ADHD Ways to Stay On Track at the Office
It’s just another day at the office. This means if you have Adult ADHD, chances are you’re running around like your head is on fire.
Your boss is not-so-kindly inquiring about the report that you’ve been putting off for a week now. You haven’t even started it yet.
There’s an email from the accountant asking (yet again) for your receipts from the last business trip. You know it allows you to be reimbursed. So you drop what you’re doing to dig through the piles of paper on your desk because if you don’t get that reimbursement check, your car payment is going to be late (also, yet again).
Jake in sales stops by your office to chat about the Lakers. This reminded you about your son’s basketball game tonight, so you call home to ask him if he’s washed his uniform. Meanwhile, your phone is buzzing with a calendar notification for a meeting, but you didn’t document who the meeting was with or where it was happening, and you have no clue what it’s about.
The day is half over and you haven’t accomplished a single thing. One way to get a handle on how you spend time is to track your time and time log for a week.
For the neurotypical person, this scenario sounds like a complete nightmare. For someone with adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it’s just a typical Tuesday.
The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to help you stay on track at the office. Here are some of my favorites.
List Your Priorities (And Keep Them Visible)
Prioritizing your tasks is an absolute must for someone with ADHD. Without a list of what needs to be done, when, and in what order, you have no direction.
Start each day by making a list of what needs to be done. Be sure to allow for any meetings you have scheduled, phone calls you need to make, and daily housekeeping tasks like dealing with emails. Then, post it in a visible location, ideally in your direct line of sight. This not only helps you stay on task, but it also helps you easily see where you’re at in your day and what’s coming next.
As you complete your tasks, physically check them off. The satisfaction you get by marking them as done can’t be beaten!
Act on Tasks Immediately (or find a time to complete tasks daily)
For someone with ADHD, “I’ll do it later” is quite possibly the most dangerous phrase in existence. Because let’s be honest: You probably won’t.
Instead, make it a habit to assess if a task will take less than 2 minutes to complete, and if so, stack those tasks to make them easy to act on a task immediately upon receiving it.
This doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily going to drop everything to complete the task right now. It just means you need to do something with it now to remind you later. Whether you add it to your calendar, task list, send a follow-up email, or delegate it to someone else, you must note it so that it doesn’t get lost in the ether.
If it’s a small, easily completed task, take five minutes and deal with it now — because small, easily completed tasks have a way of multiplying into mountains when left for too long.
Create Systems for Reducing (Or Dealing With) Distractions
According to Workplace Trends, the typical person loses an average of 2.1 hours each day due to distractions in the workplace. Did you know the average time on task for mose people is only 11 minutes before getting distracted? Then, once off task, it takes about 25 minutes to get back on track after the disruption is over. It’s important to get organized at the office and the TSSI can help you discover your unique systems to get and stay organized.
For someone who’s more susceptible to distractions (hello, ADHD-ers), those numbers are probably a whole lot higher. This means that it’s important to reduce distractions wherever we can and have a plan for dealing with them when we can’t. Here are some quick tips for both.
- Close your office door, put up a Do Not Disturb sign on your cubicle, or retreat to an unused conference room when necessary.
- Use noise-canceling headphones if allowed.
- Give coworkers a heads-up when you’re working on an important task. “I’ll be unavailable until 3 p.m. Thanks for understanding!”
- Turn off unnecessary rings and dings. That email or text message will still be there when you’re finished doing what you need to do.
- Set time limits and work in time blocks that allow you to take regular breaks to reduce overwhelm.
- Tweak your schedule to minimize the number of people around you. See if you can come in an hour before everyone or stay an hour after.
If you have ADHD, procrastination might very well be your middle name.
Sometimes we procrastinate because we plain just don’t want to do something. But there are many other reasons things are back-burnered for too long. We don’t know how to start, we don’t think we have the time to finish, we’re not sure how to complete the task, we want to make sure it’s perfect…the list goes on and on.
To combat procrastination, break big tasks into manageable, bite-sized pieces. Then tackle each one. Assign each chunk a clear start and end date so that you get started. Then make progress each time you work so you stay on track. You might even consider sharing these dates with your manager or a colleague willing to hold you accountable for completing your work on time.
Tying a task to a reward is also a great way to stop procrastinating. Unpleasant tasks look a whole lot better when there’s something in it for you at the end!
Don’t Let Adult ADHD Create Workplace Woes!
Everyone has a bad day at the office once in a while, but if you’re dealing with ADHD, your “once in a while” occurs on a frequent basis. But it doesn’t have to be that way! By employing simple systems and strategies designed to help you stay on task, you can become the office MVP!
Stop struggling (personally or professionally) with ADHD-related issues! I can help you approach problems with curiosity, build your own awareness, apply scientific principles that are running behind the scenes, and experience deep insights. Let’s discuss what you have to gain from ADHD coaching. My calendar is open – book your FREE Discovery Call today.