Easing the Transition to the Workplace

The workplace presents a new set of challenges for graduates — and the right accommodations can ensure job success.


Filed Under: Focus at Work

Can't complete your projects at work even though you were a good student at school?

School is different than landing a job and competing in the work force. School has tests to study for, assignments to complete, and classes to attend. But for many the workplace is more challenging.

No longer are you accountable to only yourself and your instructor. Now you belong to a professional community in which you must interact with many others.

At school you could work in a quiet library or dorm room. At work you may be sharing space with colleagues and encountering other distractions such as ringing phones, people coming and going, and superiors interrupting with new demands.

Your college professors may have allowed for late papers and projects. Your boss may be less forgiving. And while you may have been open about your ADHD at school and received accommodations, you may be less comfortable about doing so at work. If that’s the case, you must make accommodations on your own.

Consider these suggestions:

  • To focus better, request a distraction-free workspace — far from the water cooler, ringing phones and common areas. You don’t have to disclose your ADHD. Just explain you’re more productive without distractions.
  • To remember deadlines, use a Palm Pilot or similar device that rings with reminders; a Franklin Planner; or a fellow employee with strong organizational skills who’ll let you buddy up. Jot down all projects and deadlines in one place. Delegate whenever possible.
  • To keep your mind from wandering, break down lengthy tasks into short work periods. If you have multiple tasks looming, shift from one to the other when bored or frustrated.
  • To avoid frustration, build in some down time to regroup. Find a quiet spot to eat lunch, meditate, read or listen to calming music.
  • Decrease stress by getting to work an hour early to catch up on tasks you couldn’t finish the day before. Providing yourself with more time to complete assignments helps you avoid careless mistakes, and there are fewer distractions before regular office hours.
  • Satisfy your physical need to move with frequent breaks such as trips to the water cooler. At boring meetings, bring worry beads or other fidget items to help you concentrate and stay engaged.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. Transitions can be difficult, especially for people with ADHD. Once you get acclimated to your new job and employ the strategies that work best for you, you’ll be most likely to succeed.

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