How to keep a job with ADHD

How to keep a job with ADHD

For adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), finding and maintaining a job can be a difficult challenge. Those struggling with ADHD frequently experience symptoms such as impulsiveness and forgetfulness, and can also find it difficult to pick up on social cues in busy social settings like offices or factory floors. This can lead to relationship issues with managers and colleagues which, as a result, can massively impact their performance at work. Thankfully, there are several tried and tested methods that you can use to help develop your performance at work and build better relationships with those around you. Here are some of the very best.

Minimise distractions and get organised

For adults with ADHD, focusing is hard. It’s one of the main reasons people with the condition lose out on jobs in the first place and can be a difficult thing to overcome. It is possible, though. Start by minimising distractions in your area. Work somewhere quiet that has an element of privacy, like a cubicle or corner table. It might also be a good idea to invest in some noise cancelling headphones to help drown out some of that office buzz that can cause anxiety and make your mind wander. Something else that’s never really given any attention is lighting. Lighting is important for those suffering from ADHD. Odd lighting that casts shadows can be extremely distracting and off-putting, so try to sit somewhere where the lights work consistently.

If the distractions at work are simply too much, it might be an idea to look at your working hours. Most workplaces buzz at 9am or 5pm when people are coming and going – this is the time most distractions and noise are usually present. If possible, try and shift your hours so you arrive earlier and leave earlier (or vice versa) to avoid the commotion.

Next up is organisation. Forgetfulness is a key trait among those with ADHD, so keeping your workspace clean and tidy is an absolute must. File documents, buy boxes to keep items in, and utilise drawers effectively with clear labels. When things get tough, these are the small little things that will get you back on track.

Don’t hide ADHD, tell people about it

Most sufferers don’t like to shout it from the rooftops, but you shouldn’t be afraid to tell close colleagues that you have ADHD. There’s no rule that says you have to declare it to your employer either, but it’s definitely a good idea. Just because someone has ADHD doesn’t mean they aren’t capable; they could be the most talented person in the room. If anything, a good boss will be willing to work on things like deadlines and processes with you to help you achieve your potential in the role. Telling management about your condition will also help them understand any struggles you might encounter from day to day, relieving you of any guilt or bad feelings if you have an off day.

Your co-workers are there to help too. In particular, those you work with are going to want to know what they can or cannot expect from you. It’s always best to be open about your limitations or what you feel comfortable with so you can fulfil your potential as part of a proactive team. They may not understand ADHD so you might have to educate them. You may even ask them to help you remember things and put you on track when your day takes a wrong turn. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and most colleagues will be more than willing to remind you when something’s due or when you haven’t done something you were asked.

Having ADHD doesn’t mean you can’t have a long and successful career. You might find little tricks that help your memory and ability to stay focused, and the more you practice them and utilise them, the better it will get. Don’t be offended if someone acts frustrated about your condition; they most likely don’t understand it. Take the time to educate them on ADHD and how it affects you, and relationships, on the whole, will begin to improve. The most important thing to do is to take ownership of your mistakes and be open and transparent. Rather than using ADHD as an excuse, accept responsibility and apologise, then explain why you missed the deadline or forgot to fulfil a promise. That way you’ll gain respect as a colleague, and hopefully, enlighten those around you about what working with ADHD is really like.