Performance evaluation time at work: setting constructive goals

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    • #67840

      Hi all,

      This is my first post, and since there isn’t a forum for work and this one looks like it’s the busiest, I thought I’d try here. Moderators, please feel free to move this elsewhere if appropriate.

      It’s coming up on annual performance evaluation time at work, and there are definitely areas I’d like to improve on professionally over the next year. But I’m not sure how to word them, or whether this is really the best venue for identifying my particular weaknesses.

      I’ve been working at this company about 8 months. I work from home about 80% of the time, and spend the rest traveling to meet “clients.” They’re not really clients but close enough. I took this role, for which I was well-qualified, to allow me to move to live with my boyfriend of 3 years in another city. It just so happened to be for a company I had long envisioned working for – yay for that! The downside is that working from home really doesn’t agree with me at all. It might’ve been okay if I hadn’t also moved to a new place at the same time, but I was successful in my last role in large part due the following: the office environment gave me a routine to coast along, my commute involved lots of walking so I had built-in exercise, I had coworkers to serve as my “body doubles” (just learned that term last night!), and the work was super engaging. After a lifetime of lukewarm academic success, finding my groove in the workforce was incredibly empowering.

      I have really, really struggled with the social isolation and the loss of my routine. Everything is such a chore and requires so much willpower that I don’t have much left for doing actual work, much less slapping my smile on and making some new friends at the end of the day. As a result, I really don’t feel like I’m giving my work the focus and attention it deserves. I could be doing so much more! I’m ashamed to mention how much more time I spend looking at Facebook on my phone. It’s horrible, and so not me.

      I teleconference with my manager every other week, and I directly solicit feedback on my performance every single time (one suggestion, since addressed). I’ve asked for more to do, hoping that when the work became more challenging that it’d be easier to stick with – rather than writing a single email and wandering off to do God knows what (honestly! I couldn’t even tell you!). But the new project is slow in getting into my hands. Since then, my manager’s feedback has consistently been “Keep doing what you’re doing.”

      Is it worth addressing some of these root issues, even those that are intrinsic to the job, with my manager during my upcoming performance evaluation? I want to be honest – “I can do more and really want to succeed, but some facets of my work style and the job are holding me back” – but also realistic. He’s my boss, not my therapist, after all, and while we do have a local office where I live, I don’t think he has the power to bring me into it. The alternative, as I see it, is to continue trying to create a scaffolding in my life, and that focusing on that will let my problems with work sort themselves out.

      Thanks for your thoughts, and sticking with my post. I’m especially interested in hearing from those who went through something similar.

    • #67881

      Hi KTdoesit:

      I found your post by chance, not being ADD myself, but interested in issues of health and well-being, and helping people with them.

      I am not sure whether it is ‘worth it’ to address your root issues with your manager. Too much information there can harm your career. In my opinion, your focus there should be on what the expectations are in terms of goals, and what suggestions your manager has for meeting those. In terms of the local office, you mention that you don’t think he has the power to bring you into it. That’s something you can look into. But first, wouldn’t you want to find out what that local office is like before finding out whether your manager has influence there? Is there a counterpart to you in that office? If yes, can you meet that person for a coffee or lunch? Can you meet any of the workers there for lunch? Find out how they like working there? What it is like?

      The other issue that you bring up related to having a routine, social isolation are important to address as they affect your well-being. Well-being is the corner stone of success. This is true whether you are ADD or not. Another corner stone is knowing what works for you. Even non-ADD folks like to get themselves out of the house, to a coffeeshop, and work there. Or they break up their day and walk with a friend, or go for an exercise class. They join clubs, bookclub, artclub, etc, to meet up in the evening a couple of times per week. Exercising in the morning with a buddy, or in a set group, makes you feel part of something, and starts your day of in a good way. A yoga or mindfulness class in the evening can also work well once or twice per week. Socialization is a must. Studies have been done on what happens to human beings in isolation, as in prison, like solitary confinement. Even those with good self-management skills, and reading ability, and access to books, over time, become anxious, less able or completely unable to focus, become panicky, and cannot feel quiet enough to read or have any interest in this anymore. They also over time loose their skill to interact with other human beings.
      When people retire, do you know what the worst thing is for most? The loss of their routine, and interaction with others on the job (eventhough these folks are not their friends). Learning to create your own routine, and then sticking to it, learning how you can best stick to it, are skills all of us need. Time to get started! I am sure that you already know what to do.

