Working From Home With ADHD

How do you manage working from home with ADHD, where your attention is more divided than in your normal workplace? I’m dealing with this at the moment, working at home in one room while my wife works in another. It helps that she is working here as well. Her commute is shorter than mine, as she travels from the bed to a desk in the bedroom. I travel from the bedroom to my sunroom office. I can see birds and squirrels from where I am sitting!  

It helps that my wife emerges from the bedroom office only for lunch or coffee. Now that I am cooking and cleaning more than ever, I feel valued, but those tasks are unplanned. I see dog hair on the floor and grab the broom or vacuum cleaner. I feel hunger and start preparing meals. 

So, here’s where I’m directing my effort now, for what it’s worth. I clean up and dress for work to start my work day, not just to look professional, but also to mark the beginning of the workday. I clock in, so to speak.  I close my blinds while doing paperwork and when writing, like right now. I will see the outdoor world later when I break to walk my dog. I open the blinds when I see clients so they can see me on their screens. It is not difficult for me to focus narrowly on them because screens have a way of locking in my attention…I’m sure your spouse has noticed that about you! Hyper-focused attention can help when my work is in that narrow space of a screen.

At the same time, I can find myself brainlocked on an unimportant activity if I haven’t prioritized. I’m at my best when I preview important tasks before locking my attention into the work. As the ADHD experts say, medicine doesn’t prioritize. I need a strategy and tool for that, and I need to remain in a state of open awareness while planning, and before shifting into a more focused state.

When in the office, I don’t snack, call friends, watch news, or do anything that I wouldn’t do in an office or sanctuary. I wouldn’t make a phone call or play a free cell during a religious service or when meditating. Why would I do those things at work? I can schedule recreational activities outside of the work schedule. I can check news headlines when I break for lunch. When I clock out at the end of the day, I try to leave it completely if I can. That way, I am defining a beginning and end of the workday, and I’m more productive when clocked in.

Stay safe during these trying times. Eventually, we will get to more normal routines, whatever they will be. I suspect we will experience some lasting changes in how we live at home and in the world together.

We need each other…always did. Perhaps we are going to be more conscious of our mutual interdependence and need for community. Unity might save us and our planet; division will risk everything we have known. We all belong. As my friend Mike Himelstein said in a song lyric, “Each one is God’s gift to the world.”

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