ADHD at Work

When You Need to Make Changes at Work

ADHD symptoms of distractibility, procrastination, and disorganization can cause problems at work. If you need workplace accommodations to mitigate the impact of ADHD on your job performance, follow these steps to become a self-advocate, to lobby for your rights, and to remain professional and you navigate bureaucracy.

A woman successfully manages her ADHD at work to flourish.
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Become a Self-Advocate

Some people succeed with ADHD at work, others don’t. Career success for individuals with ADHD depends on how well they advocate for themselves. Self-advocacy is the key that unlocks the door to achievement.

A man using a laptop on a couch with post-it notes on succeeding with ADHD at work all around him
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Question Yourself

If you need to advocate for an accommodation, a change in your workload, or a second chance, think through these questions to help you get what you need.

Ask yourself:

  • What is the problem?
  • Who can help me formulate a strategy?
  • What are three reasonable solutions?
  • Who can fix it?
A man sits in front of a laptop with a coffee cup and wonders how to succeed with ADHD at work.
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Your Life Is Up to You

As an adult with ADHD, you are entitled to reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but nobody can read your mind. Let your supervisors and other helpful people know you are having problems.

A woman starts to write down a list of ways to succeed with ADHD at work.
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Write It Down

Write down the objectives of what you want to say. Perhaps write down everything you want to say, word for word. This will keep you focused and clear. Self-advocacy is a jungle, and it is best to have a road map.

Business people with ADHD work accommodations having a meeting
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Be Flexible

If your employer offers a solution that might work, try it. Decide what you need most, and compromise where you can. Have a clear goal in mind and don’t get bogged down in details.

Business man with ADHD talking to colleague about ADHD accommodations at work
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Don't Give Up Easily

You may have to take no for an answer, but you don’t have to give up. Ask why the person said no. Get specific reasons, so you can modify your solutions accordingly and find answers that work for both parties. Ask if there is anyone else you can talk to who may have a different perspective.

A woman discusses strategies to succeed with ADHD at work with a colleague.
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Keep Calm and Carry On

Getting belligerent never solves anything. No matter how legitimate your argument is, few people will listen if you sound like you are on TV with Jerry Springer. Be firm, clear, dignified, and concise. Most important, be respectful, even if the person you’re speaking with is not. Do not give anyone ammunition for a personal attack by losing the high ground.

A woman looks up how to succeed with ADHD at work on a laptop and takes notes.
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Keep Track

Keep track of dates, times, and outcomes of every interaction you have with your supervisor, co-workers, or HR department that is related to your problem.

A woman writes notes on how to succeed with ADHD at work while a male coworker looks on.
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On the Record

Record your meeting for posterity. Suggest to your supervisor that you want to remember everything he or she says, so you would like to record the meeting. This is a great way to keep everybody honest.

A woman shakes hands with her boss after discussing strategies to succeed at work with ADHD.
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Follow the Pecking Order

Talk to your direct supervisor first. If you don’t get the answer you need, move up the ladder. If you go over someone’s head without giving that person a chance to respond to your problem, it creates mistrust.

Two coworkers smile and work together, using strategies to succeed with ADHD at work.
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Need To Know Basis

If a coworker is not directly involved, or has not suffered and solved his own similar problem, he probably doesn't need to know. Before you confide, ask yourself whether the person would have anything to lose or gain from the solutions to your problem. Those who would benefit will be more willing to help.

A businessman looks confident because he knows how to succeed with ADHD at work.
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Focus on Yourself

The most important element of self-advocacy is “self.” Know your strengths and your needs, and be able to tell the world about them. You are in control of your life. What will you do with it?