Suddenly Working from Home
This week began with schools across the country sending their students home for weeks, along with colleges and universities announcing all courses had been moved to online instruction. Many businesses followed, sending their employees to work from home. By the end of the week, state governors were instructing most businesses to either send all employees home or allow only a small number of people to work onsite.
Are you among this increasing group of employees who suddenly find themselves working from home? For adults with ADHD, working from home can be difficult because of the lack of routine, changes in communication with your colleagues, and increased distractions from family members and pets.
We hope to alleviate some of the difficulties of adjusting to this change in our daily lives. So, we gathered some “best tips and hacks” from people who regularly telecommute. This is just a start. We’d love to hear from you—especially those of you who are parents and now juggle the needs of your children and your job.
We are here for you and we promise to produce updates as we all journey into the new normal. We hope these suggestions can help you get started.
Set Up Your Work Space
• Find a quiet place, if possible, and set it aside as a specific place to work.
• Choose a designated working space. Keep it tidy!
Create a Schedule and Routines
• Work the same hours as you would at your office. It’s best to main a steady schedule.
• Schedule blocks of time for work, meetings, breaks, and meals or snacks.
• Set and keep boundaries around your time for each activity. Avoid multitasking.
• Avoid working in your pajamas. Dress like you’re ready to meet people, even if only on camera. Feeling professional will help your productivity.
• It’s best to log into virtual meetings approximately 15 minutes ahead of time. Mute the microphone and disable video until it’s go-time.
• Take a lunch break. A short walk after your meal can help you focus again.
• Prepare meals or snacks either at the beginning of the week or the night before. This will help to keep you from eating junk and being frustrated.
Make (Realistic) To-Do Lists
• Create a daily and weekly to-do lists to stay on track. Update them at the end of each work day.
• Each day, make a list of what you hope to accomplish that day.
• Divide the list into doable pieces.
• Use whatever format works for you, paper or digital. Keep it close by your computer.
Breaks Are Important!
• Schedule your breaks.
• Schedule 30 minutes for movement—yoga, walking, or another exercise—before you start your workday. (Think of it as the commute you aren’t doing.)
• Schedule at least one other short break after lunch to get outside—even if it’s only for a few minutes. Breathe!
• Remove the things that will distract you the most. This may also include keeping children and pets out of your work space.
• Turn the ring tone off on your phone, if possible. If not, place it behind you and out of sight.
• Ask your family and good friends not to call you during work hours unless there is an emergency.
Thanks- this is great! I don’t have ADHD but both of my sons do. Suggestions for getting ANY work done while trying to keep them engaged in their online learning? I have a big deadline in the middle of May that has not, so far, been moved. The past couple of days they have been separated by a floor and I just keep going back and forth between them while also trying to work next to the youngest (insert laugh out loud emoji here!)
Hi Emily, I’m in the same boat with two boys, 6th grade and 10th grade, who are distance learning. I take the time to review their schedules for the next day at night. I find that printing out any materials they need and making individual schedules for them as well as a master schedule works. Everyone has to get up at their regular time, get dressed, and come downstairs. I find that closing off the upstairs and making everyone work on one floor keeps our morning productive. When we break for lunch I let them call friends, hop on their games, go in the backyard to play basketball etc.
In the afternoon I give them a little more flexibility about where they work so that I can take conference calls and wrap up the day. I do schedule a “homework” hour between 7-8pm so we can review anything that missed, email teachers, or finish up assignments. It’s not perfect but it helps me as a single parent to manage my household during this trying time.
I have been working remotely for 2 years and I’m a mother to 2 boys with ADHD. They are 10 and 13 yrs old so a little easier to set rules and boundaries. I can add a few more suggestions to your list above…that will help with parents now suddenly working from home with kids in their space too.
1. I use a headset for all phone calls. I highly suggest buying one on Amazon. My kids know if they see these in my ears, then mom is on a call even if my mouth is not moving and to wait to talk to me. I remove them from my ears when not on a call.
2. I’ve taught my boys that most things can wait to interrupt me while I’m on the phone. They understand when it’s an emergency to please bother me, like the dog got out the front door!
3. Have a visual schedule for your kids to read on the wall especially with home schooling being implemented in most states. If they are too young or toddler age, then get out all the fun activities and toys for them to safely play on their own in a safe place you can keep your eye on them. You can set a timer to let them know when they are finished playing since they can’t tell time yet.
4. My husband and I work in professions that are very busy right now and implementing home school scares me next week too. I plan to help us by still making school lunches and just putting in the frig to help us keep the kids fed during the day at their scheduled lunch time.
This is so very helpful. Thank you. My son and I have ADHD and though we are both currently on school break we need to start preparing for the return of of school after the Easter Weekend. My husband is extremely focused and a fast worker but has very little patience for our nonsense and distractions.
I struggle with routines as well as often becoming hyper focused which means I can zone out missing tea and lunch and supper will be so late, dogs won’t get walked etc…
Let’s see with your tips if I can get this right.
(From South Africa)
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An amazing article to read for employees working from home and also those who are back to the office.
I have had issues with my productivity as I am a new mom and back to work after a long break of 3 months. It was so hard to work with my little bundle of joy and disturbance 🙂
I have read this before and followed these tips for one month. I would totally recommend you guys to try them all. My work desk used to be messy and it used to make me less focused, and motivated.
Good luck guys! 🙂
I’m an adult with ADHD that is high on the spectrum. My kids are grown and gone, so at least I don’t have that challenge. Still, working from home has been very difficult for me. I have struggled with trying to be organized and especially with the isolation (I’m an extrovert). The suggestions in this article look like they can be really helpful. I’ll give it a try!