My workday as an adult with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) requires time management and organizational skills to keep up in a fast-paced environment. How does your job compare?
by Stephen Anfield
If reading my previous post about my mornings with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) didn’t leave you exhausted, that’s great! Most of you are probably wondering if my workdays are as crazy as my trying-to-get-to-the-office-on-time mornings, right? I’ll let you be the judge.
8 a.m. – Work. I’m employed full time at a think tank in Washington, D.C., as a communications associate/online community manager. I tend to do a little bit of everything, and that’s definitely a plus for an ADD/ADHD brain. By this time, my medication, Vyvanse, has most likely kicked in, and my day takes on a bit more structure than previously described. Here’s a look at the mental checklist I go through each morning:
1. Open Gowalla to check in at work. Why? Because I’m a social media junkie to the max! Gowalla is a great tool because I can check in on Foursquare, Facebook, and Tumblr all at once! (If you use any of these services, feel free to add me because I enjoy meeting new people!)
2. Connect laptop -- which I’ve brought with me from home -- to desktop docking station. Successfully avoid electrocution. Score!
3. Water the plant that my mom delivered to me during my first few days at work. I’ve got an awesome office mate who usually reminds me if I happen to forget to do this step. On the days I forget, he jokes that I’m a “bad dad.” This is precisely why I do not have children.
4. While I am waiting for my laptop to boot up, I grab my BPA-free Nalgene bottle. By the time I’ve filled my bottle, my computer has booted up. It’s not uncommon for me to trip at least once on my journey to and from the water cooler because I’m just that clumsy. Some may even go so far as to call me graceful … like a ballerina without a sense of balance.
5. On the days that I am running behind in my morning routine, I tend to bring my breakfast: two cups of Greek yogurt, a Granny Smith apple, and two granola bars. I’ll eat and catch up on work-related news. Once I’ve surveyed the Internet for work-related content, I open my Feedly RSS reader to peruse my favorite blogs.
6. To get in touch with my inner hoarder, I open a series of tabs that I don’t close for the entire day. The tabs are as follows:
a. Google Apps (for intra-company communication)
b. Personal Gmail account (for non-work communication)
c. HootSuite (to manage the company Twitter and Facebook Page accounts as well as my personal social networking accounts). Everything is in one customizable dashboard to help me keep my status updates and tweets organized.
e. Company website
f. Company e-mail account
g. Spotify (because I like to rock out while working)
8:30 a.m. – I review my sloppy scribbles -- notes from the previous day of work -- and follow up on any outstanding items. Making this to-do list helps me prioritize my tasks for the day. Given the nature of my position, it is quite easy to become distracted with requests -- sent via various media -- throughout the day.
8:45 a.m. – I check all of our company’s social media sites and scan for new comments. I reply to all of them individually and respond to any e-mails that I may have.
Throughout the day, I continue to receive notifications from LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. If any require an in-depth response, I tend to make a note to return to it later. If it’s something I can handle immediately that doesn’t require a lengthy response, I go ahead and complete it.
9 a.m. – Depending on the day, I usually have some form of writing that I must complete by the end of the day. This can vary, but I’m finding that it’s better to do the same type of writing on a specific day to help keep me organized, and surprisingly, it seems to be working so far!
12 p.m. – Lunch! I try to bring my lunch to work each day. On the days that I don’t, you can find me at Chipotle stuffing my face with a chicken and steak fajita burrito bowl -- extra cheese, please! The recent heat in Washington, D.C., has been quite oppressive. Chipotle is a hike from my office, so I’ve not been able to indulge myself as much as I would like.
12:30 p.m. – Lunch is complete. For those of you who take ADD/ADHD medication, you know about the appetite suppression as a side effect. It sucks. As of late, I haven’t been having this problem, and it feels amazing to actually want to eat during lunch.
1 p.m. – If it’s Monday, I’m on a teleconference with the rest of the communications team. If it’s not Monday, I’m probably snacking on Twizzlers. They happen to be my absolute favorite snack. Meanwhile, I’m either writing a blog post, updating our social media channels, engaging our members, or thinking about strategy to increase engagement.
2 p.m. – If it’s Monday, our teleconference is usually complete. If it’s not Monday, then I’m updating my Facebook and Twitter statuses.
2:30 p.m. – If there are phone calls, I tend to handle them in the afternoon. Our other office is based in San Francisco, so calling them at 9 a.m. Eastern time isn’t the smartest idea.
3:30 p.m. – This time is usually reserved for going through emails and requests for the day to make sure I’ve not missed anything. Requests come from bosses, colleagues, and members who follow our efforts. Often, the number of responses is so great that I end up compiling all of them to answer upon arriving at home. If there are outstanding items, this is the time I use to address them, time permitting.
4 p.m. – I take this time to plan ahead for the next day. I check my calendar and e-mails for any important dates that I need to remember. This is my time reserved for calendaring and to process the events of the day. If I have any new ideas, which I usually do, I share them with the appropriate individuals to discuss next steps. This is one of my favorite parts of my day!
5 p.m. – Time to close up shop! Given the nature of my position, I tend to continue working once I’m at home. Since the social media world tends not to sleep, I find that I get quite a few e-mails and updates that require my response after hours. This is the most likely time for individuals to concentrate on non-work activities, so the likelihood that most people are using Facebook and Twitter is greater. For this reason, I tend to work seven days per week and definitely more than eight hours a day, but surprisingly, I don’t mind! I actually enjoy it! Crazy, I know.
As you can see, my afternoons tend to be a bit tamer (read: organized) than my busy (read: juggling multiple projects at once) mornings. I’ve created a structure that is suitable to the demands of my job, and it has helped me to perform well in a fast-paced, perpetually moving environment. Vyvanse has certainly helped to keep me focused and on track with my work assignments.
Keeping up with numerous work demands can be challenging, but it can be just as rewarding. Working with a good team of people helps, too! With an effective treatment program and accommodations that work for you on the job, I believe that anyone can be a star performer! And for those of you that have left comments on my previous blog posts, thank you! I enjoy interacting with the ADDitudeMag.com community, and I hope that you’ll continue to return and follow my story! If you’ve got suggestions, let me know!