Working from home with ADHD has been an adjustment. Over the years, there’s a few things I’ve learned that have helped manage the workflow and avoid getting distracted.
Number one is obviously having a designated space – a physical separation to get the mind in place. I don’t have an office, but I have a corner in the living room so my back is facing the rest of the house. Out of sight, out of mind…
Number two is having nothing opening automatically on start up, and having separate browser profiles for work and personal – all bookmarks, forms, etc, are all kept separate. If I open the work browser, there are no personal links to distract, no notifications. If I’m turning on the computer for work, nothing personal opens, and vice versa. Everything must be manually opened, which avoids going into autopilot. This also helps maintain the work/life balance – when I use the computer outside of work, there are only personal things showing.
Not entirely specific to working from home, but in general – one thing I have had to learn is that having a couple of tasks fully completed is better than having a heap of tasks all unfinished. I used to pride myself on multitasking, always being in the middle of several tasks at once. (Looking back, that was obviously the undiagnosed ADHD running at least 50 tabs in my brain at any given time and making it impossible to focus). Working on too many things at once means nothing is given the attention it needs to just be completed, and ends up making them take longer.
Now, if I am in the middle of one task, and another pops up – while the automatic urge is to switch, I fight it. This means turning off notifications occasionally, or closing emails to come back to.
However, if it’s a quick task – it’s easier to complete it then, rather than letting the small tasks pile up into a larger job. I’ll monitor emails and if it’s not a quick task, mark it as unread so it flags for me to come back when I have capacity. I started off using post-its to remind myself of tasks, but when the desk had turned from white into a cluttered rainbow, it was clearly time to switch. Using an online task management platform has been fantastic – creating a task, throwing in all the data, screenshots, links, and setting a reminder so I can forget about it until it’s time to work on it. Focusing on a single task at one time, designating time for specific tasks means it gets finished quicker, and things don’t get lost.
At the end of the work day, I turn off the computer and leave the house. This is usually my gym time, and leaving the house for an hour or two helps the brain disengage and keep that separation between work and life.
By Alex Parry-Jones