Keeping a Job with Attention Deficit Disorder
Your workspace should be conducive to helping you work effectively. Keep things around you that you enjoy. Some adults with Attention Deficit Disorder focus best when they have something to do with their hands to help focus their attention. Fidget toys that bend, stretch, or can be shaped, like putty, are helpful. Keep your office at the level of orderliness where you are most comfortable, as long as that is within the office norms. Some people with ADD/ADHD do best in quiet settings, while others like a bit of noise. If you can choose where you work look for the noise level that you need. Computers are a large part of the workplace. Use yours according to the terms of service of your employer. In general, use the computer only for work related tasks. Don’t surf the net at work.
Early in the day, set aside time for reflection. Visualize what your day will look like. What do you need to do? Plan for your meetings. What should you bring? See yourself maintaining positive interactions with peers. How does that look? Arrive at work before other people, so that your reflections won’t be interrupted. Do this at the beginning of each day, every day. At the end of the day, take some time to remember what happened. What went well? If you made mistakes, how could you correct them? Think about what you will need to do the next day.
Get your organizational pieces lined up. Keep track of what is going on. Ask people not to stop you and give you information. It is helpful if the person e-mails the information to you instead. Maintain a to-do list and update it as the day goes by. You should schedule jobs to a calendar. Review and update your priorities at least one time per day. Make a monthly schedule of reports that need to be turned in and chores that must be finished. Files are important. Use both physical and computer files to keep your work organized. Organization makes it easier to do your work and harder to procrastinate. When you do find yourself procrastinating, ask yourself, “What am I avoiding by not doing this work, or what am I getting?” If you can have an assistant to help keep track of details, teach him what you expect and let him handle those chores that have been keeping you from being totally effective.
You can consider meetings as a torture chamber or as an opportunity to find out information. Going into a meeting with your physical needs met can allow you to be more relaxed. Continue that low-stress theme with fidgets that are acceptable in a meeting setting. Your meeting notes should be complete. If you must get supplemental notes from a co-worker, do so. Complete notes include all dates that affect your directly or indirectly. If you are expected to work on a project, get details. Type your notes into an e-mail and send them to yourself. Then, you can access your notes from any computer that is connected to the net.
Office relationships can be tricky, but they are necessary. Cultivate a co-worker to be your ally. This person must feel free to tell you if you are making mistakes. Constructive criticism can be helpful. You should be able to ask this person questions. Of course, relationships have give and take. It’s a two-way street. Your ally may need your help, and you need to be available to help with whatever is needed. Don’t promise what you cannot deliver. Find ways to benefit your co-workers and your company. Borrowing and lending can be dangerous to your long-term job prospects and should be done sparingly.
For some people with ADD/ADHD anger and speaking in haste are trademark activities. Others have learned that it is best to only say positive remarks about peers and the company. If you are angry, hold your temper, using a strategy that works for you. Cool down and make a plan to discuss the problem. Use “I” statements, so that the colleague will not feel defensive. Humor can defuse a tense situation. If you become totally angry, excuse yourself, and go find a quiet place to calm down. Put some time between yourself and your anger before talking about the situation.
Don’t jeopardize that job that you love! People with Attention Deficit Disorder cannot afford to just drift through the work day. You need to be proactive and take control of your work environment. Reflect on your upcoming day and what must be completed. Take charge of your atmosphere, organization, behavior in meetings, and your work place relationships.
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