ADHD, Productivity, and People: Two-Second Solutions

By Jeff Copper, MBA, PCC, PCAC, CPCC, ACG – January 2, 2023

During the COVID pandemic, many people had no recourse but to work from home. Unfortunately, they struggled with getting things done and their productivity declined, perhaps for one simple reason. There’s no one around to take off some of the stress on your working memory. The home environment is much different from the workplace where others are around and are readily available for interaction. So, working at home means you often don’t have an accountability partner.

These situations can have a heavy effect on working memory. When the working memory is overburdened, it looks like a focus problem because you end up escaping and doing something else. But the issue really is that it’s just too much for you to do, or maybe there’s a bit of ambiguity that throws you off track. One thing I advocate for is to try to build an environment with other people so that you can interact with them, even if it’s just having somebody else in the room. With someone else around, you can bounce off an idea, ask a question, get a quick response, and then get back on track.

If you can identify with this struggle, watch my video, “ADHD, Productivity, and People,” know that 17 million other Americans are also having this problem and sometimes you just have to advocate for yourself. Here’s the link:


Welcome, everybody, to this edition of Attention Talk Video. I’m your host, ADHD and attention coach Jeff Copper. And today I’m here to talk about the little things in the environment that can really make a big difference for a lot of people with ADHD. Right now, we’re in the middle of the COVID pandemic and a lot of people are having to work from home and they are really struggling with productivity. And there’s a few things that are interesting about a workplace environment or with people that most people don’t necessarily know. And recently, I was coaching an individual around it.

Basically, I’ve had a lot of videos where I’m talking about working memory. When your working memory is overburdened, it looks like a focus problem because you end up escaping and doing something else. But the issue really is it’s really kind of too much for you to do, or there’s a little bit of ambiguity that’s in the way and that’s where you get a little bit off track.

This woman I was dealing was basically witnesses, she’s working for home, and I was explaining to her the role of ambiguity in working memory and the challenges had. And she sent me a text one day, and basically she was talking about how she noticed that when she was in the office, if there was some steps that she had to go through, that she just couldn’t recall for the moment, or she didn’t know where something is, she would just lean over to a coworker and say, “Hey, blah, blah,” and within two seconds, she’d have the answer that she had forgotten or couldn’t find, and she’d go right back to work. Now she’s home, and she’s realizing when she hits that moment, what she’s having to do is stop and maybe a text a coworker, or go look for it somewhere or going in, whatever.

The point really is, is that what was resolved in two seconds with somebody in the room, all of a sudden became a lot more effortful to go find that level of ambiguity and sometimes not really knowing the most efficient place. And that’s where people with ADHD have a tendency to get up and go do something, to get a glass of water, go to the bathroom, and then you’re off watching Netflix and you don’t really come back to it. It’s a very small thing, but a lot of people don’t really realize that in work environments or school environments, often when you’re with somebody, just having somebody with you in the room provides that opportunity for these little moments of ambiguity, where you look over and you ask a question and sometimes you actually talking out loud helps you actually remember what it is. Sometimes they give you a clue or sometimes they say something that sparks something. And these things happen very quickly, so quickly that most people don’t realize that it’s really helpful.

So in these situations, sometimes there’s not really an accountability partner. It’s really kind of a body double type of a thing. If you’ve got ADHD and you’re homeworking or online or whatever, one of the things that I advocate for really try to build an environment with other people so that you can interact with them, whether you have just somebody in the room that’s there, or if you’re at work or if you’re studying with somebody and you just get on a Zoom call. When I say Zoom call, it’s not a Zoom meeting. You’re just there. And you’re just doing your thing. And you look up to the person, say, “Hey, da da da da,” and go back down.

And so, it’s not a tip, trick or strategy, it’s really an environmental thing. So if you can identify with this, I hope you realize that there’s like 17 other million Americans that are having this problem and that sometimes you just have to advocate yourself.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this tip. Please subscribe to our channel by hitting the subscribe button and leave a comment. What do you think of this? Does it make some sense? Can you identify with it? Hope this helps catch us next week for another great edition of Attention Talk Video. Take care.

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