Dealing with ADHD When You’re Self-Employed

I was diagnosed with ADD in 2010.  I had gone back to school and was having a hard time focusing and getting my work done.  I knew I had to improve my focus or I was going to fail big time.  There was no way I could fit work, school, and life into my day at the rate I was going.

My daughter had recently gone through the testing process and been diagnosed with ADD so I figured it was very possible I also had it as we have many similarities.  I decided to go through the testing as well.

After my diagnosis, they prescribed meds which helped a lot initially but there were a couple of issues.  The first one popped up when they were prescribing me the medication.  I asked what I needed to do to get off the meds over time and my doctor told me I’d be on them for the rest of my life.  He said there was no way to “get off” of them.  I hated this belief and knew there had to be other options.  The second one appeared shortly after I started taking the meds.  I started to feel a bit dead inside.  There’s really no other way to describe it.  I hated how I felt and, while I did go in for an adjustment, I knew I was not going to want to spend a lot of time in the doctor’s office dealing with all of this so I opted to go off the meds. 

To be clear, I’m not recommending anyone do anything that doesn’t feel right for them or without visiting with their doctor first.  I just knew this route didn’t feel right for me.

BUT I still needed to focus more!

While I still struggle, I did find tips that help significantly and I am able to focus and put out a lot of work when I need to so I want to share those tips with you. Since more than 8 million adults struggle with this, you may be one of them. 

How to Deal with ADHD/ADD while working:

  1. Limit distractions. A quiet environment will help you to focus. Minimize interruptions too, like checking phone messages and email.
  2. Clear away clutter. Is your phone buried under piles of paper? Tidying up will save time looking for lost items and reduce anxiety.
  3. Plan your schedule. Managing time can be tough when you have ADHD. Use an app or a paper appointment diary to block out time for activities and meetings. Check your to do list during the day to ensure that you stay on track.
  4. Create reminders. You can also use technology or post-it notes to jog your memory. Set an alarm for staff meetings and write yourself messages about filling out timesheets and sending your boss a birthday card.
  5. Move around. Relieve restlessness by taking breaks throughout the day. Go for a walk at lunch. Make phone calls standing up.
  6. Change roles. Many adults with ADHD flourish as entrepreneurs, using their creativity and energy.  Give up that day job if you haven’t already.
  7. Boost your self-esteem. While you’re finding your path, remember that ADHD can be frustrating. It can also cause misunderstandings with your clients/customers. Build your confidence by taking care of your health and advocating for yourself.
  8. Find a coach. What if you need some assistance with implementing what you learn? Working with a coach who specializes in ADHD/ADD can help you master new lifestyle skills.

Some very successful business leaders and celebrities have used their ADHD to their advantage, and so can you. Think of IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad or Olympic champion Simone Biles. Find a career that suits your strengths and ask for help when you need it.

Check out our other blog posts on Business Strategy.