challenges at work were taking a toll on her personal life, diminishing
her self- esteem and threatening her career. In supervision she
always received comments such as, “Judy, you have so much
talent to offer our company but you need to be more organized and
less distractible. You need to put more effort into improving your
work performance or you’ll risk loosing your job.” Judy
had tried everything - making lists, coming in early, staying late
and working weekends. Nothing seemed to work. Eventually, she sought
the services of a coach to help her address these challenges.
In the initial interview with her coach it became
clear that Judy needed to set up structures and organizational systems
to keep track of her projects and paper work. Through discussing
the details of a typical day her coach pointed out several areas
where her AD/HD was hindering her work, contributing to her lack
of organization, and impairing her ability to prioritize and manage
her time. Together they developed a set of strategies to improve
her work performance.
Judy and her coach set up basic systems to organize
her projects into different file folders. When working on a project
the coach suggested that she only have that project’s file
on her desk. This helped her to focus better and decreased her
sense of being overwhelmed.
Each day before leaving work she would allot 15
minutes to file papers and plan for the next day. Reporting in
to her coach on a daily basis helped create the motivation and
daily vigilance she needed to combat her propensity to let papers
pile up on her desk.
Each day Judy had the intention to arrive early
to work, but always seemed to arrive late. Through discussions
with her coach she devised a morning routine with set times to
wake-up, get dressed, leave her apartment, get coffee, and arrive
To create the accountability necessary for her to
stick to the schedule, Judy left a message on her coach’s
answering machine reporting that she had arrived at work at their
agreed upon time.
Judy also had a difficult time accounting for her
time while at work. To become more conscious of “the passing
of time” Judy used a wrist watch that beeped hourly. She
and her coach set specific time limits to her various work responsibilities.
Using a “count down timer” ensured she would stick
to the established time limits. This strategy not only helped
her stick to allotted times but curtailed some of her avoidance
behaviors such as surfing the web for hours.
Judy and her coach identified her long-term projects
at work, setting timelines and defining milestones. In their weekly
check-ins they broke Judy’s current projects into smaller
steps. Together they would sequence the steps necessary for each
piece with specified start and stop times for each. This strategy
helped Judy to focus on the important parts of her projects and
to see them through to completion. Additionally, at the end of
each day she e-mailed her coach to report her progress. Defining
which tasks had been completed and which were outstanding helped
to prioritize for the following day.
She and her coach isolated AD/HD behaviors that
got in Judy’s way causing her to loose sight of her work
goals. She often wasted valuable work time checking her e-mail
or surfing the web. Another AD/HD tendency that interfered with
productivity was to hyper-focus and needlessly over-research background
information for hours at a time. By discussing and analyzing her
actions with her coach she was able to get feedback and create
methods to divert these behaviors.
The coaching process helped Judy to create a greater
understanding of how her AD/HD affected her work performance and
productivity. The partnership and support she received from her
coach helped Judy to develop the habits and tactics she needed to
become more organized. Regular check-ins with her coach helped Judy
meet commitments and follow through with responsibility. Through
her new-found understanding of success Judy not only improved her
work performance but the quality of her life.
“Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar,
Requires the sorest need.”
Ultimately Judy better understood how her AD/HD affected
her productivity and contributed to her lack of organization. She
was able to create strategies to address some of her problem areas.
The partnership and support that she received from her coach and
the regular check-ins helped her follow-though on tasks and over
time allowed her to gradually develop the habits needed to become
more organized, feel better about herself and perform more effectively
Next: Interrupting Conversations