Why ADHD Makes Traditional Jobs Harder

It would be great to have a completely flexible job that allows you to get things done on your own time and doesn't require you to meet certain productivity standards. But that's not the reality for most people, including those with ADHD.

That means your ADHD is, at least in some ways, forced to fit in with today's work culture. You need to show up on time, get the work done, meet your deadlines, and stay organized. There are meetings to attend, presentations to give, and junior employees to manage. When you're dealing with ADHD, however, it can be stressful to live up to all of those expectations.

Because of these challenges, some adults with ADHD flounder at work. They are 60% more likely to be fired from their jobs and three times as likely to quit impulsively. People with ADHD also change jobs more frequently, and studies suggest that they earn $4,300 less than their peers. In the U.S., the loss of workplace productivity due to ADHD also creates an economic burden that ranges from around $87 billion to $138 billion.

Forming good relationships with coworkers can be tough, too. The social stigma surrounding ADHD may make it harder to connect with colleagues, which can lead to stress and isolation at work.

How to Make ADHD Work for You at Work

If you're dealing with ADHD at work, you're not alone. Approximately 5% of adults have ADHD, and rates appear to be on the rise.

Despite the challenges that ADHD can create at work, there are a number of strategies you can use to help make your workday easier. Check out our top tips for dealing with ADHD in the workplace.

1. Find outlets for excess energy

In adults, ADHD hyperactivity often manifests as restlessness. If you're stuck in a long meeting or expected to work from a desk for hours at a time, you might start feeling fidgety or on edge. A few ways to release that excess energy so you can focus better at work include:

  • Taking frequent breaks to get up and move around.
  • Using a sit-stand desk or a chair designed for active sitting.
  • Taking notes or using an unobtrusive fidget tool in meetings.

2. Minimize distractions

We all daydream at work from time to time. But with ADHD, your inability to concentrate can become a real problem at work. Finding ways to stay focused is critical to keeping up with your responsibilities and being productive.

To get started, cut out unnecessary distractions that keep you from staying on track. Set up your workspace to be simple and clean, and block certain websites or internet access when you need to get work done. Use noise-canceling headphones when you need to focus, or turn off notifications from your phone or email for specific periods of time. Steps like these can help you maintain focus so you can get important work done.

3. Manage your time more effectively

Time management is one of the executive functions that many people with ADHD really struggle with. If it feels like you're always falling behind at work, try some of these methods to better manage your time:

  • Break large projects down into smaller tasks and assign due dates for each one.
  • Set alarms or notifications to work in short, focused sessions with breaks in between.
  • Leave yourself some extra time in your schedule rather than booking things back-to-back.
  • Ask a colleague to be your accountability partner who helps you follow through on work goals.

4. Collaborate with your employer

While there are a number of steps you can take on your own to be more productive at work, your ADHD isn't a struggle that you have to face alone. You can also approach your employer to ask for accommodations for your ADHD, which is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In fact, your employer may even help provide some of the suggestions listed above, like noise-canceling headphones or a sit-stand desk. As long as you can perform the essential functions of your job, you have the right to request these types of reasonable accommodations at work.

5. Get the right ADHD treatment

One of the best ways to limit the effect that your ADHD has on your work is to make sure you're receiving proper treatment. Done can help you find the most effective ADHD medication to help manage your symptoms on a day-to-day basis so you can focus on what needs to get done.

ADHD can certainly make work a bit more challenging, but that doesn't mean you can't be successful in your career. Use the tips above to take active steps to improve your work environment, become more productive as an employee, and enjoy increased satisfaction (and less stress) related to your work.