Psych Central


Modigliani

It takes a lot of hyperfocus to be a life-drawing model.

photo credit: Martin Beek

Are you feeling stuck in a job you can’t stand? Workplace woes are common amongst those of us with ADHD. Having a great workplace fit is so important it’s considered key to managing ADHD symptoms.

But how do you find that just-right job for you?

Hyperfocus could be a key to finding an occupation you’re passionate about, that will hold your interest, and that you can excel in.

On the opposite side of the coin, the level of distraction and lack of focus you experience at your current position might be an indicator of poor job place fit.

To give you an idea of how hyperfocus can work in your favor, here are a few of the jobs where I’ve used hyperfocus to advantage.

Therapeutic drumming facilitator

In my business Diana’s Drum, I eventually specialized in working with seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and aphasia in long-term care facilities. Soon after I began my business, I told one of my seniors’ groups, “You guys are more fun than my friends!” (Don’t tell my friends.)

During intense observation (a.k.a. hyperfocus) I came to a deep understanding on-the-job of the symptoms, behaviors, and experiences of those living with many levels of dementia and Alzheimer’s. I also learned how to identify when someone had aphasia.

I had no formal training in geriatrics. My observations and conclusions were confirmed when I was hired by a branch of the Alzheimer’s Society to do a session with professionals and volunteers at a day-long training and informational event.

As the information was presented, I was shocked at how accurate my interpretations had been, and by how just watching, listening, and learning led to an intimate knowledge of these debilitating diseases.

Writer

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’d guess that most careers in the arts benefit from a healthy dose of hyperfocus. When I wrote my first book (20 years ago, long before my ADHD diagnosis) I happily hyperfocused my way through writing the manuscript. Fourteen-hour stretches passed, and I’d resent having to get up to feed myself. I don’t think I could have written that book without the ADHD blessing of intense hyperfocus.

Art class model

While not my dream job, modelling for a university life drawing art class definitely required hyperfocus. I was often complimented on my ability to hold a pose longer than any of the other models. I could hold still without flinching for up to an hour at a time.

Even though I was in great shape back then (this was many years ago!), my back, neck, shoulder or other muscles began to ache about halfway through the pose, but I managed to hang in there until the break.  I learned a lot from that experience and again, definitely couldn’t have done it without being able to hyperfocus.

5 Key Questions to Finding Your Perfect Job Through Hyperfocus

If you’re looking for your dream job but not sure where to look, ask yourself the following questions:

1 ) When in the past have I found myself in deep reverie?

2 ) What hobbies or pursuits do I find it nearly impossible to tear myself away from?

3 ) What skills do I have that I’ve learned on my own, just because I was interested?

4 ) What topics can I not get enough of to read?

5 ) What conversations stand out in my mind that were completely engaging?

The answers to these questions could point you in the direction to search for an occupation that you’re naturally drawn to, and that you’d be darn good at.

Making hyperfocus work for, not against you

Remember: our brains are wired so that it’s nearly impossible to focus on things we’re bored by; it’s not your fault, it’s your neurobiology. Why fight it?

One word of warning: hyperfocus can be a mixed blessing. When we tap into it, we can be almost overly-thorough (I have to fight myself not to over-research everything I write). As a freelancer, it’s not the most economically viable approach to spend 12 hours interviewing someone for a 300-word piece. At that rate, my hourly wage drops to around $7.00 an hour.

And yes, I’ve learned my lesson. The hard way. With ADHD treatment, I’m learning to take corrective measures to stop myself from hyperfocusing, while using it when it’s beneficial.

Become the go-to expert

Used wisely, who is more likely to become an expert on a subject than an ADHDer who’s in the throes of hyperfocus? You can turn yourself into the go-to person on any topic you choose, and turn your passion into a career path.

So, if you’re not happy with your job, hyperfocus on that! (and good luck!)

 

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    Last reviewed: 26 May 2013

APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2013). ADHD Hyperfocus: The Secret to Finding the Perfect Job?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 23, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-zoe/2013/02/adhd-hyperfocus-the-secret-to-finding-the-perfect-job/

 

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