ADHD Women and Productivity Shame

woman with laptop not working

Thirteen months into a pandemic and this article about ADHD women and productivity shame is even more relevant than it was in 2019.

This is actually an issue I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about recently, so much so that I wrote an article about spending less time doing, and more time being. (Because I forgot about THIS article in the archives)

Every spring there’s this onslaught of spring cleaning and organizing articles and workshops. And every spring many of my clients start to feel the pressure to organize and clean their homes.

A year ago today, I was adjusting to homeschooling my kid and having my husband at home all the time. That made it easy for me to avoid the pressure to spring clean my home. We were told to stay home and not have people over, right?

I know some professional organizers that are great people, but that has never seemed like a permanent solution to my clutter.

Do I have shame about the condition of my house after a year in lockdown?

Eh not really. But I can tell you that even when I was knocked-down with Covid I STILL*** worried that I wasn’t doing enough – at home, at work, with my child.

Questioning your productivity while sick is proof that productivity shame is an issue.

So lets discuss it in more detail.

First,  I didn’t come up with the name. In fact I stole it from Jocelyn K. Glei. I highly recommend her podcast called Hurry Slowly and her website.

Productivity Shame

Productivity Shame is not unique to ADHD women, but I do believe it is felt more deeply by us for a couple of reasons.

First, as a woman the world expects different things from you than it does from a man. Things like kinkeeping, calendar management, and other more domestic-minded pursuits. You might struggle with paperwork and mail, household cleaning and organizing, and even childcare. Meal planning is another perennial issue for my clients.

If you dare to admit that these tasks are difficult for you, you’re often met with disapproval or told indirectly that you should just make more lists and try harder.

Our partners and friends can’t quite** understand why these tasks are so challenging, and why it’s so hard to talk about it, and it creates tension in our relationships.

Second, as a rule it is trendy to be productive. Our society places a high value on the appearance of success and productivity.

 I wrote years ago about the culture of BUSY that has overtaken our lives.

The rise of social media and blogs has only increased the pressure to produce something, anything, that proves that we are using every hour of every day in the most productive manner possible.

If you spend the whole day at home and have nothing to show for it, not even a home cooked meal, you are taught to feel bad about this. Like you are profoundly lazy and should be disappointed with yourself.

Fake Productivity

The other big obstacle to creating REAL productivity is what I call the, “fake productivity” that we all engage in.

Sit down and track how many hours of your day you spend checking email, scrolling, texting and otherwise avoiding your own thoughts – I guarantee you’ll be shocked.

We fritter away so much time on useless activities.

My family can confirm I’m wound pretty tight, so I’m weird and anxious all the time at home. It’s nothing for me to pace around my house ranting about doing the laundry, but then forget why I was ranting, and start to clean the kitchen instead.

I spend hours ranting about doing things that I don’t want to do, and then complaining that they aren’t done. 

Many of you might also have what Dr. Russ Ramsay calls “goldilocks syndrome” where in order to do anything you have to be in the right mood, in the right setting, and meet a long list of criteria. Activation isn’t always our strongest EF. 

Sometimes the workplace is even worst than being at home. I read that office workers only actually, “work” about two hours and fifty-three minutes per day. Most office workers stay in the office at least nine hours per day.

Are these people just wasting six hours per day?

Nope. Those six hours are being eaten by scrolling, emails, and too many meetings that drain the energy right out of them.

The same thing happens to stay-at-home-moms, EXCEPT we have much less tolerance for, “wasted time,” when a woman works in the home.

Make no mistake being a stay-at-home-mom or homemaker is work. I daresay the expectations are higher for women on the homefront than anywhere else.

And don’t even get me started on multi-tasking. It just doesn’t work.


You don’t have to have something to show for every hour of your day. 

No wonder so many of us suffer with productivity shame.

I brought this conversation into the ADHD Enclave.

Enclave community logo


The podcast I recorded was a direct result of those conversations.

In this episode you will hear:

  • ADHD Women and Productivity Shame
  • False productivity and business
  • The difference between speed and efficiency
  • Multitasking does NOT work
  • Less doing. More Being.
  • Energy management leads to productivity

Audio [buzzsprout episode=’2552578′ player=’true’]


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