Life at work can be difficult for many people with adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). You may find yourself feeling chronically disorganized and stressed out at the office. Here are 5 quick tips for managing your ADD challenges at work:
1. Manage your stress both in and out of work. Many of you know what I always say about stress: Stress Management = ADD Management! The more stressed out you are, the harder it is to be on time, stay organized, focus, and get along well with others.
Real Life Example: One client I work with locks herself in the ladies room and meditates when things get stressful at work.
2. Clearly separate your personal and professional time. When you mix your personal and professional lives, you open yourself up to more stress, and a lack of focus results. Stay in the present moment. Focus on personal matters at home, and leave professional matters at the office.
Real Life Example: A former client instructs his wife, kids, and friends NOT to email him at work. Instead, he directs them to his personal email account, which he only checks at home.
3. Take a lunch (or other break.) While it's tempting to work through lunch when the pressure is on, this isn't always the best choice for an adult with ADD. Because we have a low tolerance for frustration, we need to relax and recharge periodically during the day in order to function optimally.
Real Life Example: When I worked in a corporate office, I took advantage of my employer-sponsored gym membership and worked out during my lunch hour. This helped me burn off stress, and increased my energy for the afternoon.
Now that I work from home, I take my dogs for a long walk during my lunch break. (Yes, I'm talking about little Rascal and Trixie, who are now TV stars in their own right, thanks to The TODAY Show!)
4. Work with your natural energy flow. Pay attention to how you feel during the day, and you will soon discover that there are certain times in your day when you consistently feel alert, energized, and focused. Take advantage of these times! Use them to work on projects that require more brainpower or sustained focus.
Real Life Example: One client avoids scheduling meetings for 60 minutes after she eats lunch. For about one hour after eating, she feels tired and has a hard time concentrating. Rather than struggling to pay attention during these times, she does her best to avoid placing herself into a difficult situation.
5. Take 15 minutes every day to plan your time and to-dos. The key to time management (and project management) is planning in advance. To-do lists are essential, because they help you keep track of what's going on. Scheduling your day helps you feel more in control of your time, and helps you set realistic expectations for what you can accomplish.
Real Life Example: I recommend that EVERY adult with ADD take 15 minutes a day–every day–to review your to-do list and plan your day in advance. I do it, too!
How do you manage your ADD on the job?