Workplace Issues

Avoiding Fights on the Job

Find yourself quarreling with colleagues?

Follow these ground rules for getting along with others.

  • Always look for win-win ideas.
  • Make sure the proposals you offer and the positions you take are in alignment with the company’s values and priorities.
  • Before proposing a potentially controversial idea at a large meeting, test the waters by meeting in advance with some of the attendees.
  • State your position calmly and clearly. It may be helpful to break down your position into bullet points.
  • Stick to the facts so as to avoid becoming emotional. ADDers sometimes lose their jobs after making inappropriate comments in the heat of the moment.
  • If you get angry, “reset” your emotions with a 30-minute break. Do something unrelated to the situation that caused your anger.
This article is republished from Additude magazine.
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Stop Procrastinating! ADHD Time Management Strategies

Simple ADHD time management tips and strategies to procrastinate less at home and on the job.

We all procrastinate. Unfortunately, folks with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) procrastinate more than others. Although it seems harmless, procrastination causes conflict in personal and professional relationships. When we fail to complete tasks on time, others see this as a sign of disrespect, incompetence, or laziness. To change this habit, realize that procrastination is a purposeful behavior. It lets us avoid doing something we would rather not do. And it works — for a while.

Photo credit: jdurham from morguefile.com

Because procrastination is essentially a mind-set, cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques can help even chronic procrastinators break the habit. If you’ve been putting something off for days (or months), focus and try the following ADHD time management tips:

1. Do something pleasant first

Once your interest is piqued, it’s easy to apply that positive involvement to the task at hand. Rather than follow traditional behavior-management cues and reward successful behavior after the fact, many people with ADHD find it helpful to do something they love first, to “light up” the brain. After that, it’s easier to move on to less enjoyable tasks.

For my clients, these pleasant activities have included basketball, computer games, dancing – even taking a bubble bath. (Set a timer for 20 minutes to make sure you don’t get so absorbed in the pleasant task that you forget to do the necessary one.) Any stimulating activity you love will work.

Photo credit: earl53 from morguefile.com

2. Create the right work environment

People who have ADHD often function best amid unconventional surroundings. Experiment to find your best working environment. Instead of wearing earplugs to ensure silence, for example, you may find that you’re more productive when listening to loud music. If you use ADHD medication, it’s generally best to schedule difficult tasks for times when your symptoms are fully covered.

One of my clients knew that she worked best under pressure. Unfortunately, this meant she’d begin to work on projects only the day before they were due, no matter how involved the task. She’d either turn her work in late or exhaust herself by pulling all-nighters. We solved this problem by having her set her own deadlines for completing portions of the project. This way, she could still work under pressure to finish each portion “on time” – and would have the entire project completed by the actual deadline.

Photp: vicky53 from morguefile.com

Photp: vicky53 from morguefile.com

3. Eliminate negative self-talk

What we silently say to ourselves about doing the task at hand has a strong impact on how (or whether) we do it. People with AD/HD tend to beat themselves up by playing and replaying negative messages in their minds.

Instead, try telling yourself positive, but realistic, messages – and see what happens. Once you replace “This will take forever, and it’s so late already… ” with “I might not be able to finish this today, but I can do the first two steps within the next 30 minutes,” you’ll see that it is easier to begin.

The messages you send yourself when you complete something on time can also be powerful deterrents to future procrastination. Procrastinators are used to feeling guilty about missing appointments and deadlines and turning in work that doesn’t measure up to their ability – and they don’t enjoy that feeling. Once you begin experiencing the relief you feel after finishing something well, it will be hard to go back to the guilt.

4. Just get started

Merely to start a task – even if it’s started poorly – makes it easier to follow through. Next time you find yourself avoiding something, take a “first sloppy step.” If you need to write something, for example, start by typing random letters on the page. It is gibberish, but at least you will no longer be looking at a blank page.

Photo credit: sssh221 from morguefile.com

5. Take one step at a time

Break large tasks into pieces. One of my clients came to me several months after her wedding, worried because she still hadn’t sent out thank-you cards for her gifts. She felt guiltier about it by the day, and she was approaching the problem by thinking she had to find a block of time when she could sit down and write 150 cards. I gave her “permission” to write and mail only five cards a day until she was finished. This helped her begin – and, eventually, finish – the task.

If a project can’t be completed piecemeal over several days, keep up your momentum by focusing only on the next doable step. Write this step on a sticky note and post it within your line of sight. Put on your blinders, and focus on this rather than on the task as a whole. When that’s done, move on to the next step in the same manner. Before you know it, you’ll be done.

This article is published by permission from ADDitude Magazine ©2006. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. Subscribe to ADDitude online or via toll-free phone 888-762-8475.

