AD/HD Success Strategies at Work
"I hear, I forget. I see, I remember. I do I understand."



How to address the ADD Symptoms at work:

Attention Deficit Disorder is a condition that some people experience which manifests itself through numerous symptoms which may include one or more of the following: hyperactivity, impulsiveness, distractibility, lack of organisation, forgetfulness and procrastination.

You may like to explore the various options below to make a difference at work.

Hyperactivity and Motor Restlessness

  • Look for work that allows/requires physical movement -- a job where you're on your feet more, moving from room to room, talking to others, or driving from one job site to another.
  • Take breaks from prolonged desk work (example: walk to water fountain and back every 30 minutes).
  • During coffee and lunch breaks, consider walking rather than sitting. Bring your own lunch so you can exercise before eating.
  • The more you sit during work, the more you need exercise after work.
  • A job requiring long meetings and detailed desk work is less suited to your needs.


  • Block out periods of your day when you won't be disturbed; remind supervisors, co-workers that you get more done when uninterrupted.
  • Do intensive work in time-limited chunks and then take a break; daydreaming will drop.
  • If you are internally distracted (that is, if your mind jumps from one thing to another), you may not be suited to your assigned work. Tedious, low-interest tasks can set the stage for daydreaming.
  • When a rapid flow of ideas related to your project distracts you from the task at hand, jot down the intruding thoughts in a special pad you carry with you. You can return to the ideas later and meanwhile continue with the task.
  • A rapid flow of ideas in meetings can get you off track; make notes of what you want to say and refer to the notes.
  • Reorient yourself by setting a clock beeper to go off every hour or so and ask yourself "Am I on task?"
  • An orderly workspace can improve concentration; keep piles to a minimum. Clear your desk of all papers but those you're working on. Later, schedule a time to reorganise your work space.
  • Distractibility can cause poor follow-through, especially if a new suggestion comes along that captures your interest. Learn to catch yourself and complete the current task. Use new interests as a reward for completing previous projects.


  • Work as a team with an organise partner if organisation and follow-through are weak points.
  • Set aside 15 minutes at the beginning of work to plan; an overview will help you set daily priorities.
  • You may want a job that involves immediate, short-term goals if you have little interest in long, complicated projects.
  • You may not want a job in which you are assigned work by many different people; that's tough even for a good organiser.
  • Stop when you notice yourself reacting, abandoning your priorities, or letting random events or others' priorities take precedence over your plans.
  • Categorise tasks as A - B - C: A. Has to be done today. B. Want to get done today C. Will do today if A's & B's are complete.

Time Management

  • Plan your day and follow your plan; notice events, impulses and moods as they come and go. By planning ahead, you are proactive and create options.
  • Give yourself more time than you think you'll need for a job; over scheduling will cause burnout and possibly giving up.
  • Building free time into your day gives you chance to catch up from interruptions.
  • Break large tasks into chunks. You may increase your productivity if you give yourself concrete assignments with a due date.
  • Keep your daily schedule with you at all times. When taking on a new task, schedule it in your book either at an exact time or on a specific day's "to do" list.
  • Set a timer to beep when you need to end a conversation or task. "Here, I'm setting my timer now so we can talk for 10 minutes." End conversations a few minutes early; saying goodbye often takes longer than planned. Leave some leeway so you're on time for your next
  • Set reasonable limits to requests so you're not overly stressed, running late, or missing meetings. In addition to hard work, motivation and willingness, adopt the habit of saying "I'll get back to you in two days" (and then do get back) rather than an automatic "yes."
  • Avoid last-minutes impulses that make you chronically late. The brief task that distracts you on your way out the door to a meeting will be there to do when you return.
  • Before leaving for a meeting, remind yourself not to get sidetracked by hallway conversations. End conversations a few minutes early; saying goodbye often takes longer than planned. Leave some leeway so you're on time for your next commitment. This is being proactive.


  • Give yourself deadlines and commit to someone when you will complete the work.
  • Build in rewards for yourself (example: When I finish this letter, I'll take a coffee break).
  • Does your job involve too many tasks you have trouble doing, find tedious or just don't enjoy? Severe procrastination may be a sign of poor job match.

Low Frustration Tolerance

  • What recurring situations at work are most stressful for you? How can these occurrences be reduced or minimised?
  • Leave the frustrating situation before you reach your boiling point; taking your frustration level seriously will help avoid explosions.
  • Develop relaxation techniques to use at the office, such as progressive muscle relaxation, stretching or guided imagery.
  • Long hours, time pressure, intense, and high stress organisations may increase your frustration. Instead look for work that lets you set your own pace and allows you time alone.

