Since the Covid-19 Pandemic, many people are now working at home either all the time or more often than in the past. But what is working at home like for people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? While some people prefer it, there are definitely those who find it challenging to maintain high enough levels of focus and productivity. Here are some ideas for working productively from home for adults with ADHD.
Consider Your Workspace
If possible, you need a designated, quiet, clutter-free workspace. Make sure your workspace is set up in a way that won’t make you physically uncomfortable. You need to invest in a comfortable chair and a decent desk that you enjoy working at. If you get distracted by the noise created by others in your household, consider wearing earplugs. Try to have clear boundaries that are respected by other family members; it’s important that they know not to disturb you during your working hours.
Improve Your Focus
Remember that adult ADHD can make it difficult to focus on one task for a long time. Here are four suggestions to help with this:
- Prioritise your most important tasks and get these done first. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the number of tasks you have to do, write them all down and choose which ones to prioritise. This is one way to set your daily intentions without trying to remember too much in your head.
- Write a list of a few tasks you need to do and if your mind starts wandering, allow yourself to change the task and return to it later on.
- If your work allows, try to work at the time of day when you feel the most productive. This is the time when you need to totally isolate yourself from all distractions and dedicate these hours to work. This very much depends on the nature of your work and the flexibility afforded to you by your employer.
- The Pomodoro technique is a great way to maintain productivity. This method uses a timer to break down work into intervals, usually 25 minutes in length, separated by short five minute breaks. Each interval is known as a Pomodoro from the Italian word for ‘tomato’. Pomodoro Technique May Aid Folks With ADHD explains how this technique may benefit people with ADHD.
Hyperfocus is a tendency for people with ADHD to intently focus on one thing for a long time because they are so engrossed in it. While hyperfocus can be amazing, when you have a tight deadline looming, try not to let it become a habit. It’s not healthy if you are so focused on your work that you forget to eat and drink. This is why it’s important to set a schedule that includes breaks and stick to it.
Work Regular Hours
It can be tempting to do extra work at home if you don’t have to leave your desk at a set time and you can spend longer finishing off. Don’t do it! Once your set work time is up, you need to leave your desk until it’s time to start again. You also don’t want to be in a situation where it becomes the expectation that you will be working late or during non-standard hours.
Stick To A Routine
It’s easier when working alone at home to lose track of your regular schedule. It might not come naturally for an adult with ADHD to take a lunch break or stop at a certain time. It’s important to have a timetable and keep to it. By sticking to a consistent routine and workspace, your brain and your body learn to sync together to make you as productive as possible.
If time is a problem, there are plenty of time management apps that can help with this or you can invest in a timer to go on your desk. By using a timer you can see how long you have until your next break. If you find yourself wasting working time on home distractions then time your breaks too.
Avoid Internet Rabbit Holes
If you work on a computer all day, it’s very easy to get distracted by websites or social media. It’s often not intentional and may be prompted by researching something work-related. Once you realise you are doing this, it’s important to stop and get back to your work. If you find it hard to tear yourself away from such distractions, you may want to save the web pages you are looking at or screenshot something on your phone as a reminder to return to it later. Leaving your phone in another room may help too. Try to limit social media activity to a time and location away from your desk and outside of work hours.
Take Regular Breaks
Make sure you get a change of scene from time to time and take regular breaks. A daily exercise break or walk is a great way to recharge an ADHD brain. Just remember that you are still working so don’t allow yourself to spend your breaks watching TV. Also, don’t get distracted by household chores or before you know it, your ten-minute break will have turned into an hour.
If you find your mind wandering you’re not getting through what you should, find someone you can be accountable to, preferably someone you work with. Contact them regularly to tell them what you will complete when and ask them to follow up to make sure you’ve done it. Just because you are working alone, doesn’t mean you should lose the support of the team.
Keep The Team Going
If you miss working alongside colleagues, find a way to keep them in your daily work life. You may benefit from a morning call where you can share your work plans for the day; this will boost your motivation levels. If you’re a sociable person, you may like to take a virtual lunch break with one or two colleagues, replicating the kind of break you’d have in the workplace. This is also really helpful if you are someone who may skip breaks if they don’t schedule them in.
Monitor your medication
If you take ADHD medication, monitor if its effects change when you work at home. If you think you may need to alter the dosage, make sure you follow professional guidance and make an appointment to see someone if necessary.
Take time off
Schedule your time off in the same way that you would usually do and if you’re ill, remember it’s still okay to take a sick day – you’re not expected to work from your bed just because you’re at home.
Listen to your brain
Be patient with yourself and listen to what your brain is telling you. If you’re struggling, or if you find your ADHD symptoms get worse, tell your employer and seek professional help.
Some adults with ADHD find working from home pretty tough. They find they work best with a set schedule, external prompts and deadlines. They might miss the usual structure of their daily working lives, the workplace bustle and human interaction. Some people prefer a clear distinction between home and the workplace and simply can’t concentrate in the same way at home.
Remember, you’re not alone. Plenty of other people are going through this too and if you’re finding certain aspects of working from home difficult, someone else will be too. Reach out to people and see if you can support each other.
At The ADHD Centre, we offer ADHD assessments and evidence-based treatment packages for both children and adults. Contact us on 0800 061 4276 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org