5 ways to be more productive with ADHD—and crush it at work!

With easy-to-follow productivity hacks plus tips and tricks, you can work around the challenges of living with ADHD, in the workplace

Modern life is inundated with distractions and the need to multi-task at every level. From multiple meetings on varying topics throughout the day, to managing mundane everyday tasks like making yourself a meal—there are so many tasks to accomplish and a million things vying for your focus. And things have only gotten crazier with remote working becoming the norm rather than the exception in the past few years.

Juggling these tasks on a daily basis can take your breath away. But it gets a level more complicated when you add a layer of neurodiversity to it. Typically, it can make finishing that task even more difficult when you have ADHD.

In recent times, awareness about ADHD, or Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is finally at the forefront. Usually first diagnosed in childhood, ADHD can show its long-term effects far into adulthood and manifests in ways of inability to pay attention for a period of time or control impulsive behavior.

Thankfully, with the spread of knowledge and awareness of ADHD, a separate genre of content, which speaks to neurodivergent folks has emerged on social networking platforms. This speaks about the impact of ADHD on the work and lives of “ADHDers", helping people living with the condition find solace in this new understanding of themselves.

In today's day and age, conscious of their condition, ADHDers are forever on the lookout for tricks, tips, and tech tools that can help them thrive at work and even in their personal lives. And that there are many! Read on!

An illustration of a man looking startled with a pencil in his hand. The word cloud around him reads Adult ADHDers might find it difficult to meet deadlines, attend long meetings, regulate emotions, reach office on time, pay attention to details
Often diagnosed in children, ADHD can long have an impact on adulthood and professional life

What is ADHD?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that first manifests in childhood. Children with ADHD may be overly active, and—of course—find it difficult to pay attention and control impulsive behavior.

ADHD is considered a chronic issue that can even be debilitating to those with a severe form of it. With studies emerging regularly on the condition, we now know it impacts the individual in many aspects, including academic and professional achievements, interpersonal relationships, and daily functioning (Harpin, 2005).

Symptoms of ADHD can oftentimes continue into adulthood. Given that the spread of awareness about the condition is very recent, many neurodivergent folks have received their ADHD diagnosis only in their adulthood.

These, of course, manifest themselves in their work lives as well!

Adult ADHD and work

ADHD often shows up as difficulty in remembering details, following instructions or conversations, and paying attention. And these symptoms can be disastrous for adults who are also working professionals. In fact, people living with ADHD may have such a tough time with tasks related to work, it's no surprise that a study from 2016 shows that 1 out of 3 persons diagnosed with ADHD is jobless at any time.

At work, Adult ADHDers might find it difficult to:

  • Complete work on time
  • Sit through long meetings
  • Keep emotions in check
  • Getting to work on time
  • Pay attention to details

The unfortunate consequences of this can often include a lack of job satisfaction, poor performance at work, or fewer successes professionally.

However, it's noteworthy to note that people living with ADHD have actually managed to find workarounds to the condition when it comes to their professional life.

Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D., a Silver Spring, Maryland, psychologist and the author of ADD In The Workplace says “I help (people) see that having ADHD is not a negative thing. A lot of entrepreneurs, entertainers, politicians, and business leaders have ADHD, including the CEO of JetBlue, David Neeleman. In fact, Neeleman invented e-tickets because he kept misplacing his airline tickets every time he flew. So he created a system that wouldn’t require paper tickets.”

The key to being successful at work is to capitalize on your strong areas. And people living with ADHD can leverage their out-of-the-box thinking and people skills while minimizing the negative impact of their chronic condition.

To that end, let’s look at some hacks and tools that ADHDers can benefit from at work.

A Sketchnote character holding a pen and notepad in her hand. A wordcloud around her reads Leverage software tools, organize work files, templatize tasks, prioritize your to-dos, use business templates
Using tips and tricks designed for ADHDers regularly can help you stay on track with tasks and complete them faster and better

Tips to stay on track for ADHDers

While ADHD poses major challenges in the workplace, behavior management strategies to minimize distractions and increase structure and organization can go a very long way! By mindfully integrating these organization tips into their day-to-day functioning, ADHDers can run tasks smoothly and feel a great sense of relief. Let’s go!