      I hope this was somewhat helpful. I quickly typed this out, as I thought you might be looking for a reply from someone fast. 🙂

      Write a few words back. I will be nice to know that you read it.


    • #67912

      Thanks, Ed, that’s my thinking too.

    • #67964
      Penny Williams

      I agree that you probably should keep the struggles to yourself, unless you need to share that information to address performance issues, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

      Can you take your work to a coffee shop or open office space? Getting out of the house and being around other people, even if you don’t interact with them, might help some.

      Can you set your own hours? Maybe do 2-3 hours in the morning, then take an exercise class or some social activity? Then more work after that? Breaking up the day could really help with boredom and getting off track. And it will create more of a routine for you.

      These tips may help you be more productive during work times:

      Free Handout: How to Manage Your Time at Work

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

    • #68405

      Hi KTdoesit,

      I don’t really have any advice for you, but I’m going through the same thing. I haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD, but I struggle with concentration, procrastination, productivity etc. and a lot of the information I’ve been reading about inattentive ADHD seems to describe me exactly. So who knows. Maybe I have it.

      I’ve been self-employed and working from home for two years now, and I’m currently in a really bad rut with my concentration and productivity. Like you, the routine of going to the office and having set hours for my working day really helped. But, there were also days (sometimes weeks) when I didn’t get any work done in the office at all. I’d then have a mad scramble to get everything done in whatever time was left. I’ve been taking a long, hard look at my habits and working style, and I’ve realised that these problems have always been there, it’s just that working from home and setting more ambitious goals for myself is really bringing them to the fore.

      What you wrote here just resonates so strongly with me: ‘I have really, really struggled with the social isolation and the loss of my routine. Everything is such a chore and requires so much willpower that I don’t have much left for doing actual work, much less slapping my smile on and making some new friends at the end of the day. As a result, I really don’t feel like I’m giving my work the focus and attention it deserves. I could be doing so much more! I’m ashamed to mention how much more time I spend looking at Facebook on my phone. It’s horrible, and so not me.’

      I feel exactly the same. I end every day feeling so down on myself. Yesterday I sat at my desk for about seven hours, and I think I got about 1.5 hours of work done. It’s so disheartening! I couldn’t even tell you what I do. It feels like the time just slips through my fingers. Like you, I know that I am capable of so much more.

      I’ve been trying to make small changes (with mixed success). I have a dog, and I walk her around the park every morning, which helps wake me up for the day. I really struggle to get up in the mornings, so our walk is usually between 9 and 10 am. I also struggle to concentrate in the morning, so I’ve decided to go easy on myself until 12 pm. I like to be sitting at my desk by then, but I’m allowed to waste time online, read articles etc. I then divide up the afternoon, with the aim of working 12–2 and then 3–6. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to have an efficient 8-hour workday, but if I can have five good hours that would be a huge improvement! And if I have a few really focused hours, I know I can get a lot done. I also like working in a nearby cafe. Small noises in the flat tend to really irritate me (when my partner’s working from home, he isn’t allowed to sit in the same room as me because I can’t stand the sound of his breathing and typing!), but the white noise of a cafe is fine for me.

      So far, the 12–2 work slot hasn’t been particularly productive, but I’m trying! I’ve also found that setting timers really helps me – so far, ten minutes is as long as I can manage. I tried a 15-min timer and when the alarm went off I was standing at the other side of the room, having been distracted by laundry or something equally dull 🙂 So I can usually manage ten minutes, another ten minutes (for some reason this works better than a 15- or 20-minute timer), then a 5–10 min break. The problem, though, is that I often can’t bring myself to actually start the first timer!

      I often find that something clicks into place around 6 or 7pm, and I can get a lot done then. This isn’t great though, as this is when I like to exercise, hang out with my partner, cook, watch Netflix etc. So I’m not sure what to do about that – keep fighting to stick to ‘normal’ hours or embrace my night owl instincts?

