Work Strategies

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

Are you juggling the many responsibilities of a challenging job — AND adult ADHD? Whether you struggle with inattention, organizing your mountains of paperwork, or keeping up in meetings, use this career advice to get more done at work.

man with ADHD wearing headphones to help avoid distractions as he works
man with ADHD wearing headphones to help avoid distractions as he works

Need a productivity boost? Are you struggling to get any work done at all? ADHD can make work tough, it’s true. If you’ve hit a slump, try our best career advice to get your in-box cleaned out in no time.

1. Go through your in-basket several times a day.
This keeps you from being sidetracked every time a new piece of information crosses your desk. Just be careful not to waste time by checking your in-basket — or your e-mail — too frequently.

2. Before tackling a boring task, enjoy some physical exercise or a favorite activity.
Walking up and down a few flights of stairs, doing a crossword puzzle, or listening to music for 15 minutes enhances your executive functioning — priming you for the work ahead. Listening to music as you work helps block out other sounds that might prove distracting.

3. Boost your reading ability with color.
Covering the page with a sheet of transparent, colored plastic (available in any stationery store) will boost your comprehension.

4. Allot yourself a specific amount of time for each task.
People with ADHD often have a poor sense of time. Instead of giving yourself all day to finish that report, give yourself two hours. Set an alarm or a computer alert to go off when time’s up.

[Free Handout: Manage Your Time at Work]

5. Each morning, list your top 10 “to-do” items.
This keeps you on track during the day. Write them on a white erasable board. If your priorities shift, alter the list with the swipe of a paper towel.

6. Set aside 15 minutes each day to clear your desk and organize your paperwork.
This is the best way to avoid “buried desk” syndrome. If you wait to get organized “later,” it will never happen.

7. Write down appointments and deadlines on a wall-mounted monthly calendar.
Count backward from each project’s due date, and mark the dates when intermediate stages must be completed.

8. Take copious notes in meetings.
This not only helps you focus, but also provides an outlet for restlessness.

[The Get-More-Done-at-Work Guide]

9. Keep a written record of all requests.
People with ADHD often have trouble remembering spoken instructions.

10. Limit your availability.
Make it clear to co-workers that you would rather not be disturbed outside of your prearranged “office hours.”

2 Related Links

  1. A number of suggestions I have read about remind me of some tried and true approaches I used to cope and excel in a busy consulting firm
    Schedule appointment time on your calendar for major projects that have a. Client deadline. ensure that enough time is scheduled to complete each stage. Build in rewrite time and schedule to finish with at least 24 to 48 hours to spare. If available ask to use that unused office to control all your files and materials to do with the project. It will also help with controlling interruptions and distractionsand will allow you to start immediately from where you left off.

  2. Another little gem was very hard for me to implement and in retirement I am still learning but for. Different reason. So I dont forget.
    Handle Bills once only. I used to receive bills all month long but only my mortgage or rent was paid automatically. As each new regular bill came along sometimes I would set it on automatic but often because of myriad excuses i would set it aside to pay later as There would be lots of time. Inevitably i would forget where it was or worse forget it entirely and have late charges and credit negatives. That lesson i keep on learning is handle it once. If it is coming out of next weeks pay check write a post dated check and put it in your outgoing mail. If it will be paid every month like a utility go on autopay and if it is essential go on a budget amount which many utilities can set up for you. If you want to use it to collect special points on use your credit card to pay it do it when you sign for it. Later is usually to late. About those credit card bills pay them off every month if you possibly can. I learned to be able to do that except christmas and convinced myself that was to keep a good credit rating. It will be better if you can pay xmas bills as well. Most importantly when it comes in take it out of the envelope and decide how much and when you are paying and write that check or make that account transfer and put it away . Of course write the date of payment on that bill.

    Handling them once is so much easier less time consuming and costs less in the long run especially to us. I just have one more to add to this group and I am sure i will have it fixed ……after christmas.

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