I can’t concentrate on my job – colleagues constant chat!

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    • #128779

      I’m sitting at work with my head pounding and feeling anxiety rising. I have a job which requires a lot of concentration and accuracy (people’s pay) and I just can’t concentrate due to my colleague’s constant talking. We are in open plan working environment. All morning she’s been chatting, to whoever may happen to be passing! I’ve heard all about her weekend in great detail, her ailments, her finances and so on. She repeats stuff to anyone who comes to see her about work things.
      I just cannot concentrate, my head is literally pounding. I have paper everywhere. She is a very strong character and I am not and don’t think I can say anything. I’m worried I’m going to either make a mistake or fall behind as this is happening more and more often.
      I don’t know what to do. Can anyone relate please?

    • #128780

      This, among related issues with a sit-down-and-focus desk job, led me to use the Americans with Disabilities act to seek out reasonable accomodations from my employer. I am now allowed to work remotely when the project allows for it, and they were required to give me a quiet workspace where I can close the door and be uninterrupted. I don’t always have access to it, but when I have something requiring intense focus now I can plan to use the vacant office. I still hate by job, but it’s way less distracting now and I am more productive, which was the ultimate goal.

    • #128787

      are you allowed to use headphones or earbuds? Sometimes streaming music (only you can say what kind will not distract you) can be enough “white noise” to block out chatting as your brain concentrates. I personally need to literally do 2 things at once to keep my mind focused. Sounds weird, but when I am in a meeting I have to doodle, when I was at my daughter’s basketball games, I had to crochet or do cross-stitch. If I am in a distracting environment, I am under constant stress internally unless I do this. I even requested to have my desk turned to the wall. Many people won’t interrupt unless necessary when your back is turned. Your boss needs to know about your difficulties (not to mention your overly “Chatty Cathy” next to you!) before it becomes a productivity or accuracy/deadline problem. But come prepared with a way that you think will help–bosses are much more receptive when you have a solution they can buy into. Be sure to stress the “increased productivity and accuracy” vs the “personal issue”. Coming out to your workplace with your ADHD is a slippery slope.

      • #128930

        Thanks to HIPAA you do not have to disclose what your disability is to qualify for accommodations. The ADA does not list specific disabilities; rather, it defines “disability” and your medical team will report what symptoms need accommodating. For example, mine listed poor working memory and that as an accommodation, I need my tasks and deadlines in writing instead of just being verballed to me randomly. And executive function dysregulation which requires access to a private, quiet workspace.

        Any workplace where disclosing your disability is a “slippery slope” is in violation of the law. Just because we have ADHD doesn’t mean we don’t have rights to a happy and healthy — and non-discriminatory – workplace. 🙂

    • #128789

      I can certainly relate!
      My medication helps with this a lot, and I just had it increased to deal with that and other issues. But I work a desk job, in a “cube”, and the talking..and the ring-tones would constantly cut off my train of thought.
      I relied on earbuds and music to help drown out everything else. It helped. I also had sound-reducing headphones for a while that helped that too.

      I will also get the headaches when my medication is worn off, or not working, and I keep forcing my brain to do my work. When it comes to that, I have to take a break or stop for the day. But I did realize that if I can keep calm, and even if I have to work slowly to prevent stress- If I can manage that, then I won’t get the headache. Usually.

    • #128824
      Penny Williams

      This article has some helpful tips for open office work:

      “The Open Office and ADHD: Imperfect Together”

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

    • #129018

      Besides medication, I often put my headphones on (over ear)…without the sound. It cancels out the noise around me. PLUS it looks like I am listening to music so everyone leaves me alone! (LOL) I have also recently began using aromatherapy as well to calm down when I feel my anxiety heighten from the ‘sensory overload’. I hope you find something that works!

      • #133217

        I’d echo what’s been said. Headphones can be key. Also, maybe there’s a way for you to move to a different space when you really need to focus. Maybe asking your supervisor for some accommodations to use a conference room or get some noise cancelling headphones.

        It can be hard, but you can also talk to the coworkers. Let them know that you sometimes have trouble focusing and keeping track of the details when there’s lots of distraction and see if they’d be willing to help you out by having conversations elsewhere. You may have to be flexible and let them know it’s not all the time that they need to do that, but having them know that when you ask you’re asking for a good reason.

        All in all, coworkers and shared work spaces are hard. There’s no easy fix, even with medications.

        For me I find music is sometimes helpful. I also find that if I take a brief walk when I’m starting to get flooded or distracted that when I come back I can focus easier even if there’s still noise going on. I have also had to ask people for adjustments in the past too. I let them know what works for me, and I let them know that if they need me to do something different they can always ask. “If my music ever gets too loud or bothers you, please let me know.” Or, “If it looks like I’m not paying attention to you I might not be. I sometimes have headphones in or listen to music so I don’t get distracted as much.”

        Good luck whatever you do!

    • #133204

      I can relate. I hate that! I agree – ask for a quiet work area, or wear headphones of white noise.

    • #167100

      I struggled with this for many years. I had built up a coping strategy (which I realised later was a coping strategy) to finish attention sensitive bits of my work early morning or late night (in the office or at home) when no one, or relatively fewer people, were around. It works to this day.

      I also second the use of headphones with white noise loops. If you can afford them, try getting noise cancelling headphones or earbuds. Sometimes just putting them on (without music) is good enough to muffle conversation and that works for me occasionally.

      I’ve also realised open plan offices can be a nightmare with the sensory overload they offer. I notice everything around me (I notice the noise certainly – the noise of crisps packets being opened, the printer whirring, etc.. but visual distractions can also just derail my thoughts – an approaching person, their footsteps, their clothes, clutter on people’s desks, .. I’m just turning my head all day and looking around – without meaning to). When I need to really focus on getting stuff done, I try to use an empty meeting room and face the wall, or try to sit in one of the corner desks facing the corner so I can tune out all the visual signals.

      HTH and good luck. Life is hard.

      • This reply was modified 1 year, 9 months ago by addy.
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