ADHD Accommodations Guide

Employer

If you’re an employer looking for ways to help your employee with ADHD perform better, you may want to visit the following pages:

Below is a non-exhaustive list of accommodations many adults with ADHD have found helpful. It is always best to work with your employee with ADHD in an “experimental” approach. If you both think it might help, try it. If it works, keep it. If it doesn’t work, move on to something else. There’s no “right” or “wrong” answer.

Employee

If you are an employee with ADHD, you may want to visit the following pages:

Below is a non-exhaustive list of accommodations many adults with ADHD like you have found helpful. Keep an open mind and work with your employer to “experiment” with different accommodations. If an approach helps, keep it. If it doesn’t, move on to something else.

Inattention and Distractibility

ADHDers cannot filter noises, interruptions, and even movement around the office as well as those who don’t have ADHD. People with ADHD also are easily distracted by their own thoughts. They may find it challenging to pay attention to a conversation when there are too many distractions in the environment. The following strategies can help alleviate this problem:

  • Using earphones for listening to music or white noise.
  • Working in unused space when completing work that requires focus or attention to details.
  • Transferring phone calls directly to voicemail, and responding to them in batches at specific times in the day.
  • Keeping a notebook on your desk to jot down ideas and thoughts to avoid interrupting your work flow.
  • Keeping a list of ideas that come to you during meetings to avoid interrupting people.
  • Staying away from multitasking and performing one task at a time. Humans cannot really pay attention to more then one task at a time.
  • Requesting a private office, taking work home, or working when others are not in the office.
  • Creating a no-interruption period in the day that you communicate to colleagues.

Impulsivity

  • Creating scripts and working with a coach to role-play appropriate responses to recurrent challenging situations.
  • Learning to monitor impulsive actions by using self-talk.
  • Requesting regular, constructive feedback.
  • Engaging in relaxation and meditation techniques.
  • Anticipating triggers to impulsive reactions and developing new ways of coping with them.

Time Management

  • Using a day planner that you carry with you (ideally use an application that synchronizes with your smart phone) to keep track of meetings and tasks.
  • Using wall or desk charts to break large projects into smaller pieces.
  • Assigning due dates to each task.
  • Using  notifications (such as alarms on your computer or devices).
  • Scheduling travel time to meetings and appointments and setting alerts taking them into account in your electronic calendar.
  • Programming your computer to beep ten or fifteen minutes before you need to leave for a meeting on the calendar.
  • Scheduling buffer time in your calendar for unexpected delays or interruptions in your day.
  • Avoiding over-scheduling the day by overestimating how long each task or meeting will take.

Poor Working Memory

  • Recording (on a tape recorder, or your smart phone) “notes-to-self” or meetings instead of taking copious notes at meetings.
  • Writing checklists or recording complicated tasks and processes.
  • Using visual ways to remember information such as a bulletin board.
  • Having auditory reminders on your computer for announcements and other memory triggers.
  • Using a day planner that you carry with you (ideally use an application that synchronizes with your smart phone) to keep track of meetings and tasks.
  • Writing notes on sticky pads and putting them in a highly visible place.

Managing complex or long-term projects

  • Breaking projects up into milestones with closer due dates and breaking milestones into tasks.
  • Striving to shorten the time allowed on a project to better utilize “sprinting abilities.”
  • Asking a coach or your supervisor to assist you in identifying priorities.
  • Looking for work or choosing assignments that requires only short-term tasks.
  • Partnering with a co-worker with good organizational skills.

Paperwork & Details

  • Requesting an administrative assistant to handle or to double-check detailed paperwork.
  • Making it a rule to handle each piece of paper only once.
  • Keeping only those papers that are currently in use; purging the rest.
  • Using color-coded folders and catchy labels to make filing more compelling.
  • Adding the task of reviewing your detailed paperwork when you are less tired.

Challenges with Boring Tasks

Adults with ADHD almost always have challenges when faced with long, boring tasks or tasks that require a lot of detail because these tasks do not stimulate the ADHD brain enough to allow focus. You can inject interest into tasks by:

  • Setting a timer for, say, 30 minutes and racing the timer to stay on task.
  • Breaking up long tasks into shorter ones.
  • Taking multiple breaks, then getting up and walking around.
  • Finding a job where most of your work is stimulating to you.
  • Bartering or exchanging work with a colleague who likes the type of tasks that bore you for tasks you prefer doing.

Interpersonal and Social Activities

Individuals with ADHD sometimes interrupt others and are too blunt, talk too much, and don’t listen or pay attention to what others are saying. This is often interpreted as rude or uncaring behavior. You can reduce these challenges by:

  • Asking a trusted colleague to provide kind but constructive feedback when interacting with others.
  • Asking a trusted co-worker to provide discrete cues when you’re crossing the line. Eventually, you’ll get better at picking up social cues.
  • Working with a coach to identify situations that often lead to interpersonal/social issues and creating a plan to overcome them.
  • If working with others is challenging for you, you may want to find a position with greater fewer interactions with others.

Procrastination

  • Asking a supervisor to set deadlines for tasks and hold you accountable.
  • Teaming with another person who can be your accountability buddy.
  • Breaking project into tasks and finding ways to reward yourself as you accomplish each task.

Hyperactivity

  • Taking intermittent breaks from long tasks by choosing shorter, more physical, tasks like filing, delivering mail to others, or by taking a short walk between tasks.
  • Taking active notes in meetings or when you are reading long documents to prevent restlessness.
  • Moving around when you begin to feel restless. Exercising or taking a walk at lunch or during breaks.