ADHD in a software engineer

Amazon Vaporeon
Apr 2 25 Comments

I finally got diagnosed with ADHD after years of struggling. Does anyone have any tips on how to better handle ADHD in the workplace as an engineer?

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TOP 25 Comments
  • Intel DonaldDD's
    1) Take a natural nootropic of L-theanine and caffeine. This is the same trying as green tea, if you’d rather that route.

    2) take frequent breaks in the form of a pomodoro timer. You will be more focused during your “on-time”. It’s really hard to focused for extended periods of time.

    3) meditate in the morning to calm your mind and set the correct tone for the day. Do this before leaving the house after you’re set and ready to go. 10 minutes won’t kill your work schedule, it’s important for longer productivity anyway.

    4) I really prefer to use music without lyrics when I really have a crunch time focus. Examples are classical music or electronic music. The rhythm in the background will drown out distractions.

    5) never have an Internet browser open!!! As soon as you notice your personal email open, Facebook open, news articles - stop them dead in their tracks and close the entire browser and all tabs. Stand up and walk a loop for 5 minutes to reset from the lack of focus. A lot of the issues with ADHD are when your brain is “exhausted” from a long period of focus. Allow a short break to recover, and maybe meditate in a chair outside your desk/cube to reset.

    These short breaks may seem like a waste of time, but won’t kill your productivity. You are a smart and capable person. Use your brain to its best ability by working when you can be the most productive. Extending a distracted period is actually the lost productivity.

    Why do I champion meditation? 2 reasons.
    1) In my experience, ADHD has a lot to do with “overstimulation” from your external environment(I’ve got kooky theories related to the autism spectrum too). Meditating helps to ignore these stimuli and let your brain relax/rest/recover.
    2) Focus of the mind is like a muscle, in that regular training can lead to improvement. You will notice that meditating for 2 minutes seems difficult, and after 6 months 30m-1hr can be achieved in the correct environment. This “training” will propagate to the rest of your life activities beyond meditation activity. If you stop working out for 2 months, you will get sore. If you work out every day/week, you won’t be nearly as sore.
    Apr 2 2
    • Amazon Vzsk36
      These are great points! I find it useful sometimes to purposefully allow minor distractions like playing a TV show that I’m really familiar with in the background. Although it reduces my productivity slightly, I am much less likely to succumb to more distracting activities (i.e. going on FB for an hour).
      Apr 2
    • Amazon Vaporeon
      OP
      Dude this is amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time to type this out. I really appreciate it.
      Apr 2
  • Microsoft 57(;4(:2/;
    Don’t tell anyone especially HR. HR may be very helpful but that thing may affect your promotion. Handle it all by yourself.
    Apr 2 1
  • What were the symptoms you were struggling with if I might ask ? I'm always distracted and I feel that unless I force myself like crazy I cannot get on a task for more than 5 mins. In the meantime I'm also warry that we over diagnose ADHD nowadays. We live in a world that is more stressful and where there are distractions everywhere
    Apr 2 8
    • Lyft GJWs42
      @Vaporeon Hang in there buddy. You are not in the minority. As the original comment said, there are way too many distractions in the modern world. And those of us that are more predisposed to distractions suffer more.
      Apr 2
    • Amazon Vaporeon
      OP
      Thanks friends. I'm doing way better as I am also taking 5mg Adderall. @DonaldDD's what did you do instead to help your symptoms? I'm also having negative side effects from Adderall that I don't like and want to change if possible. It sucks I have to take medication to be functional at work but it is what it is
      Apr 2
    • SAP / Eng mb0oa0
      What kind of practitioners do you see and they prescribe medication ?
      Apr 2
    • Intel DonaldDD's
      You can go to a psychiatrist. I’m not sure if all psychologists can prescribe it and in some states it is a very controlled substance.

      My college psychiatrist was really good at listening and asking questions. She just prescribed me after describing the 5mg, disorganization and losing mail, taking an hour to gain focus in the library quiet section, weird coping mechanisms of keeping everything in my backpack due to daily forgetfulness, and childhood excitement getting into trouble. She may have asked even more.

