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ADHD at Work - A Sisyphean Challenge

8 min read
Last Updated on 30 November, 2023

If you're reading this, it may be because you're considering employing someone who has ADHD at work or that they have some symptoms of it.

It's not always easy being an ADHDer, especially at work. Living with undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD, can present you with many challenges worldwide and in the workplace. Out of those many challenges at the workplace, one may be the tendency to not fit in the square boxes of your employer's measured abilities and their desired work results.

This article aims to explore and answer the many questions you may have about ADHD and how it will affect your organization and your employees at work.

What Is ADHD?


ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a chronic neurobehavioral condition. It is characterized by not paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It is one of the most common childhood neurodevelopmental disorders, which often lasts until adulthood if not diagnosed. It's a diagnosis that is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

According to a recent study in 2016, the prevalence of adult ADHD is estimated at 2.5 percent worldwide. ADHD is neither a behavioral disorder nor a mental illness. It is a developmental impairment of the brain's self-management system.

Adults with untreated ADHD can have significant consequences in many areas of their lives, including job, relationships, and mental health. If you are not actively managing your ADHD, symptoms including time management, impatience, disorganization, forgetfulness, and mood swings can all be problematic.

About 4 percent of American adults over the age of 18 deal with ADHD.

Symptoms of ADHD

Here are the most common symptoms of ADHD -

Hyper focusing or trouble concentrating on tasks

Even though people with ADHD are passionate about their work, they cannot always focus on things that aren't as interesting or rewarding.

Easily distracted

The main traits of ADHD are inattention and lack of focus. They're easily distracted due to being naturally low on dopamine and norepinephrine.


Many adults with ADHD struggle with chronic procrastination. It is usually led by other related factors like distractibility, forgetfulness, disorganization, and time management. Because of this, they face challenges at work meeting deadlines.


People with ADHD seem to jump from one topic to another, which is their mental hyperactivity displaying. The ADHD brain is always flooded with tons of ideas and thoughts, which can be overwhelming at times. People with ADHD are creative and quick thinkers.

Time management

People with ADHD are usually time blind. The executive functioning deficits planning, initiating, remembering, and preserving towards their goal.

Types Of ADHD At Work

ADHD can significantly affect employee health at work. People with ADHD are sometimes misconstrued as being careless, unorganized, and sluggish. In actuality, they're the ones who, in a desperate attempt to keep up, work harder than the majority of their co-workers.

People with ADHD at work might be classified into one of three kinds. -

  • Predominantly inattentive
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type
  • Combined hyperactive inattentive and impulsive type

Four reasons why adults with ADHD procrastinate at work

    1. The task is boring.
    1. They don't know how and from where to start.
    1. The job is big or overwhelming.
    1. Unfamiliar with the task.
    1. Lack of organizational skills.

How Does ADHD Affect Your Work-life Balance?


Around ten million adults have ADHD, and they frequently struggle with the job, personal life, and relationships. It might be difficult to blend in as someone with ADHD who is also creatively minded at work.

Even if you have natural abilities like communication or problem-solving, you may face obstacles that prevent you from making the development you desire.

ADHD and work stress are coupled together as most adults with ADHD have problems with executive functioning, which is the ability of the brain to prioritize and control ideas and actions.

Because of this, the fight to complete the task at hand, fulfill deadlines, or avoid overt impulsiveness appears to be an eternal conundrum.

The diffusion of the domain in the brain is lower in those with ADHD than in people who do not have ADHD. Boredom results from their lack of satisfaction, which saps their motivation to work.

Five Most Common ADHD At Work Symptoms

    1. Distractibility
    1. Impulsivity
    1. Boredom
    1. Procrastination
    1. Difficulty managing projects

Employees with ADHD at work have the legal right to make reasonable adjustments to do their jobs like their colleagues.

**Suggested read **- 14 Adult ADHD Symptoms: Disorganization, Fatigue, and More.

How Do You Deal With ADHD At Work?


In today's corporate world, employee mental health and wellness are given the most importance. People with ADHD are often mistaken as liabilities for the corporation or organization.

It is important to know that not everyone with ADHD needs extra support in the workplace, or those who do may require a small number of changes, which could cost little to nothing to implement.

5 ADHD Workplace Accommodations

Employees with ADHD may struggle with the most basic tasks at work.Since they’re always hyperfocused, work may be overwhelming for them.But like any other condition, ADHD too can be managed with the right cognitive-behavioral techniques.

Some effective tips for ADHD at work and how to manage it -

1. Be specific

Both the employee and the management should be explicit about the concerns or struggles they're facing and the solutions they're looking for.

2. Check-in

Nothing will make sense in the first meeting itself, so you'd need to make more meetings to get a grasp of it. It's a constant thing that you need to work on.

