What are your favorite ADHD in the workplace strategies? In this episode I share mine, including common tools used in the workplace that you can repurpose for your personal life and creative pursuits!
I hesitated to do this episode. The reason why is because first of all, all of us are very, very different. Not just our lifestyles, but also the type of ADHD we have and what works for us and what doesn’t. But I decided to go ahead and share what works for me and it may not work for you, but it may get you started on a path where you can start testing and testing, which is what we do in tech and you just keep testing and test some more and until you find something that works. I know this might seem counterintuitive. You might think, “Oh, all these tools. Isn’t that part of the chaos that I’m supposed to be trying to control?” But I want to provide a counter argument to that to say it’s okay if you’re testing different tools to see what works for you until you find what works and then once you know it works, yeah, you want to stick with it and you don’t want tool fatigue and you don’t want to jump from tool to tool.
That said, I am living proof that what works from day to day isn’t always gonna be the same. For example, Friday I was using the Pomodoro technique and before that I was using agile workflow. I mean, every day I’m trying different things and mixing and matching and you just have to do what’s good for you.
Related: How To Stay Focused At Work | My Story
Tools for ADHD
And with all that said, I’ll just jump into my tools and jump off that soapbox. Long story short, your mileage may vary. But with all that said, the first tool that I use is, it’s Alexa Dot slash Google Home. I actually prefer Google Home, but I started with the Alexa Dot and it was overwhelming at first. It was good. Neither of these were things I sought out. They’re just in my home. The Alexa Dot was a gift. Google Home was something my husband got for the bedroom and the Alexa Dot’s in our living room.
So they’re not things I really sought out and I thought, well, I don’t want to take the time to learn the voice commands and all that. But I’ll tell you, once I did, I’m constantly finding myself using these things and when I’m in a room where I don’t have them, I miss them. So, it’s something to keep in mind. The top things I use it for our reminders and timers, but there’s actually a lot of neat stuff you can do. And it just helps clamp down … It helps simplify a lot of things. Fewer apps, fewer sheets of paper. You know, you’ve got timers on your phone, timers on your microwave, timers on your oven. It’s just really cool to just be able to say, “Hey Alexa, you know, remind me in 10 minutes, I have to go to the dentist.”
And doctor appointments are a huge one for me. Being reminded when it’s time to leave for an appointment is really nice and it’s even nicer. I know you can also do this on your phone. You can ask your phone to set these reminders. So, that all goes into one bucket is just like Google Assistant. I don’t really know what you Apple people use. Siri, I think. That’s all the same family. That’s my number one thing.
The next thing is Slack and it might seem … when I explain why I’m using it, it might seem redundant, but bear with me. So Slack, if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a tool that employees use to work with each other, but there’s a feature on there called Slack Bot that can set you really detailed reminders and help you with note keeping.
And there’s like, all these side features. And even though I originally started using it as part of … I was working at a company that had it, I ended up adopting it for my personal life and it’s been really great. And I’m the top features on Slack that I use are the remind me feature. Actually, that’s really the only thing I use at this point. But there’s like a little channel called Slack Bot. You can just like dump notes in there and have like brain dumps. So if you’re working on something and something hits you while you’re working and you’re like, wow, I shouldn’t be going down this rabbit hole. You can start chatting into your little Slack Bot channel and just start leaving notes for yourself and then go back later. And actually now that I’m talking about that out loud, I don’t know why I don’t use that more so maybe I’ll start using that more.
The next tool is Asana. And Asana’s as a tool of I’ve had this on and off relationship with for years and it’s just … I wanted to like it and never could really get into it. It’s a project management tool. A lot of people use it who work in teams or if they freelance entrepreneurs. But I recently also adopted this for my personal stuff. And there’s two ways to do it. You can create a list format, where all your tasks are lists or you can create a board format. I use both of these formats. I’m going to give you an example.
For the list format, I have a shopping list and I keep it going and I like that it’s on my desktop and my smartphone, so that no matter where I’m at, I can add to my grocery list. I don’t have to worry about carrying a sheet of paper around, or for those who keep their shopping list on a whiteboard or on the refrigerator, if you’re away from your refrigerator and you remember something, it’s great to just be able to … if you’re already at your computer, you can add it or if you have your phone you can add it. Same with to do lists.
Now the board thing I like. It’s a visual element and I like it because … This is really good for projects. Even home projects, not just work projects, any project where there’s multiple phases, like pending, backlog, to do, done. You can create all these different columns and then create the task and it can travel through the columns and this is all very hard to discuss on a podcast. You need to go check this out for yourself. But the upshot of bringing up Asana is it’s a very clean way to really get all of your stuff rounded up into one place and organize it visually or in a list. Whatever makes the most sense for you. So check that out if you know, get a chance.
