You Can Have a Productive Life with ADHD
One of the biggest challenges for adults with ADHD is learning how to establish a clear and healthy sense of work-life balance. Stresses from their personal life they bring to work and stresses from their professional life they bring home, and the stress from each tends to eat at them day and night. What is perhaps most difficult for someone with ADHD is that the noise in their head is so common for them, that this carry-over of stressors doesn’t appear problematic for them, so too often they don’t know to seek out help or advice for it or to even attempt to address the problem themselves.
The biggest problem with not establishing a clear distinction between work and life stressors is that when you allow the stress from each to be a part of both worlds to bleed them together you essentially double your stress, often creating a very unhealthy state of chronic, extreme stress. From that depression, anxiety, health problems, performance issues, etc. build. The more your problems are in the forefront of your mind, the more they can control you and rob you of your overall enjoyment of life. Some people even think of suicide. Plus, these are an extreme distraction for whatever it is you should be focusing on at the moment, such as your family, the client sitting across from you, managing your paperwork, or even driving from point to point.
Have you ever sat in a meeting as your thoughts drift off to an argument you had with your child, or how you were going to pay a certain bill on time? Have you ever spent hours complaining to your spouse or friends about your annoying boss or your overwhelming workload? It can be difficult to stay in one lane at all times, and perfection isn’t required, but when you notice that work stress is interfering with your enjoyment of your life and/or life stress is interfering with your performance at work, it’s probably a good idea to step back and make a commitment to developing a greater sense of work life balance in your life.
While this can be difficult for everyone to achieve at different points in their lives, a person with ADHD is prone to worry and overindulging in noisy thoughts that can truly interfere with his or her happiness and success. It is easy for a person with ADHD to succumb to habits of a “workaholic” forever addressing that pressing issue, trying to solve that nagging problem, answering the infinite emails, all the while worrying endlessly about the toll this is taking on personal relationships, health and happiness.
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, a loved one will intervene. A spouse may threaten to disable Internet access if you don’t take a break on weekends or at night, or a concerned boss may recommend that you take a day off to go manage a personal issue because you seem distracted. These are actually big signs that others are noticing your distress, they are concerned, and they are asking you to be concerned and to take action, too. ADHD creates unique challenges in relationships, but there are ways to help.
What people with ADHD often have difficulty realizing is how much happier and more productive they will be if they actually do set clear boundaries between their personal and professional life. Sometimes the busy-work, the stress and the worry makes them feel more attentive, responsible and productive, when the opposite is actually true. Achieving balance and separation, helps quiet the noise, allows focus and mindfulness in the moment and reduces stress exponentially, which can help improve physical and mental health, relationships, creativity and productivity, too. It really is that important.
Here are some tips to help achieve improved work life balance:
- Establish set working time. This does not necessarily mean that you must succumb to 40 hours per week, but if your work schedule is not already finite and structured, develop a schedule. This can be challenging, particularly for self- employed folks, but it isn’t required for you to have a 9 to 5 schedule, necessarily, just that you can set and maintain clear and established boundaries about a work schedule that is reasonable to you. Of course, you may have to deviate now and then, but this will help you be self-aware of those deviations and possibly reduce the frequency of the deviations. Stick to your set schedule as a general rule.
- Develop a transition routine. When you have a routine, something you do at the beginning of each work day to signal to you that it’s time to focus only on work-such as reviewing a to-do list or even just reading an inspirational quote- it’s much easier to drop everything from the rest of your day and focus on the moment. Likewise, closing out the work day with another routine, such as calling a spouse or friend before you leave or to just review your calendar and to develop a to-do list for the next day can help you close out the day and switch focus onto your personal time. If you already have a plan for how to deal with the issues of tomorrow, then there’s no need to continue worrying about it, right?
- Stress management is a priority. How to not worry about work stuff at home and home stuff at work is all about stress management. Try to reduce your time spent worrying overall. Take time every day to relax: read, listen to music, journal, sit in a park, pick up a hobby, etc. And, take time every day to exercise: walk, go on a bicycle ride, swim, go play a sport-do something to raise your heart rate for at least 20 minutes five days per week, and try to find something enjoyable to you.The goal is to create pockets in your life where stress is not allowed-so that your focus is elsewhere, and experiencing these stress-free moments regularly will help you learn to abandon feelings of stress whenever necessary to help you manage it throughout your days. If you find this particularly difficult, consider structured stress management techniques such as those taught through meditation and yoga, for instance.
- Write down your worries. Jotting down your concerns-everything you’re worrying about-as they come up, will help you keep your worries at bay. When you find yourself worrying about something that can’t be dealt with at the moment, write it down. This allows you the comfort of knowing that you won’t forget to address what you’re worried about, but that you can deal with it at a more appropriate time. For instance, if you’re helping you son with his homework, and you just realized that you forgot to follow-up with a client on a project, write it down or email yourself for you to deal with later. Now, you don’t have to worry about that anymore, and you can focus on the moment. You’ll take care of that other issue when you see your email at work.