Ask the Experts

Q: How Can I Improve My Kids’ Work-at-Home Environment?

Working at home for students with ADHD means designing an environment that is motivating but not distracting, soothing but not boring. Here is smart advice for creating new remote school spaces.

Q: “What is the best way to create a motivating work environment for students so they can get stuff done? My girls have ADHD and, since the pandemic, they like to work in their rooms. I want to set them up so they can get work done there. How should I do this?” – ADHDGirlMom


Hi ADHDGirlMom:

Relying solely on our own internal motivation to get stuff done is exhausting – and not sustainable. Especially now, it’s critical to set up your environment so it communicates to you that it’s time to get moving or motivated. This removes the pressure of always relying on yourself. In other words, your environment can help to share the load! Because If you don’t like where you spend your time doing what you need to do, you’re not going to get down to business, no matter what the business is.

I want your daughters to open up their bedroom doors (since that is where they like to work); that will send them a message that it’s time to get work done. Also, discuss with them what they feel they need in their rooms to inspire and power productivity. Here are some ideas:

1. Color. Color is a great way to infuse energy and fun into a space. I’ve never met a student who likes staring at a sea of blank, boring walls every day. So if bare is blah, then it’s time to literally paint the town red. If painting is not possible, then hang colorful tapestries, fabric or even removable wallpaper stickers to achieve the same effect. And don’t forget that a throw rug, accent pillows, picture frames and such can all add an energizing burst of color.

2. Light. Situate their desks or work areas near a window. Research shows that natural light increases productivity, creates less stress, and improves overall health.

[Click to Read: 8 Secrets to Engaged Online Learning for Students with ADHD]

3. Cool tools. Do your daughters have favorite pens? Love neon sticky notes? Prefer colored paper to write on? If these types of tools make your daughters happy, they’ll likely be more productive.

4. Eye candy. This is really where your daughters can tap into what promotes positive energy for them. Any imagery from posters and artwork to sports memorabilia and photos; can provide the productive boost they crave.

5. Noise. If noise is a distraction for them, it’s time to invest in a good pair of headphones or a white noise machine to drown out distractions. Or check out apps that will give them a variety of different sounds to listen to.

6. Scent. Many of my students swear by aromatherapy or lighting candles to help them find their motivation mojo. Aromatherapy is an easy and effective way to soothe your brain, improve your mood, and increase your energy levels.

[Read: 5 Focus Tricks for Students with ADHD Learning at Home]

I hope you will check out my newest book, How to Do It Now Because It’s Not Going Away: An Expert Guide To Getting Stuff Done (#CommissionsEarned), where I dive deep into setting up motivating work environments to help students get more done.

Good Luck!

Work at Home: Next Steps


ADHD Family Coach Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

Submit your questions to the ADHD Family Coach here!


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Updated on January 21, 2021

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