June 5th, 2012
How to Manage Distractions in the Office
By Leslie Rouder, LCSW
One of the biggest concerns that I hear about from my clients with ADD is how to be more productive at work. Problems with distractibility are one of the most common concerns, due to the frequent interruptions that take place in most office settings, creating significant problems for many individuals with ADD. In an attempt to provide some solutions to this problem, I have written the following article.
Individuals with ADD often complain that the amount of distractions that create problems with being productive at work is often overwhelming. In fact, many of these individuals suffer from anxiety and or depression due to the amount of stress this factor places upon them on a daily basis. They may worry about how they are perceived at work and if they are able to manage their time efficiently, while keeping up with deadlines and other time sensitive work responsibilities that are part of their job. The following is a list of suggestions that can help;
- Reduce outside noise by wearing headphones with background music or foam earplugs. Try using white noise or a fan to block or soften intrusive noises.
- Shift work space to a quieter location. Try facing your desk away from doors or distracting windows or ask to use an unused private office or conference room, if one is available. If you don’t already have one, request a private office, if appropriate.
- Adjust work schedule so that you can work your shift during quieter times in the office. Perhaps coming in a bit earlier or working after many people leave. If possible, work from home part time as well. (But only if your home environment is conducive to getting work done, and doesn’t create even more distractions)
- Keep a note pad near your work area to jot down any intrusive thoughts or ideas that might take you off task. While you don’t want to forget the important thoughts or ideas that may present themselves, you don’t want to be taken off task either. Therefore, writing them down for a later time will be most helpful in keeping your focus on the current task.
- Request a compatible co-worker to share office space. Having to share an office with a co-worker who is very distracting can be extremely challenging.
Find someone in the office who has a similar work style to yours or (even better) one who is never in the office.
Along with the above tips, you might consider joining an ADD support group. A support group is a great place to exchange ideas and find out what other people are doing to cope with similar concerns. If you are an individual that has some great tools for managing distractions in the office, please let me know what has worked well for you. I would love to hear some of your thoughts and ideas.