Time & Productivity

How to Focus at Work When You’re Bored, Overwhelmed, or Tired

Distracting co-workers. Messy desks. Monotonous work. Focusing on the job isn’t easy when you’re bored, overwhelmed, tired, or distracted with ADHD symptoms. Here, ADDitude readers share their 14 best tricks for finding focus at work.

ADHD Businesswoman in Office
ADHD Businesswoman in Office
1 of 15

How to Focus at Work: Managing ADHD on the Job

Distracting co-workers, messy desks, and monotonous work all conspire against adults with ADHD on the job — taxing our attention and pushing our focus past its limit. So we asked ADDitude readers how to focus at work  — here are the tips and tricks you offered!

A woman writes notes in a notebook so she doesn't forget tasks once she finishes her current task.
A woman writes notes in a notebook so she doesn’t forget tasks once she finishes her current task.
2 of 15

How to Focus at Work: Take Notes

"I keep a notepad and pen in my pocket to jot down any random ideas or tasks that float into forethought. This combats distraction by allowing me to keep record of the task that isn't an immediate priority, and set it aside until my present task is complete. I'm able to check items off throughout the day, which gives me a sense of accomplishment." – Jennifer Mills

 

A woman plans the next day before going to sleep so her to-do list doesn't wake her all night.
A woman plans the next day before going to sleep so her to-do list doesn’t wake her all night.
3 of 15

How to Focus at Work: Plan the Night Before

"Before I go to bed, I write a to-do list of everything I need to do the next day — including small things such as sending a birthday card — and then I email it to myself. When I sit down at my desk in the morning to read my email I print off the list and keep it next to me all day, ticking off items as I go. This also keeps me from waking up at night and worrying about all the things I have to do the next day!" – Niki Worrell

[Free Download: 6 Ways to Retain Focus (When Your Brain Says 'No!')]

A calendar shows how an adult with ADHD broke down her time into small tasks.
A calendar shows how an adult with ADHD broke down her time into small tasks.
4 of 15

How to Focus at Work: Break Down Your Time

"I list three things that are the priority to get done this hour/half hour. When I’m done with that, I find and go to the next three things. One item is not interesting enough to keep me focused." — Emily Porges

 

Two adults walk around the office, getting up to move so they can return to focus.
Two adults walk around the office, getting up to move so they can return to focus.
5 of 15

How to Focus at Work: Get Up and Move

"At work I will walk a lap around the office before sitting down to focus on a report." – Rhonda Pratl Harvey

All papers are labeled with a sticky note of what needs to be done with them to keep overwhelm away.
All papers are labeled with a sticky note of what needs to be done with them to keep overwhelm away.
6 of 15

How to Focus at Work: Label, Label, Label

"I tend to be a 'piler' of papers. The 'touch a paper only once' rule doesn't work very well for me. But what does work is putting a sticky note on each paper in the pile that had on it the next step for that piece of paper. Maybe it says, 'file in bills', or 'make 3 copies' or 'take to office.' This makes that pile seem less intimidating because I know I won't have to think SO HARD when I get to it." –Kristi Henderson

An adult working in a cubicle uses white noise to drown out others and stay on task.
An adult working in a cubicle uses white noise to drown out others and stay on task.
7 of 15

How to Focus at Work: White Noise

"I work in an office with cubicles that is very noisy. I have a small fan that I keep on my desk that is just enough white noise to 'drown out' most of the people talking. It works wonders. Instead of hearing every conversation and being tempted to join or talk to others, I really have to strain to hear, which I don't as I am able to focus on my work." – NatalieJ

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

A woman talks into a recorder to record a reminder message for herself.
A woman talks into a recorder to record a reminder message for herself.
8 of 15

How to Focus at Work: Talk to Yourself

"I have a voice recorder that I use to record ideas or tasks that I must do." – Linda Follis

A man arrives at work early, while there are less distractions.
A man arrives at work early, while there are less distractions.
9 of 15

How to Focus at Work: Go In Early

"To reduce my distraction at work concerning paperwork, I will go in 30-45 minutes early and shut my door to get the work done when it is quiet with no distractions." – James Atkison

A man standing alone wondering if he has symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.
10 of 15

How to Focus at Work: Find a Private Space

"In college, before medication was available, my best place to study late at night was the laundry room. There was usually no one around, and I could read out loud. Seeing and hearing the material at the same time improved my focus and comprehension." – Louise Bevilacqua

A man and woman work on the fun tasks first, so they have the stimulation to complete boring tasks.
A man and woman work on the fun tasks first, so they have the stimulation to complete boring tasks.
11 of 15

How to Focus at Work: Save the Best for First

"When I have a list of tasks that need to be done, I've found that sometimes (depending on what those tasks are) completing the 'fun' tasks FIRST will often times help me 'rev up' my brain with enough positivity to be able to more easily muscle through the remaining 'boring' tasks. (So much for saving the best for last, eh?)" – Mark Trumpie

A desk shows an old radio and books, ways to get creative to help with focus.
A desk shows an old radio and books, ways to get creative to help with focus.
12 of 15

How to Focus at Work: Go Old School

"I listen to old time radio dramas! They entertain my audio sense so I can focus on my visual work." – Dallas M

A woman uses productivity apps on he phone and tablet to help her stay on task at work.
A woman uses productivity apps on he phone and tablet to help her stay on task at work.
13 of 15

How to Focus at Work: Use Productivity Apps

"I love an app (only for Android) called StayOnTask. It is super simple — you turn it on and lay it on the table beside you, and it chimes at random intervals asking you to press a button if you're on or off task. It's astoundingly helpful." – Susan

A man has a ball chair at his desk to use his need to wiggle to help him focus at work.
A man has a ball chair at his desk to use his need to wiggle to help him focus at work.
14 of 15

How to Focus at Work: Allow for the Wiggles

"I use a stability ball at work; I notice the difference when I don't." – Sherry Singer

 

A woman uses as stress ball as a fidget to maintain focus at work.
A woman uses as stress ball as a fidget to maintain focus at work.
15 of 15

How to Focus at Work: Try Different Textures

"It's really just so simple. A small piece of the scratchy side of Velcro on the table next to me. When I'm drifting or foggy, I just rub my finger on it and before I realize it, I’m back in the zone." – Kevin McClure

[Finding Joy on the Job]

Leave a Reply