31 Time Management and Productivity Tips for People Living With ADHD

People living with ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), traditionally have extra challenges at work including completing tasks on time, staying focused / feeling restless, planning in both the short- and long-term and noticing the passing of time (too fast and/or too slow). How much ADHD (also called ADD), affects a person’s work depends quite a bit on how severe their condition is and the impact of their environment. Thankfully, work-around solutions do exist that can help the approximate 4% of adults impacted (1.4 million in Canada and 12.0 million in the USA).

Should people living with ADHD be apologetic or feel embarrassed?
No. Absolutely not!

When one’s mind has a tendency to wander and/or get distracted, employees usually work late, take work home and work weekends to complete their important work. This can create even more challenges for people living with ADHD as they get less of the important down-time and rest they need.

Should people living with ADHD be apologetic or feel embarrassed? Absolutely not. People who are not morning people find work-arounds and employees who are not good with numbers find work-arounds. Why should it be different for people living with ADHD? Instead of being self-critical or judgmental, remember there are many operational and time management techniques for people living with ADHD that can help… techniques their Leaders should be aware of as well.

Here are 31 time management and workplace productivity skills people living with ADHD (and their support network) can consider:

  1. Always be fair to yourself and others.
  2. Be grateful for the 90% of your life that goes well. Don’t linger on the 10% that doesn’t.
  3. Stay positive. Think glass half full versus half empty. Self-talk like the following is helpful, “I had a great morning and even though I had to course correct twice I did finish my XYZ on time. Now, to pull that energy forward into this afternoon.”
  4. Practice Mindfulness or meditation to help yourself stay present and calm yourself if you feel triggered, frustrated or restless. Mindfulness or meditation at work can be as simple as sitting still, taking a short walk or taking a few deep breaths. It may also mean excusing yourself from a meeting to ‘go to the washroom’ if you are feeling overwhelmed and want to gather your thoughts and refocus your intention.
  5. Let a few coworkers close to you know you live with ADHD. They may be able to support your unique communication needs.
  6. Have someone who can help you be accountable – someone you can call, text or email to share your goals, successes and struggles.
  7. Keep photos of your support group close-by to remind you that you are not alone and that people are routing for you.
  8. You may need to stay away from open office concepts. In many new office structures small pods are available and these may help you as long as you don’t feel claustrophobic. Basically, you likely want to eliminate sensory distractions. When all else fails, you may have already discovered noise reduction headphones. Again, share what you need with your coworkers so they can understand and help.
  9. Try to keep meeting sizes small to reduce distractions.
  10. For large meetings that you have to attend, try to sit away from the key players and/or where other people’s attention will be focused.
  11. The Time Manager and Leader in me would love to think all meetings would end by someone creating and sharing simple minutes that summarizes important conversations and action items. This doesn’t need to be complicated, a short email written as the meeting recap happens often is all that is needed. This best practice helps manage everyone’s expectations – keep everyone working toward the same goal and timeline.
  12. Summarize conversations. Paraphrasing what a person says helps you confirm everyone clearly understood the conversation and key information, timelines and deliverables.
  13. Make a list of what you have to do today, this week and this month. Include short-term and long-term goals. Write everything down in a diary or log-book. Keep it up to date as new priorities come in so you no longer have to worry about forgetting something. Equally important, you’ll be able to see when you may be overloading your schedule… which is a BIG concern. NOTE: I like keeping a paper-based version of my to-do schedule. Find a system that works for you and stay with it.
  14. Always break work into smaller tasks spread over many days / weeks. Breaking tasks into smaller pieces can help you to feel less overwhelmed and helps you avoid procrastination.
  15. Schedule extra time you may need to complete a task
  16. Always schedule time in your day when nothing is planned. This way, when a crisis happens you don’t feel even more pressure because you have time to work on it.
  17. If you finish a task early or have to wait for an appointment, don’t fill that time by getting on social media. Try using that time for reflection and to calm yourself. Try a simple meditation technique of focusing on your breath. Use this time to recharge your batteries (and your brain).
  18. Avoid trying to multitask. Nobody can focus on two or more important things at a time so give yourself a break from trying.
  19. Use a Timer. One of the best techniques I’ve come across for anyone is to use the Pomodoro Time Manager. This timer-technique suggests 20 minute of work, 10 minutes of rest and then repeat.
  20. Another timer-technique is to set your cell phone to vibrate every 15 minutes. When the alarm goes off, use that as a cue to re-orient yourself. Ask yourself if you are working on your important work in this moment?
  21. Remove distractions – all the things that get in the way. Turn off unnecessary electronics – even background noise may be a challenge.
  22. Only you know what works best for you. Instead of absolute quiet and lack of action, background noise, white noise or music might work better for you. Take charge of what you need. Do you need to squeeze a stress-ball or hand-weight? Does sitting on an exercise ball or using a stand-up desk help? Even a gentle desk fan is known to help. Whatever you do, try not to disturb people around you – just like you don’t want them disturbing you. NOTE: Music, a metronome, tapping or a bouncing leg can be distracting to others even though it may help you. The trick is to find a balance within you and your coworkers.
  23. Have only what you are working on in your line of sight. Keep your workspace clear.
  24. Set up ‘HOMES’ for special things and make a habit of using those places… all the time:
    1. Important files
    2. Files you are going to need today
    3. File for today’s meetings
    4. Phones
    5. Keys and wallets
  25. Set a personal goal. Do something for yourself.
  26. Hire an executive coach. He or she can help you talk through any issues you face and may also be able to help you consider solutions.
  27. You know how much sleep you really need and how to get it… so be sure that happens. You have to feel rested.
  28. Work when you are at your best. For many, that means the first few hours after you wake you are at your strategic, creative best.
  29. Follow any medical plan you have that has been prescribed by a doctor who specializes in the treatment of adult ADHD.
  30. Eat sensibly. You don’t want sugar highs and low and carb crashes adding extra challenge to your day.
  31. Get regular exercise. This may mean daily for you. Again, you know yourself best.


Perhaps you’ve already come to the conclusion there isn’t a single best practice listed here that isn’t good for everyone. All of these are great time management and workplace productivity skills for all people – it just so happens that they are especially important for anyone living with ADHD.

What we do every day of our lives is what matters.

We hope you enjoyed this post.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Leadership Skills, Motivation Skills, Difficult Conversation Training, Business Email Etiquette, Time Management, Mindfulness and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.


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Bruce Mayhew Consulting

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About Bruce Mayhew
Bruce Mayhew is a Leadership Coach, Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer who builds strong client and co-worker relationships that give clients a competitive advantage. Our training and development programs include: ■Generational Differences ■Effective Business Email Writing ■Email Etiquette ■Phone Etiquette ■Behaviour Event Interviewing (BEI) ■Mindfulness ■Using Linkedin to Build Client Relationships ■Objective Setting Made Easy

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