ADHD at work

ADHD Simulation – Listening With Distractions

A while back I shared the PBS site that simulates the challenge of reading as an ADHDer.  If you haven’t given it a whirl, I recommend you do.  The experience might give you some insight into why I have a million books (and love them all quite dearly, mind you), but haven’t been able to finish hardly any of them.

Below is the link to another ADHD simulation, again – courtesy of PBS.  This one tests your ability to focus on auditory cues while burdened with distractions.  Honestly, my Adderall should be working (unless it’s sugar pills again…which, you know, it could be) and I gave it a solid effort. After making it through the first two instructions without losing focus, I was just about to pat myself on the back…then I lost all hope.

Granted, it’s probably like a double-whammy, actually having ADHD and then partaking in a simulator that makes you feel like you have ADHD, so my chances of actually making it through were probably slim anyway.

The thing is, people with ADD / ADHD are usually hypersensitive to extraneous noises (and actually most extraneous factors in general), so we literally hear more than most people.  Yeah, I know, here I am over here complaining about having super powers…  I mean, super hearing can be a good thing, but it can also be super distracting.

When I can, I use a white noise machine or headphones to help drown out distracting noises.  Some people prefer earplugs, but I have small ears and it’s hard to find a pair that fits.  Also, I think they’re kinda gross and they usually hurt me after a while.

This is one of those symptoms that can be alleviated in the workplace by a simple accommodation like providing the employee a small office instead of a cube or giving them the ability to telecommute.  In school, some students are given their own quiet room to take their tests in or they’re allowed to go to the library during individual study time.

There are solutions out there.  It’s just a matter of figuring out what works for you.  Which, I’ll admit, can be quite daunting.  But!  Don’t give up, guys.  Remember that when you ARE in an environment that suits your brain style, you tend to excel (aka kick butt).  Be patient and creative…and you’ll get there.

If you can listen and pay attention just fine?  Well, good for you…must be nice.  Just kidding (mostly)!  Make sure your volume’s turned up (put your headphones on for the best experience) and click below to get an idea what it’s like to have a party in your head while trying to pay attention.

ADHD listening experience

Friday Find: Mead Cambridge Limited Notebooks

As I mentioned in my earlier post, a lot of ADHD adults struggle with conventional office jobs.  While I have hopes that continued research and understanding will improve these issues, the changes will not happen overnight.

Don’t be discouraged by these challenges.  In my very first post, I discussed some of the positive qualities of ADHDers and I believe these traits can help any ADHDer survive (even excel) in an office environment.  Determination, creativity, intelligence, resilience and courage really can help you conquer just about any situation.  Besides, ADHD or not, it’s your responsibility to do the best with what you’ve got.

There are plenty of solutions out there to help you cope, kind of like accommodations you can implement yourself.  Remember, you’re not the only one out there who thinks like you do. Others have gone before you and you can use their trial and error to light your own way.  I’ve done a ton of research and personal experiments on dealing with ADHD in the workplace (well, and life in general) and I’ve found some shareworthy solutions along the way.  It would be selfish of me not to share these with you guys.

Hence, the Friday Find, a feature I will post regularly (or at least somewhat regularly) where I’ll share some of these solutions (products, ideas, tips, etc.) with you.  With the workplace theme fresh on our minds, I’ll kick off the first Friday Find with some cool planner notebooks that I’ve been using for years.  Without further adieu:

Meeting Notebook

This handy, little guy is great for meetings (or general project planning).  There are sections for the date, the topic, meeting objectives, attendees, notes and action items.  Each action item includes a little line to the left, where I’m guessing you’re supposed to indicate the person it’s been assigned to, and a checkbox to the right, so you can check ’em off as you complete them.

Mead Cambridge Limited Meeting Planner Notebook

Action Planner Business Notebook

This one’s a little more free-form, which I kind of like.  It has the header section, which includes a page section (I’ll be honest, not entirely sure what this field is for, except maybe for some kind of numerical tracking for a notebook that’s handling multiple projects at one time) and date section and several customizable fields, the notes section, for whatever pops into your head during planning (or in a meeting) and then a numbered section, which can be used for all sorts of things from action items to brainstorming topics…and everything in between.

Mead Cambridge Limited Action Planner Business NotebookThere are a lot of other notebooks out there that are similar to these two,  but these two have been my favorites.  You definitely have to find what works for you, though.  That said, I had no idea these existed and I haven’t looked back since I discovered them.  Sure, there are times, when I’m brainstorming or taking notes, that a standard notebook works, but for project management and organization, I will love these forever.  The possibilities are endless, my friends!  Since reviewing their product information for this post, even I’m flooded with new ideas for how to use them.

These kinds of tools simply give you a starting point for organization when approaching a project.  For a lot of us, that’s really all we need.  We have a lot of great ideas; we just need a little help keeping them in order sometimes.

(As a side note, I promise to do my best to post the Friday Finds a little earlier in the day in the future.  Otherwise, I might as well just call them Saturday Solutions instead.)

ADHD in the Workplace Research

The Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) is conducting an online (short) survey about ADHD issues in the workplace, so I thought I’d share.  They’re hoping to get 1,000 completed surveys by June, but the more we can submit, the better.  The ADDA will use the results to create an ADHD awareness publicity campaign to help educate the general public and employers about potential ADHD workplace issues and hopefully, potential solutions.  

The survey is geared toward adults with ADHD that are (or have been) employed.  I urge you guys to take a few minutes to complete it.  I promise it won’t take long.  This is important stuff.  The more completed surveys, the better the data.  You can read a little more about the survey in this ADHD Coaches Organization Circle or jump right to the survey here.

While accommodations for those with ADD / ADHD do exist, those waters are quite murky to try and navigate.  The stigma of ADHD can complicate things in the workplace, too.  Should you disclose your diagnosis to your employer or not?  If so, when is the appropriate time?

There are no black and white answers to these questions.  Each person (and each situation) deserves individual consideration.  Still, these are questions I’ve certainly asked myself.  And I’ve often been intimidated by the wealth of information that I’ve uncovered.

These are conversations we need to be having.  Research shows (see the infographic below) that workplace issues are more common for us ADHDers than they are for our non-ADHD counterparts.  This article on the UMASS study shows that a significantly higher percentage of adults with ADHD have a work history tainted by behavioral issues, boredom, firings, hostility and disciplinary actions.  Perhaps we can curb some of these issues through education, awareness, open communication and more easily attained accommodations…when needed.

That was my hope in completing the survey and it is my appeal to you guys to do the same.  Look, guys, all I’m saying is, an ADHD diagnosis is not an excuse to settle or give up.  An ADHD diagnosis is an explanation of differences, differences that are not fully understood at this point.  It is our responsibility to help others understand whenever we can.  There is always hope in understanding.

ADHD Issues in the Workplace GetNutMegged