As an ADHD coach I work from my home. I see most of my clients virtually or by phone. The few who come in person have transitioned to virtual during this pandemic. Many of my clients are struggling to work from home right now and I understand why. It is not ideal to work from home when you are affected by ADHD. Accountability and supervision are less when working from home, dangerous things for those affected by ADHD. Here are tips for working at home during a pandemic. Please reach out to me if you need extra support.
Start at a regular time
Start working at a regular time each day. Being home tempts you to take care of non-work related activities before settling down to work. You could lose your whole day before you get started.
“Commute” to work
Do something to transition to work time. You used to have your commute to transition to work but now you don’t so maybe take a short walk before starting to work or do some stretches. Even a quick meditation. Determine a specific location for your work time within your home even if just means one end of the couch. When you sit there it is time to work. If you live with others, communicate that when you are in your work spot you are in work mode and should not be interrupted unless absolutely necessary.
“Commute” home by planning your next day at the end of your work day. This way you have a specific place to start in the morning. It will be easier to get to work and not waste time wondering where you should start. Decide what tasks need to happen and whom you need to talk to the next day. Make a plan.
Work in “sprints” throughout your work day
Don’t meander through your work day. Use your plan from the day before and execute. Break big tasks into smaller ones. Then “sprint” through the first task. Take a break. Before taking the break though, decide what your next “sprint” will be so that when it is time to get back to work you know where to start and are less likely to procrastinate. Set a timer for your breaks so they don’t take up all your day and you have to work into the night. Have a clear starting and quitting times so that you can anticipate when you are done for the day.
Stay in contact with others
You need to stay in contact with others, the people you work with during work time and colleagues, friends and families during break times and off-work times. If possible, use FaceTime, skype, google hangout, zoom or other technology to see who you are visiting with. Space your contact with others throughout your day.
Eat at regular intervals
Don’t graze all day while working. Take a lunch break and snack breaks as needed. Sit down and eat away from your work. Be sure to remain hydrated. Even throw in a little moving around before or after your lunch or snack to keep your energy up.
Get help when you need it
If you get stuck, contact someone and brainstorm. You would do that at work so there is no reason not to do it at home also. If need be get a coach or other professional to help you.
Stay away from “rabbit hole” distractions
During breaks be careful not to do things that will take you down a rabbit hole. One example might be tracking the news on twitter. Breaks are meant to be short and refreshing. If you must check social media , TV or radio during your breaks set an alarm so you don’t get sucked in and lose track of work time. You may have stay away from such things during the work day if you can’t control yourself.
Track your time
Keep track of what you are doing with your time. It can be a simple list but it helps to have a tangible record of what you have accomplished at the end of each day. I use my planner to write down at the end of the day and actually throughout the day what I am going to do the next day. Then I check it off as I complete the tasks. If I do a work-related task not on the list I add the task to the list afterwards. It helps me see progress or lack of progress. Also, you have an accounting of your time in case anyone asks.
Many people affected by ADHD also suffer from anxiety or depression or both. Keep an eye on that. This is an extremely stressful time and can exacerbate symptoms. Stay in touch with your mental health care provider.
Make no big decisions
Given the pandemic this is not the time to make big decisions like changing jobs or quitting medication. Lack of certainty in areas of our lives often makes us want to take control and make decisions where we can. That is reasonable but don’t make life-altering decisions during such fluid times. You can think and plan but don’t act until things have settled down.