Tips From An ADHD Leader

When I started my degree, I remember tearing my hair out in frustration. I could not seem to get my head to work like normal people’s brains did enough to be able to study. A close friend would patiently help me and teach basic skills such as planning my week, setting deadlines, basic essay skills. With each new skill I learned, I felt like I had revolutionised my life. “These are just really simple things that organised people hide from the rest of the world, so they seen to be the smart ones,” I thought to myself.

Nowadays, when I find myself overwhelmed, frustrated, or completely distracted at work, I will often go back to some of these basics – as long as I can get my head together long enough to do so! Here’s three things that help me to stay sane at work in a normal brain world:

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1. Visualise

I only recently learned the value of visualisation. My incredible boss asked me how the final preparations for the conference were going, and suggested we do the “Fiona” walk through. Who’s Fiona? Anyone who I should be looking after in my role. We went through the event hour by hour; from the moment of Fiona’s arrival, through to when we said goodbye to Fiona. Visualising the conference, by putting a person in my mind’s eye, helped me to establish the details and ordering, some things I can naturally skip over in my thought process.

2. Delegate

Delegate the details. Delegate your weakness to another person who has strength in that area. For me, I knew everything that needed to happen at conference, but it was one tangled mess of ideas in my head. When I sat down with my team leaders to explain the role I envisioned for them, my information came at them from all angles; interrupted by a “oh I forgot to mention…” here, and a “by the way that thing I told you five minutes ago, what I meant was…” there. They then took my brain spill and ordered it into what was required of them, and together we put in place structures and rosters. Delegation is not passing the buck, it’s realising you cannot do everything, and, dear Lord, you should not try! So delegate areas to another to add strength to your team.

3. To Do Lists

A classic, but it really is genius. Writing a to do list helps me for lots of reasons. If I get distracted, and then forget what I was doing, usually I can remember by having a quick read of my list. It also helps me to be disciplined in staying on task; when I remember something I need to do or have an idea, I really want to do it straight away, leaving my current task unfinished, and also wreaking havoc on my prioritisation. So now I simply (in theory; I’m not going to lie to you, I sometimes fail!) pause, add it to my list, and return to the task at hand.

What helps you to lead and manage well? Let me know! Unless you’re one of those organised types who doesn’t want to share their secrets…haha!

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