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“7 Reasons Why People with ADHD Should Work from Home”

Raise your hand if you have ADHD and have ever honestly thought you might die in a long meeting… or a noisy cubicle… or an afternoon brainstorming session without end.

When I think about the best choices I have ever made in my life, two come to mind. First and foremost was my decision, three years ago, to quit my steady job at a newspaper and apply to the graduate program in WGSS at Oregon State University. But a close second was deciding not to go back to work after I graduated.

Don’t get me wrong — I still work; just not in an office, and not for someone else: I’ve chosen instead to work as a freelance writer and editor to support myself as a feminist blogger. This is self-employment. And you know what? It is fan-freaking-tastic. Why? Well…

1. You make your schedule. 

One of my greatest downfalls as a ‘traditional’ employee was my schedule. If you have ADHD, you know what I’m talking about: ascertaining when your medications would be in effect and having to plan — or at least trying to plan — your working time around that. Unfortunately, my pill breaks very rarely coincided with my lunch breaks, because I would always unintentionally wake up very early in the morning — We’re talking 5:30, daily — and my morning medications only lasted four hours, maximum. But when you work at home and are self-employed, you don’t have to contend with human resources forbidding you from starting your workday before 9 a.m.; this is especially useful if, like me, you concentrate best in the morning. Also, this builds flexibility into your schedule for the doctor appointments and monthly (and, inevitably, often more than monthly) visits to the pharmacy that come with the territory of having ADHD and taking medication for it.

[Free Download: 8 Dream Jobs for Adults with ADHD]

2. You choose your position — your sitting position, that is.

Less noticeable to others, but still highly impactful to me, was the unspoken expectation that I would, you know, sit in a chair. When I was working at the newspaper offices, I often interviewed sources over the phone, and apparently, I — entirely unconsciously — used to lean back and twirl around in my swivel chair while doing so. It drove my boss CRAZY. What he didn’t realize, though, is that people with ADHD have the symptomatic tendency to sit in odd positions; that’s how we help ourselves concentrate. (I’m not entirely convinced that it would have made a difference to him had he known, though, to be honest.) At home, I can work sitting on a couch or lying face-forward on my bed under my a heavy blanket, and no one can say boo.

3. You have fewer stimuli to filter out.

Newsrooms are obviously an extreme example of this, but traditional, brick-and-mortar offices are hotbeds of cacophony. That’s just the way it is. Ringing phones; copy machines; water cooler talk — you get the idea. Suffice it to say that such an environment is anathema to the ADHD brain. When working from home, by contrast, the only sounds you have to grapple with are the ones you make (see below), which is essential, because “Problems with external distractibility (noises and movement in the surrounding environment) … can be the biggest challenge for adults with ADHD.”

4. You have more freedom to listen to music/use alarms.

A weird thing about ADHD is that dealing with multiple stimuli of external sources, filtering them out and concentrating on your work, is virtually impossible; however, you can enhance your productivity through the use of one, single stimulus: music, of your choosing. I know from personal experience that listening to classical music can have a tangible positive impact on focus; I prefer baroque musicians, including Bach and Albinoni.

On a related note, while phone notifications and computer alert tones are distracting for EVERYBODY, for an ADHD people, such distractions are actually welcome when we have pre-set them to remind us of appointments and upcoming responsibilities. (Additional pro tip: I set my computer preferences to have my MacBook announce the time every half-hour. Try it! You’ll be amazed at your newfound punctuality and time-management.)

[How to Get Work Done (Instead of Getting Distracted Again)]

5. You aren’t required to sit through seemingly endless meetings.

Raise your hand if you have ADHD and have ever honestly thought you might die while being forced to sit through a long meeting… Ha! I knew I wasn’t the only one. As I mentioned above, people with ADHD have a propensity to sit in odd positions and to move around if they are required to have sustained attention and direct it to one specific, often profoundly dull, thing. Working at home, however, circumvents the requirement to remain stationary of that trope of brick-and-mortar skilled employment, the sit-down meeting. And it’s a good thing, too, because “Adults with the hyperactive presentation of ADHD often do better in jobs that allow a great deal of movement.”

