The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many individuals to wok from home as employers struggle to maintain safe social distancing practices. It’s not yet clear how long this will go on and there is some speculation that many employers may not completely return to the traditional workplace environment once the pandemic is over. It’s challenge for everyone, but especially for those with ADHD.
The Challenges of Working from Home with ADHD
A traditional work environment provides structure, accountability and community – a place to focus on getting work done. Not all workplaces are optimized for productivity and freedom from distraction, but they are generally better suited for that than the home. The challenges of working at home include:
- Distraction – This comes from random family interactions, focusing on non-work chores around house, getting distracted by news, becoming hyper-focused on something non-work related.
- Motivation – Trying to stay focused on work task that may not be very stimulating when you are at home can make it tough to stay on schedule and complete the work you need to do.
- Structure – The routines and flow of work can be completely disrupted at home. Requests and assignments can seem to come from all different directions which can seem confusing and demotivating.
- Accountability – It can be easier to more spend time on non-work tasks during normal business hours when there is no supervisor present. You can be seduced into doing simple household chores which are easier to accomplish.
- Community – Work offers the support and direct social interaction with colleagues. Being at home can leave you feeling isolated, lonely and demotivated.
Strategies to Overcome Work-at-Home Issues
Below are some tips to help you overcome each of these challenges.
- Avoid working in relaxing places like your bedroom or in front of the television.
- Keep your working space uncluttered – a messy environment can be distracting.
- Turn off unnecessary notifications – e.g. from personal social media.
- Save interacting on social media for the end of the day.
- Talk to your children about the best times to have conversation.
- Maintain a routine that simulates, to the extent possible, what you do in a traditional work environment.
- Plan out each day’s schedule the night before.
- Note down your top 2 or 3 priorities for each day and keep that list in front of you at all times.
- Ask a colleague you regularly work with to schedule morning huddles with you to discuss the day’s workload, then check in intermittently to relay how it’s going.
- Ask to schedule a weekly check-in with your supervisor where you go over what’s most important over the next several days, so you can plan accordingly.
- Review your deadlines and priorities with your supervisor to reinforce the urgency and importance of tasks in your mind so ou can deliver your assignments according to their relative significance.
- Give yourself rewards when you finish an assignment or important task.
- Block out time during the day to socialize. This will keep you feeling connected with friends and family. It can provide additional motivation for the regular slog of the business day.
- Take care of yourself with some form of exercise. Combine your exercise with something else that gives you enjoyment – e.g. music.
- Respect your body clock. Understand things like the dopamine cycle which can be high in the morning and diminish later in the day. Try to do your most challenging tasks when that cycle is operating in your favor.
You can find many other suggestions in the references below. The key is to experiment and discover the work at home routines and arrangements that work best for you.