Impending deadlines to meet
A constant stream of email to respond to
Different and changing requests and expectations of clients, colleagues, bosses, boards, etc. to answer to
An urgent need to make decisions and set priorities
I bet this describes your work world, as well as the sources of some of your greatest work challenges as an adult with ADHD.
And the consequences of not being able to operate well at work may seem more immediate and serious than those in any other environment (home, social, etc.). At least in the short run…
The key to being successful at work is taking a strategic approach to working with your ADHD.
First, Know Yourself
I know you are already well acquainted with your challenges. And we’ll get to the workarounds for those in the following posts in the series.
But the first step in creating the right environment is to be aware of your particular work place strengths and preferences. Because, ideally, you want to rely on these as much as possible, right?
So, take a moment to list them now. To get you started, think about
- activities that capture your attention and keep you consistently engaged.
- tasks you learn and understand quickly.
- activities and topics you are passionate about.
Want to know more about your strengths? Here are a few options to get you started:
- If you are interested in exploring your character strengths, the VIA Survey of Character is a great place to start.
- StrengthsFinder 2.0, which focuses on the workplace and job performance, is another assessment tool you might want to try.
- You can try the Personal Strength Profile (DISC) to get a brief glimpse of what drives you.
There are certainly many others you can try to get a fuller picture. And, of course, you may decide to work with a professional in a particular area of interest to better understand your strengths.
Knowing your strengths and preferences is the first step.
What Task Do You Enjoy?
The next step is to identify the parts of your job that energize you and those that sap your energy.
Then divide these tasks into three lists.
First, list the tasks you enjoy. Maybe these come easier because you rely on your strengths to do them. Alternatively, they could be ones that are more challenging. But you welcome the challenge of these tasks.
Then list tasks you don’t like doing. These may be ones that are challenging because they require skills that are not your strong suit or because they are just not interesting to you. In either case, you don’t have the mojo for these tasks!
On the third list, note the tasks you could take or leave. These do not clearly fall in one of the above two lists.
Where Do You Have Control?
The next question to consider is, where do you have control in making decisions about what kind of work you do?
Then ask yourself, “what are the tasks only I can do or have to do?”
Next, ask yourself, “what are the tasks I don’t want to do and also don’t have to be done by me?“
I know this may not be an easy question to answer. Because we are all tempted at times to think, “I need to do ‘this,’ if it is going to be done right.” Sound familiar? Are there tasks that could be done well enough, though maybe not “perfectly,” by someone else?
Now that you have a lists of tasks you don’t necessarily need to do and don’t want to do, could you
- delegate them?
- barter with someone, particularly if you are self employed?
- trade tasks with someone else, if you work in an office?
- hire someone to do them?
- decide not to do them?
- alter the task so you can rely more on your strengths and, perhaps, make it more palatable?
Once you take a closer look at the tasks that make up your job, you may find you have more control in what you do than you thought.
What Is Left On Your Plate?
If you have done the above exercises, you should now know the components of what makes up your job, including:
- tasks that you enjoy and come relatively easy to you
- tasks you enjoy, but are challenging for you
- tasks you don’t enjoy, whether they are easy or not
Being able to focus on tasks you enjoy will certainly make working with your ADHD easier.
But, as an adult with ADHD, you know you can have challenges following through on tasks you enjoy, as well, of course, as tasks you don’t enjoy.
What Is Next?
Look for the next post in this series where I will share workarounds for some of your work related ADHD challenges for the components of what makes up your job.