6. You don’t have to contend with rush-hour traffic on your way to and from work.

This reason is pretty self-explanatory. Goodness knows we were driving distracted before ‘distracted driving’ was a thing. Luckily for us, no workplace outside the home means no driving to work, which means no risk of getting in a collision while driving to work — or exhausting all of our remaining focus trying to avoid it.

7. You get more time with your pets.

This reason is relatively straightforward, as well. Not all of us have officially designated service animals, but pets regardless provide a genuinely crucial service. First of all, people with ADHD, including and perhaps especially young women, often have comorbid mood disorders (I know I do), on which dogs have a proven ameliorating effect. And the petting of furry animals, such as cats and rabbits, has been shown to slow one’s heart rate and reduce anxiety. Free of the distractions of feeling persistently sad and anxious, it is much easier to get your work done! Don’t already have a pet? Adopt one from your local animal shelter. Easy!

This article was originally published on ADHDrew.com.

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  1. For all those reasons Allison I found I could never work from home. This is not a disagreement with you but a recognition that home growing up never was a place without distractions and because of that my 8 brothers and sisters were never allowed to be inside when my dad was at home attempting to get some work done.
    Yes it was a veritablle madhouse at times . I wasnt diagnosed until Age 70 2 years ago but i am sure at least 4 of my brothers and sisters were as well as my mother.
    When i first started working in an indoor clerical job I had already spent 4 years in the armed forces and a year doing shipping receiving and stock control. You are correct in that although I was able to get a tremendous amount accomplished in a less time than everyone else, I was notoriously late and I lived only a few blocks from the office. The problem was gaining the uninterrupted location to work from. In our company that was referred to as a corner office. Once the manager realized I was able to replace my predecessor in the job and complete a number of his oft postponed projects and replace another key employee on the job I was seconded to a team of planners to work on Corporate planning . As I was not even a Highschool grad much less a University Commerce grad that every other male in the company was it would be harder for me to achieve the Corner Office that went to a very few managers. Not being dissuaded I had managed to double my income between my start date in 1965 and 1970 and I believed it was still possible. That belief unfortunately did not make it happen. In fact it was through my failure to accomplish, that i succeeded in gaining the office and the ability to work at my hours and listen to the music that really made my work attainable.
    First the failure. That office dream that i felt was a few years away suddenly became a possibility and disappeared in a matter of a few weeks. Our division director and his coveted corner office had chosen to take a step sideways and accept a Position as Director of corporate sales in Vancouver Canada. Some may have thought it was a sideways step but the reality was it paid far better (sales Job) and the percs were outstanding plus living in one of the most picturesque cities in the world.
    My hopes of someday replacing him were still a few years off and they settled on someone else for the position “with field office experience”.
    Now wanting his own team I was given a few choices to continue my employment. The first few were not very attractive but the third had some very attractive features It was substantially more pay, it came with a car allowance and other perks. I would be doing a lot of work from that car which i found to be a great workplace. However it involved moving a 1000 miles away and all that that entailed. My wife and I discussed the opportunity and concluded that taking it was the right move . I thoroughly enjoyed the freedom it gave me of choosing my own hours to work. I thrived in the environment partly i had to admit, because it involved driving throughout the midwest great lakes and unlike the home office beautiful scenery. We were an hours drive from Niagara falls
    Once again I was able to double my salary but my family did not adapt to the move very well .
    So at christmas in order to solve problems with school and some homesickness i returned them to home, sold my midwest home and settled them back where they would do well.It took me another Month and a half to be hired by what is now AON and 3 more years to become Vice President. And to double my earnings again. The office came with the job and for a few years it was enough.
    You know there is that part of us that risks and and in my case I knew if I was ever going to take the risk of starting my own company it would have to be soon. My children were growing quickly and University tuition time is not a good time to be trying to establish yourself before the time of the internet. So A friend and colleague of mine founded our own business . That was the best move i ever made.
    I came in after the rush hour traffic has settled and left after it is long gone. My assistants look after the timeliness , the neatness and the completeness of all our projects, And I was able to do the job i loved in the place i loved, though doing emails from home was the most work i was ever able to do in a place other than my office.

    What this long diatribe is saying is that those same problems we face everyday can have more than one solution.

    Don

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