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ADHD in the Workplace

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How Can You Get and Keep a Job?

Many adults who are restless, aren’t able to concentrate, or have other symptoms have never been formally diagnosed with ADHD. If you have any of the problems listed above, the first step should be to see a doctor who specializes in the treatment of adult ADHD. They can talk to you to see if you do have it. And if you do, diagnose you so that you can get started on the right treatment plan.  

People have success with medication, therapy, or both. There are also organizational strategies you can learn from a coach or occupational therapist and then practice.

If you are about to start a  job search, work with a career counselor to find a job that best matches your interests, needs, and abilities. That might want to find a more fast-paced job with flexible hours and a less-rigid structure. Or you may want to start your own business so that you can design your own work environment and hours.

On-the-Job Tips

Once you have a job, try these:

  • Find peace. Ask to work in a quiet space where you won't be easily distracted.
  • Buddy up. Work with a manager or colleague who is well-organized and can help guide you through projects from start to completion.
  • Book it. Keep a day planner with a calendar and list of things to do. Update them often. Set up your PDA or computer to send you electronic reminders for meetings and due dates.
  • Write it down. Take notes at meetings and during phone conversations, and add all new tasks to your to-do list.
  • Schedule interruptions. Set aside specific periods of time each day for answering voice mail and email so that they won't interrupt your other responsibilities.
  • Set realistic goals. Break up your days into a series of individual assignments, and only try to tackle one task at a time. Use a timer to let you know when to move on to the next task.
  • Reward yourself. When you complete an assignment or follow through on these organizational tricks, find a way to reward yourself. Take a break to go for a walk. Read a magazine article. For big goals, go out for a special lunch or get yourself something you've been wanting.
  • Delegate. If you can, get an assistant or intern to take care of the small details to free you up so you can focus on the big picture.
  • Relax, and make it a habit. Practice relaxation techniques. They can help with concentration. Try mediation or deep breathing. Get up once an hour and take a walk, get a drink of water, or talk to a co-worker.

To help you adjust to your job, enlist the help of a career counselor or executive coach. He or she can offer you guidance on any issues you encounter. They  can also help you work through the job situations that you find most troublesome. For example, they could help you role play how to discuss a pay raise with your boss without the conversation becoming emotionally charged.

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