The Truth about ADHD and Working Independently

Work EnvironmentDr. Thomas E. Brown once said, “The more there is a need for independent work, the lower the grades and productivity of those with ADHD.”

In general, I’ve found this to be true in my experience as a coach. Although the peace and quiet of home or your office might increase productivity in some people, sadly, that is not always the case for those with ADHD.

ADHD and Self-Regulation

ADHD is an issue of self-regulation with a working memory challenge. Those with ADHD often benefit from a work environment that affords them ample opportunities to have contact and verbal interactions with their coworkers. While they are not aware of it, what appears to be them talking to another person is often more like them thinking out loud. They typically do not think out loud in the absence of others.

Thinking and interacting with others is a way those with ADHD bring clarity to things. When something isn’t clear, it’s ambiguous. Those with ADHD get impatient and opt to do other things (struggling to self-regulate) and they get off task.

If you have ADHD, then thinking out loud or verbally expressing yourself to coworkers can be extremely beneficial. The environment lends itself to helping you self-regulate. In such a workplace, you obtain real-life feedback and can focus on a direction. Fellow workers provide you with tips that you need to churn out the work. Overall, the bustling work enables you to get things done. When you advance to working at home in solitude, your work may suffer as you struggle to find focus. Independent work ultimately leads to lower productivity.

Change the Environment, not Yourself

Changing yourself is difficult if not impossible. Changing your environment isn’t always easy but in the long run it’s much easier than just trying harder or using willpower. If you are working at home and find you are not productive, consider creative ways to get among people and collaborate.

Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself struggling when you work at home or are sequestered in an office in solitude. Yes, you have worked years to advance to such a situation where you no longer must face the long commute to work, the many hours away from family, or the noise in a cubicle setting. However, you must understand that your problems do not stem from you or even your knowledge of the topics. Instead, it could be from your lack of ability to interact with coworkers and talk out loud to get things done.


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