3. Follow up

Having an ongoing discussion or meeting every 1-2 weeks helps to understand its dynamic.

4. Break down tasks

The employer should break down the tasks into smaller tasks like to-do lists with targets and deadlines.

5. Provide solutions

Have sessions where you work on developing relevant skills or identifying a strategy that will work.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can help you feel better faster.

Ways To Support A Co-worker With ADHD At Work


Employees with ADHD can surprisingly bring out-of-the-box thinking ideas, energy, and intense focus at work. They might even miss their deadlines or lack organizational skills, but the co-workers and the management team need to have patience and support them.

Corporate wellness programs today have a vast range of benefits.Since ADHD symptoms are so variable,they depend partly on context.While some environments may bring out the best in people with ADHD, some might not.

Here are some tips for working with someone who has ADHD -

Communication is the key

Explaining or communicating with someone with ADHD needs to be to the point and concise. You have to give a brief overview of the general context first, as they tend to zone out fast.

Giving deadlines

People with ADHD procrastinate and tend to deviate from their tasks. They can find big jobs overwhelming at times. Since time management is their strength, being time-sensitive and setting deadlines could help them out.

Being mindful of interruptions

Since people with ADHD tend to be impulsive and hyperactive, they easily get distracted, which is why they might zone out in conversation or meetings and ask questions after questions. We need to be patient and guide them through.

Balancing structure and flexibility

Guide people with ADHD with tips and advice, but at the same time, you shouldn't suffocate them. They should be allowed to maintain their strategies.

Space for emotions and reassurance

People with ADHD often doubt themselves at work and feel demotivated. They're sensitive towards rejection and might react inappropriately toward real or perceived contradictions at work. Though certain displays of emotions aren't always considered appropriate at work, we need to be considerate and sensitive.

Famous People Who Have ADHD

Here are some famous individuals that have ADHD -

  • Michael Phelps
  • Karina Smirnoff
  • Adam Levine
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Paris Hilton
  • Simon Biles

Suggested read- Famous People with ADHD: ADD Celebrities and Well Known People.

How To Stay Focused At Work With ADHD


ADHD, like any other behavioral disorder, can be managed with proper behavior techniques and strategies to reduce distractions and enhance structure and organization at work.

Here are some strategies to help you manage your energy flow at work -

Know your flow

You should keep a check on your flow when it's high or low.
Prepare for it
Be ready for the ups and downs.

Work on it

Work when an episode occurs; take a break when it doesn't.

Accept it

Be easy on yourself.

Practice self-compassion

Accepting and loving yourself should be the main mantra. Go easy on yourself.

How To Manage Employees With ADHD At Work Tips


Employers should pair creatively inclined employees with ADHD with less creative but organized employees in project teams.


ADHD individuals would benefit from intensive organizational and project management training.

Peer support

Strong peer support and coaching culture can help employees with ADHD organize, activate and manage disruptive emotions.

Break down tasks

Make big tasks into smaller ones and let them know they should be done or your top priority.

Be solution-focused

Instead of focusing on their weaknesses, you can have a session to develop relevant skills that will work.

Practicing mindfulness techniques is the key to keep track of your daily tasks.

Suggested read-8 Fantastic Benefits Of Introducing Meditation At Work

ADHD Work Solutions

You're capable of doing the job just as well as anyone else. Because ADHD is situational, a person's symptoms may be severe in one area but not in others. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all strategy for ADHD.But with the right tools and techniques, an employer's work issues might convert into a valuable asset in the appropriate setting.


People with ADHD dread small talks. Since their brain runs on interest, so small talk doesn't engage them. If an ADHDer tries to immerse themselves in something that doesn't provide the good, it can be exhausting and physically painful for them.

ADHD skills that help in the workplace

  1. Working well under pressure
  2. Ability to find creative solutions
  3. The ability to hyper-focus
  4. Quick thinking
  5. The ability to multitask.

Read More: The 10 Best Jobs for People with ADHD .

Summing It Up

Your creativity is your impulsiveness turned the right way round." - Faigey Liebermann.

It's not easy juggling ADHD and a challenging job simultaneously, but smart planning could be our kryptonite to break this Sisyphean humdrum.Even though people with ADHD aren't always the most productive bunch, we can manage and utilize their skills into assets with the right strategy. Putting them in a box will never work; it would just annoy them and make them want to give up.

Although ADHD is a chronic condition, it is treatable rather than curable. With the right techniques and innovations, we can easily turn our business around.

The working environment is everything. If you're not in the right soil, then you're not going to grow. A little empathy and communication with your employer can help ensure your soil is right for you to flourish.

This article is written by Neha Yasmin who is a content marketer at Vantage Circle. A selenophile with a penchant for discovering great meals and drinks. Is a self-proclaimed binge racer with a knack for cooking in her spare time. For queries, reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com

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