Dealing with interruptions at work is a common source of worry for ADHD adults. Individuals with ADHD tend to not only have difficulty staying on task, but often have a tough time getting back on track after having been interrupted.
The reality is, the workplace today is filled with potential interruptions – the sound of emails arriving, co-workers stopping by for a chat, the boss who needs the document “NOW”…as you can imagine, it can be hard to get anything done.
So, if you’re plagued with constant interruptions at work, here are 6 tips to consider:
1) Start the workweek with a plan and set of priorities. Take a few minutes on Friday afternoon before you leave work to set your goals for the coming week. That way you can hit the ground running on Monday morning instead of getting caught up in a lengthy debrief of the weekend with your co-workers.
2) For work that requires the most concentration, pick a time of day when the office is the quietest and your energy is the highest. Save the routine, easier tasks when the office is busier and you don’t need quiet to get it done.
3) Create a sacred hour each day when you close your door or book a meeting room to work in. Let your co-workers know that this is a “do not disturb” time.
4) If you have a boss who constantly interrupts, take time with him/her to agree on priorities for the week. When the request comes in, ask if it is a higher priority ranking than what you are working on. It’s also helpful to observe the work habits of your boss and choose to get your big tasks completed when he/she is not around the office.
5) If you work in an open concept environment, ask to locate your desk in an area that’s away from the major traffic flow.
6) If you are the person causing the interruptions for others because you just can’t sit still for long, try chunking down your work into half hour increments. Set an alarm and when the beeper goes, reward yourself with a walk or a break. Your brain will thank you for it.
These tips are just a few of many when it comes to dealing with interruptions at work. What other strategies have you found helpful?
What’s the difference between an ADHD assessment and a psychoeducational assessment?
We’ve already talked about when you would get an ADHD assessment vs. a psychoeducational assessment (here and here), but we’ve never really outlined what’s distinct about each of them.
First of all, here is a quick refresher of what we’ve already covered:
Why you might consider an ADHD assessment as a first step:
Your concerns are primarily related to focusing challenges
You’re experiencing difficulties in more than one area of your life (e.g. not just in school)
Why you might consider a psychoeducational assessment:
You’re coping in many areas of your life, but experiencing specific learning difficulties and/or perceived academic underachievement
You’ve already had an ADHD assessment, and was identified with specific concerns related to a targeted area of learning
You’ve been treated for ADHD, and even with improved focus you’ve been having difficulties meeting your perceived potential in your learning environment
You need specific psychoeducational testing to qualify for specific accommodations (for example: writing the LSATs)
Now, on to some of the key differences between the two:
What we’re looking for:
ADHD assessments focus primarily on focusing difficulties and their impact on all the different areas of your life, not just at school; this includes screening for additional mental health concerns (e.g. anxiety, mood, difficulties regulating emotions)
Psychoeducational assessments focus heavily on specific difficulties that may be impacting you in your learning environment (e.g. at school); this includes an assessment of your cognitive profile, and more specific information of your learning strengths and weaknesses
The information we gather:
ADHD assessments gather information related to potential focusing challenges through psychometric measures (e.g. standardized questionnaires), file review, and clinical interviews
Psychoeducational assessments gather more in-depth information related to your learning through testing, including an assessment of your academic achievement vs. potential, memory, phonological processing, and more
ADHD assessments are generally less time-consuming than psychoeducational assessments – speaking for Springboard Clinic, ours requires a half-day time commitment for the evaluation
Psychoeducational assessments are much more involved – you would be looking at a series of three half-day appointments for the evaluation (generally 3 hours each)
Recommendations for next steps:
ADHD assessments often include academic recommendations, but…
Psychoeducational assessments provide much more specific recommendations for next steps, primarily related to learning and thriving in your learning environment (e.g. at school)
If you’re like many other ADHD students in college or university, you might be having difficulty keeping up with your readings right now.
You might be struggling to sit down and get started, or you might be spending what feels like hours reading the same page over and over, and not getting anywhere. Either way, they can be hard.
The reality of college/university is that most programs involve some sort of reading. Another reality: Many students with ADHD are approaching their readings in a way that doesn’t actually work.
If your approach to reading involves sitting down, opening the textbook, and reading – there may be a better and more efficient way to study.
