Productivity at Work

How to Focus at Work

Wondering why, at work or in meetings, you can’t sit still and concentrate like everyone else? A career expert shares her strategies.

Co-workers talking
Co-workers talking

We jokingly remark that we can always “spot the ADDers” in a work setting because they’re the ones whose legs are bobbing, whose bodies are constantly shifting in their chairs, or who repeatedly leave the room for a drink or a trip to the restroom.

Truth is, the hyperactivity common in many individuals with ADHD can be embarrassingly visible, as they strive to sit still and concentrate. Sometimes, the employee with ADHD concentrates more on not looking squirmy, and finds it next to impossible to focus on what is being presented in the meeting.

If we have a job we enjoy, we tend to have a longer fuse for focusing. Having said that, sometimes we might still find ourselves having to sit during something that is longer than we can comfortably tolerate. If so, what should we do?

Here are a couple of strategies to try:

1. Lighten up
Explain to your co-workers (even without declaring your ADHD) that you have always been considered highly energetic, and it can be difficult for you to sit still for long periods of time. Just making light of it will take the pressure off having them wonder about you and whether you are really interested in what’s going on.

2. Consider pre-planning
If you know that you are heading into a long meeting, try to schedule some physical exercise just before the session. Sometimes blowing off steam with a brisk walk during lunch, taking the stairs (a few times) or even doing some sit-ups or push-ups in a private place can do wonders.

If you are otherwise well suited for your job, the restlessness will be tolerated as just a part of the wonderful worker you are…so don’t dwell on it as a major negative.