I Get Paid to Have ADHD

I'm letting my wild ideas take flight while keeping my feet on the ground -- and making ADHD work for me in my new entrepreneurial life.


Filed Under: ADHD Career Paths, Get Organized at Work
I get paid to have ADHD

I am a good organizer when I'm given the freedom to organize in my own way.

I am leaving my desk job, but I am not leaving the world of the working, nor am I signing up for research studies on adults with ADHD. I am giving myself permission to do what I do naturally, which is three things at once, at all times.

I have spent my life wrestling with the advice of well-intentioned teachers who said I needed to focus, to do one thing at a time. As I got older, I wondered what I wanted to do when I grew up. I am answering that question now. I am an entrepreneur. I am a woman of many hats. I am an idea generator. I am an operationalizer. I do three things at once, and I am a success.

Ha! How do you like that word? Success.

My Three Businesses

I am developing my events business, while I am picking up marketing work that allows me to apply the skills I use for my business to other people's companies. I am also rekindling my other passion/pursuit/business: making and selling fashion accessories and clothing.

I am four weeks into the experiment, and it's working. Money is coming in -- almost enough to replace my desk job's paycheck -- with the potential to make more.

I can't write this without addressing a couple of things that are probably screaming in your brain as loudly as they were in mine before I made a plan: "OMG, how will you stay organized and budget your time, and get stuff done, and…?"

I am always more productive, focused, and organized when I am interested in what I'm doing and can tap into my creativity. By creativity, I don't always mean making art or clothes. I mean coming up with business systems and solutions that make companies more productive. I am a good organizer when I'm given the freedom to organize in my own way.

ADHD Systems I Love

I have created systems to organize everything in my business life. I bought a big bag that I carry around with me to appointments. It has a large middle pocket for big stuff (my laptop) and two side pockets -- one for my wallet, one for my makeup. The bag has a sleeve for pens and my phone, and pockets on both ends where I store my computer, camera, and phone cords. My rule for organization is: If it's not easy, I don't use it.

I have folders for each project I'm working on, which I label and put in my bag. When I have too many folders, I transfer them to an accordion file that folds up and fits into my bag. I have clear, protective envelopes for bank deposit slips and personal transactions, which I keep separate. I use a handful of small spiral notebooks to hold important information on specific topics. At the moment, I have one for tracking vendor attendance for events, one for tracking bank deposits, one for "to-do" lists, and one for a project that involves repeated phone calls to municipal offices. I am meticulous about putting things where they belong. I will screw up if I don't.

My immediate goal is to earn a set income. Once I do, I will hire someone to do the grunt work, because nobody, certainly nobody with ADHD, likes to do data entry and filing for longer than they have to.

I am getting paid to have ADHD: to acknowledge it, to plan for the ideas that my wild brain comes up with, and to anticipate obstacles that ADHD and life may throw at me. I figure out how to work with those obstacles and to get the job done. I am doing three things that satisfy me in different ways, and this makes me feel successful in a way that I never did before.

KATY ROLLINS is founder of and blogger at 18 Channels (18channels.com). Katy also writes the Executive Dysfunction blog for adults on ADDitudemag.com.

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This article appears in the Summer issue of ADDitude.
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