I just had a lazy Sunday afternoon watching home restoration shows. In one of the shows, a brother and sister team go into to people’s homes and do gorgeous renovations seemingly in the space of half an hour. The show’s half hour timeframe kept my inattentive ADHD brain interested but there was something else about the show that piqued my interest. The brother half of the duo mentioned his sister’s constant “crazy” ideas. My ADHD radar was triggered. The sister must be one of ‘us’.
What is it about small home renovations that would appeal to someone with ADHD? While the timeframe to renovate an entire ground floor of a small terrace house is not literally half an hour, it may realistically take about four weeks. Not long to complete a large, satisfying project. This may be the perfect job for those of us with ADHD.
Brain structure and ADHD
To understand why short-term projects would be appealing to 5 to 10% of the population who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it’s important to separate fact from fiction. Two major ‘fictions’ are that people with ADHD are stupid and lazy. They’re not. ADHD is a disorder of brain structure . It’s thought the disorder is due to individual genetics, and the way these genes express themselves may alter dopamine and norepinephrine sensitivity in the brain. It has nothing to do with intelligence or lack of desire to work.
There are three types of ADHD:
Focus, motivation and procrastination
ADHD is not a disorder of attention. It’s a disorder of inconsistent attention. ADHDers can pay attention, and even hyper-focus when something is interesting to them, such as when something is new or exciting, or when there is an urgent deadline. But too soon, the dopamine wears out and focus is lost. Motivation and procrastination are common in ADHDers. Their brains are literally not wired to carry out lengthy projects after the initial interest is lost. This can result in lack of motivation. Procrastinating until the last minute can bring the rush of neuro-chemicals needed when the task has become urgent.
Neurotypicals vs ADHD
A neurotypical person is one who has typical brain development and behaviour. Neurotypicals are generally motivated to complete tasks by importance and reward . While ADHDers understand importance and they like rewards, this is not what motivates them. They have to be engaged in a task to complete it. It’s that simple.
How can ADHDers find meaningful work?
However, not placing value on what a boss finds important, nor finding it rewarding to complete a task that furthers the cause of an organisation that employs them means that adults with ADHD find it difficult to work for others. The gig economy is one way they can work consistently because it can involve projects that hold their interest in the short-term, such as small home renovations. In fact, any form of self employment can be suitable, as long as it is stimulating, and there are team members to carry out the more onerous tasks, such as managing inventory. People with ADHD are notoriously disorganised and have poor time management.
Entrepeneurship is particularly appealing to people with ADHD because impulsivity and impatience can lead to proactive behaviours, new and innovative ideas, and bold business decisions
Adults with ADHD can function in this world after all. They just have to do it in their own way.