Working from Home with ADHD

If you are dealing with ADHD while working from home, you will know it is both a blessing and a curse. In the following, I will go over some of the reasons, and how I do it.

First, let me be clear: when it comes to which one is best, it obviously depends on your job. For me, working from home is much preferable to working in an office environment but your mileage may vary. With that out of the way, here are some benefits and pit falls of working from home, especially when you have ADHD.

Time Management

This is a big one, and I am sorry to say that time management doesn’t improve much, at least not when it comes to logging in on time and showing up to meetings, etc. It is not something I have personally struggled with a ton, and from a strictly work-related point of view, it comes out to much the same for me.

The real difference is the in-between attention shifting. By that, I mean the ability to get up from my desk and take a minute to do something completely unrelated that still keeps me engaged and maybe triggers a bit of dopamine. It can be something as small as watering a plant, or playing a game for 10 minutes. But I have learned that smaller things are better suited for this, or I may get sucked into what I am doing and lose track of time.

The ability to shift attention makes an enormous difference in both end result productivity, quality of the work produced and overall happiness, all because I don’t feel trapped and bored. Trapped and bored with raging ADHD is like a really unsexy version of being in a fight or flight state.

The only problem with attention shifting is the potential for hyper-focus and learning how to snap out of it when needed. I use a smart watch to set timers when my in-between task isn’t small enough to naturally end within a few minutes.

Meetings are Easier

Virtual meetings are easier than real ones for me, because I don’t feel self-conscious about things like stimming, whether it’s in the form of doodling, fiddling with a toy, or anything like that.

Stimming helps me pay attention, despite appearing as a distraction to others, so being able to do that without thinking about it is nice. Why does it help with attention? It keeps part of the brain (and hands) occupied, leaving mental room to pay attention to the meeting itself. Stimming acts like an anchor, preventing me from drifting away entirely.

It is especially good if you don’t need to put a camera on, but even if you do, it’s easy enough to keep your doodling out of frame (oh look, he’s taking notes).

Self Care is Harder

Which leads me to self care. I know a lot of ADHD people, including myself, tend to neglect themselves when they either hyper-focus on something, or don’t have some kind of reminder to actually do it.

One of the greatest challenges when working from home with ADHD is good self care. If you have to physically be in the same room as your co-workers every day, it automatically becomes easier to remember things like putting on a fresh shirt, getting a hair cut once in a while or even regular showering.

What Works for Me

I prefer to work from home most of the time, but not all of the time. This way, I have the freedom to do my work in way that brings me joy, but with just a hint of responsibility to keep me from falling into a pit. I try to be in the office about once a month, timing it to coincide with important meetings, milestones and events.

It works because half the team I work with is remote anyway, so there is no hard requirement to be in-office. Again, your mileage may vary – but do explore your options and talk to your employer about your situation, if you think that will be helpful.

It also makes a huge difference if I am out of medication. At the time of writing there is an ongoing shortage of ADHD medication, and it’s easy to end up with gaps. Life gets more difficult without medication and as a result, as do I. Knowing this, being able to completely avoid social situations that trigger negative reactions is a great option to have. On the other hand, no medication also means that it is even easier to lose focus and get distracted mid-

By Rasmus

Nerd and immigrant who uses words, pictures and sound to tell stories.

1 comment

  1. Nice!

    ” -sentence leaves me wondering about my own habits….”

    It’s nice to consider the variety as you do in the article, and set a timer to the smaller break-like activities.
    When I have intensive projects, I try to work in at 45 minute / 15 minute routine. The 15 minutes for small houswork upkeep, meditation or a snack. Meals incl preparation shoul have their own time slot.

    When I have out-of house arrangements, that sets the scedule for the day. It’s ofen seasonal. Long project workdays are mostly in the nov-march period. Also where bad weather and darkness make variety more essential to bring about. (This is a nice feature of my work life).

    But beware the SoMe and being engrossed. There should really be a browser function, where you could set your devise to give you a notification after 5 minutes, and then log you out after two more.

    I’m looking forward to showing your article to my kids.


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