Productivity at Work

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? Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD or ADD) 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.”