Idaho, Iowa, Des Moines
November 11, 2022

How to Work From Home With ADHD: Strategies and Tips

Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse, especially if you have ADHD. While some people prefer the lack of commute, the freedom to stay in their pajamas all day, and unlimited access to snacks, many others struggle to work remotely. Being productive requires time management, task prioritization, and focus. But these things are difficult for people with ADHD, and they can be extra challenging from a home environment. 

Many of my clients reached out during Covid-19 because they wanted help transitioning to the stresses of remote work. Figuring out ADHD work-from-home accommodations is key to feeling successful and happy in your job. So let’s talk about how to work from home with ADHD.

how to work from home with ADHD

ADHD and Working From Home

ADHD presents unique challenges, such as marked decreases in executive functioning. Executive functions are controlled by the frontal lobe and include skills like time management, focus, attention to details, memory, multitasking, and organizing. 

Difficulty with executive functioning is one of the most challenging parts of having ADHD. When you work from home, additional stressors from the environment can pile up and make even tiny tasks feel insurmountable.

When you’re home, there are endless distractions calling to you. The dishes need to be washed. The coffee table is filthy. That 3-day-old pile of laundry sitting on the floor really needs to be folded and put away. Maybe reorganizing your closet suddenly feels urgent. Not to mention, other people you live with might also be home and may not think twice about interrupting you.

Without coworkers to keep you accountable, a distraction-free work zone, and a supervisor to check in with regularly, getting anything done may feel difficult or downright hopeless.  

So what’s a remote worker with ADHD to do? The key is to figure out habits that help you focus, accomplish tasks, cultivate a sense of accountability, and feel less alone. These habits look different for everyone, but here are some tips to make ADHD and working from home a little easier.

ADHD work from home accommodations

ADHD Work-From-Home Accommodations: Ten Strategies 

  1. Build a routine. Play around with some sort of routine that signals to your brain you’re getting ready for work. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to wake up at 4am and hit the gym – although if that’s what works for you, then great! But it’s okay if strict morning routines aren’t your thing. Think small: taking a shower, getting dressed, putting jewelry on, or listening to music for a few minutes all “count” as a routine. Each small thing you do that signifies it’s a work day can help you access the work mode parts of your brain.
  1. Leave your house. Go to a coffee shop or public place if that works for you and is possible. Getting out of the house can help reduce distractions and keep you feeling motivated.
  1. Prioritize your to-dos. Ask your supervisor to help you prioritize tasks. If that’s not an option or you work for yourself, make yourself a list of high-priority tasks. You can switch between them if one gets boring or you need a change, but keep track of where you are with each task so you can make sure they all get done on time. Keeping lists of things you need to prioritize can help you stay on track and keep you from getting overwhelmed by an influx of new tasks or interruptions. 
  1. Make work dates. Join an online coworking community or ask a friend or colleague to “meet” with you for online coworking dates. This external accountability can take the pressure off the need to be internally motivated. It can also make you feel less alone in your workday. 
  1. Use a timer. This one might seem small, but can be life-changing. Set a timer – this can be a visual timer or just the timer on your phone – for 20-minute chunks, or longer. Play around with the timing until you find what works for you. Make sure to take quick breaks in between focused sessions, even if it’s only taking time to look somewhere other than your screen. This can help you avoid losing a whole day to hyperfocus, and it can also help get you started on tasks that feel overwhelming. 
  1. Reduce distractions. It’s all too easy to get lost in a social media spiral in the middle of the work day. Put your phone face down or in another room, and turn off sound notifications if possible. Reduce the clutter around your workspace before you start working, so you’re not tempted to clean your whole office space in the middle of an important task. 
  1. Listen to music/white noise. Don’t be afraid to pop in some headphones and listen to tunes to help you focus. White, pink, or brown noise all work wonders, which you can listen to via sleep apps on your phone. Or choose a soothing playlist to curb noisy distractions around you.
  1. Set boundaries with others. Working from home doesn’t mean you’re available for anyone else who might be home. You’re still working. If you have your own office, close the door and make sure roommates or partners know your work hours. Set expectations with anyone else who lives with you about what kinds of communication is and isn’t acceptable during your workday. You don’t need to ignore everyone all day, but it’s important that your time and space are respected like they would be if you were at an office.
  1. Take care of yourself throughout the day. Make sure you’re eating, drinking, and taking breaks throughout the day. Just as many people with ADHD have a hard time getting started with work, many others tend to hyperfocus and stop taking care of themselves. And when work hours are over, turn off work email notifications. Do something else that doesn’t involve a screen to signify to yourself that your workday is done. Spend time with loved ones, go for a walk, or call a friend. Neglecting to take care of yourself often leads to burnout and isn’t sustainable or healthy.
  1. Set aside organization time. Set aside time during the day to clean, organize your space, or address anything that popped up throughout the day. It can be easy to look up and notice your office or table is a total mess, or to walk into the kitchen to grab a quick snack and realize there are dishes everywhere. These situations can trigger a sense of urgency to deal with them right now, which can mean suddenly you’ve spent 2 hours scrubbing the toilet instead of working on your deadline. To minimize this, set aside time during the day to address these issues. Keeping your space relatively clean and tidy will keep that urgency at bay and help you focus. 

Therapy Can Help You Navigate ADHD and Working From Home

If you’d like help coming up with more ADHD work from home accommodations, consider therapy. I can help you work through your challenges and set goals so you avoid burnout and feel confident, productive, and happy while working from home. You’ll learn strategies to help you focus, ask for what you need, and take care of yourself. 

I’m ready if you are. Reach out today to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Meet the author

Danielle Wayne

Danielle is an anxiety therapist. She specializes in helping busy millennials dial down their anxiety and ADHD, so they can perform at their best. Danielle has been featured on Apartment Therapy, SparkPeople, Lifewire, and Now Art World. When Danielle isn't helping her clients, she's playing video games or spending time with her partner and step children.

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