Major Workplace Challenges

The workplace presents a variety of special challenges for ADHD adults. Because of their tendency to become distracted, they have trouble focusing on work-related tasks they find boring, dull, or routine, and may neglect or forget to complete them before moving on to something else that is more interesting.

Inattention may make it difficult for them to track conversations or follow instructions. Hyperactivity can make sitting at their desk or through a long meeting practically impossible, and may also cause them to fidget or otherwise disrupt other workers.

Procrastination is another serious problem for ADHD adults, many of whom can't begin working on a project until they have the stress of a deadline. Others may be so overwhelmed by a project that they simply put it off because they don't know where to begin. Impulsivity may lead ADHD adults to say inappropriate or irrelevant things during meetings or to their colleagues or boss, and it may also cause inappropriate and untimely outbursts of temper.


ADHD adults work an average of 22 days a year less than non-ADHD employees because of chronic problems with concentration, distraction, organization, forgetfulness, and impulsiveness. They average 8.4 sick days per year and 21.7 work days associated with a reduction in work because of ADHD symptoms. According to the World Health Organization, 4 percent of adults worldwide may not realize they have adult ADHD.

8 Work-Related Problem Areas

Adult ADHD symptoms can disrupt a wide range of executive functions and also cause problems with emotional, intellectual, and even physical functioning at work. Here are eight areas that pose special challenges for ADHD adults.

  1. Organization skills, including organizing your desk and work day, organizing specific tasks and skills, prioritizing tasks, and dividing big projects into smaller, doable pieces.

  2. Long-range planning, or being able to develop and articulate long-range goals at work. ADHD adults also have trouble planning ahead and following through on large projects with multiple deadlines.

  3. Staying the course, or being able to remain focused on what needs doing and follow through on it until it's completed.

  4. Finding a good middle ground, or being able to establish a work pace and style that enables you to get things done without hyperfocusing. Many ADHD adults routinely work overtime because they waited until the last minute to start, or didn't understand instructions and did things wrong the first time.

  5. Being able to grasp the big picture or overall goal as well as stay focused on the day-to-day tasks without becoming overwhelmed, restless, or distracted.

  6. Staying on an even keel, or managing your emotions, controlling your temper, and taking responsibility for your actions.

  7. Working well with colleagues, or being able to listen, compromise, delegate, control your temper, maintain a sense of decorum, and function as a team or solo player depending on the situation.

  8. Dealing with authority figures, being able to take advice, handle criticism, and follow instructions from a boss without becoming belligerent, defensive, or losing your temper.

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