How ADHD affects job performance

By Dania Aziz

GRADUAN® checked in with Naluri Clinical Psychologist, Faeza Hasnan to understand Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) better, especially where your career is concerned.

First things first: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), for those who need to know, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the part of the brain that controls executive functioning, emotional regulation, and impulse control, among other things. Its symptoms include weak impulse control, difficulty focusing on a task, poor time management skills, difficulties planning and organising, low frustration tolerance, frequent mood swings, and exaggerated emotions.

Sounds confusing? Which is why we spoke to Faeza Hasnan, a Clinical Psychologist at Naluri to better understand it. Naluri, a digital therapeutics provider in Southeast Asia, combines support for physical and mental health to address multiple chronic health conditions and delivers quantifiable health outcomes.

ADHD at work

Our first question? Does ADHD affect you at work? “For adults with ADHD, problems with executive functioning have a direct effect on workplace performance,” says Faeza. Poor time management skills lead to chronic tardiness and missed deadlines while organisational problems result in cluttered workstations, misplaced paperwork, and trouble scheduling.

Adults with ADHD who struggle with self-regulation sometimes find it challenging to work independently and accomplish complicated, multi-step projects. “They also tend to have emotional issues due to repeated failures, underachievement, interpersonal conflict, and so on,” Faeza elaborates.

To overcome this, they should assess and understand how their specific ADHD symptoms affect them. To enhance the abilities required in their field of work, they should seek professional treatment to manage their symptoms and keep their enthusiasm in their employment.

Adults with ADHD should also reduce distractions before starting on a task by creating the right type of stimulus with colours, a white noise generator, fidget items, and anything else that will assist in focusing on the tasks at hand. Using an organisational system that works like mobile apps, electronic-based calendar systems, planners and even whiteboards can help meet deadlines, brainstorm and plan.

Breaking tasks into smaller steps can aid in the maintenance of a sense of accomplishment, allowing a person to stay motivated rather than overwhelmed. Having someone to gently assist, refocus their energy and provide encouragement may assist an adult with ADHD stay on track. Besides that, mindfulness activities such as body scanning, sensory monitoring, and deep breathing exercises, can help people with ADHD focus and reset their train of thought.

Positive elements of ADHD

Despite the negatives , there are many positive attributes to the workplace. Those with ADHD are mostly creative as they have a strong drive and openness to learning, which allows them to explore new concepts in novel ways and aids in activities requiring problem-solving abilities. “Those with ADHD may be out-of-the-box thinkers and therefore be able to generate various answers,” tells Faeza.

They are also resilient since living with ADHD comes with challenges and barriers, making them more likely to endure in the face of difficult challenges at work. Meanwhile, those suffering from hyperactivity and impulsive behaviours are generally enthusiastic, leading them to being extremely adept at dealing with heavy workloads and multiple tasks.

Each person with ADHD struggles differently and possesses unique characteristics. Looking for positions that will allow them to play to their strengths while minimising their weaknesses will significantly improve their chances of getting the proper employment. The following are some recommended careers for persons with ADHD, based on their strengths and interests:

• Entrepreneur
Being an entrepreneur may give enough variety to keep boredom and restlessness at bay while also giving flexibility. It also enables someone with ADHD to hyper-focus on what is important to them.

• Artist/designer
An excellent artist or designer must have creative abilities as well as a high level of energy. They are continuously required to think outside of the box. These are characteristics that a person with ADHD naturally possesses.

• Sales Representative
Sales jobs for people with ADHD often demand strong communication skills as well as mastery of the art of persuasion. People with ADHD who are energetic may make better salespersons since they respond quickly and have a lot of ideas.

• Fitness Trainer
As fitness trainers, they must be enthusiastic and very active all of the time, which might be one of a person with ADHD's assets.

For more information about ADHD, managing symptoms, or coaching to improve your work performance, reach out to Naluri at [email protected] or register for a free account by taking the Naluri mental health assessment.

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