      For a therapist (who couldn’t prescribe) - I had 3 identical forms exploring my childhood and current symptoms related to work/academic/social/behavior. My roommate for current stuff, sister for childhood, and myself filled it out independently.
      Apr 2
    • Intel DonaldDD's
      @Vaporeon I tried to describe some highlights in my comment, I think meditation does help a lot, but works on a longer term.

      Another one is to build systems of organization. For work, I use OneNote to track myself and build tables with priority and color code for progress. I try to make lists as well, sometimes planning the entire day/week with estimates of time to spend on each item.

      For life, make ways to organize mail and build good organizational habits. I’m terrible about clothes, so I always try to hang them up when they come off or put them in the hamper. Life organization is a lot harder, and honestly my GF is pretty good at cleaning and organization. I’ve unfortunately leaned on her recently after college struggles 😋
      Apr 2
  • Homeaway girlp0w3r
    Nicotine. I know it’s crappy advice but it helps me.
    Apr 2 3
    • Intel DonaldDD's
      Ugh, it’s so true. I couldn’t recommend that just because addiction is relinquishing control of your actions. It really sucks.
      Apr 2
    • Amazon Vaporeon
      OP
      I'm too scared to try nicotine but I did have a 4-5 coffee cups a day addiction before 😓
      Apr 2
    • Intel DonaldDD's
      Seriously, stay away from nicotine. I’ve quit so many times, and usually get triggered back into it when friends are smoking. Sometimes a movie or TV show can bring a trigger. Highly addictive stuff and I don’t even want to know my lifetime expenses for it. Has to be nearing >10k

      It’s bad for your gums, stains your teeth, makes you stink, gives you vasoconstriction that can lead to heart attack, stroke, worse O2 percentage of your blood, and finally cancers
      Apr 2
  • Amazon BubblyGirl
    Adderall has changed my life. However, if you don’t want to go that route, I HIGHLY recommend Modafinil. It has very few side effects and is used in the industry by people wanting an edge. Hell, there was even a documentary on how executives in F500 use it.

    https://www.afinilexpress.com/
    Apr 2 1
    • Amazon Vaporeon
      OP
      Adderall helped me too although I'm not a huge fan of the side effects. I'll look into this, thanks!
      Apr 2
  • Amazon Vzsk36
    Luckily, our working environment allows us to think about deliverables in terms of multiple days and weeks. I try to allow myself the space to sometimes be less productive, with the expectation that it will average itself out with longer, heavily focused sessions. I try to carve out large chunks of time where I can work uninterrupted so that I can remain in a hyper focused mode.

    I noticed that I also work best with people (managers and peers) who help provide structure (scrum, backlog grooming sessions) for the team, so that I am allowed the head space to focus on the problems themselves. Without that, I find it much harder to stay motivated.

    No matter what, it never gets easy. I was promoted to L6 last year, so it’s definitely possible to be successful as an SDE despite having ADHD. Hope that helps!
    Apr 2 1
  • Intel PokerFace8
    1. Stop eating wheat.
    2. Significantly decrease your sugar consumption
    3. Avoid artificial food coloring.
    4. At least 2 days a week eat only 1 meal a day in the evening. Google OMAD.
    4. Take Magnesium Malate
    Apr 2 0
  • Lyft GJWs42
    1. Mobile phones can worsen your ADHD. Install apps that monitor your usage and lock you out when you exceed a set threshold.

    2. Plan things ahead. This is the toughest one for me. I hate planning but without it I get overwhelmed which leads to stress and eventually lack of focus.

    3. Be very self-aware. People with ADHD get distracted and don't even realize until some other deadline hits. Track your behaviors and identify why and when are you looking focus. Meditation might help.

    4. Get out of addictive apps like FB, Blind etc

    5. Have at the most 2-3 tabs open on your browser at work. The more the tabs, higher the probability you'll lose focus.
    Apr 2 1
    • Amazon Vaporeon
      OP
      Thanks for all these tips. I need to uninstall FB and blind. I'm actually using them at work right now rip
      Apr 2