Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) find themselves struggling the most in a working environment. If this is you, you might become overwhelmed by the workload, find yourself buried in to-do lists and live with permanent anxiety.
Adults with ADHD have admitted they constantly feel it’s impossible to catch up with the increasing workload. Another common confession is that important documents often go missing, meetings are hard to get to on time, and deadlines are met with difficulty.
Struggling to Get Ahead at Work
Do you get easily distracted and have trouble completing projects on time? Adults with ADHD report experiencing interpersonal conflict or being overlooked for promotions because of missed deadlines or participating in socially inappropriate behavior like interrupting colleagues.
When relationships at the office are strained this can cause a major amount of stress. Adults with ADHD often behave impulsively and this can cause frequent job changes. Of course, other ADHD symptoms also contribute to the stress at work like inappropriate communication skills, procrastination and inability to complete a complex project.
Unfortunately, many of these people have never even considered ADHD as a possible reason for their behavior. Because a diagnosis hasn’t been made, these people can remain in a state of prolonged frustration due to their circumstances. Once diagnosed with adult ADHD, it’s possible to learn steps to help process and cope with this disorder and its implications in the workplace.
Adult ADHD: Symptoms and Success Stories
If you are battling ADHD, there is hope. Adult ADHD is common, and many people manage their ADHD while having successful careers by learning to focus on their strengths like creativity while minimizing any weaknesses.
Adult ADHD Symptoms
What are the ADHD symptoms that can negatively impact productivity at work?
- External distractions like being surrounded by noises that can destroy concentration
- Internal distractibility like daydreaming can lead to procrastination
- Temper flares and other impulsive behavior
- Need for constant movement due to hyperactivity
- Incapable of remembering deadlines
- Poor short-term memory
- Getting bored quickly and checking out from the tasks at hand
- Poor time management
- Procrastination that can affect an entire team’s ability to deliver the project on time
- Finding it hard to listen to one’s co-workers
- Excessive talking
- Executive functioning failure
These behaviors can be traced back to issues with executive functioning attached to someone’s cognitive abilities in the prefrontal lobe. The brain is a dynamic organ and the executive functioning basically alerts someone to know when he is operating efficiently. In adults with ADHD, the prefrontal lobe is always under-aroused, making it hard to self-monitor. If you experience a fog of distraction, your executive functioning might be struggling to activate.
Adults with ADHD can excel at work, but often appear as disorganized or irresponsible to coworkers. This assumption is often incorrect. The person with ADHD can fluctuate tremendously in their work output. At times this person seems to achieve the miraculous and other times it seems this person has lost all motivation and disappeared.
Identifying a Solution to Workplace ADHD
Counseling and medication are often combined to help minimize behaviors related to adult ADHD.
A counselor helps adults with ADHD identify strategies that can minimize distractions at work. Options like coming to work early, having a private office space or working remotely can reduce distractions that arise from working in an environment with a lot of people.
When distraction is at an all-time high, finding an empty meeting space is paramount to completing tasks. If there is something urgent that needs to be done, not answering phone calls and putting a “do not disturb” on Skype might be the best solution to handle interruptions that will derail you.
Even clutter can cause a distraction. People with Adult ADHD often have cluttered workspaces. Removing objects from your desk’s surface and walls is a small way to keep you focused. If it’s possible to face a wall, this can keep you from being caught off guard by each person that walks past your desk.
Internal distractions can deteriorate the ability to concentrate. This can look like creative ideas that bombard your mind but aren’t related to your current task, suddenly remembering something you forgot and being swept up in anxiety and daydreaming to escape your boredom.
What Can You Do If You Have Adult ADHD?
It’s possible to fight these symptoms and to improve your workplace environment. You don’t have to feel trapped in a stalled career. Planning is pertinent to achieving results. Use a notebook to capture any ideas that flutter through your mind that way you can give them attention at the appropriate time.
