How ADHD Can Impact Work

Navigating ADHD in the Workplace

A hobby can be quite a challenge when you have ADHD. Can you imagine what it’s like when you have to do things for work? How does ADHD impact our careers? Find out here. 

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Written by

Tayler Hackett

Mental Health Writer and ADHD Expert
In this Article
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How Does ADHD Impact the Way We Work?

We all need to work at some point in our lives. We need to create a livelihood 💰 that will support both our needs and wants, as well as the goals we have in mind. Please remember that many neurotypical people struggle with different things about having a job and they must consider numerous things before getting one. What more if you have a neurodivergent condition?  

For many adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the challenges in finding and sustaining a job can be much more difficult.

Finding the right job for people with ADHD can be a daunting task to overcome. Unlike neurotypicals, we cannot simply take on additional responsibilities because there are lots of ADHD symptoms that need to be checked. Sometimes, we cannot take on particular responsibilities, as people with ADHD find it extremely challenging to do🥺.

But suppose we have found the right job; how will an ADHD brain work for our success🧠? What do we need to look out for when it comes to job performance? How do social settings affect how we do specific tasks? Do those diagnosed with ADHD suffer a high-absenteeism rate? 

Let's learn how we handle our careers and get through the trouble of managing work in this article.

Understanding How ADHD Affects Our Interests

Before we go deeper into how we might fare in today's workplace, it is essential to know how Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affects us. Even though there are many ADHD people with very successful careers, they still probably went through struggles in dealing with their impulsive behavior, hyperactive traits, or even being inattentive in so many ways 👌.

Our ADHD brain constantly searches for something that interests us. Sometimes, our motivation to do things is driven by our need to increase our dopamine levels. You see, ADHD is associated with low levels of the neurotransmitter, dopamine. 📉

Hence, once we find something that we are passionate about or we see the potential rewards in it, our ADHD brain is more likely to focus on that particular activity. It can also be one of the reasons why many people with ADHD tend to do "risky" 😨 things because the rewards are high for us.

As such, it can also be said that we might not be motivated to do things we’re not interested in. 

Can you imagine how this unpredictable way of being motivated affects our way of making a living? 

People with ADHD at Work

When someone has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, you may wonder how they'll perform on projects, and how ADHD symptoms will affect their work. Will there be a significant effect if there's someone with ADHD in the workplace? 🤔 Of course, there is. But just as there might be setbacks, having someone with ADHD can still bring out positive outcomes (more of that later).

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can significantly affect someone's job performance, mainly when their symptoms aren't managed well. Our struggles with ADHD can affect our work, so it's essential to understand and assess them head-on. That way, we can still try to be as productive as possible 💪. Here are some examples:

The Novelty Of A New Job

Do you remember the day you were hired on your first job? When I had the appointment for the first time, I was so ecstatic about getting that position that I couldn't sleep a few nights before 🥱. I was hyper-focused on researching the tasks that I had to do. I immediately took some related online courses to supply the learnings I'll get while training for the job.

During my first week, I was so happy and felt accepted in my workplace. It's a private office with only a handful of employees, so I didn't have to deal with too many people😉. I quickly understood the workflows and how things are done in the office. The novelty of it all made me excited to learn everything. I had plenty of creative ideas and was always eager to share them with my boss.

We tend to learn fast when we are interested

However, fast forward a few months, the novelty wore off. The tasks became too monotonous for me, and it felt like I was doing the same thing over and over again😔 . I was quickly losing interest in my work and became unproductive. After my ADHD diagnosis, I realized later that it could be related to my work.

Our ADHD brain constantly seeks novelty, and once we find something interesting, we tend to get really invested in it. But once the task or activity becomes too familiar, our ADHD brain loses interest. That's why many people with ADHD can sometimes be seen as "job hoppers" because they look for excitement and new things, and frequent job changes can quickly provide that for them 👔.

Difficulties in Organization

One of the most common effects of ADHD on our brain is our struggle with organization. Many people with ADHD often have a hard time being organized both in their thoughts and actions 😵. It can be challenging to keep track of things, and we might often forget about deadlines or important meetings. Because ADHD has got to do something with our executive functions, tasks involving organized or planning can be challenging.

Our difficulties in organizing our workplace can also make us appear clumsy or messy to other people. Our desks might be cluttered with things, and it might be difficult for us to find items when we need them. This can also affect our work because it would take us more time to finish our tasks if we can't find the things we need. And this disorganization also happens in our mind 💭!

Having difficulties to organize

When too much noise or distraction goes around, our organizational abilities can sometimes be impaired. We'll find it hard to focus on the task at hand, and we might even forget what we were supposed to do. This can significantly affect our work performance because not being able to focus or plan can make us seem unprofessional ❌. We cannot afford to be easily distracted by things unrelated to our work, so it's essential to find ways to minimize distractions.

Excited with Big Projects

We sometimes tend to accept projects that we deem challenging, like big projects. However, having complex projects can either make or break our career. It can help us gather praise and acknowledgment when performed correctly but can be a source of heartbreak due to performance issues and execution problems 💔.

It is not that we aren't suitable to handle big tasks. It’s just that there'll be difficulties. There may be problems with poor estimation of tasks, interpersonal conflict (or avoiding them happening) with other team members, or inability to complete the project on time. But when we manage to deal with these things on an optimum level, there's nothing that will stop our success 🏆.

