I have ADHD, and in the work place it can create some unique challenges when I have to deal with a coworker’s request for something outside my normal routine of duties. Most of my coworkers don’t understand that if I don’t follow my routine exactly, it brings on a lot of anxiety and becomes difficult for me to complete the simplest of tasks. There are some strategies that I use to help manage my workflow and accept additional requests.
Time Management: Scheduling Each Hour of My Day
As a receptionist at a large pharmaceutical company I supported many different departments. Each department has a unique set of requests or tasks, so the workflow was often chaotic and disorganized. Managers were constantly throwing their requests at me as they walked by. It was overwhelming. So I came up with a request schedule for each department I was supporting based on their needs and timelines. Here is a portion of that schedule:
8:00- New Employee Orientation
8:30- IT Request and Reports
9:00- Maintenance Work Orders
9:45- Charlotte Is On Break
10:00- Parking Permit Issuance
I posted this timeline on my desk, giving each department an allotted amount of time. By organizing my work, it allowed everyone else to better organize theirs. Giving me more time to accept extra projects.
Put It in Writing, Please
The ADHD mind is either hyper-focused or not paying attention, there is no in between. Shouting out orders as you run past my desk is ineffective with me. I hear half of what you’re saying and I retain half of that information. Resulting in several phone calls for clarification and work that is inaccurate.
I learned early on at the pharmaceutical company to ask for it in writing. It seems like a simple request, but department managers are busy people. The idea of having to take five minutes to write something down is often tedious and unneeded in the manager’s mind. It is a battle to train your coworkers and managers, but one that is worth the fight.
Realizing those five minutes of writing an email saves hours of frustration, my coworkers and managers adapted quickly. Appreciating not having to repeat themselves and finding that they now had more time to focus on other tasks. Having all the details in front of me, my assignments were accurate and ahead of schedule.
Having ADHD causes me to become overwhelmed and anxious. Organizing the way I work ultimately helped my coworkers organize how they work, improving how the office functions as individuals and as a team. Communicating my needs helps create an easy, peaceful work environment and lowers my anxiety level.