Because of how the ADHD brain functions, people with this condition commonly experience several workplace challenges that can negatively impact their performance. These challenges include: Time/Task Management, Distractibility/Impulsivity; Working Memory; Organization; and Communication/Building Relationships. So the question is: How do these proven brain challenges effect real work accomplishments on the job?

In this article we’re gong to talk about: Working Memory
Working memory enables one to hold facts in mind while manipulating information. It also allows us to retrieve facts stored in long term and short term memory. Working memory is responsible for our ability to hold many items in mind as we consider different angles of a complex problem simultaneously. It requires an ability to hold our attention on a project or task over time.
Working memory issues show up as forgetfulness, inability to hold information in mind for 20 seconds or more (weak short term memory), difficulty memorizing facts and remembering and following instructions, issues recalling and learning from the past, and lacking a sense of the passing of time and how to use time for planning, completing tasks, and being punctual.
As you can judge from this explanation, people with ADHD who have working memory impairment find it difficult to complete projects, especially within a prescribed time period. The need to constantly recommit their attention to the project, distraction after distraction, is frustrating at best and a game ender at worst.
Manipulating many pieces of information toward a desired outcome requires a high level of ongoing attention and access to memory.
Imagine a research project where you must compare and contrast the writing styles of fiction authors from the 19th century, or making a presentation at work where in order to solve a problem, it is necessary for you to share all pertinent information with the group while incorporating each persons opinions, suggested changes, and final decisions, and do that by the end of the allotted time period. Issues with working memory are likely to show up in both of these scenarios.
Working memory deficit often interferes with the high levels of intellectual functioning and creative problem solving skill common to those who have ADHD. But because of working memory issues that have not been brought under control, access to these abilities and skills can be blunted. It is necessary for anyone with significant working memory issues to get help, especially as they affect ones progress in school or at work.
Help for working memory issues come in many forms but tend to follow the following guidelines:
- Capture and write down information on index sized cards that can be easily manipulated.
- Draw mind maps (pictorial representations on paper) to create a “picture” of what your project or subject looks like when all of the facts and pieces are recorded in one place as they relate to each other.
- Develop a system you can use for whenever you have the need to access working memory in any setting or set of circumstances. When you learn to use one system, you will find you can generalize it to other needs and projects with minor changes.
- DO NOT BE AFRAID to take your visual aides, index cards or mind maps with you to use with presentations, conversations on the phone or in person, e mails and when allowed, during exams. It is more likely people will be impressed with your strategy and want you to teach it to them.
- Use mnemonics or memory tricks to remember things. Acronyms or acrostics will help you recall items in a category or list such as: M-PACK for money, planner, Adderall, cell phone, and keys.
- Remember that the act of writing down the elements of your tasks and projects will enable you to organize them and your mind so you can stay focused for longer periods of time.
- Plan to work in smaller chunks of time with built in breaks. Do your best to work in non-distracting environments, at the best time of day conducive to success, and reward yourself for every segment you complete.

Contact Carol if you would like help mastering Working Memory challenges or want to discuss other ADHD issues you are having. Teens and adults in or out of the workplace, and company executives and managers are welcomed to connect with Carol!

Author's Bio: 

Founded by Carol Gignoux, ADD Insights, LLC is devoted to helping people with ADHD live confidently and well. Carol’s passion is to provide services that transform the lives of people with ADHD. Her mission is to work efficiently and effectively to provide clients with answers to any and all issues and challenges they are having being capable, reliable, and productive, whether or not they have been diagnosed with ADHD.

Carol Gignoux is well established as an expert within the ADHD coaching, consulting and training profession with over 35 years experience working with ADHD and over 16 years as a professional coach. Carol and her team of experts specialize in coaching teens and adults who want to move beyond their issues with ADHD, and develop the skills and confidence to achieve better results in their academic, professional, and personal lives.