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What Accommodations Can Help Me Manage My ADHD at Work?

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Updated February 26, 2013

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What Accommodations Can Help Me Manage My ADHD at Work?

Modifications in the work environment can have a positive impact on work productivity and success for many adults with ADHD.

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Question: What Accommodations Can Help Me Manage My ADHD at Work?
"I have a very supportive boss who has been understanding about my ADHD and how it can affect me at work. Though I am managing, sometimes I feel like I am running at full speed, but just not getting all my work completed and am forgetting important things. I want to be proactive because I really like my job and know I can perform better. What are some accommodations that may help me at work?”
Answer:

Good for you that you have found a job you enjoy and a boss who is supportive. These two factors alone can make a huge difference in a person’s work satisfaction.

There are quite a few accommodations that you may find helpful in improving your work performance. Some you can do on your own. Others you may want to discuss with your boss to see what he or she is open to. Many people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have found that these modifications in their work environment can have a big impact on work productivity and success. Below is a list of possible work accommodations to consider.

Flex Time

Some people are more productive at particular times of day than others. Flex time allows a person to have more flexibility in the way they get their requisite hours in each week. It may be that getting to work in the morning is difficult for you because you are slow to wake and get moving in the morning. Or it may be that you like coming in earlier when you feel more focused and energetic. There may also be particular times of day when the distractions and interruptions from co-workers are minimal. Sort out what works best for you and discuss options with your boss.

Limiting Distractions

If you work at a job with a desk, it is often helpful to have an individual office, as opposed to a shared office or cubicle area. An individual office helps reduce outside distractions of workers walking by, talking, or interrupting your work.

On the other hand, some people with ADHD benefit from a little outside noise that provides stimulation. White noise or headphones are often helpful in providing this, while also limiting outside distractions that may interrupt work.

It can also help to structure your day by having certain set times where you turn off the ringer on your phone, turn on the answering machine, don’t check email, close the door, and devote a specific amount of time to work without interruptions.

Tape Recorders/Written Summaries for Meetings

If you find that you are having trouble maintaining your focus in work meetings, as well as remembering pertinent points made in these meetings, ask your employer if they will allow you to tape-record meetings.

Asking the person in charge of the meeting for a written summary with the most important messages organized in bullet points can also be a big help. This way, you can spend time focusing on the content of the meeting, rather than getting sidetracked by trying to prioritize, organize, remember, and write down notes – all of which can be challenging for a person with ADHD.

Break Projects Down into Sections

Break large work projects down into smaller projects, and set deadlines for completing each smaller goal. Your boss may even be open to helping you with this. Set these smaller goals together. Identify the steps you will need to take to complete each goal. Get confirmation from your boss that your plan is on target. Then meet with him or her on a regular basis to review progress on each small goal. This helps to create even more accountability and allows for more frequent feedback and tracking of your progress.

Assistive Tools and Technology

There are lots of tools you can use to help organize your day, keep you on time and on track, and assist you in reading or writing tasks. Try them out and see what works best for you:
  • Personal digital assistants (PDAs)
  • Day planners
  • Wall calendars
  • Timers and alarms
  • Color-coded systems to help remember important information or to aid in filing
  • Spell-check and grammar-check computer software
  • Software that helps a worker overcome any reading and writing problems, such as speech recognition software to enter text or data into electronic files

Schedule Regular Breaks During the Day

If you tend to feel antsy or find that you are losing focus after a period of time, it is often helpful to take a break that allows for physical movement. Even better – schedule regular break periods during the day.

Exercise has also been found to be very effective in improving focus and elevating moods, so make sure you are exercising on a regular basis, as well. Some people find that a jog in the morning or a workout during their lunch break increases work productivity.

Read More:

Sources:

J. Russell Ramsay, Ph.D. Nonmedication Treatments for Adult ADHD: Evaluating Impact on Daily Functioning and Well-Being. American Psychological Association. Washington, D.C. 2010.

Lenard Adler, M.D. Scattered Minds: Hope and Help for Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Penguin Group. 2006.

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