Managing ADHD for Adults at Work or School
by The Mind Faculty
ADHD affects 8.4% of children and 2.4% of adults.
The difference in statistics may be explained by how our brain develops. Executive functioning is our ability to manage ourselves and our resources to achieve a goal. It is located in the prefrontal cortex, which is the last part of our brain to develop. This may explain why ADHD affects children more adults. However, this statistic may not capture the whole picture because many adults with ADHD may have learnt how to mask or cope with their symptoms.
ADHD in Adults
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in adults is often thought of as an executive function disorder. Executive functioning is the cognitive processes that help us to manage ourselves and our resources in pursuit of a particular goal.
Unsurprisingly, those with ADHD often struggle with poor attention, planning, time management, disorganisation and the inability to utilise feedback. Consequently, having ADHD can make it more challenging to perform at work or school.
For instance, adults with ADHD may struggle to focus and become easily distracted, causing them to overlook details such as important deadlines. They may also struggle with organisation, which can lead to problems with prioritising tasks, finishing what they have started and keeping track of their work progress. This can lead to feelings of overwhelm and burn out your ADHD is not managed properly.
If you have ADHD, you may also experience the following symptoms:
Restlessness or constant fidgeting.
You often misplace things.
Inattention or find it hard to stay focused
Therefore, it is important to manage your ADHD.
How to Manage Your ADHD
These behavioural techniques to support your executive functioning abilities and help you to manage your ADHD.
Breaking down huge chunks of work
Sometimes, the hardest part of a task is getting started. People with ADHD can struggle with knowing where and how to begin. This can make starting the task feel like a bigger mental effort than it actually is. Subsequently, people with ADHD often struggle with procrastination. In order to address this, you can break up larger projects into smaller tasks. E.g., instead of ‘writing an article on ADHD’ you can break it up into ‘Googling 10 sources for the article’, ‘writing the introduction’, ‘writing the first paragraph’ etc. This makes the task appear more manageable and help you to organise it better.
Use the timer method to break down your working hours.
This technique is similar to the previous one except you are breaking down your time instead of the task. If you’re at work, the thought of sitting at your desk for 8 hours can feel daunting. You can break this down into spurts of productivity and rest. Set your timer for 15 minutes (or how long you think you can focus for) and spend that 15 minutes working on one defined task. Keep your phone away from you. When the timer goes off, give yourself a 2 minute break that is guilt-free. If you are struggling to focus for 15 minutes, make the time you spend focusing shorter (even 5 minutes is better than nothing!). This can help you to manage any feelings of guilt you may have about scrolling through TikTok when you should be working. This can help you to better manage your ADHD as you learn how to rest and re-shift your attention. (The Pomodoro technique is a good way to structure this as well!)
Set a routine
With ADHD, you may find that your mind is often cluttered. Setting a routine can help you to manage this clutter. Set a time to wake up every morning. Use a planner to schedule your daily activities. People with ADHD often struggle with being forgetful and this can help you keep up with your daily obligation and appointment without feeling overwhelmed. Introducing this external structure in your day can help you to build structure in your mind to tackle regular chores with less effort and feeling less scattered.
Understand your limits
Learning to live with ADHD involves recognizing your limits and balancing your tasks throughout the day so you can better manage your time and mental capacity. Avoid arranging too many activities in a day because it can create unnecessary pressure, and you may feel guilty or that you have failed if you don’t achieve it all. Be kind to yourself.
You can minimise distraction in your external environment to help your mind better focus.
E.g., putting your phone on silent or wearing noise cancelling headphones.
Seeing A Professional
ADHD is more than just the inability to pay attention. Adults with ADHD often struggle with anxiety or depression as well because they may question why they are struggling at work or school compared to their peers or colleagues. If you feel that you have ADHD, please reach out to us (firstname.lastname@example.org). Our integrated team of practitioners has a holistic approach to managing ADHD that will help you to improve your performance at work and school.