How do you manage ADHD when your life turns upside down? Most of us have worked very hard, putting systems in place that serve us well. Suddenly, we have to rethink everything, no longer able to fly on automatic pilot!
You may be the adult who is now working exclusively from home. You may be a parent who has now taken on the role of a teacher, navigating the challenges of online learning with your children. You may be the student who finds e-learning tedious and boring, especially when you are stuck at home, unable to hang out with your friends.
What do you do when life as you know it changes?
Create Structure: If you no longer have an “imposed structure,” you have to create one. A structure is a boundary that keeps some things in and other things out. Start by developing morning and evening routines, meal times and work times.
Set up a Designated Workspace: Do your work in an area that is conducive to productivity, especially as being at home can make us want to “kick back.” Make sure your environment is friendly to your senses.
Get Dressed: Getting dressed each morning will position you for success, signaling that it is time to begin your day.
Take Breaks: Take frequent breaks between activities, but keep them short. The Pomodoro Method suggests working for 25 minutes and then stopping to do something physical for 5 minutes.
Set a Timer: A timer helps with sustaining attention. It signals the start of one activity and the end of another.
Have an Accountability Partner: Have someone to whom you can report your progress. Make sure that it is a positive person of your choosing.
Maintain Routines: If you have morning and evening routines, maintain them, even if the time frame differs. With routines, you don’t have to overthink your day.
Know your Best Time of Day: Do your most challenging task at a time of day when you feel your best.
Take your Meds: If you are a person who takes meds, make sure that you continue doing so when you work at home, where there are more distractions.
Exercise: Exercise can have an amazing mental and physical impact. John Ratey, a Harvard psychiatrist, states that 20 minutes of aerobic activity equals an hour and a half of a stimulant medication.
Get Out! If you are able to leave the house, you might consider taking a walk or a drive in your car. Many people with ADHD like working in the car as it limits distractions and gets you out into natural light.
Control What You Can: Be informed, but limit exposure to a constant barrage of news that can fuel anxiety.
Manage Self-talk: Instead of “I hate this,” try saying something like: “I am not the only one going through this, how can I make it work?”
Jazz it Up: For many people, especially extroverts, being at home is far less stimulating. What can you add to the task at hand to make it more interesting? It might be music, take out or reruns of a favorite tv show. Remember that interest equals focus.
Connect with Others: Reach out to others virtually or by phone, you might consider scheduling a lunch break with a friend over Skype.
Look for the Positives: The fact that your schedule is freer might allow you to do things you couldn’t do before. You might: Sleep later, have fewer transitions in the day, enjoy the ability to move around as much as you need to, or have a chance to spend more time with family. Though none of us would wish things to be as they are, ask yourself the question: “What is the opportunity in this?”
For support in creating a daily schedule that works click here.
If you’re feeling frustrated this time of isolation, you’re not alone. These techniques have helped me to survive more than 10 years of working from home, and I still feel a little cooped up, right now.
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