ADHD at Work: Tips and Trips from Dell Team Members

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Highly energetic.
A problem-solver.

Sound like someone you would like to have on your team?

These are the valuable attributes an employee with ADHD can bring to your workplace.

ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is a highly genetic, brain-based syndrome that affects the regulation of a particular set of brain functions and related behaviors – attention span, hyperactivity and impulsivity.  You may relate ADHD to a childhood syndrome, but since it is a neuro-behavioral condition, most children don’t outgrow it; they simply learn to accommodate in their adult life. Data shows that approximately 3.4 percent1 of the global adult population functions with some level of ADHD.

So it is vital that adults with ADHD learn coping mechanisms to succeed in their personal and professional lives.  It is equally important for employers to recognize the accommodations they can take for their valuable ADHD team members.

Since coping with ADHD in the workplace is not one size fits all, I spoke with a few of my fellow Dell team members to learn tips that have been effective for them, as well as some trips (those tools that did not work so well).

 Tips for Coping with ADHD at work:

 Take a breakMiranda Caenepeel

Start each day with intent. I spend 5 or so minutes each day on self-awareness and the intent I plan to use it. 

– Miranda Caenepeel, Sales Operations Manager

David FordExercise. I find taking an hour walk early in the morning prior to starting my workday enables me to offset my hyperactivity and stay better focused!

– David Ford, Senior Education Account Manager and North America Communication Lead for True Ability ERG

Be honest

Mike CookI used to be ashamed or afraid to tell my teams, co-workers or bosses about my ADHD, but I have learned that it is crucial to make sure they are all aware so that my:

  • Boss knows that I may not be the best to be point on a project, but that I can help in many areas.
  • Co-Workers & Team know that they need to always follow-up on conversations and/or make sure that I follow-up so that I don’t forget.

– Mike Cook, Manager Enterprise Services

Use the technology that’s at your fingertipsNick Turner

Utilize resources to the upmost extent. I understand that I may forget things such as meeting times, deadlines, etc. I have made great efforts to utilize my Outlook calendar to remind me of these.

– Nick Turner, Customer Experience Advisor and North America True Ability ERG Lead

Write it down

Write ideas down – Like most with ADHD I have more thoughts before 8AM than others do throughout their day. With that, I’ve learned that if I want to discuss something or have an idea, I put it on my calendar right then so that I don’t forget and I can go back to it.  – Cook

Limit known distractions

Try to keep your workspace clean so that little things don’t distract you (i.e. what’s that paper, did I finish that, etc.). My phone is on silent while I’m at work. I have alerts if family needs to reach me for an emergency.  – Cook

Turn off the chime on your phone and other notifications that you know will distract you and simply drive you crazy. A great example is Outlook – do you really need the chime and pop up every time you get a new email? Turn it off. Do you really need Facebook letting you know when another notification has surfaced? Turn it off. By reducing these distractions, you take back control of your focus and how you spend your time. You also don’t run the risk of being distracted from something more important – like a conversation with a colleague or teammate. – Jennifer Newbill, Director Global Employment Brand

Don’t start down a YouTube rabbit hole!  – Turner

Realize your strengths and weaknesses

I know my limitations surrounding my ADHD and seek to enhance my strengths derived from my diagnoses looking to improve at every opportunity.  – Ford

Ask for resources to study. I often lose attention in long meetings and miss some key points due to my mind wandering for a few minutes or due to the fact that I am still pondering the previous slide. There is no harm in following up with the person speaking and asking for material to go over on your own.   – Turner

Set your yourself up for success

I take my medication regularly. In the past I would not take my medication to try and “overcome” ADHD on my own. However, I have found keeping up with my medication as I am supposed to have greater benefits than not taking it.  – Turner

Join an Employee Resource Group (ERG) and invest your time and talent educating yourself and others on ADHD.  – Ford

Find a career that mimics your energy level and the ADHD traits that you personally carry. In the 5 years at Dell, I have never once dreaded coming to work. As a company it matches many of the traits I carry. It is high energy, ever changing, creates break through innovations and is hyper focused on customers. It is like a match made in ADHD heaven!  – Caenepeel

Trips when Coping with ADHD at work:

When I forget my calendar! I have now added Outlook on my personal cell phone as well. Technology is great, I can now just push a button, speak my reminder and my phone sets it for me!  – Caenepeel

Routine – The most important thing that all physicians, psychologist or ADHD specialists stress is “ROUTINE.” However, I find that a routine makes me lose focus or become very bored so I don’t stick to the same routine as most ADHD individuals do.  – Cook

Lack of educating others about my ADHD thereby not fully taking advantage of mutual beneficial learning opportunities for self-growth as well as others.  – Ford

Acting with impulse – I constantly remind myself to not impulsively blurt out my ideas the moment I have them. Instead, write them down, analyze the validity of the idea, and present them in the proper fashion.  – Turner

Lastly, what is the one thing that all adults with ADHD can relate to?

Thinking every thought you have needs to be broadcasted immediately and is the most important thing in the world.  – Turner

That moment when you’ve been waiting, trying not to impulsively interrupt so that you can share a story/idea. Then you get ready to share but you forgot what it was you wanted to say.  – Cook


About the Author: Amy Winebright

Amy Forbes Winebright Amy’s current role as the Global Employment Brand Project Manager at Dell seamlessly melds her earlier career in marketing and sales with more recent experience in brand marketing and human resources. She has worked with small start-up businesses where everyone wears several hats to large corporations. At the heart of it all she is a brand advocate who is thrilled to advocate for Dell, a powerhouse company that values innovation and growth much like a startup, truly the best of both worlds. Outside of work Amy spends time with her family, tries her green thumb out in the garden and loves to see the world through her Canon lens. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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