ADD affecting job

This topic contains 10 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Ingrid 3 days, 9 hours ago.

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  • #49519



    I’m a proof reader with ADD! A really tricky combination πŸ™

    I’ve been lucky enough to have worked in places where I could organise my workflow and focus deeply on one project at a time but now I’m in a company where I have no control over my workflow. People just bring me small amounts of paperwork with no context and rarely any template – very often it’s the same thing again and again with minor variations. It’s very boring and there’s not enough time to get into the flow so I lose concentration a lot.

    It’s very stressful and I try and deal with it by speeding up to create a burst of energy but this backfires as I’m likely to miss something.

    The office is a huge open plan space too with meetings happening quite near me and people playing music. There are no walled-off offices…so I’m fighting distraction and constant stimulus too.

    Any tips or ideas on how to deal with this? I can’t change workplaces at the moment.

    Thank you, Ingrid

  • #49606


    I am an auditor with ADD. Welcome to my world!

    I live in a small cubicle farm at work. And, like you, literally EVERYTHING is a distraction.

    First, talk to your boss about moving you to a corner or facing your desk to the least distracting view. I moved from a high traffic area to another cube against the back wall.

    Second, how about noise cancelling headphones? Or what I use, stereo headphone connected to a cd/radio. I like classical music so it is a really good excuse to splurge on myself. I actually tried a white noise machine but that only cancelled some of the noise. A help but. . .

    It’s been six month and it has been pretty good. Now if I could just get that smelly woman to take a shower now and then, I would be in cubicle heaven.

    I hope this helps.

  • #49609


    I really like Sean’s suggestions. A system that could add to them:
    – Headphones + Pandora. I gave in and paid for Pandora One and my focus stations are instrumentals – Roy Hargrove, Instrumental Dance, Itzhak Perlman. They help me tune words out from others.

    – New Help-Me-Help-You editing protocol. If colleagues submit paper edits to existing docs: “Please highlight your additions or memo your newest changes/deletions.” Online: “Please enable track changes and include a brief list of changes/deletions at the top of each document.”

    – A post-it availability policy. Talk with boss/coworkers about using colors or symbols to signal when you are interruptible or not. For example: Green at your cube means you can be available to chat about an edit. Red means leave a note or send an email.

    – Stopwatch. I bought a stopwatch that I turn on when I sit down. It gives helpful “time feedback” either for a whole workday or a specific task I’m working on. My phone has too many other distractions to serve this function.

    – Notepad. Write down each “most important” task and keep it beside you. If new tasks come in, add them and finish the current one.

    – Pomodoro timer. I use an app on my computer but there are several methods you can choose from. It reminds me to stop and take quick water, bathroom, or snack breaks to keep my brain balanced.

    Hope some of these help!

  • #49703


    Maybe create a “beat the clock” sort of scenario for yourself? That might create the stimulus you need to focus better. It needs to be more about short bursts of work, so you’re still being mindful of your work and not going so fast that you make mistakes.

    I like the idea of headphones too. Large, open rooms are hard for most people to work in, not just those with ADHD. And I love Ingrid’s suggestion of asking for a cubicle in the quietest location possible.

    Here are some more tips and strategies for getting things done at work:

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

    Your Turn: “My best tip for doing a great job at work is…”

    “Mozart Helped Me Focus My ADHD Brain.”

    ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

  • #49719


    Thanks all,

    Some lovely ideas there. However, I don’t have a cubicle- no-one does – it’s just a huge space with no partitions (think aeroplane concourse) and I can’t work while listening to music at all.
    I definitely will ask people to highlight the changes they’ve made (yes, hard copy only) – good idea. Everywhere else I’ve worked has done this as a matter of course.
    Does anyone know of noise-cancelling headphone which truly block out all sound? People talk around me (have fluid at-desk meetings) all the time…

    No proof reader sensitivity at all :)))))))

    Cheers, Ingrid

    • #49988


      Probably the most effective noise-cancelling headphones when you’re not playing music will be those used by construction workers to protect their hearing (or those used at firing ranges).

      In an open room work area, can you ask to be on the perimeter and facing a wall? That could be a lot better than being somewhere in the middle, or in heavily trafficked areas.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

  • #49994


    Thanks Penny.

    No, can’t move as in departmental sections but will check out the builders’ headphones πŸ™‚

    Rather cool idea!