      I don’t know whether talking to your boss would be helpful or not. It might be better to first of all figure out exactly what works and doesn’t work for you. I also often think that maybe I just need more work. But what I really mean is that I need more deadlines! Because that seems to be the only way I can get things done. However, more work and more deadlines might not be the answer. To me, it feels more like hiding the problem than addressing it, and I find myself sucked into a horrible cycle of procrastination followed by a few exhausting days of intense forced focus to get everything done. Perhaps you need to make small changes (like I’m trying to do) until you feel a bit more confident in identifying your strengths and weaknesses, and in managing those weaknesses?

      Anyway, it’s 12 pm now, so I’d better go and try and stick to my 12–2 work slot! 🙂

      J xx

    • #68407


      I (farmer) can totally relate to you.
      If I do paperwork at home I must have my wife be in the same room, otherwise I can’t stay focused.
      When my wife is not home I go to the library and do my work there.
      I don’t know if in America that’s possible but here (in Japan) there is many spaces for laptop and free internet.
      For me its important to go to the library ASAP when starting work, otherwise I will put it off for 15min ( and another 15 and another 15…).
      Another place for me is to go to my farm. Even if I need to do paperwork, it helps to sit down and see it in real life.
      Even when I am writing or making new seeding calendar, I feel the connection more what increases my productivity.
      The other way is also necessary, I must write down the things I should get done at the farm otherwise I will do less then 25% then I should do.

      This last part is for me still a struggle, I waste too much time with constantly forgetting things and uselessly walking back and forth.
      (good for my health, bad for my business 😛 )

      summery: Go to library or go to a location where you can ‘feel’ your work more.

    • #68420
      Michelle Smith

      If having other people around helps, but the local office isn’t necessarily ideal, you might consider a coworking space. They basically offer a shared space where you can work – and they are great for getting out of the house. That would also allow you some flexibility. Most cities have several these days, and most of them will have a day that you can try it out to see how it works for you. Good luck!

    • #68519

      I feel your pain, OP. I work from home as a freelancer. I love the flexibility, but with ADHD (I have the inattentive variety) it’s a blessing and a curse. Working in an office, I was forced to stay on a routine which masked the problem. Now that I have no routine, and my productivity suffers. I find myself wasting way too much time on social media when I should be working. At the end of the day I wonder where all the time went, and I feel awful about myself. I also start getting into gear by late evening when I should be winding down and getting ready for bed like “normal” people. I wind up staying up too late and waking up late which sets the tone for the next day. Rinse and repeat. It ends up being the same thing every day. I always intend for things to be better the next day and have such high hopes for myself. Too bad we can’t PM on this site, but maybe that’s a good thing. That would be yet another distraction to keep me from my work. I would love to have an accountability partner who also has the same struggles I do. My boyfriend doesn’t have ADHD and doesn’t understand how mentally exhausting it is to stay focused. ARGH!!!! Sorry, I have found “my people” and had to get that rant off my chest. LOL

      But getting back on topic, I wouldn’t disclose any of the issues you mentioned to an employer. You don’t want to plant any seeds of doubt. Since you have determined that social isolation is a major problem for you, that should be relatively easy to fix by finding a shared workspace. You said,”while we do have a local office where I live, I don’t think he has the power to bring me into it.” I wouldn’t make that assumption. If you would like to work in the local office, I think you should make it known. You never know what strings he can pull or what connections he has. The other thing you said, “hoping that when the work became more challenging that it’d be easier to stick with.” Another solution might be to find a more challenging position either within or outside of your current company. You mention that your last job was “super engaging.” ADHD + Boredom don’t mix. Maybe that’s why you felt empowered. Could you tell your manager that you don’t feel challenged enough, would like more responsibility or something along those lines? Then maybe you could devise some plan of action which could help you set some professional goals. If you don’t have enough work to do, working in a shared workspace won’t matter. You’ll just be playing on your phone in another location with other people around. The only benefit of this job seems to be the fact that it lets you live with your boyfriend. In reading your post, you don’t state whether you actually like the job. Is it worth staying if you’re not happy there?

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