To get you thinking about some new approaches, here are 6 tips to help ADHD students with their readings, adapted from an awesome book called Learning Outside the Lines (see full title below)*:
Be an active reader. “Interacting” with what you’re reading helps increase both your retention and comprehension of materials. So, make notes, use highlighters, underline key points – whatever works! Speaking of highlighters…
Try the color code method. Get three different colored highlighters and use them for three separate purposes: (1) main points, (2) supporting details, and (3) key terms
“Read” your class first. Professors often give clues as to what to focus on during readings, so pay attention to how much they emphasize a given topic. Your notes from class will give you similar clues as to what to look for.
Do some detective work before reading. Start by reading the chapter title and chapter headings – this will help you put the readings in a broader context so you can better understand the material.
Aim for small steps. Your readings will seem much more manageable if you aim for one small step at a time, rather than sitting down with the expectation that you have to “finish” a chapter in one go. No step is too small to help you get started!
Take note of anything that you don’t understand. It can be easy to get stuck reading the same thing over and over, trying to understand it – take note and move on. You might understand it better later, or you can ask someone else.
What other strategies have worked for you? Leave a comment to spread the word!
*Adapted from: Mooney, J., & Cole, D. (2000). Learning Outside the Lines: Two Ivy League Students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD give you the Tools for Academic Success and Educational Revolution. Fireside, New York: New York.
If your child has ADHD and you’re thinking about getting him/her an ADHD coach, you might want to consider adding parent coaching to the treatment plan.
Parent coaching is about helping you, the parent, do three important things:
1. Understand the mechanics of an ADHD brain so that you can separate your child’s symptoms from your child. Simply learning about the diagnosis and understanding where your child is coming from can go a long way towards reducing stress and anger.
2. Empower you to develop personalized strategies for your child and family that reduce the impact of symptoms on your household. Every child is different, so a good coach will be able to help you customize and tweak strategies based on what worked and what didn’t each week.
3. Have access to a sounding-board and a neutral space for you to manage your own stress.
When a child is working with an ADHD coach, their experience will be much more effective if their environment changes around them – and you are a very big part of that environment!
ADHD and its impact on relationships can be a sore topic for many of us around this time of year.
Valentine’s Day is not all candy and flowers for many of us out there
With or without ADHD, if you’re not where you want to be in your life “romantically”, Valentine’s Day can sometimes have two equally fun purposes:
To remind those who are not in a relationship that they are in fact, not in a relationship.
To remind those who are in a relationship of the things that are not going well with it.
Today, we’re talking about Valentine’s Day purpose #2: Highlighting the strain in a relationship. Specifically, when it highlights the strain in a relationship that is negatively impacted by ADHD.
We’ve talked in the past about some of the issues that tend to come up when one partner in a relationship has an ADHD diagnosis and the other does not (here and here). It can be tough.
For the couples out there who are dealing with the negative impact of ADHD in their relationship, we recently came across an article posted by ADHD and marriage expert Melissa Orlov (written this time last year) that might be of interest. In it, Melissa talks tips on surviving what she calls “what may be the worst Hallmark Card holiday of them all.”
We won’t give it all away, but the general message behind the tips is a good one: Let’s take back Valentine’s day, re-frame its purpose, take some of the pressure off, and use it as an opportunity to do something different. Here’s a teaser tip: Use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to set a new resolution for your relationship – “Think of Valentine’s as the “New Year’s” of love”.
Does ADHD run in the family? Short answer: Not always, but often.
Research has found that ADHD tends to have a very strong genetic component – one particular study concluded that genetics account for 70-80% of cases, with the other 20-30% being attributed to environmental factors. To give you perspective, 60-80% of the difference in height is accounted for by genes, with 20-40% attributed to environmental effects. Springboard Clinic’s sweeping generalization from this: ADHD might just be more heritable than height.
This means that if you have an ADHD diagnosis, it is likely that others in your family share similar traits. We here at Springboard Clinic often see this in action when a parent recognizes ADHD signs and symptoms in themselves as they go through an assessment process for their child (or vice versa!).
To be fair, the genetic factor does not automatically mean that you are going to have ADHD. As this article about the genetics of ADHD states, “an individual’s genetic make-up is neither sufficient nor necessary to cause it, but may increase their overall risk.”
So, if for example, you have two children, and one is diagnosed with ADHD, their sibling may be at risk, but will not necessarily end up having ADHD. The key is to just be aware of the potential link and keep an eye out for any red flags.
We often refer to ADHD coaching on our blog, but we sometimes forget that not everybody knows what we’re talking about. So what is ADHD coaching, really?
