHD.

If you are struggling with managing your ADHD at work, you may want to consider seeking professional medical advice.
While the following suggestions are not intended to replace medical advice, they offer some ideas to help you manage and even thrive at work.

Interacting with coworkers

  • Ask for accommodations.
    The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is an excellent resource for information about work accommodations for various conditions. There’s even a page dedicated to ADHD.

    Remember, you are not required to share your ADHD diagnosis with anyone. If you do choose to talk about it, however, you can share what you've learned with your manager and/or coworkers to figure out what will work best for you, but first, be sure to understand your company’s policies around accommodations.

    The YouTube Channel “How to ADHD” is run by a woman named Jessica, who has ADHD. One of her popular videos talks about how to ask for accommodations and provides tips for discussing your condition and needs with your manager.

  • Talk to people.
    When appropriate, physically talk with your coworkers when you have questions instead of simply messaging them. It’s a chance to build relationships, walk around, and feel more unified with your coworkers. Remember, you belong.

  • Forgive yourself.
    If you find yourself ruminating on a mistake you made, know that you are human. Everyone has missed a deadline or said something they wish they could take back. Make any amends you need to, apologize if necessary, and let it go.

  • Find a workplace where you are happy.
    Dr. Edward Hallowell, a psychiatrist who specializes in working with individuals who have ADHD, had excellent insight on what to do if you are miserable at your job: “a lot of people with ADHD who struggle at work are simply in the wrong job…you should spend your career doing what you’re good at. All the accommodations in the world won’t do what finding the right job will do.”

Related: 7 Ways to Adjust to Working from Home

Managing work tasks

  • Write things down.
    If you struggle paying attention to detail, this can be a helpful way to remember everything that you need to do. This is also essential if you tend to be forgetful.

    Whether it’s taking notes in a meeting, keeping a day journal, or simply scrawling on sticky notes, writing down your reminders will help you remember what you need to do.

  • Schedule breaks.
    It can be something as simple as going for a short walk, going to the bathroom, or getting some water. This will give your mind a break and help you add a little more physical movement into your day.

  • Set clear deadlines.
    Many people who have been diagnosed with ADHD struggle with procrastination. Having a hard deadline may motivate you to finish your task.

    If you struggle with perfectionism in your work, you may want to set mini deadlines before the actual deadline. For example, if you have a long paper to write, you can make an earlier deadline to have an outline written.

  • Break down tasks into small pieces.
    Short attention spans are common in people with ADHD. If you know what your daily tasks are, break them down into small, concrete steps. Then, you can capitalize on your busts of energy by getting them done!

Related: 5 Easy Steps to Organize Your Office

Finding your strengths

  • Make a list of your interests.
    What kinds of projects or assignments have you enjoyed in the past? What about that project interested you? The ADD Coaching Academy notes that some people with ADHD struggle with feeling disengaged and uninterested at work. If you can identify your passions, you can capitalize on what you’re already good at.

  • Ask a trusted friend to make a list of things they like about you.
    The things that make you likeable may be tied to ADHD. Many great characteristics, such as creativity and resourcefulness, are commonly associated with ADHD.

  • Create “motivational planks.”
    The YouTube channel “How to ADHD” describes living with ADHD as trying to cross a bridge. For most people, the bridge is made with planks of motivation to help you get across.

    But for people diagnosed with ADHD, those motivation planks are missing. Here’s a video on how to identify what motivates you and how to use your existing strengths to make “planks” and achieve your goals.

With these tips in mind, you can help set yourself up for success in the workplace. From mastering deadlines to navigating interactions with coworkers, you can know that you can succeed at work. Celebrate your unique and beautiful mind by finding ways to thrive in your work environment.

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