August 9, 2022

Tips for working from home with ADHD

Work from home jobs for people with ADHD have their pros and cons. For some adults with ADHD, working from home is highly beneficial. It provides flexibility and may be less distracting than a busy workplace. 

However, for many others who struggle with focus, procrastination and time management, working from home can be highly challenging. Depending on your home environment, you may also be dealing with distractions from family members and feelings of isolation. Whether you’re working from home by choice or out of necessity, here are some strategies to cope.

1. Create a work zone

When you’re working at home, it can be easy to be distracted by the dishes that need doing, family members in the next room – or the food in the fridge! Instead of doing your work on the couch where stimulation abounds, set up a dedicated workspace. Ideally, that would be in a separate room where you can shut the door. Keep your desk clear of visual clutter and face your desk towards a blank wall if possible. Use noise cancelling headphones to channel out any audio distractions. The key is to create a work zone that’s separate from your home life. At the end of the work day, shut the door on your work zone. Or put away your work things if they’re in a multi-purpose room. Try not to use your work desk for hobbies or personal projects.

2. Set a schedule and stick to it

In the workplace it can be easier to stick to a schedule if that’s what the rest of your team is doing. At home, you’ve got to be more intentional about creating a daily routine. A schedule can help you stay on task better, and it’s also good for preventing hyperfocus when it’s not constructive. If you lose track of time easily, try setting a timer to remind you when to move on to the next thing. Don’t forget that every schedule needs break times so you can recharge your brain.

3. Write down your goals in the morning

If time management and meeting deadlines is a struggle, try setting your intentions at the start of each day. Before you start on your work, write down all the things you need to get done and then number each task in order of priority. Be realistic about how much you can get done in one day, making sure to leave time for breaks. If you receive new tasks or deadlines throughout the day, write them down if they don’t need dealing with immediately. Go back to them when you have time – or add them to your task list for tomorrow.

4. Minimise distractions

Set clear expectations with your family and friends about when you’re working and when they can and can’t interrupt you. Use noise cancelling headphones to block out distractions or play music if it helps you focus. To prevent yourself getting pulled off track by pop-up messages and emails, silence your notifications. Set an hour in the morning or afternoon to deal with them instead. Deal with intrusive thoughts by writing them down to deal with at the appropriate time. If you’re finding your stress levels are particularly high, take time for stress-management techniques throughout the day. Meditation, stretching and journaling are all good options.

5. Take breaks and stay active

Taking breaks throughout the day is crucial to prevent burnout and can actually help if you’re feeling distracted or fidgety. Include some physical activity in your break and you might come back to your desk with more focus and motivation. Try going for a 30 minute walk at lunch or doing a midday workout. These breaks aren’t wasting time – they’re actually a great way to repower your brain. Small bursts of physical activity can also be helpful. Find what works for you, whether that’s doing a set of jumping jacks every hour or pacing on the spot while trying to problem-solve.

6. Stay connected to your team

Whether you love working on your own at home or crave the social interactions that a workplace offers, it’s important to stay connected. Direct messaging can be distracting if you’re expected to respond straight away. Try scheduling video calls or online meetings with your team instead. Working from home often means you miss out on the small talk and casual social connections you get in the office. To combat this, start your meetings with 5 minutes of casual chat or organise some social-only catch ups to bond with your colleagues. If you’re feeling isolated at home, chances are others are too. Making time to ask how someone is going is a simple way to connect.

7. Get support to stay in work

If you’re struggling to cope in your current role, it’s important to ask for help. Speaking with your boss can be constructive, if you feel comfortable to do so. They might make accommodations to help you manage better. If your ADHD is making it hard to find work or hold down a job, you could be eligible for government-funded employment support. Employment service providers specialising in jobs for people with injury, illness or disability can help you find job opportunities and workplaces that are a good fit for you. They can also help you access accommodations, funding and other supports you might need.

When you’ve got the right tools and strategies in place, working from home is more manageable – and may even be rewarding. Everyone’s limits and needs are different, so make sure you find what works for you.