Because of how the ADHD brain functions, people with this condition commonly experience several workplace challenges that can negatively impact their performance. These challenges include: Time/Task Management, Distractibility/Impulsivity; Working Memory; Organization; and Communication/Building Relationships. So the question is: How do these proven brain challenges effect real work accomplishments on the job?

In this second article of the series, we’re going to talk about:

Solving Workplace Challenges for People with ADHD: Distractibility/Impulsivity

A hallmark challenge of having ADHD is the ever present need to refocus. Losing the thread to a conversation, the next step to a project, where we left off with a task, or where we last put the keys or cell phone, are highly probable behaviors brought on by the fact that in any given moment it is possible we will lose our ability to attend to what we are doing.

Impulsivity is the other side of the coin. The reason that it can be so difficult for people to better control their ADHD is this combination of distractibility and impulsivity working together. This combination makes it even harder to inhibit our impulses. When we get distracted, impulsivity adds fuel to the distraction response so that what may have started as a momentary lapse becomes a complete mental change in plans when the impulsivity kicks in. Of course impulsivity can occur without distractibility as long as the mechanism for inhibiting impulses lies dormant in the pre frontal cortex of ADHD brains.

The distractibility/impulsivity response can include:
* phone calls
* someone or something unexpectedly interrupting our train of thought
* the drive to pursue a more stimulating activity
* a new thought we feel compelled to act upon
* a worry that we’re obsessing on
* boredom

The results of experiencing distractibility both at home and at work often take the form of:
* missing deadlines
* not being reliable to others
* forgetting something important we need to say or do
* not being able to remember all of the instructions because we zoned out
* not hearing those around us who need and want to be heard
* taking a long time to complete work and needing to reel ourselves back in
* never getting the complete story or the whole lesson
* feeling worthless, inadequate and bad about ourselves because of these behaviors

There are a number of steps we can take to limit the disruption to our lives brought on by distractibility. First it is important to remember that there is no magic bullet or cure for distractibility. People with ADHD will always be challenged by distractions. Fortunately we will always have the ability to get control over a large number of them. To do this we will need a combination of internal change of behavior and outward restructuring of our environment. The following steps to better manage and control the challenges brought on by distractibility/impulsivity are designed to take both of these domains into account:

(1) Always plan your day and your week ahead. It is crucial to program (retrain) your brain to organize itself around tasks and time tables. It is not completely necessary for you to do what you planned at the exact time and day in your schedule. The fact you have entered tasks and reminders in your schedule in a way that makes logical sense for your life and your brain lends them a greater degree of probability they will get done and done in time. If you do need to change the date or time of something, reschedule it the moment you cancel the original plan and take the necessary steps needed so you don’t lose it. Write down your plan (or program into your electronic device) in advance of the day and preferably in advance of the week. If you build the ability to consistently improve at this one new strategy, you will find yourself achieving much better results in all areas of your life and feel great about it.

(2) Pay attention to the times you tend to get distracted and what the distractions are. By becoming a better observer of your behavior, you can see things coming and teach (train) yourself to ignore them or put them off. The same goes for the areas where you experience impulsivity.

(3) Use white boards, corkboards and other types of vertically placed organizers as reminders of your weekly and daily goals. Having these reliably in view will continually impress upon your mind what is most important to you and the progress you are committed to making.

(4) Help the people around you understand what you need from them in terms of support. Every person with ADHD needs to learn to advocate for themselves in order to succeed. Usually people want you to succeed as much or more then you do because ADHD or not, they already get that you’re a valuable asset. Ask yourself what they need to know about what gets you into trouble. How can they help provide structures that keep you focused, like reminders, working out a schedule with you, assisting you with the steps involved in completing a project, helping you avoid pitfalls, etc?

(5) Accept that you will inevitably be distracted at times and learn to minimize these times. Love and accept yourself for the greatness you have to offer and don’t stay stuck on the small stuff. Understand your true worth, use your outstanding strengths, and learn to manage the rest. Your real value will never lie in whether or not you can keep a good schedule or remember where you left your keys. Your ability to create great solutions to world problems will always define your importance to those around you.

(6) Get a good ADHD coach to help you do all of these things. You’ll get where you’re going faster and have fewer false starts and dead ends. You can’t put a price on living a great life. How much longer are you willing to suffer and struggle?

Contact Carol [] if you would like help mastering Distractibility and Impulsivity, or just want to discuss your ADHD challenges.

Teens, adults in or out of the workplace, and company executives and managers are welcomed to connect with Carol!

Author's Bio: 

Carol Gignoux is well established as an expert within the ADHD coaching, consulting and training profession with over 35 years experience working with ADHD and over 16 years as a professional coach. Carol and her team of experts specialize in coaching teens and adults who want to move beyond their issues with ADHD, and develop the skills and confidence to achieve better results in their academic, professional, and personal lives.