Maximising Strengths and Outsourcing Weaknesses: A Guide for Individuals with ADHD
In my work with adults with ADHD, I can see the misery that can occur from procrastination over performing non-preferred mundane tasks. At work, challenges could include difficulty starting or maintaining focus on boring tasks, problems with organisation, completing timesheets, administrative work, and keeping on top of business finances. At home, energy-sapping tasks may include struggling with routine household tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and doing the laundry, maintaining an organised or tidy living environment, balancing a personal budget, or doing the gardening.
I like to think of tasks as broadly divided into two categories: strengths, and weaknesses. Individuals with ADHD often possess strengths that can be leveraged for success. These can include creativity, the ability to think outside the box, useful hyperfocus, and a high level of energy. But everyone has weaknesses, and for people with ADHD, these can be quite dire. Even with optimised medication on-board, a person's weaknesses are never going to become their strengths. Heck, a person would be lucky if their weaknesses approached the "average" level of ability when their medication is optimised. And that's only going to be for as many hours in a day that medication is at a high enough dose for significant symptom improvement. So not when a person wakes up in the morning, and often not for a lot of the evening.
Outsourcing: A Potential Solution
One way to manage these challenges, especially for those who have the financial means to do so, is through outsourcing. Outsourcing involves delegating tasks that are difficult or time-consuming to others who have the skills and time to do them more efficiently.
Cleaning Services: A regular cleaning service can help maintain a tidy and organised living environment, reducing stress and potential distractions.
Gardening Services: Whether just a fortnightly lawn mowing is enough, or whether you want someone to weed, clear, and plant new plants, a gardener can take away the drudgery and give you something nice to see out your window.
Personal Assistant or Virtual Assistant Services: A personal assistant, whether virtual or physical, can manage your calendar, emails, and other administrative tasks. They can also provide reminders for important deadlines or commitments, alleviating the burden of time management and organisation.
Professional Organising Services: If organisation is a challenge, consider hiring a professional organiser. They can assist with setting up efficient systems that work for you, for managing paperwork, time, and clutter both at home and in the office. And you're allowed to get them back semi-regularly to help tidy up the mess you made and start again!
Online Grocery Shopping with Delivery: Shopping for groceries online can be a massive time saver, and can allow you to stick to a list and reduce impulsive purchases. Buying a delivery saver coupon can mean deliveries can be as low as $6-7 per shop. If going to the supermarket is also an anxiety-provoking or sensory-overload experience, shopping online can be a great help.
Timesheet Software: The number of clients I have seen who struggle intensely with completing a timesheet for work has led me to believe they should be illegal to enforce for people with ADHD! There are a number of timesheet software and apps that can automate this to different extents and allow a person to get their timesheet done with less mental distress.
Artificial Intelligence: AI is still fairly new, but I've been encouraging some of my clients to see its use in starting a task that they can then expand on or edit, which they often find to be an easier task. Having AI do the first draft of a letter, blog post, or report can make the rest of the task easier to complete.
Accountant: I've lost count of how many times I've encouraged a business owner with ADHD to employ an accountant. This can be such a time and money saver, as well as a stress-reliever, and different options are available for the level of autonomy you would like to maintain.
Childcare: Raising children is stressful and hard, especially if you and/or your child are neurodivergent. Make use of funded childcare, and consider paying for additional childcare if it allows you to get important things done, or just if you need time to yourself.
Meal Delivery Services: Preparing meals can be a time-consuming task. Cooking also requires a reasonable amount of executive functioning skills. There are a number of meal delivery services, with frozen or fresh meals delivered to your door which you can heat up as required. Then there are meal box companies, with varying levels of input required from yourself. I use a meal box service that precooks and chops many of the ingredients with all pre-prepared sauces. I haven't once had to peel and chop garlic since I've been using this service, and the meals only use one to two pans and are all ready in under 30 minutes.
Laundry Services: Laundry services exist at different levels of service. At the highest level, they can include the collection of your laundry from your house, washing, drying, folding, and returning laundry to your door. And then you only have to put it away, ha! Maybe you can pay extra for that part. Lower levels of service may require a person to drop off and pick up the laundry from the laundry facility.
Remember, outsourcing isn't about avoiding responsibility or being lazy or unable to function as an adult. Rather, it's about recognising where you have difficulties and deciding to maximise efficiency and allowing you to retain your limited energy resource to use on areas where you excel, or just to have more time to do what you want to do.
In conclusion, while ADHD poses challenges, it also provides opportunities for unique strategies and solutions. If feasible, outsourcing can be a practical approach to manage the demands of work and home life, allowing those with ADHD to thrive by focusing on their strengths. As always, it's important to remember that each individual's ADHD experience is unique, and what works best will vary.