4 ways I stay focused at work, even with ADHD

Technically, people with ADHD have no problems focusing, it’s just that they focus on things other than what they should be focusing on.

Staying focused when you have ADHD can be a challenge.

Technically, people with ADHD have no problems focusing, it’s just that they focus on things other than what they should be focusing on. When you’re young, it means you have a hard time focusing in school. When you’re an adult, it means you have a hard time focusing at work.

Luckily, there are things you can do to make it a bit easier. I have four main tools I use to stay focused at work.

For the last 6 years, I’ve been self-employed. That means I get to choose what I work on, which makes it easier for me to manage my tasks, keeping me focused.

I manage a marketing company, focusing on writing, editing, and social media management. Every day, I manage projects for multiple clients. One day, I might manage a Twitter account for one client, Facebook for another, and Instagram for another, while also editing a couple pages for another client, and writing a blog post for fifth client.

The great thing about this set up is that I’m not stuck doing the same thing every day. Every day brings new experiences. I might, for example, write website copy for a jeweller, manage the Facebook page for a massage therapist, and edit a thesis for a graduate student all in the same day.

This allows me to break my workday into chunks. For example, the day I wrote this blog post, I managed 4 Facebook pages, 2 Twitter accounts, and 3 Instagram profiles. On average, I spend about 20–30 minutes on each. Because those 4.5 hours are split into smaller bits, I’m less likely to get distracted by something else.

I’ve built distraction into my job, focusing on multiple projects for multiple clients. This forces me to shift my mindset several times a day, reducing my temptation to give into distractions.

Another thing that keeps me focused is drinking lots of water. It focuses me to get up regularly from my desk, both to refill my water bottle and to urinate a bit later. I work from home, which also allows me to incorporate household tasks into my work day, such as switching laundry. Taking short 3–5 minute breaks resets my brain. You don’t need to work from home to take short breaks either: you could walk to a coworker’s office, for example, to follow up on an assignment.

Something else I must do to keep focused is reduce distractions. This past September, I moved my office out of a corner of our family room and into one of the bedrooms. Having a door makes a huge difference in reducing noise and interruptions from family members.

I also listen to podcasts through headphones. That further reduces the ambient noise in the home that reaches my ears. I can’t listen to podcasts when I’m editing or writing though, since it makes it difficult to concentrate on the writing. It doesn’t interfere with my social media management though.

Speaking of social media, I also have to close Facebook when I’m working. I have no browser tabs open with Facebook. I get no Facebook notifications on my phone or in my email. Facebook is such a time killer, that I can’t risk getting sucked in when I’m working. Even when I do need to open it for a client, I use Facebook Business Manager, which hides notifications from my personal account. And once I log into Business Manager once, I can stay in it when switching between client pages.

Finally, I have a set schedule I follow every day. I have created a project schedule in my work Google Calendar, allocating tasks to specific time slots. I do most of my social media management in the mornings, and each morning is divided into 15–30 minute slots. I get an email and popup notification for each one as a reminder. Knowing that I have a new social media account coming up at 10:00 keeps me on task. Also, I know that if I don’t stay on track, I won’t be finished by noon, and I’ll end up having to use my afternoon for client social media instead of editing or writing for clients or my own content curation/creation. Having a set schedule with reminders keeps me motivated, and it has the added benefit of reducing the risk of forgetting a project.

So, those are the 4 tricks I use to stay focused at work. How do you stay focused at work? Let me know in the comments.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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