Keeping your focus in today’s competitive environment can be particularly difficult for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). According to the specialists in the mental health medicine field, talented and driven people are also required to show excellent focus, attention to detail, speed, and organization. These crucial workplace skills may be challenging for the estimated 8-9 million American adults with ADHD.
During my coaching sessions with many of my real estate agent/clients, it has become more relevant to me that this is a problem in the real estate industry and is crucially under estimated.
The ability to succeed can suffer as a result of the restlessness and inability to focus which are hallmarks of ADHD. One national survey showed that only half of adults with ADHD were able to hold down a full-time job, compared to 72% of adults without the disorder. When they were able to secure a job, they tended to earn less than their peers without ADHD. Those employment problems translate into nearly $77 billion in lost income each year.
How Does ADHD Affect Your Business?
How significantly ADHD affects your outlook on your business depends on the severity of the condition. Some people with ADHD may just have trouble staying on-task, while others can’t make it through the workday without getting into a huge blow-up with a client or co-worker. Those who are more severely affected can lose their business, or wind up bouncing from firm to firm, browsing for better opportunities or seeking disability benefits and/or unemployment.
ADHD affects job performance in a number of ways. If you can’t sit still and have trouble organizing and focusing, you may find meetings excruciating, and keeping track of multiple projects and deadlines enormously challenging. One study showed that people with ADHD often had more difficulty with attention, working memory, mental processing, and verbal fluency — executive-function abilities that are all important in the workplace.
People with ADHD tend to have trouble with the following work-related areas:
- Time management
- Listening and paying attention
- Following directions
- Completing assignments
- Attending to details
- Getting to work on time
- Speaking in turn
- Sitting still
- Controlling emotions
ADHD often leads to depression and low self-esteem. Constantly missing deadlines and being unable to complete your work on schedule can exacerbate these feelings. Do you recognize yourself in some of these areas?
How Can You Improve Your Odds of Getting Back and Maintaining Your Focus?
Many adults who experience symptoms such as restlessness and inability to concentrate have never been formally diagnosed with ADHD. If you have any of the problems listed above, the first step toward improving your outlook on your business is to see a doctor who specializes in the treatment of adult ADHD and get diagnosed so that you can get started on the proper treatment.
Otherwise, may I suggest 7 steps that could control your Attention Deficit:
1. Check Your Planner 3 Times a Day
Whether you have ADHD or just too much to remember, organizing tips can help you manage your time and activities better. Get into the habit of putting all your appointments and activities on a calendar. It doesn’t matter if it’s a day planner, a smartphone app, or just a plain old desk calendar. Keep it in one spot and check it at least three times a day. Make it a habit to check at the same times each day.
2. Make a New “To Do” List Every Day
Each morning, make a list of the things you want to get done that day. Try to keep your list realistic, so you’ll have a good chance of getting to everything. Arrange your tasks in order of importance, putting the most important tasks first. Assign each task a specific time of day. Cross off each task when you complete it.
3. Make Organization a Daily Habit
Don’t think of it as cleaning up. Think of it as following your organization plan:
- If you keep items, they should have a home. Use filing cabinets, labels, clear storage boxes, and over-the-door organizers.
- Take 10 minutes each day to pick up and return items to their proper places.
- If you take it out, put it back.
- Keep a box for loose papers and other mislaid items to be put away. Go through it at the end of every day.
4. Use Electronic Reminders
Forgetting meetings, deadlines, medications, or other responsibilities can create problems at work and in your personal life. For help, turn to computer programs and other electronic devices to remind you of appointments and deadlines. For example, set your computer or smartphone to alert you five minutes before every event in your calendar.
5. Tune Out Distractions at Work
Distractions at work can be a big challenge for adults with ADHD. Try these strategies:
- Route your calls to voicemail, then check it only at set times during the day.
- Ask for a quiet cubicle or office at work, so you aren’t distracted by others.
- Use a “white noise” machine or listen to earphones to drown out other sounds at work.
- Stick to doing just one task at a time.
6. Simplify Your Life with Fewer Tasks
Organizing and simplifying your surroundings will help you reduce clutter, keep track of your belongings, and remove some of the distractions that prevent you from focusing. Simplifying can work for your schedule, too. Don’t start a new project or task until you’ve finished the current one. Try not to over-schedule yourself with too many projects or tasks at once. You may need to practice saying no to new tasks to stay focused.
7. Get More Exercise
Regular exercise may help manage your ADHD symptoms. At the very least, it can help you channel extra energy. But regular exercise and team sports can also help you work together with others, learn to set and meet goals, and feel better about yourself. Some research suggests that physical activity may stimulate parts of the brain associated with ADHD. Activities like yoga and karate may be better for ADHD because they offer opportunities for memorizing movements.
CRISTIAN DAVID, Team Leader/Business Strategist/Real Estate Coach at Keller Williams Realty Brentwood in Los Angeles.