What’s the best place to work with ADHD?

Daryl HattonEntrepreneurship

I’m traveling on business. Sitting alone in a noisy bar in Toronto. By choice. Plowing through my email. And making hay.

A pretty young woman at the next table shouts, “How can you WORK in here???” Explaining it seems futile. Too loud. I shrug my shoulders and she turns back to her friends.

But the truth is that, for me, it is a great place to work. As with many CEOs, I suffer from a mild case of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). It is difficult for me to stay {SQUIRREL} on one thought or issue at a time. There is just SO MUCH to see. It can be frustrating at times.

However, I also believe that it is one of the things that helps me be unusually creative in life and be able to see outside the normal business-as-usual box. I know experientially that common limits on thinking about a problem are just safe/lazy behaviors acting as barriers to innovation and exploration. I also know that when I give myself permission to let myself throw aside the rule book and see what really works for me I usually learn something worth sharing.

I’ve discovered what works for me to get work done is busy, noisy, chaotic environments. Like bars. And coffee shops. And restaurants. I’ve found I’m massively productive in these environments. I can tame an overflowing email inbox or write important messages in much less time than if I’m in my office. In fact, I’ll frequently ditch my terribly quiet, beautiful, bricks & sticks, modern-glass-walls-in-heritage-building office and head down the street in Gastown to visit the local barista, pull up a too-small table and hunker down to work. I’ve thought of giving up my space to my team and just parking in the board room when I’m in the office. Seriously.

I think it works because there is SO MUCH stimulation, it is actually calming on my brain. I’m amazed that I can tune it all out and really, really, intensely focus on what I’m doing. It is not like I’m an automaton lost in my thoughts. I notice and interact with the people around me or the waiter/waitress as if nothing else was going on. But I’m invariably drawn back to work once that interaction slows down even a little bit. And I slip right back in the zone, without even a minor fuss. It is a wonderful sensation and I love it.

If you are someone who has trouble focusing, try it out. Not once, not twice but enough so that you can know for sure if it works for you.

Works for me. Big time. Good luck.