The coronavirus forces sudden adjustments
It’s March, 2020, and the coronavirus is day by day increasing its impact on our everyday lives. As an ADHD Coach, I hear firsthand how the spreading virus is affecting my clients in all sorts of industries.
Many employees accustomed to going to work each day are suddenly forced to work from home. If you’re in this situation with ADHD, you may find yourself challenged to maintain your work productivity.
Perhaps there’s no place to work undisturbed in your house, you’re afraid to risk contamination at the local Starbucks, or it’s just too quiet to focus without the familiar stimulation of the office.
Whether your telecommuting will be a short-term temporary situation or become a long-term lifestyle, here are a few tips for making sure you’re as productive as possible.
How to successfully work at home
Set up the software
Have you been provided with a special laptop, or a new link to conferencing software? If your organization had to make sudden adjustments for telecommuting employees, there may be some glitches in the set-up.
Take the time to make sure it works before you need to conference in. Don’t wait until the last minute to find out you can’t log in to the meeting!
Choose your work location
You probably already know whether you require quiet to work best, or if you focus better with some stimulation around you, such as in a cafe or library. Even alone in your own home, where you work can have a real impact on your distraction factor and your mood.
Too much isolation can distract you with stimulation cravings instead of allowing you to focus on your work. I’ve had many ADHD clients who’ve set up an office in their basement, and then find they can’t get started on their work down there.
- I have a fully stocked home office upstairs, but at some point, I stopped working in it. Instead, I’m parked on the living room sofa where I feel more part of the outside world.
Ease in with a grounding ritual
When you commuted to work, your travel time served as a transition between personal and work time. Now you may find it difficult to begin working right after breakfast. You’d probably do better with a transitional activity.
The most common transition is to check email first thing. But that good old ADHD hyper-focus can lead you to spending too much time on unimportant emails in the morning, rather than on more important projects.
Instead, begin your day with a ritual to “ground” yourself in what needs to get done. You might do this at breakfast, or with your morning beverage.
Go over your planner, identify the actions that need to be done that day, and make sure you haven’t chosen an unrealistic amount of to-do’s. Then slot them in between any conference calls and meetings, entering an estimated amount of time that you think each will take.
Pay attention to how realistic you are when you do this! If your to-do’s for each day aren’t getting completed, you’re probably being overly optimistic about time. Write down how long each task really takes you to get done.
Don’t forget to factor in time to answer emails and calls, schedule break time, and remember you’re not a robot. No human being works every single moment.
Turn off the productivity-killers
Attempting to be focused and productive amidst constant notifications, texts and app pings is like wrestling with one arm tied behind you. These electronic “helpers” have contributed to everyone’s overwhelm, but they’re even more insidious for people with ADD / ADHD.
Every time your focus is pulled from what you’re doing, it takes you much longer to reel your mind back in.
Make appointments with yourself to concentrate on working on particular tasks for a set amount of time, based on your own attention span. SHUT OFF those devices during that working appointment. Put your phone in another room if necessary.
Increase your phone-off time by a bit more each day, and you'll find that ending the addictive tic of constant phone checking will quickly get a lot easier.
Form an accountability partnership with a colleague
You don't have to have ADHD to find these new working conditions a challenge.
If there’s someone you know who is also adjusting to working at home – perhaps a colleague at your own company – you could arrange to periodically check in with each other to stay on track. It might involve an email you schedule to send at certain times, stating what you accomplished, what roadblocks came up, and what you’ll do differently.
This virus might push many organizations into telecommuting as their “normal.” Get ahead of the curve by making it work for you.