Use simple software tools to get ahead

You can now map your entire day, and even your months and years intricately on productivity apps. The functionality of these apps provides a visual representation of your To-Dos. Adding tasks on a Calendar helps you view what needs to be done on what day. Sliding a task between columns of a Kanban board is a striking visual to help you stay engaged with your tasks. Moreover, breaking huge tasks into subtasks and ticking them off one by one allows you to focus on smaller components of the tasks at a time.

Your ideal productivity software ally would need to be one that does not require you to go through hours-long training videos. Quick videos that guide you through their functionality and intuitive use will help you to get the most out of the software. It’s natural to get carried away by suave features, but they have little utility and a steep learning curve. You would want to avoid all that and simply want to get on with your work tasks.

A productivity app like Sketchnote.co has quick sign-ups and set-ups, with a few clicks, and intuitive tools to get started within a few minutes!

A place for everything; everything in its place!

Organizing files methodically can save you a lot of time and effort when looking for what you need. Categorizing your work files into dedicated folders or workspaces for that department or subject lets you know where to find them t a minute's notice.

Use software that also allows for quick global searches. When you need to look for a document or file quickly when you're unable to remember where you saved it, a quick search should come to your rescue. This helps save a lot of time and also minimizes distractions.

Templatize your tasks

Following a set procedure once a task is assigned to you can increase your productivity, especially if you live with ADHD. Delinate the task's details, expected time, and resources and set yourself up for success!

Running through the typical elements for each task helps one understand the demands of the task better. For example, here are a few details you may need to discern in order to be on top the task at the outset:

  • Day(s) assigned to the task
  • Estimated time
  • Relevant links (Including file links)
  • Priority
  • Team members involved
  • Contact information for external parties like vendors, etc.

Customize these details according to the requirements and your needs. Then, add them to your task card as soon as you find out details for the issue at hand so you don't need to go hunting for requirements later on.

On productivity apps, you can save these detail checkpoints as templates to be imported onto task cards as per your needs. Having these details noted down before starting a task helps you stay 10x more organized!

Label and prioritize your to-dos

Sorting your million tasks with labels helps cut through the clutter and get to exactly what you need to do, or are looking for. Especially at startups, everyone is doing a bit of everything. Identifying task categories with labels helps to stay on top of them. A major advantage of categorizing tasks by assigning labels, priorities, and completion status to them is the ability to apply a filter on your tasks!

Eliminate all the distractions on your to-do list by filtering them out based on labels assigned, priority, or status. This helps you focus only on the areas that you need to. Sketchnote takes this a step further by being able to apply filters on tables, and worksheets along with all the board view (Kanban, Calendar, Gantt, and List)

Use handy templates to get started

The Internet is replete with templates that you can apply to track every aspect of your task. You can easily find templates that are hyper-specific to your line of work on the web. Let the template-maker do the heavy lifting for you, while you take the time to maximize your focus on the tasks at hand. Save time—and headspace—to fix your energies on what matters most.

Right here on Sketchnote, you can find 150+ business and personal templates for specific needs that can help you get started within minutes. The topics of these templates include Product and Engineering, Marketing and sales, and much more! The best part: if you do not find a template that suits your exact needs, you can even create one to share with members of your organization. Take a sneak peek into Sketchnote's template store here!

Bonus tip

Save all related information in one place. You can do this by creating a database of related files along with their links, indexed on a virtual document. On Sketchnote, we prefer adding multiple views (including your brainstorming whiteboards, worksheets, and much more!) on a file.

Finally, don't forget that living with ADHD is a marathon, not a sprint. Sure, the condition can make you lose focus on tasks at hand but with the right tools and ample self-training, you can actually set out to conquer anything you put your mind to.

From creating your own mind dumps, to organizing your tasks for a few minutes before work hours begin, you can create your own routines to take your productivity to the next level. As with anything in life, remember, consistency is key and practice makes perfect!

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