  • #50161


    Hi Ingrid,

    I could have practically copied and pasted your letter to define my problems at work, I’m in an amazingly similar situation at the moment. Sorry for talking about myself at length below, but for me,’distraction and motivation’ are only a small part of the problem. I already know the tip/ have the app/ read the book. Maybe my story will resonate with you? I don’t have much in terms of solutions, but possibly some insight into the problem. Or, not!:) Keen to hear your thoughts.

    In my office (language school) I’m temporarily assigned to the curriculum department where they need me to proof read, format documents and organising content into booklets- a huge cut and paste job. (Teacher guide, student guide, hand out book). I also work in an open office, next to the door, and my back is to the middle of the room, with three people able to see my work station including my supervisor, and I’m not able to see if they’re watching me or not. I find this so unnerving. I am a language teacher normally.

    I was anxious about it for months leading up to the secondment because I’m great at being a teacher. I get energy from things most people find draining and vice versa. With ADHD, I actually get fuel from the moment to moment pressure of performing for my class and guiding them through the challenge of language learning, I get thrills from successfully helping students, especially struggling students, overcome their difficulties. They all need different types of support and I love scanning them to hone in on what it seems they need (more complexity/ summary, visual, aural, kinesthetic etc.) and then seeing them light up with awareness when I meet their needs.

    I don’t mind the nature of this new, boring work so much when I can get into the swing of it- now, with the curriculum books, I’ve developed a system for each one. I Pomodoro, break, stretch, tune out voices with music (classical). But like you, as soon as the next type of job comes along, I’m going to fall back into anxiety. And even if I do it right, it’s all consumingly exhausting! Where I often trip myself up is that I don’t understand instructions well. At best, I understand them randomly or I misunderstand them very well. (Make sense? Like a language student who accidentally mixes up the words for ‘me’ and ‘you’ for the first few days of the course, it’s then very difficult for them to unlearn that.) This is where I start to procrastinate. I can’t just follow a tip or a formula for this- I know what the issue is, being afraid of seeming incompetent or inattentive (ineffective, disinterested, unprofessional) so I just stare at it for too long until the work starts backing up, which applies pressure and I use this to just do the best I can, a good job but always with errors, because I never got the right information.

    And with the proofreading, it’s so soooo hard to concentrate when that is all you do all day, don’t you think? It’s tiring. ‘Take a break’ my boss says. I do, but when I come back, I’m even more loathe to dive back into the document because I’ve taken myself away from the task. (Getting started is the first hurdle for me.) If I work 8 hours a day, taking breaks regularly, I still end up exhausted. Way more exhausted than if I was teaching the same amount of time, or even designing resources for 12 hours a day! (I’ve done that, I’m super productive when I’m ‘in my zone’.)

    To sum up: difficulty grasping highly specific instructions, boredom doing the same thing endlessly, unease at possibly being watched/ surveilled all day long, as well as noise, distraction, work and gossip chatter, hallway meetings outside the door. I prefer to work on my lap top with at least privacy of my screen, I need this to concentrate. But because I’m only in the department temporarily, I don’t want to make a big deal of anything and I don’t want to disclose my ADHD.

    I lose sleep over it, I’m too exhausted to chat with friends and family at lunch or after work, so they haven’t heard from me after a while. I do maintain my ballet and jazz dance classes after work because it gives me a creative, physical challenge that I’m passionate about as a hobby. I go four days a week. But I’m doing it all on 3-7 hours sleep per night and am exhausted. I’m home today because last night was sub-three hours. I have other worries keeping me awake at night as well, but damn I miss my old job- the distraction and fun of being in the classroom, experimenting, or, if in front of the computer, preparing cool resources that will tap into the wide variety of brains in my class. If I was back there, teaching and designing posters would revive me, not suck me dry.

    I just feel like there is no ‘patch’ for this- it’s deeply psychological. Even if I do a good job, I have a heavy dose of the ‘imposter syndrome’ which revs my brain night and day, all the time except in dance class. My treating psychiatrist discusses this with me but ‘best of a bad situation’ is the only realistic aim for me. Do you find the same thing at all? Do you already have good systems that treat some symptoms only? I’ve been helped a lot by all the advice, apps, and commiserations with others with ADHD, but my real issue is that I can’t do boring work without privacy and extra unhurried time to internalise instructions so I can work independently (with Mozart.)

    I’m actually thinking about telling a senior manager who loves my creativity, passion and pragmatism (and wishes people, in her team would be more like that) because I think she’ll be supportive and discreet, and she has the political and diplomatic ability that I lack, to suggest the best way, with our particular work culture, to make my job more friendly to my needs.

    So, so sorry for the length and tangent of this reply. First time poster πŸ™‚

    I hope your work situation improves, you must be so tired!

