How To Manage Your ADHD And Build A Successful Career : It’s often easy to understand what attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) looks like in children by identifying some of the common symptoms. But a good number of kids with ADHD will continue to have some of the symptoms as adults. For instance, in the United States, records show that about eight million adults still have ADHD symptoms.
The symptoms of the disorder in adults differ from childhood symptoms which most people can easily identify. But does ADHD affect employment? The short answer to this question is yes! ADHD symptoms can affect an adult’s ability to work well in the workplace. Studies have shown that college graduates with ADHD change their jobs frequently and most times, they do so impulsively. Also, they are most likely to miss work, get fired and have difficult relationships with their colleagues.
The symptoms of ADHD cause several challenges for adults in the workplace just the way they affect kids in school. But a good number of adults with the disorder have also had successful careers while others may have to deal with various challenges associated with the disorder such as distractibility, difficulty managing complex projects, and poor communication skills.
It’s possible for adults with ADHD to excel in the workplace as soon as they adapt to the symptoms of their disability and come up with coping skills. The truth is that having ADHD isn’t a negative thing; a good number of successful entertainers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and politicians have ADHD.
For instance, the CEO of JetBlue, David Neeleman actually has ADHD and was able to invent e-tickets because he found himself always misplacing his airline tickets whenever he flew. He wanted to fly without needing paper tickets which he often misplaced so, the long answer to the question is No!
ADHD and Work
It common to have individuals with ADHD in the workplace, but can they be regarded as people with a disability? The diagnosis of ADHD actually has long-term ramifications for those in school as well as in the workplace. But is ADHD considered a disability? According to the CDC, ADHD is considered a developmental disability and in the United States, it’s also considered a disability with strict stipulations. The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) considers an individual with a disability if:
- Others perceive them to have an impairment
- They possess mental or physical impairment that significantly limits at least one or more major activities.
- A record of this impairment exists.
This implies that under ADA, some individuals with ADHD are regarded as having a disability while some are not – depending on the circumstances, ADHD can be regarded as either a disability or not a disability.
When it comes to ADHD and work, the key to succeeding is to adapt to your workplace environment and leverage your strong points (such as people skills or creativity) and at the same time minimize the impacts of your weaknesses. By playing to your strength, you can identify how to become efficient in your job.
One of the best ways to help adults with ADHD cope with ADHD at work is to seek the help of a psychologist, social worker, career counsellor, or other health care workers who can counsel them properly.
With the right medication and treatment, adults with ADHD can do well in the workplace. However, the reason why they need the help of professionals is that each person with ADHD presents different challenges. So, a psychologist will help to consider your unique picture and help you with the right strategies, modifications and accommodations for the workplace.
What are some of the best jobs for people with ADHD? Well, the right answer to the question often depends on the person’s passions. Undoubtedly, there is never a one-size-fits-all career for individuals with ADHD, but there are several jobs that actually utilize and celebrate ADHD strengths more than others. Some of these jobs include:
- Teaching/Child care
- Daycare worker
- Copy editor
- Food industry worker
- Small business owner
- Emergency first-responders
- Software developer
Identifying the environments that play to your strengths is an important aspect of managing the symptoms of ADHD. Part of the environment is the people who associate with individuals with ADHD in the workplace.
How do you Handle an Employee with ADHD?
Employers who will be interacting with individuals with ADHD at work, need to know what they are dealing with. So, if you have an employee with ADHD, consider learning about ADHD and its symptoms.
Knowing some of the common symptoms of ADHD and recognizing them as part of the disorder and not as unproductivity or destructiveness in the workplace can help you. You also need to make reasonable workplace accommodations for employees with ADHD. To boost their performance, consider the tips below:
- You can allow the employee to resume earlier or later in the workplace when there is less noise and distraction.
- Observe when the employee is usually very alert and focused and allow them to work on more difficult tasks at such times.
- Always encourage the employees to create daily to-do lists and organize their workspace.
- Endeavour to reduce constant e-mail checking by the employee because this can distract them.
- Give the employee the liberty to observe scheduled breaks for getting fresh air while taking a walk.
- Perhaps keeping the lines of communication open and making the necessary adjustments is the most important accommodation employers can make.
How to Improve work Performance for People with ADHD
Here are some ADHD strategies for adults to help them cope with the symptoms in the workplace.
Many adults with ADHD may experience temper outbursts and impulsivity in the workplace. However, the strategies below can help:
- Endeavour to practice relaxation and meditation techniques
- To monitor your actions, consider using self-talk
- You should be prepared to experience issues that often lead to impulsive reactions, so you have to develop routines to help cope with such situations.
- Working with a coach will give you the chance to role-play the right responses to situations that you find frustrating.
It’s often challenging to remember deadlines set in the workplace and other responsibilities and this can affect your colleagues, especially while working as a team. But you can improve your memory with the tips below:
- Make notes of the things you want to do on sticky pads and place them in locations where you can easily see them.
- Consider using tape recording devices when attending meetings to help you take notes.
- Practice the use of a day planner and always have it with you to help you monitor tasks and events.
- If you have complicated tasks, then write checklists.
- Make use of a bulletin board or a computer reminder list to serve as memory triggers.
Adults with ADHD may have issues with external distractibility such as movements and noises within the office environment as well as internal distractibility such as daydreams. Such distractions often pose as the biggest challenge they face; however, the ADHD strategies for adults below may help reduce its impact:
- Drown out office noises by using classical music, “white noise” earphones and other sounds.
- Carry out one task at a time and avoid starting a new one until you have completed the current one.
- Consider routing phone calls directly to voicemail and only respond to such calls at a particular time every day.
- Request for a quiet cubicle or office. Alternatively, you can work when coworkers are not in the office or take work home.
- To avoid interruption of your current task, write down ideas on a journal or notebook.
- Try working in unused space like a conference room with fewer distractions.
- Create a list of ideas you get during meetings to enable you to communicate more effectively.
Adults with this symptom often perform well in jobs that enable them to move frequently such as sales. However, if you’re currently having a sedentary job, then the strategies below may help:
- Always move around, take a walk, exercise or simply run up and down the stairs.
- Consider taking intermittent breaks while working; visit the mailroom or do photocopying.
- Instead of going out to buy lunch, bring one to work so you can convert lunchtime to exercise time.
- Always take notes during meetings to prevent restlessness.
Although those diagnosed with ADHD are legally protected from all forms of workplace discrimination, telling your boss about your ADHD is not always a good idea. This is because not everyone understands ADHD and your employer might think that you’re just making excuses.
Even when your employer knows about ADHD, they may not have the resources and time to assist. So, if the risks of informing your employer are greater than the benefits, then consider keeping the information to yourself.
On the other hand, if you choose to tell your boss, then focus more on your challenges in the office instead of just talking about ADHD. Understanding your rights as an employee with ADHD will equip you when discussing with your employer about the accommodations you require to do your work well. A disclosure may also be necessary when you have failed to get accommodations that can help you perform your work better.
This will help your employer to understand some of the challenges you may be facing and come up with ways to improve your results. Remember to record how ADHD affects your performance in the workplace and seek the help of an ADHD coach to help you deal with possible workplace challenges.
The treatment of adults with ADHD involves education, skills training, medication and psychological counselling. When managing ADHD symptoms, the combination of these options will provide the most effective treatment. However, treatments can only help to manage the common symptoms, but they can’t cure the disorder. Remember, you may need some time to understand what works best for you.
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