Report Cards for Adults:How to Survive Performance Evaluations

Remember when you were in school and it was report card time? Anxiety often hit. In the same way, performance evaluations on the job can cause fear and trembling in folks — especially in this economy when job cuts are on the rise. So what can you do to not only survive the performance evaluation, but also to shine? Here are some tips:

Before the Evaluation

  1. Pull out your past evaluation if available and make sure you have worked on the areas that had been flagged as needing improvement. This will demonstrate your receptivity to feedback.
  2. Obtain a current copy of the evaluation tool by which you will be measured. Your personnel office should have a copy. It’s hard to be successful if you don’t know how you are being assessed for success.
  3. Do your own evaluation as objectively as possible. Describe your strengths as well as areas in which you need to improve.
  4. Redo the evaluation this time from your evaluator’s perspective. What do you think he/she will say?
  5. Problem-solve any areas that need improvement in advance. This way, if they appear at evaluation time, you are already prepared. You are open to the idea that something needs improvement and you have already begun thinking of actions to remedy the problem area. Employers generally value forward-looking people with problem-solving capabilities.

During the Evaluation

  1. Go into the feedback session with an open mind and a controlled tongue. Resist the urge to argue. Employers usually respect workers who are receptive and open to feedback.
  2. Ask for clarification if you don’t “get” what the problem is so that you can fully understand the issues that are of concern.
  3. If you still disagree with the evaluation, IN A CALM MANNER, let the evaluator know that you will need some time to reflect on this information before you respond and that you would like to meet again in a few days.
  4. If your evaluator has overlooked your strengths, bring them up along with concrete examples.

After the Evaluation

  1. Use the additional time to give serious attention to the feedback. Ask colleagues for clarification.
  2. If, upon further reflection and information gathering, you realize you have areas to address that you were unaware of, develop a strategy to shore up the areas that need improvement. You may want to work with a coach or counselor in this process. Meet with your evaluator to discuss your ideas along with some type of accountability plan.
  3. If you still disagree, follow your organization’s appeal process in a calm and professional manner.

Realize that AD/HD often presents challenges in the workplace. At times, accommodations may be needed to help you function at your best. Many accommodations can be put into place without your having to disclose your AD/HD.

Sometimes it will be to your benefit to discuss your AD/HD in a formal manner with your employers so you can be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, consider carefully the consequences of doing so.

Here’s hoping that you will bring home lots of A’s on your next “report card!”


This article is published by permission from ADDitude Magazine All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. Subscribe to ADDitude online or via toll-free phone 888-762-8475.

There’s No “I” in Teamwork …

…And Other Principles of Professionalism

When Hillary* met with the rest of the editorial team, it was all about Hillary. She talked constantly about her story ideas and gave others little chance to speak. When they did, Hillary found a million reasons why their ideas wouldn’t work as well as hers. Soon Hillary, who believed she was the team’s most valuable member, found herself off the lineup and out of a job.

Like many with AD/HD, Hillary didn’t realize that succeeding on a team requires a heightened awareness of others. You have to be able to listen, contribute ideas and provide task support based on what you’ve heard. Remember, there is no “I” in teamwork.

Managing yourself and your own tasks is difficult enough when you have AD/HD. The added complexities of different personalities and interaction styles can be overwhelming. But these days, many companies prefer that people work in teams, because productivity exceeds the results of individuals working alone. If your company values and requires teamwork, here are important principles to keep in mind.

  • Think about the team members and their feelings rather than just the task. If you get the task done, but injure relationships, you may not be successful in your job.
  • Thinking outside the box is one positive aspect of having AD/HD. Use it. Teams draw on the individual strengths of their members. Every team needs new ideas and new ways to proceed as well as people to carry out the tasks.
  • Energy management is critical. Try and schedule meetings at optimum times for your energy level and work style. If you are hyperactive, you may want to cram a meeting between two active tasks. If you are easily overwhelmed by too many words and activities, plan to have meetings after a period of quiet time.
  • Engage others in the discussion and listen carefully. Ask more about other people’s ideas and opinions before sharing your own.
  • Encourage others. Be supportive of their ideas, even ideas that differ from your own. Building relationships by supporting co-workers will make you a valued team member.

Appreciate your unique gifts and talents as well as those of your co-workers. Lead with your strengths and encourage other team members to do the same. Cherish diversity rather than bemoaning what you or others are not. Not everyone is “detail oriented.” Nor is everyone an “idea person.”

* Not her real name


This article is published by permission from ADDitude Magazine ©2004. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. Subscribe to ADDitude online or via toll-free phone 888-762-8475.