I was thinking about this – if I could create a workplace from scratch, what would it look like?
What got me on this line of thought was reflecting on my habit of listening to music while I work. For me, if I’m doing any kind of cognitive or relatively passive work (i.e., sitting at a computer type of work), listening to music is indispensable for keeping myself on track.
If I’m doing something that’s active like teaching, that’s a different story. Active work is more stimulating from one moment to the next, so I don’t need music the same way. But for any work that doesn’t involve moving around, interacting with other people, etc., music is important.
Which led me to my first requirement for my ideal ADHD workplace: I need to be able to listen to music while I work. (Using headphones, of course: making everyone else also listen to my music isn’t a requirement!)
My second must-have for an ideal ADHD workplace is that as long as I do my work, I should be able to do it at any time of day or night.
It’s gotten better as a get older, but I’m still someone who tends to go to sleep and wake up on the late side. And that’s not to mention anything about insomnia, which can push my optimal wakeup time forward even more. For me, starting work at a fixed time every morning tends to be counterproductive because it eventually just results in sleep deprivation, which naturally isn’t conducive to productivity.
Therefore, in my ideal ADHD workplace I’d be able to do my work whenever I want, as long as I do it.
So far the theme here seems to be flexibility. But my third requirement for my ideal ADHD workplace has to do with structure.
Specifically, I want my work to be divided into concrete projects with fixed deadlines. This removes the organizational burden of trying to figure out what work I should do and when I should have it done. It also puts limits on my procrastination, and it provides a series of short-term rewards to keep me moving forward.
To sum it up: my ideal ADHD workplace is one where I work when I want, listen to music while I work, and have deadlines to keep me on track.
And then it occurred to me: this is a description of the workplace I already have. By becoming self-employed, I’ve created a work environment that’s calibrated for my ADHD brain. I listen to music while I work, I work when I want, and my work is organized into a series of projects with deadlines for my different clients.
When I realized this, my first thought was, go me! In a way, I’ve already created my ideal ADHD workplace without being fully conscious of what I was doing. My second thought was: hmm, if I’m just describing things I already have, maybe I need to be more imaginative in dreaming up my ideal ADHD workplace. But I’ll take my victories where I can get them, and finding a work environment that my ADHD brain is happy about is definitely a victory I’ll take.
What does your ideal ADHD workplace look like? Please share in the comments!
Image: Flickr/Daniel Rashid