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Top Ten ADHD Traps in the Workplace

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Advice for ADHD adults whose symptoms and behaviors impact their job performance and the workplace.

Advice for ADHD adults whose symptoms and behaviors impact their job performance and the workplace.How those adult ADHD symptoms - distractibility, impulsivity, hyperactivity, memory problems, and boredom - affect your job and what to do about them.

Many people with ADHD ask, "What are the best jobs for someone with ADHD?" If you talk to a number of ADHD experts, you will receive a jumble of responses. Some feel that entrepreneurial activities, allowing maximum freedom, are best for those with ADHD. Others will recommend stimulating, action-oriented jobs - pilot, fireman, rescue worker.

If you poll a large group of adults with ADHD who are successful in their work, however, you will discover that adults with ADHD are achieving positive results in a huge array of careers including teachers, computer scientists, attorneys, photojournalists, and almost any other type of career you can name.

A better question to ask, in seeking career advice, is what are the characteristics that make a particular job "ADD-friendly"? The truth is that almost every career path contains jobs which are very good for someone with ADHD, as well as those which could be disastrous for someone with ADHD. The key is to find or to create ADD-friendly jobs within your career track.

Step one is to find a career track which is a good match for you. To do this you need to consider your:

  • Interests
  • Personality type
  • Areas of strength
  • Areas of weakness
  • Level of training

Once you have honed in on a career track, and have received the type of training you need to pursue this career, then is the time to think about "ADHD Traps" at work, and how to minimize or avoid them in your job search. What are some of those typical traps? Not surprisingly, many of those "traps" read like a list of ADHD symptoms. Dealing with those potential traps requires careful consideration before you accept a job, but will also require that you become "ADD-savvy" once you are on the job. And remember, if at first you don't succeed, ..... Don't lose heart. You may need to go through a series of jobs, either within an organization, or among several organizations before you have learned enough about your own patterns and needs to make the very best choice.

The "Top Ten ADD Traps" at work and what to do about them:

Distractibility

Distractions can be "external" in the environment, or "internal", i.e., distracted by our own meandering train of thought. External distractions are rampant in the current open office environment, which is very ADHD-unfriendly. Here are a few ideas for coping with external distractions:

  1. Ask for flex-time in order to have some less-distracting time at work.
  2. Ask for permission to work at home part of the time.
  3. Use head phones or a white noise machine to muffle sounds.
  4. Face your desk away from the line of traffic.

Ask to use private offices or conference rooms for periods of time.

Internal distractions can be even tougher to avoid, but here are some tips.

  1. Write down your intrusive ideas so you can get back to task.
  2. Use a beeper to sound at regular intervals to remind you to come back "to task."
  3. Work at a particular task for briefer intervals, and shift to a new task when you find your attention wandering. This technique may work best at tasks which you find boring and repetitive.

Impulsivity

Impulsivity can take a number of forms at work - but the common denominator is lack of thought before action!

  1. If you impulsively commit to projects and then can't follow through, develop the habit of saying, "I'd like to, but let me check my schedule."
  2. If you are an impulsive job-hopper, catch yourself before you "take this job and shove it." It may help to talk your dissatisfactions over with a friend or spouse, and look for less drastic solutions.
  3. If you impulsively blurt out comments in meetings which you later regret, learn to take notes, write down what you're thinking of saying. This will give you time to consider - is this a good thing to say? What is the best way to say it?
  4. If you impulsively jump into complex projects without a plan, which can lead to enormous inefficiency and increased cost, team up with someone who is better at planning an organizing. That way your energy and enthusiasm can be put to positive use!