Interpersonal Conflicts on the Job

  • A history of coworker conflicts may suggest the need for counselling or coaching to develop strategies for avoiding future conflicts.
  • Maybe you don't know when to stop talking and miss non-verbal cues from others. With a coach you can learn strategies to pick up social cues.
  • If you are seen as stubborn and argumentative, your coach or supervisor may ask you to practice active listening. During active listening you pay attention to and reflect back what is being said to you, instead of responding with negative, defensive or contradictory remarks.
  • If you are hot-tempered, develop an early warning system to judge your mood and frustration level. Cool off before the discussion resumes.
  • You may need autonomy and personal freedom in your work if you are impatient with the inevitable problems that come up when working with others.


  • Tape record important meetings and seminars.
  • Take notes during meetings you record; at a point of particular importance, write down the "counter number" from your recorder so you can fast forward to find that section again and refer to particular points.
  • Keep a written record of action items you, your supervisor or a co-worker have talked about .
  • Provide others with a written copy of your interpretation of agreements so you can double check for accuracy.
  • Rather than relying on your memory, always keep your daytimer or daily schedule with you for brief notes on decisions or commitments you make.

Ways Employers Can Accommodate ADD Employees

  • Offer a private office or non-distracting work space; make available an unused conference room for work requiring intense concentration.
  • Give permission to do some work at home. Flex time helps those who like to work with few distractions.
  • Provide a day-planner computer software (helps organise and plan) with visual and auditory alarms (reminders to stay on task, manage time). Hire a professional organiser. to help employee set up her filing system (short-term); hire a coach to keep the employee focused, clear and in action.
  • Provide checklists to structure projects with several stages (week, month, year); intermediate deadlines; regularly scheduled 15 min. check in with the supervisor twice a week provides external structure to keep the employee on track.
  • The project co-ordinator will establish structure, guidelines, and intermediate deadlines for a team project; this benefits everyone, especially the ADD employee.
  • Give instructions slowly and clearly. Write down instructions so employee has a written record. Video/audio cassettes can record instructions. Co-workers can use memos or E-mail to keep the communication clear.
  • Give more frequent feedback on performance; employee evaluates his performance using your criteria.
  • When work assignments come from varied sources, the supervisor can act as a funnel, so the ADD employee sets priorities with just one person.
  • Excuse the employee from nonessential tasks so she can focus on areas of performance strength.
  • Reassign the employee to a position that better matches his strengths. Or restructure the job.

Creating Productive Meetings (adapted from Thom Hartmann)

  • The meeting has an agenda. An agenda outline is distributed in advance to meeting attendees so they can prepare. Because ADD employees gather their thoughts in advance, they can contribute more to a productive meeting.
  • The meeting has only one goal. The person calling the meeting defines the meeting's goal. The goal is defined in specific, measurable terms. A brainstorming meeting for a new product name sticks to that process; a second meeting to select the product name will have a different process. By having one goal per meeting, the meetings are generally shorter, the goal is accomplished, and the ADD employee has a central point to fix on.
  • The meeting's focus is maintained. The job of keeping things on-task is assigned to one person who will intervene in wandering conversations and will minimise distractions. People are brought back to focus without taking offence, and ADD employees will see self-monitoring is a discipline others need to learn as well.
  • The meeting is summarise in writing. The person who calls the meeting also takes notes or delegates this task. The summary lists decisions made (with time lines and accountability) and discussion points, and will be distributed to everyone within a few hours after the meeting. This summary is especially helpful to the ADD employee who as agreed to carry out a task.
  • Make notes of what you want to say. Jotting down your ideas as the meeting progresses will help you avoid blurting out or interrupting.
  • Structure the meeting. ADD employees benefit from structure, and so do meetings. There are many ways to structure meetings; here are two. A brainstorming meeting, for example, has certain rules (all ideas are good, no evaluation is done, discussion is free-flowing, suggestions are written on a board for all to see), and a problem solving meeting has different rules (define the problem, the causes, and several solutions; choose the best solution and determine its execution).
  • Break long meetings into smaller parts. These shorter meetings can be scattered through the day or over the week. Or take a 5 minute group break every 20-30 minutes. Or meet with no chairs, so everyone stands and gets straight to the point. For an ADD employee, boredom will be lessened and, for some, the attention span will function optimally.
  • Consider regular meetings for recurrent issues. A sales meeting, for example, might run 10 minutes every morning instead of a half-hour every week. Even half-hour weekly meetings will be better for ADD employees than half-day monthly meetings. A key to success for regular meetings is the non-ADDer who holds responsibility for seeing the meetings happen day in and day out.

Take the first step and follow through: Call paul on 01727 869782 for more information or e-mail [email protected]

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