ADHD coaching is a treatment intervention that focuses on helping you better understand the role that ADHD plays in your life. Using an ADHD lens, the idea is to help you learn about symptoms and impairments, and understand how they may be affecting you. From there, your ADHD coach provides the support, structure, and accountability to help you define goals and move forward.
Think of it like a partnership – an ADHD coach is an expert on ADHD and the types of strategies that work for an ADHD brain, and you are the expert on you. Together, you will collaborate and create individualized strategies and personal action plans based on your priorities and your areas of impairment. There is no hidden agenda. An ADHD coach then helps you monitor progress by creating accountability with your goals – what worked or didn’t work with the strategies you tried and the goals that you set out to accomplish? If something didn’t go well, what got in the way? This is how you create sustainable change – ADHD coaching helps you really evaluate and understand what works, and does not work, for you.
For example, let’s say that you’re struggling to manage your time at work. You have a big project that you know you should be getting started on, but you just can’t get yourself to do it. With an ADHD coach, the first step would be to spend time exploring what has been potentially getting in the way of getting started, and to help you understand which ADHD symptoms may be contributing to this.
Next, you will work with your coach to brainstorm potential strategies and ideas to help you get started on the project, and then define realistic, concrete goals based on this. The next time you come in, you and your coach will review these goals, and look at what did or didn’t get done. If you didn’t accomplish a goal, you didn’t fail – it’s a great opportunity to learn about what got in the way, and to start teasing out the strategies that work for you.
After an ADHD diagnosis, coaching can be a powerful intervention in helping manage ADHD signs and symptoms, and in helping you make real change. Just knowing you have ADHD is often not enough to help you get on track. Neither is medication – yes, in a lot of cases it can help, but it definitely isn’t the whole answer. This is especially the case if you still don’t have the right tools to manage your day-to-day-responsibilities. Think of it like seeing a stop sign – medication may help you SEE that a stop sign is there, but you still have to figure out what you’re going to DO about it – are you going to barrel through the intersection? Turn right? Left?
This is where ADHD coaching comes into the picture. Getting support to help make a self-treatment plan can be a very effective way to move forward.
We want to know how your ADHD coach has helped you! Please leave a comment below.
Staying focused in lectures can be particularly difficult as an ADHD student. On top of that, there are so many complicating factors that could impact your focus (or lack thereof) in class: distractions, your professor’s teaching style, your note-taking style, how much sleep you got last night, and so much more…
In order to survive a lecture, that is, in order to stay focused in lectures, it’s important to plan ahead – it’s not just about showing up and hoping for the best.
As a first step, consider your own blockers - what is it exactly that you struggle with during lectures? This will be the basis for creating potential strategies to help.
Once you know what you’re working with, consider 3 key areas to target: before, during, and after the lecture.
Before the lecture. There are a number of things you can do before class that may help engage your focus during class. For one, you can set up accommodation support, such as a note-taker or permission to record lectures.
Another thing to consider is that knowing what’s coming up in class can help improve focus and information retention. Some examples of how to take advantage of this:
Pre-teach the material on your own or with a tutor
Print out lecture notes and skim through them
Look ahead in your course outline
During the lecture. There are many practical and strategic ways that can help engage your focus and reduce distractions during class. Some examples:
Find an optimal seat position in class with minimal visual/auditory distractions
Turn the internet OFF
Take energy breaks
Write notes – just the act of writing will often engage your focus
After the lecture. If you’re still struggling to manage your focus in class, talk to your professor right away – don’t leave it until later. Some ways that professors can help: They can…
Clarify anything that you missed/didn’t understand
Provide more clear and specific direction about a topic/assignment
Agree to provide visual cues for key information
Set up/suggest additional support resources
Any other strategies that worked for you? Let us know!
Are people with ADHD good at multitasking? Many individuals with ADHD claim that they are gifted multitaskers, but is this actually the case?
First of all, with or without ADHD, a growing body of research is finding that people who try to focus on more than one unrelated task at the same time generally don’t actually perform as well. So, multitasking in general may not be possible.
When it comes to multitasking and ADHD specifically, the video below of Dr. Russell Barkley explains it best: ADHD adults tend to experience inner restlessness of both thoughts and activities – which often translates into them engaging in multiple activities. The term multitasking, however, is used inappropriately in this case, because “you may have multiple things going on, but they’re not getting done.”
We want to know: Do you agree with Dr. Barkley? Can individuals with ADHD really multitask successfully?