  • #50201


    I too have a VERY tedious job that requires Laser focus All day! As you may know some days I actually have that laser focus and get a ton of work done ! Other days are not so good. I am a 43-year-old mother of three, one teenager and two toddlers, I have worked in the mental health field for 20 years and luckily every job I have ever had has been extremely accommodating to me . This is my first corporate job where they are less compassionate. I took this job because it’s double my salary from my last job and I am the primary breadwinner as my husband is a stay at home dad for our two toddlers. The job is extremely demanding and takes everything in me to learn and complete projects because this is all something I’ve never done before. I actually enjoy the challenge however the ridiculous deadline dates and workload or impossible for anyone to accomplish which leaves me stressed out every day. I am able to Home office out of my moms house which is very nice as far as work environment goes on. However my husband does not understand why I come home from work every night completely exhausted unable to care for my kids and could easily go to sleep at 6 PM. I feel like I took an SAT test every day it’s so mentally exhausting that it wears my body out. I explained to him that for basically 8 to 10 hours a day my body is completely tense with concentration and it’s not till I get home… Tension relaxes and I’m immediately exhausted and falling asleep. I do not get up and take breaks like I should because as you know when I am focused on something if I get up and take a break every hour or so it breaks up all that concentration and I lose my place of what I’m doing.

    • This reply was modified 4 days, 9 hours ago by  tracee1010.
  • #50276


    ADHD & Your Legal Rights in the Workplace

    If your company has 15 or more employees, you have a right to reasonable accommodations in the workplace under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Even if your company has less than 15 employees, some states will still have protections for people with disabilities, you’ll just have to check. The article link above goes into more detail about it. Of course, if you want to discuss an accommodation you have in mind with your boss, you would need to disclose that you do have ADD.

    I am the bookkeeper, HR manager, marketing manager, backup dispatcher, AND receptionist for an air conditioning company in Texas. I sit at the reception desk in the middle of all the hustle and bustle. I have to help customers who come into the office, I have to answer the phone, and I have to dispatch service calls when the service dispatcher is out (she gets 3 weeks of vacation every year) or when she is already helping another customer on another phone line. To top it off, the warehouse guy has an office space behind me in the file room so he can register warranties and order parts and materials and he is constantly up and down going to the warehouse and coming back in. The door to the warehouse is about 30 feet behind me and for some reason, the warehouse guy doesn’t pick up his feet when he walks. Also, the only thing that separates my work area with the only bathroom downstairs is a supply closet and when you use the bathroom, everyone who is downstairs can hear you. In other words, every time someone uses the bathroom, I can hear everything! With all those distractions I still have to do the bookkeeping, HR management, and marketing. Most days are a total nightmare.

    Thankfully my boss is my dad. I have two computer screens so it really helps me to put an earbud in one ear and have some boring doc on Netflix going in the corner of one screen while I do my work on the other screen that is directly in front of me and also still have one ear open to listen for the phones. This was an issue at first because everyone walking around in the office can see my computer and what I’m doing and I got in trouble for “watching movies” when I’m supposed to be working. I had to explain to my dad that just because you see Bob Ross painting on one of my computer screens, it doesn’t mean I’m watching or paying attention to it. It’s just there so I don’t focus on all of those other noises that I hear all day. I had to help him understand that unless I do have that movie or show going on in the background, I actually can’t do my work. After I opened up to him about how this is so difficult for me, he allowed me to continue. Now that everyone sees that I am getting my work done and I am meeting my deadlines and I continue to keep myself organized, no one has an issue with it.

    I’m not suggesting you try Netflix to stay focused, you already said that you can’t listen to music and work. All I’m saying is maybe you should open up to your boss and either ask them for an accommodation you already have in mind or come up with something together that’s not an undue hardship on the company but is reasonable enough to do. The bottom line is they can’t fire you for not getting your work done if you’ve disclosed your disability and asked for help, so if they can find a way to accommodate you, your work will improve and that only benefits the company.

  • #50281


    Oh you poor thing – that’s terrible! A nightmare! πŸ™

    I’m in the UK so we have different workplace rules. The company I work for is actually very nice and the noise/confusion doesn’t affect anyone else as their jobs involve talking/meeting/buzzing about – they just don’t understand mine…

    I would never tell them about the ADD – it’s hardly spoken about in the UK – I’m sure they wouldn’t have hired me…

    I think I’m going with the builder’s noise mufflers and hope people think they’re really cool headphones πŸ™‚

    Thanks and good luck!


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