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7 Strategies to Manage ADHD in the Workplace

Reading time | 3 mins

Your workplace plays an incredibly big role in your life. Many of us spend more time with our coworkers than with our own spouses!

Managing your ADHD symptoms in the workplace can definitely be a challenge, but it’s crucial for your career.

Here are some of the ways I’ve come to manage my ADHD symptoms in my workplace. These can be helpful, no matter your office configuration!

Know yourself... and your office

There are many office configurations. Each may have a different effect on you and your ADHD.

I work in an open-office configuration. I love this layout because of how social it is! I also hate how social it is!

An open office layout means there’s always chatter going on. Nothing triggers my ADHD distractedness like people socializing next to me.

I previously worked in a cubicle. It was much less social, which reduced distractions. But the lack of stimulation made me much more fidgety.

The solution? Know yourself and how your ADHD symptoms are triggered.

I’ve found that noise-canceling headphones are the best investment for social offices. Playing ambient or binaural sounds while I’m working helps drown out noises of temptation (a.k.a., people socializing). Some research even shows that high-frequency binaural sounds may help people to focus better.

Headphones also often silently convey that “I can’t socialize right now.” I’ve noticed people are much less likely to try and interrupt my workflow if I have headphones on and an “in the zone” look.

If you work in a cubicle, some stimulation may help you from becoming too fidgety and restless. Allow yourself scheduled talks or coffee breaks with your coworkers if your office is less chatty. That way you’ll get your socializing fix for the day.

Remove yourself from the distractions

Some days my office is just too loud. People meeting, telling jokes, gossiping — the works.

A loud office is the last thing I need when I’m reading a document or writing copy. I simply take a walk to remove myself from the chattiness.

Sometimes I go to a nearby park or coffee shop with my laptop. Sometimes I even work from home.

Some bosses are hesitant at first about letting you leave the office. Explain how much more productive you’ll be. They’ll likely be much more inclined to approve.

Stand up!

I work as a video editor. My ADHD can get pretty riled up when I sit razor focused for 10 or more hours a day staring at a screen.

I swear by a standing desk. Being able to stand while I’m at work does wonders for fidgeting. Some even have moving footrests. I find this works wonders for my ADHD restlessness.

A standing desk isn’t the end-all solution for weight loss and focus. But theoretically, using a standing desk may be healthier and more engaging than sitting in a chair all day long.

Turn it off

Dozens of emails from coworkers, managers, and interns pile up quickly and serve as major diversions to ADHD distractedness.

This tip can be a bit controversial, depending on your job. But I strongly recommend turning off all email and cellphone notifications (except for emergencies) for a few hours when you really need to buckle down and meet a deadline.

You’ll have less distractions buzzing across all of your digital platforms. You may be able to focus better!

Doodle

Doodling can be a slightly more acceptable form of fidgeting. And I find it actually helps me to focus more during long meetings and classes.

Don’t pull out your cellphone during your next long meeting. Try scribbling simple doodles in your notebook instead!

Blacklist websites

Sometimes the impulsive nature of ADHD makes it impossible to not open Facebook, Reddit, or whatever other website you’re hooked on. This can hurt productivity.

There’s no shame in blocking the IP address of certain websites that you don’t need for work. (Your IT department should be able to help you with that if you’re not sure how.)

You could also make an extremely complicated password for your logins and hide it.

My Facebook password is over 100 characters long. I have to open up an old folder in an old email that requires yet another password. These extra steps between me and my distraction makes me think twice about whether the interruption is really worth it.

Mind over matter

Every case of ADHD is unique. You know yourself better than anyone.

Continue to test strategies to find what works for your specific ADHD symptoms. Explore using Siri to set reminders. Write upcoming deadlines on Post-it notes. The list of options goes on.

It might be worth having an honest conversation with your manager to see if they can help. Your work’s human resources department might have some helpful resources, too.

There’ll be some challenges along the way. Actively working on them every day will help make you a better worker in the long run!

For more information on how to manage ADHD, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.

NPS-US-NP-00624 APRIL 2020