The next tool is called ActivTrak. And someday I’m going to get kicked off this tool because I’m not using it for its intended purpose. I’m using it to keep … It’s a tool that are supposed to help employers keep employees accountable and not play on their computer while they’re working. I’m using it, but I’m using it to spy on myself and I love it. I used to use my browser history to keep track. I have to keep track of time at my job and I used to use my browser history. Well, now with Active Track, it doesn’t matter if I’m on the internet or if I’m off the Internet working on an offline program, Active Track captures everything and that’s not the only tool in this space.
There’s others, and I forget there’s one that’s actually geared towards, users who just want to be more accountable for their time and I can’t remember the name off the top of my head, but there are other tools out there, but I really liked this one a lot and it really tells you exactly what program, what app, what website you were on, and how many minutes and you can label it as productive or unproductive. And at the end of the day, you’ve got this graph telling you how productive you were.
And if you’re like me and you need to keep track of your time for your employer or client, all that’s there. And it saves me a ton of time, keeping track of my time, but it also … I lost my train of thought there. Oh, yeah. It takes a lot of the stress away of having to write all that down because to me that’s kind of … it messes up my flow when I’m working, to have to write it down and sometimes you’ll start a task at 5:05, but then you get a phone call and all of a sudden you’ve got to go back and scratch out the 5:05 and then you’ve got to start over and it’s a whole thing. But with these types of programs running in the background, you don’t really have to sweat that. And I like that a lot.
Google Calendar. This isn’t really an amazing, mind-blowing revelation, but what I started doing with it recently … Somebody challenged me to map out my whole month on Google Calendar, which sounds incredibly daunting, but like just time blocking and like, figuring out what you’re doing every day. And I did it and I found out why that person challenged me to do that. It’s because you could see ahead at where things are bumping into each other and you can plan ahead for that, instead of letting things happen to you.
The other thing is you get a really good idea. It’s like balancing your checkbook. You get a really good idea of how many hours you have versus how much you’re trying to accomplish. So, it’s like a checkbook for your time. I might have to coin that. I love that. I just came up with that. It’s like a checkbook for your time.
So those were my top tools. I mentioned the Pomodoro technique and Agile Workflow at the very beginning of this recording and those weren’t part of my original tech tools that I use every day, but I want to go ahead and real quick encourage you to Google those. You might enjoy those. Pomodoro technique, if you’re not familiar, it’s this whole method of working 25 minutes and then playing for five minutes and it’s a whole thing. Just Google it. I’m not going to do it justice trying to explain it, but long story short, I just started that on Friday and I don’t want to get all excited and say I’m going to do this forever, but it’s been the most effective thing of all the things I’ve tried and I’ve tried just everything.
Agile Workflow I would say is like in the same family of really works well. And I’m over simplifying my explanation of Agile Workflow, but for me like the way I use it is, I have a whiteboard of columns of, you know, to do, backlog pending, done whatever and post-its that go under each of those things. And then the post it travels through each step, depending on where you’re at. That’s the oversimplification. But do Google that and look at it if you think it would help you, but what it forces you to do in the analog version where you’re actually using physical post-its in a whiteboard like … Some people just are better processing physically tangible items. But the big thing is it’s also like balancing your checkbook, you have all these tasks you have to accomplish. You have a finite amount of resources and it really forces you to get serious about pushing these items through and it gets like a game and it’s super motivating.
Like, you want to just knock this stuff out and it feels good as you’re knocking it out, which is something else I like about the Pomodoro method. The other thing is … I mentioned Asana earlier. The board version is pretty much a digital agile workflow setup, which is why I love it. So I think for me, Alexa board version plus Pomodoro is like the ideal situation and I’m talking about for work and this is all something I’m doing outside of … My job has project management software and if you’re working at a place where you work really well with their system, you know, this probably doesn’t apply to you, but for me I kind of have to sort myself out before I could even engage in their project management. Like, there’s so much between me that happens, you know, on my end, internally within myself before I’m even engaging with other people that I need to figure out.
And that’s what I’m talking about when I talk about agile workflow, Pomodoro, all that good stuff. So, you may or may not need that. It’s really done a lot for me. And finally, I just want you to jump in, give me all your ideas. I’m on all the socials. Twitter and Instagram, the handle is @ADHDAdulting. For Facebook, it’s Adulting With ADHD is the handle, I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but my email is contact at adultingwithAdhd dot com. And I would love for you guys to write in and give me your favorite tech tools and I can talk about them on the next show.
And if you have any other things you want to hear covered on this show, please reach out to me. I would love to hear what you guys want covered. And uh, I think with that, I’m just going to say catch you next Tuesday and happy adulting.