I have received more than a few emails from women struggling with ADHD symptoms while at work. I desperately want to see my ADHD girlfriends find success in work and in life.
In light of this I am offering my suggestions for you to supercharge your productivity in the workplace almost immediately.
Be On time
I cannot stress this enough. Everyone has the occasional rough morning with traffic or children but in order to be taken seriously you need to be on time. This rule applies whether you are an astrophysicist or you work at McDonalds. (Sorry I love The Big Bang Theory!)
Being perceived as responsible is a good thing. Your boss will notice and will your coworkers.
Respect in the workplace is earned. Little things like being on time earn you respect so when you do have a rough morning and come in a little late, they will be able to overlook it.
This is how to make sure you are always on time. Or better yet…early.
Schedule Your Waking Time
Getting up in the morning is not easy. Unless you are a morning person, in which case you likely are not reading this.
My alarm is set for 5:15 a.m.
My clock is set 15 minutes fast, on purpose. So I am first pulled out of sleep at roughly 5:07 every morning because I know that I need at least 3 hours to get to work by 8 a.m.
How much time do you need from the time you wake up until you arrive at work?
Really think about this – and then SET YOUR ALARM.
If you can determine how much time you need to shower, dress, and get your children off to school you have won the first battle.
Build time into your morning for things like clothing malfunctions, dropping your children off at school and traffic.
One way to accomplish this is to make a list of every single thing that has to happen from the time you wake up until you walk in the door at work. I have done this, and the list is staggering.
On a good day it would take me 2 hours and 15 minutes to get to work by 8 a.m. Check it out: (without judging my handwriting.)
Create structure in your day
When I say structure I am again referring to time. For the sake of simplicity, lets say you work 9 hours per day with a 1-hour lunch break.
You need to take the hours and break them down. Here is an example:
First 15 minutes – Say hello to your coworkers or anyone else you feel obligated to. Grab a drink of water or coffee, hit the restroom and then settle in to your workday.
60 minutes – Try to knock off the little things that take up your time. In my first 60 minutes I like to return calls and work emails. I check the calendar to see what our office has going on. I complete annoying tasks such as filing paperwork or organizing the files themselves.
Take care of administrative tasks, then…
Take a break. This is the time that I allow myself to check personal emails and chat with coworkers a little more.
For every 60 minutes of work take a 15 minute break. Check email, move your body around.
I think you can see the pattern I am creating here.
Continue breaking your day into these 1- 1.5-hour working segments with short breaks.
At the end of the day take at least 10 minutes for yourself before you leave to compile a list of items that you have not finished for the day.
Physically write your list. It feels more official that way.
This list of unfinished business should be front and center on your desk in the morning. (If you are anything like me you remember nothing from day-to-day.)
Know your best time of day
Some people are morning people. (Not my people, that’s for sure.)
Some people are more creative and motivated in the middle of the day, while others are just getting revved up starting at 4 p.m.
Determine what time of day you are at your best and utilize that time to work on major projects or meetings. Continue to break up your work into no more than 60 minute chunks with breaks.
Success at work is all about relationships. Get to know your coworkers.
Find out about the guy who likes to hunt squirrels or the girl who is obsessed with online dating. I’m not saying you need to dig into their personal lives, but get to know them. You never know when you might need a friend.
Accept that every workplace will have a whiner.
Every workplace will also have a tattletale. Or at least a person that tries to sabotage everyone else. Look at this person as an opportunity to hone your interpersonal skills.
Study the office jacka$$ so that you can learn how not to behave.
I use this phraseology in jest – but really, studying what doesn’t work is a great way to figure out what does.
With that said…
Avoid office gossip
I have worked in 3 types of environments throughout my career trajectory: retail, office and education. Each of these environments had their own set of challenges and each had advantages.
One thing they all had in common was gossip.
When people work together, breathing the same air and talking about the same business, conflicts arise.
Many of these conflicts arise out of a misunderstanding created through technology.
For example, when I was teaching I witnessed an epic battle that erupted when one teacher sent an email to another teacher questioning her choice of enrichment materials for her class. The issue in question boiled down to the tone of the email.
Some things to consider:
– When you email someone it is very hard to convey your tone and inflection, so choose your words carefully.
– When interpreting email see above.
– If you are witness to office gossip politely excuse yourself.
– Do not tell someone if you hear gossip about him or her. Put it out of your mind. Yes, this is difficult, but it is possible.
I am famous for stating, “I don’t know her well enough to comment on that.” Works every time.
You are there to do a job or perform a service in exchange for money. You are not there to speculate on what anyone else in your workplace is doing. (Or not doing as the case may be.)
Keep things light and positive and communicate openly. I promise you will not regret it.
This is a biggy. Always, always take responsibility for your actions at work.
If you are late, apologize.
If you miss a deadline, stay late and finish the project.
Whatever you do, don’t start denying the obvious. Don’t point fingers at anyone else.
Only you can own your mistakes and only you can repair them.
If you fail to complete work assigned to you go to the supervisor and tell them the truth. Don’t make excuses, just tell them you missed the deadline, and offer a sincere apology.
Explain what you will do differently next time.
The more you bring to the table with your sense of integrity and loyalty to your employer, the more likely he/she is to consider you an asset to their business or department.
You don’t have to lose your job over a simple mistake.
keep personal internet usage to a minimum
In our technology obsessed daily lives, the idea of missing a Facebook post or a text message is horrifying. Or is it? How often does anything vitally important happen on Facebook?
My life will not end if I cannot check Facebook until I get home from work. Neither will yours.
At work I suggest only checking your personal email and other social sites a couple times per day. Here are some quick tips:
– Keep it fast – less than 10 minutes.
– Keep it work appropriate.
– Do not open any attachments that may have adult content. (Duh!)
I once had a boss tell me that I shouldn’t use my office email address to send personal emails to my (then) boyfriend. He said a couple other things that implied he had actually read my emails.
I could have freaked out, but I knew nothing in those emails was inappropriate.
This experience exemplifies some things we all know but choose to ignore:
– Even the smallest employers will monitor your email and Internet usage, and
– Sometimes life as an employee is not fair.
Is it fair that I wasn’t allowed to email my (then) boyfriend from a work email address while this guy looked at porn all day? Nope.
As it turns out he got fired a few years after I left the position.
You can ponder the karmic implications of that situation on your own.
Obviously this post is waaaaay too long for anybody with ADHD. So I will cut it off.
Wanna pick my brain about office politics? Set up a coffee-date.
Check out my Winning at Work with ADHD Ebook
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