Invest in systems that manage your time, track your meetings and send alerts as reminders. It might take a lot of energy to fight against your default behaviors, but the results will be worth it.
If boredom is a big issue, you will have to discover ways to make your work interesting and captivate your attention. If this doesn’t work, you might want to reconsider your field and find a career that keeps you engaged. You might also be bored because you aren’t fulfilling your God-given purpose.
Incorporate breaks or rewards into your day. If you work for one hour, take a 10-minute walk around your office. Do some stretches at your desk to keep the blood flowing and body agile. Structure is known to be beneficial for those with adult ADHD. Routine can become monotonous, but if you have some outline to your day you can become less restless as you tackle your priorities for the day.
Because impulsivity can be your downfall, prepare a response you can use when someone offers you a distraction despite the pile of work on your desk that needs to get accomplished by the end of the day. Refrain from saying ‘yes’ automatically without taking a hard look at your schedule and workload.
Setting an alert for when you need to walk or drive to a meeting can keep you from being late. This creates a buffer and allows times for those inevitable distractions. A counselor can offer you tools and techniques to improve productivity and minimize anxiety. Don’t let ADHD keep you from having a successful career.
Counselors as Coaches
Often people find having a coach useful as they learn to handle ADHD at work. Counselors become “coaches” for some people, creating the guidelines to structure the day. This is a great solution for those that still have a hard time implementing their own structure. People can report back to their counselor with what is working and what areas need more attention. Over the course of time, the adult will take the reigns from the coach and be able to self-monitor.
Learning to handle ADHD at work involves a little bit of trial-and-error. What works for one person, might not work for you. Sometimes it’s simple actions that create an efficient workday like having a standing desk or listening to classical music through noise-canceling headphones. Counseling helps to determine your individual needs so that they can be incorporated into a professional setting.
Disclosing ADHD to Employers
Many people don’t want to share their ADHD diagnosis at work because of fear of being viewed in a different light and either getting preferential treatment or being discriminated against. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (RA) prohibit discrimination against employees with disabilities. However, an adult with ADHD is not automatically covered by these protections.
If an employee wants to be covered by these acts, he must meet the four conditions and disclose the disorder to his employer for accommodation.
Times when you should disclose your disorder include:
- Losing your job is a constant fear and you might require the accommodations afforded by RA and ADA to succeed in the workplace.
- Your employer is in the process of firing you because of poor performance.
- If you struggling to cope with ADHD and medication isn’t working, then disclosing this disorder could decrease the mounting pressure and open a door for workplace support.
Deciding On a Career Move
You spend more time at your job than at your home. It’s important to have a job you can be fully engaged in, if possible. It’s common to see adults with ADHD in jobs that don’t align with their needs. It could be time to find a career that focuses on your strengths. The steps outlined below will help you analyze your current career and future possibilities.
- Identify your primary interests and corresponding job opportunities
- Analyze the skills and accomplishments that best reveal your aptitude
- Look at your academic history to uncover subjects that were the easiest at school and strengths that stood out
- Define your personality type
- Look at careers that are in line with your values and beliefs
- Enumerate all aptitudes. Is there proficiency in numerical or abstract reasoning, clerical speed, verbal reasoning, spelling, or language?
- Assess energy patterns. Do you have the right energy levels for the job at hand?
- Review past mistakes at your current and past places of employment to discover any patterns that could hinder your success.
Christian Counseling for Adult ADHD
You are fearfully and wonderfully made! You can still use ADHD for God’s glory and live an abundant life in Jesus. You can have control and satisfaction at your workplace. A Christian counselor will focus on talk therapy, spiritual solace, and increasing skill development to help you manage ADHD at work. You can have victory!
“Glasses”, Courtesy of Fischer Twins, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Disorganized”, Courtesy of Stevepb, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “List”, Courtesy of Hannah Olinger, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Adventure Time,” courtesy of Almos Bechtold, unsplash.com, CC0 License