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How Does ADHD Affect You at Work?

Updated: Mar 3

✎ Written by: Dubravka Rebic

By neurotypical standards, a good employee is usually someone who shows up on time, is consistent, and does their job without complaining. But is that the only truth?

Yes, traits like being punctual and well-organized are prized, but so is out-of-the-box thinking, coming up with innovative ideas, and creative solutions. Believe it or not, these are the qualities attributed to many people who have ADHD. However, because they struggle with things like organization and planning, they tend to overlook the great attributes they have to offer and, instead, focus on what they’re lacking.

That’s why it’s important to understand that ADHD brains are wired differently; people with ADHD aren’t lazy, lacking motivation, or unorganized. They simply need different tools to help them cope with the day-to-day tasks expected from a neurotypical “good employee” so they can thrive in the areas where they have the option to be more creative and innovative.

This will help them feel more empowered and shake off the negative labels ascribed to them as a result of their ADHD symptoms.

In this article, we’ll go over:

  1. How to avoid burnout and exhaustion

  2. How to improve productivity

  3. How to be a better team player

1. ADHD Burnout and Exhaustion

People with ADHD can have a compulsive tendency to bite off more than they can chew when it comes to taking on extra tasks and commitments. Often this is due to an internalized idea that they're lazy, careless, or not competent enough, so this is their attempt at making up for what they perceive as their “shortcomings”.

But this tendency may actually lead to feelings of burnout and exhaustion. If this is something you struggle with, try relieving tension and stress by:

  • Affirming your self-worth: Remind yourself that you're inherently valuable, regardless of how productive or helpful you are to others.

  • Committing to rest: Ignore nagging feelings of guilt and take time for yourself to relax and recharge. You wouldn’t go multiple days without sleep because you felt guilty, would you? Taking time off will only foster more creativity and productivity in the long run. Try setting a time and place to disconnect and do something that brings you joy or helps you reset.

  • Dropping the mask: Even though it might be difficult to admit that you're struggling because you don't want to let others down, the effort to appear neurotypical can be a source of fatigue. Try to be open and honest about your struggles. When you camouflage your feelings, you push aside opportunities to receive support.

2. ADHD's Impact on Productivity

Some of the common symptoms of ADHD involve trouble concentrating, inability to focus, and difficulty sustaining attention. And these symptoms may cause challenges with organizing, prioritizing, and planning, affecting your productivity at work.