ADHD in Today’s Workplace: Tips to manage the tsunami and stay on top of your game!

Unrecognized ADHD is costing companies billions of dollars due to lost income, lost productivity, medical costs and retraining. Nearly 12 million people don't even know they have ADHD, so more than likely you are dealing with ADHD at work daily, and don't even know it. You may be seeing unexplained absences, difficulty carrying out assigned tasks, inconsistent performance, and poor follow through from someone who works for you. Or, MAYBE EVEN  YOU!

The onslaught of responsibilities, information, distractions and interruptions puts us as ADHD adults in a particularly vulnerable spot. Why? Because work life is becoming increasingly faster, and as competing demands escalate, tolerance levels for error are zero and expectations to execute efficiently on any tasks simultaneously are the norm. As a result, many of us are feeling out of control, stressed, scattered and anxious.  We are like magnets attracting information, new ideas, people, places, and endless possibilities but we have a hard time sticking to, following through, or completing one task so that this overwhelm is magnified

The work environment isn’t going to conform to our needs. We will each have to take responsibility in the midst of the storm.

So now what?  The answer is simple but not easy.  Each of us has to figure out what works for him/herself and create an individualized approach to effectively manage our time and tasks. Many of us don't realize that until we learn the skills to get and stay organized, the probability of not being overwhelmed or feeling in control is slim to none.

Five simple tips for managing the onslaught:

PAUSE - You literally need to PLAN (Pause) to PLAN: you can't plan on the fly. You need to stop amidst the external/internal  swirl of information to designate an appointment on your calendar for when you are going to plan -  and commit to it as if it was a meeting with your boss (except you are the boss).

PLAN - Routinely make/consolidate lists of what you have to do into ONE list so as not to have forty lists and sticky notes all over the place. From there you can more easily break things down into smaller steps and ask yourself “when am I going to do X, Y, or Z?” Now you see the whole landscape.

PRIORITIZE - Always note due dates and time sensitivities first when looking at an overwhelming To-Do list. It should then become clear as to where you will start and what steps you need to take next.

PRODUCE - Break down each task into small steps. Once you have mapped out all of the tasks, you can estimate each step to see cumulatively how long the project might take. Remember to add the X factor, (it will probably take at least 25% more time than you think you need). Another ongoing rule of thumb is before you leave one task, even if it isn’t completed, think of what the next step will be when you get back to it.

PERSIST - Never ever leave home without your calendar! It will become your best friend, and source of piece of mind, and most importantly, it will help you on the road to a productive, purposeful life. Remember, STOP, THINK and THINK THROUGH.

And what about electronics?
You may have noticed that I'm suggesting you use a paper calendar, not your iPhone.  There's a reason for this – what I see when I work with people who are really organizationally challenged is that they need to “go back to basics” first to learn how to manage their time, use a planner, break down ToDo lists and make decisions about when they are going to do what. Once the skills and new habits are in place, then they may begin to integrate electronic calendaring more successfully. If you love electronics, one way to get the “best of both worlds” is to print out your electronic calendar for the week and use it in a notebook as if it were a paper calendar. This tactile approach works well for many.

Nancy Snell, CEC, PCC is an ADHD/business productivity coach and seasoned professional helping distracted executives master the skills necessary to gain control of their schedules and manage everything that has to get done. or contact her at 212 517 6488 or [email protected]