Strategies for Living and Working Well with ADHD
More than three-fourths of adults who had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as children, still experience symptoms—and no matter the setting, it’s a challenge every day.
Starting from childhood, it’s critical for school counselors to use evidence-based interventions to help students with ADHD stay organized and manage their time. And those skills can translate into the workplace as adults. According to Counseling@NYU, which offers an online master’s in school counseling from NYU Steinhardt, small steps to manage a child’s time in the classroom efficiently and minimize distractions can make a big difference in the long run.
As an adult, you can use similar practical tactics that school counselors would use to manage your ADHD. You might not struggle with all these issues, and all these solutions may not work for you, but these tips may help boost your productivity at work.
- Start work earlier or stay later when it’s quieter.
- Keep your desk clear of clutter.
- Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your office. If you don’t have an office, find an empty office or a conference room.
- Position your desk away from office traffic.
- Ask if you can work from home on certain days.
- Use noise-canceling headphones or listen to music (this can help the brain concentrate).
ADHD means you may take longer to finish projects. So, it’s important to get help staying on track.
- Bundle tasks. If you can, answer your phone, check your email and scan Twitter only at set times of the day. Otherwise, let your calls go to voicemail and stay off the Internet.
- Clock yourself. Use an alarm or your phone to keep from veering off to another task. prematurely. A beeper also can be handy if you’re prone to hyper-focus and lose track of time.
- Enlist your supervisor. Your boss may be able to help you stay on top of your deadlines with reminders and regular feedback.
If you’re prone to hyperactivity, you already know that moving any part of your body can bring relief. Turns out even tapping your fingers can help raise levels of dopamine and norepinephrine brain chemicals that help sharpen focus and attention, so:
- Move around. If you’re restless, find an appropriate excuse to get up and walk. Grab a coffee from the cafe. Go to the bathroom. Take the stairs. Chat with a coworker down the hall.
- Fidget. If you’re trapped at your desk or at a meeting, look for unobtrusive ways to release physical tension. You can discreetly wiggle your toes, tap your pen on your thighs, doodle, take sips of a drink or squeeze a stress ball.
- Work out. Exercise can be a powerful antidote for hyperactivity. Just pick something you enjoy—whether it’s yoga, walking, biking or team sports—and get moving.
Don’t Forget Self-Care
It’s a myth that you can treat ADHD only with medications or professional therapy. Self-help strategies can also help corral your attention and energies, so you can focus and be productive. Here are some ways to help yourself:
- Get out. Being outdoors, especially when the sun’s out, can boost your mood.
- Eat right. Fuel your body with lean proteins, whole grains and vegetables.
- Sleep well. Make getting quality shut-eye a priority. Avoid caffeine in the evenings, put away the phone and stick to a restful bedtime routine.
- Chill out. Destress your mind and body with meditation, yoga, tai chi or mindful walking.
ADHD may be a well-known condition, but it’s often misunderstood. You may help yourself if you educate your loved ones and coworkers about how it affects your life and job. Then make these productivity and self-help tips your habits, and you might just turn chaos into calm.
Alexis Anderson is a Digital PR Coordinator covering K-12 education at 2U, Inc. Alexis supports outreach for their school counseling, teaching, mental health and occupational therapy programs.