Big projects excite us

But do you know that a lot of adults with ADHD tend to be creative and have a lot of ideas? Yes, and that is one of the reasons why we can come up with new and innovative solutions to problems. We often think outside the box 📦,and this allows us to see things from a different perspective.

Struggle with Time Management

Usually, when we work on one task, we can easily do them, provided we are interested in it. However, when we need to juggle multiple tasks, our struggle with time management starts. We might find it difficult to estimate how much time we need for a job and often underestimate the time required to complete it. This can lead us to problems like not being able to meet deadlines 📆or having to work overtime to compensate for the trouble we may have caused.

Late completion of tasks may say a lot about how we do our work or value time ⌛. When we constantly hand in our work late, it might be taken as a sign that we're not taking our work seriously. If we often procrastinate and take intermittent breaks before addressing what should be done, it can be considered by others as “slacking off at work”. It can also signify that we're not motivated enough to do the task at hand.

We often struggle with time

Time management ability is part of the executive functions that seem to be affected by ADHD. We may struggle with over-scheduling our day with a hundred tasks or think that we always had enough time to do every project. But in reality, we'll be cramming on it on the last day of its deadline. Submitting work on time can be a challenge for us, but we always try to find a way to get it done.

Bored by Routine and Repetitive Tasks

When our work environment revolves around doing the same thing every day, we can get bored quickly🥱. Repetitive tasks can make us feel like we're not doing anything significant with our time, leading to feelings of apathy toward our work. This is one of the reasons why we get distracted easily: when we're bored, our minds tend to wander off and look for something more interesting to do 👀.

Having a daily routine makes us too familiar with the things we do, making us lose excitement and interest in our work. We can get so used to it that we might not even notice when we make a mistake. This can impact our work performance because being complacent with what we do can lead to carelessness and errors.

Bored by repetitive tasks

To avoid getting bored at work, we can look for ways to make our tasks more enjoyable🙌. One way to do it is encouraging your co-workers and boss to create activities that can engage everyone with the task at hand. We can also try to look for new and innovative ways to approach our work so we can have a sense of ownership and responsibility for the projects that we're working on.

Confused with Verbal Instructions

When inattentive ADHD symptoms get in the way, the way we remember and comprehend things might get affected. We often need things to be repeated back to us or explained differently so we can understand them better. This is because our minds are easily distracted, and we might not be able to focus on the conversation long enough to remember everything that was said😭.

What if your manager asked you to make the conference room ready? This instruction also translates to 1) turning on the air-conditioning unit an hour before the meeting, 2) switching the lights 💡15 minutes before, and 3) calling your co-workers 10 minutes before the program starts? Would you be okay with remembering the details, or will you overthink the schedule you'll need to follow?

Confused by verbal instructions

This scenario is a perfect example of why some adults with ADHD find it difficult to remember verbal instructions. We might be able to grasp the main idea but miss out on the more minor details that are essential to completing the task. It would be helpful if we could have a written record of what was said 📒to avoid over-scheduling or underperforming on the errands given.

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The Positive Side of ADHD on Workplace

Well, not everything is terrible when it comes to having ADHD in the workplace. Working with adults with ADHD may sometimes be advantageous and an asset to the company 🥰 .

Many adults with ADHD tend to be more creative and out-of-the-box thinkers. They can see things from a different perspective and develop new and innovative ideas. This is because they have an easier time thinking abstractly and aren't hindered by rules or ideas of what's "possible" or "impossible." Neurotypicals may be usually bound by conventions and often see things in black and white, but a lot of people with ADHD are more flexible in their thinking 😉.

We're also known for being go-getters and risk-takers. We're not afraid to take on new challenges and are always up for an adventure. This can be an asset in the workplace because it shows that we are always ready to develop coping strategies that can help us deal with difficult situations💪.

Last but not least, neurodivergent people, like those with ADHD, are known for being passionate and enthusiastic about the things they care about. When we're interested in something, we put our heart and soul into it and give it our all. This can be a great motivator for those around us and inspire others to be more passionate about their work.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not a disability or a disease. It's just that our brains are wired differently. But when we start to pick up the interest that we usually have for the things that we like, despite the poor memory and any ADHD symptom, we can develop coping skills to help us accomplish any work😘.

We create challenges enough to tickle our brain's imagination and creativity because when we are engaged with the task at hand, we often don't think about the things that would usually distract us. Therefore, the next time you wonder why you are struggling with work, remember that you can still do great things❤️ . You need the right environment and adequate support

Infography of how ADHD can Impact Work.

ADHD at Work: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How can you cooperate with your colleagues when you have ADHD?

If you can, talk to your co-workers about your condition. Let them know that you are not lazy or careless and give them examples of your best work. If they know that you have ADHD, they will be more understanding when you need help staying on track at work. They may even be able to provide feedback on how well their suggestions are working for you.

What are some ways to be effective in the workplace when you have ADHD?

One way is to make a list of what needs to be done each day, then check off each task as you complete it. If there are any open slots in your calendar, write down all the tasks that need to be completed during that time period (and then cross them out when they're done). You'll feel accomplished by checking off tasks and seeing how much progress you've made towards completing your goals for the day or week!

Can you still be good at work when you have ADHD?

Yes, you can be successful at work even if you have ADHD. A lot of people with ADHD are successful in their careers, so you can be, too!

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