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29 Ways To Manage Your ADHD At Work

Managing ADHD symptoms at work can be incredibly difficult.

So we asked the Social Community and reached out to experts for their advice for staying productive and distraction-free on the job.

We spoke to Dr. David Goodman, Assistant Professor at John Hopkins and director of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Center of Maryland, Russell Barkley, Ph.D., ADHD expert and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Medical University of South Carolina, and J. Russ Ramsay, Ph.D, Co-Director of the Adult ADHD Treatment and Research Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

1. Keep a sand timer in your room if you’re constantly running late because you lose track of time.

Keep a sand timer in your room if you're constantly running late because you lose track of time.

People with ADHD have difficulty judging the passage of time, says Goodman, which leads to underestimating how long it takes to do something. The sand timer is a very conceptual, visual way to literally see time passing right in front of you.

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2. Sort your email inbox so it prioritizes important unread emails at the top, and includes everything else below.enhanced-7449-1449676594-15

 

“If you tend to forget to respond to emails, you need to sort out the important work-related ones so they come into your inbox first,” says Ramsay. Find out how to sort your Gmail here.

3. Use an old-school cooking timer instead of your phone, which is full of distractions.

Use an old-school cooking timer instead of your phone, which is full of distractions.

 Just make sure it’s not obnoxiously loud.

 

4. Keep a new to-do list on your desk every day.

Keep a new to-do list on your desk every day.

“Any time someone tells you to do something, you agree to do something, or you have an immediate deadline, write it down on a new to-do list for that day,” says Ramsay. Then put it on your desk or tape it to your computer so it’s always in front of your face as a constant reminder of what you still need to get done.

5. Use sensory cues to remind you to focus if you tend to ~space out~.

Recognize your degree of distractibility, Goodman says — whether it’s every 10, 15, 30 minutes you tend to zone out. Make sure you have a cue, such as a vibration on your phone or watch, or a pop-up on the computer that can re-orient you and remind you to focus.

6. If you work in an office, try to make sure your desk isn’t in a high-traffic area.

If you work in an office, try to make sure your desk isn't in a high-traffic area.

“If you’re in an open office and your desk is in a high traffic area, you’ll constantly get distracted by people moving around you,” Goodman says. If you have the option, chose a corner desk where traffic is diminished. Otherwise, you can try to make a temporary cubicle around your desk to reduce the amount of sound and visuals.

7. Unload all your distracting thoughts, ideas, or questions onto paper.

Unload all your distracting thoughts, ideas, or questions onto paper.

The ADHD mind’s working memory is weak, which means a person often forgets what they’re doing or thinking. Writing things down in a ‘dump list’ is a way to externalize all those overwhelming thoughts swirling around in your head before they’re gone and you’ve moved on to the next thing, says Ramsay.

8. And keep it all in the same notebook.

And keep it all in the same notebook.

“I keep a little spiral notebook with me at all times. If there’s something I need to get done, I’ll write it down so I don’t forget to go back to it. That notebook is full of song lyrics, vocabulary, movies I want to watch, grocery lists, etc. I feel lost without it.”

 

9. Prioritize your tasks according to importance and urgency.

Prioritize your tasks according to importance and urgency.

People with ADHD often mis-prioritize and end up leaving important stuff for the last-minute, says Goodman. One way to help yourself prioritize is to create your own chart with four columns: the task, importance/urgency, time allocation, and where it fits in your daily schedule. “If you slot your tasks by importance into a schedule with a reasonable timeframe, you’ll be more likely to commit,” says Ramsay.

 

10. If you’re avoiding a task, find out how you can make the first step as easy as possible, then do it.

If you're avoiding a task, find out how you can make the first step as easy as possible, then do it.

“Try to identify what you’re avoiding and how to make it into an action, or several small actions that I know I can do,” Ramsay says. If a goal is too big, you’ll give up easily. But breaking it down into actionable tasks, such as responding to just three emails or downloading a file, will get you started and more likely to work on something.

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