While everyone occasionally feels bored at work, or falls behind on a project, there are a few symptoms of ADHD that you might notice throughout the work day — especially if you struggle with them all the time. As you probably know, ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a condition that can make it difficult to concentrate. And that means you might struggle to meet deadlines, or even finish your work at all.
Symptoms of ADHD can affect you in all aspects of life, but there's something about a studious, quiet office environment that can make them come out in full force. "Anything too refining or constricting can impact or trigger ADHD symptoms at the workplace," Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a board-certified neuropsychologist and ADHD specialist tells Bustle. "Some symptoms that often play out at work include a lack of attention to detail, hyperactivity, and trouble concentrating. These symptoms are triggered in the workplace given everything from seating arrangements to the length of meetings, and even workload."
If you're feeling confined or bored, for example, you may develop a few habits in order to deal with your restlessness, or to help with difficulty paying attention. Again, lots of people space out at work. And plenty more get up to pace around, or wish they were somewhere else. But if the issues listed below seem to be holding you back, or if you've been getting in trouble with your boss about them, it may be worth looking into ADHD as a cause.
1. You Often Make Mistakes
ADHD can cause you to make preventable mistakes, such as calculating something incorrectly or sending an email with a bunch of typos. And According to experts, this is especially true for women with the disorder.
"Generally, males are likelier to be hyperactive," psychologist Dr. Perpetua Neo tells Bustle. "Females are likelier to be disorganized and inattentive, meaning they find it difficult to handle day-to-day minutiae, daydream a lot, and make careless mistakes."
If you notice any of these symptoms, regardless of your gender, it could be a sign of ADHD.
2. You Get Frustrated Easily
ADHD can up your anxiety levels, and make everything feel like a really big deal — especially when you're super busy. "Oftentimes people with ADHD get anxious when juggling multiple tasks at once," says Hafeez. This may result in short temperedness, and even frustrated outbursts.
3. You Get Up From Your Desk To Walk Around Often
It's definitely a good idea to get up from your desk, walk around, and stretch your legs. Just not every five seconds. As Hafeez says, "Physically ADHD may present with fidgeting, rapid speech, messy desks, and often a lot of socializing." So if you can't seem to sit still, or stay away from the break room (where you often stand for an hour to chat with coworkers) take it as a possible sign.
4. You Easily Go Off Topic In Meetings
Let's say it's your turn to give a work meeting. Can people follow what you're saying? Or do you tend to come off as scattered? As psychiatrist and sleep expert Alex Dimitriu, MD tells Bustle, "ADHD symptoms at work are often marked by distractibility, being off topic often, and generally, [having] trouble with self discipline." If the answer is yes, this may be why.
5. You Can Become Hyper-Focused On A Single Task
Most signs of ADHD involve fidgeting, spacing out, or feeling distracted, but "it's also true that individuals with ADHD can actually become hyper-focused on tasks," licensed psychologist Crystal I. Lee, PsyD tells Bustle. "That means, once the person starts working on something, they have difficulty letting it go and moving on to something else. This is because some individuals with ADHD struggle with shifting their attention. So once they're working on something, it becomes really difficult for them to shift away from that task to work on something else."
6. You Easily Lose Track Of Time
It's normal to become so focused on a project that the hours slip by. But for someone with ADHD, this can become a pervasive issue. "They might feel that they lose track of time easily and notice that it happens in multiple settings," licensed clinical psychotherapist Julia Colangelo, LCSW tells Bustle. "Many adults find that their office layouts can easily enable these symptoms, and they struggle to keep themselves on track."
7. You Can Easily Procrastinate For Hours
Because of all the symptoms mentioned above, procrastination is often a major problem for people with ADHD. "It seems like the basic level of 'motivation' required to get going is higher in this group of people, which is why unless adrenaline levels are high(er), nothing gets done," psychiatrist and sleep expert Alex Dimitriu, MD tells Bustle. "This often leads to procrastination, disorganization, and generally working better in a group or social activity, than working alone for a long period of time on a project, unsupervised."
8. You Need To Feel The Pressure If You Want To Get Something Done
When left to your own devices, things rarely get done. But throw in an intense deadline, or the demanding words of your colleagues, and suddenly you find it easier to work. "Because ADHD requires a higher level of dopamine, this group of people tends to ... require a scary deadline, or caffeine, or stimulants to 'stimulate' them to the point where they can get work done," says Dimitriu. Sound familiar?
9. You Can Magically Focus When You Care
Have you noticed that you can focus when you truly care about the project you're working on? "Someone with ADHD at work might able to finish a huge work project that was meaningful to them, but unable to finish the smaller task that they cared nothing about," Lee says. "Some would blame motivation for this, but it's actually based in neurobiology. Brain chemistry is different when you're engaged in tasks that are rewarding, and this brain chemistry helps the individual with ADHD sustain [their] attention."
10. You Tend To Space Out During Work Meetings
There aren't many people who actually enjoy work meetings. They're often long, tedious, and (let's be honest) a little bit boring. But if you can't seem to stay awake, or seem to be more distracted than everyone else, take note. "People with ADHD have shorter attention spans than most, because that's the way they're wired," says Neo. "Sometimes their brains just lose track and they feel extremely sleepy or restless."
11. You Have Trouble Remembering Things
Hey, pretty much everyone struggles to remember phone numbers and important dates. But if you truly seem to struggle with recall, it could be a sign of an issue with your working memory — which can easily be affected by ADHD.
"Working memory is the ability to hold information in your head and, if needed, manipulate it in your mind," Lee says. "So, when these individuals try to call a new number while at work, they have to be staring at the number itself or else they might dial the wrong number. They struggle to hold the phone number in their mind for that brief amount of time." You might also get instructions from your boss, and forget them by the time you get back to your desk.
If you notice these signs, it doesn't mean you're doomed at work. "With proper treatment, including things such as coaching, therapy, or medication, ADHD can certainly be managed — leading to less struggle at work," says Hafeez. "It is also important to note that when people with ADHD are in a work environment that plays to their strengths, they can actually thrive." ADHD can be incredibly frustrating, but luckily, there's plenty you can do to reel in your symptoms.