Friday, October 18, 2013

ADHD Survival Tips for Work

Source: Frances Prevatt, PhD

FOR ADULTS WITH ADHD, the world of work can be especially frustrating due to the symptoms of the disorder. How do inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity impair your job functioning? Here are some examples of behaviors that you might encounter.

If you experience inattentiveness, you might: 
  • Have a cluttered desk and misplaced paperwork
  • Have difficulty getting to work on time
  • Not listen to directions and then get in trouble for doing things incorrectly
  • Have a hard time finishing tasks even though you work as long as your co-workers
  • Have trouble prioritizing or organizing your job duties

With regard to symptoms of hyperactivity, you may notice that you:
  • Have a really hard time sitting through meetings
  • Miss quite a bit of information in meetings as you squirm, fidget, play with a paper clip, or need to go out for a break.

Finally, if you struggle with impulsivity, you might:
  • Interrupt your boss or co-workers before they’ve finished telling you something
  • Take on new tasks or volunteer for an assignment quite enthusiastically, but then have difficulty with follow-through
  • Have a reputation for temper outbursts or angry comments
  • Have had a blow-up with your boss that got you fired.

What the research says

studies show that adults with ADHD:
  • Tend to earn less
  • Are promoted less frequently
  • Are less likely to become senior managers or have similar positions of authority
  • Report more conflict with their supervisor 
  • More likely to receive disciplinary actions and negative performance evaluations
  • They are more likely to hold down only a part-time job, and to be fired from the job that they do hold. 
  • They are also more likely to switch jobs voluntarily, both due to their dissatisfaction in their present position and their need for change and new challenges. 
As a result, adult workers with ADHD generally report more career dissatisfaction, confusion, anxiety, and conflict regarding their employment.
There has been some controversy regarding the performance of adults with high IQ or high overall ability. Some people believe that if you are really successful, that means you can’t possibly have ADHD. However, there are many instances of adults who do very well in high school and college, manage to cope with many of their symptoms, yet still have difficulty in their career. For example, someone may complete all the coursework for a PhD degree, yet be unable to finish a dissertation. Another adult might be able to complete law school coursework, but lack the ability to study for and pass the bar exam. Very successful adults may still have a diagnosis of ADHD, and may cope with their symptoms in some but not all situations.

A related enigma has to do with the fact that ADHD symptoms may not seem to emerge until you reach a certain level of success. For example, you may do quite well in a job with low stress and fairly circumscribed job duties. However, a promotion to a higher level might require managerial and organizational skills, increased stress, and added job duties. At this level of functioning, you might find that your limits of productivity have been met, and you may not be able to handle the increased responsibilities of the job.

The emotional problems that often accompany ADHD can be a distinct area of difficulty for adult workers. You might have some symptoms of depression and anxiety, or a tendency to be angry and perhaps aggressive. Sometimes these symptoms can be a reaction to years of frustration, poor performance in school, and constant negative feedback or criticism. Research shows that if you have a diagnosis of ADHD, there is a higher than normal chance that you will also have a diagnosis of an additional psychological disorder. The added stress of dealing with emotional symptoms can make work performance and interacting with co-workers and supervisors more complicated. 

Overcoming distractibility and lack of focus. Having the right tools, support and guidance can release the exceptional strength, intelligence and creativity so often found in people with the condition of ADHD.
To find out more on how to attain these tools please contact me.

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