Manual for Executives with ADHD 

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects executive functioning, which includes abilities such as attention, impulse control, and organization. ADHD can impact you at work and in your everyday life by making it difficult to focus, stay organized, and manage your time effectively (NIMH, 2022). 

Executive functions are the cognitive processes that enable us to plan, organize, manage time, pay attention, regulate emotions, and stay focused on a task. A study by the Journal of Attention Disorders found individuals with ADHD had significantly lower scores on measures of planning, organization, working memory, and cognitive flexibility compared to a control group without ADHD. Individuals with ADHD often struggle with these functions, which can make it difficult to succeed in their executive roles. 

Frequent struggles of ADHD can involve:  

1. Time Management: People with ADHD often struggle with managing their time effectively. This can impact an individual’s efficiency, routine, and productivity. Research suggests that people with ADHD may have difficulties with time perception, which can make it challenging for them to estimate how long a task will take and how to plan accordingly (Barkley, 2012). 

2. Decision-Making: Decision-Making: Studies have found that people with ADHD may struggle with decision-making tasks, particularly those that require inhibiting responses and considering multiple options (Barkley et al., 2001). Decision-making is a core responsibility of executives and in our day-to-day lives and can impact everyone surrounding the decisions being made. 

3. Organizing and Prioritizing: People with ADHD may have difficulty with organizing and prioritizing tasks, which can make it challenging to manage complex projects and stay on top of multiple responsibilities. Research suggests that people with ADHD may have difficulties with executive functions, such as task initiation, planning, and monitoring progress (Seidman et al., 2006). 

4. Working Memory: Working memory is the ability to hold and manipulate information in one's mind for brief periods of time. People with ADHD often struggle with working memory, which can make it difficult to follow instructions, complete tasks, and remember important information (Hervey et al., 2004). In an executive role, this is critical to their effectiveness. 

5. Emotional Regulation: People with ADHD may experience challenges with emotional regulation, including difficulty regulating and reframing emotional context. They may also have difficulty projecting into the future and imagining how they will feel in different situations. This can lead to challenges with motivation and difficulties with impulse control, inhibiting emotional responses, and modulating emotional intensity (Barkley, 2012). 

However, it is important to note that those with ADHD may experience their own unique challenges and strengths. ADHD is a complex condition that affects each individual differently, and it is important to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing it. Here are some tips that may help in managing ADHD effectively and achieving success in both personal and professional life. 

Tips for executives and those with ADHD: 

  • Understand your ADHD: By understanding specific symptoms and how they impact your work, executives can develop targeted strategies to address them, such as struggles with focus, time management, organization, and prioritization.  
  • Plan and Prioritize: Create a daily schedule or to-do list and prioritize tasks according to their importance and urgency. Break larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps. Use a planner or digital calendar to track tasks and deadlines 
  • Reduce Distractions: Create structure and routines. Work in a quiet, organized environment to minimize external distractions. Turn off notifications on your phone or computer while working on important tasks. Set reminders.  
  • Practice Mindfulness: Develop a mindfulness practice, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, to help regulate emotions, reduce stress, and increase focus and productivity.  
  • Delegate Tasks: Identify tasks that can be delegated to others to free up your time and mental energy for more important tasks.  
  • Seek Support: Talk to a therapist or coach who specializes in ADHD to learn coping strategies and receive support. Utilize resources for guidance and support.  
  • Stay Active: Regular exercise can help reduce symptoms of ADHD and improve executive function.  
  • Breaks and Rewards: Take frequent breaks to recharge and reward yourself after completing tasks. This can help maintain motivation and focus.  

ADHD should not be seen as a limitation to success in executive roles or daily life. Instead, individuals with ADHD can thrive by implementing effective strategies and receiving appropriate support. By better understanding and managing their ADHD symptoms, they can overcome any challenges and accomplish their goals with confidence. 


Barkley, R. A. (2012). Executive functions: What they are, how they work, and why they evolved. Guilford Press. 

Barkley, R. A., Murphy, K. R., & Fischer, M. (2001). ADHD in adults: What the science says. Guilford Press. 

Hervey, A. S., Epstein, J. N., & Curry, J. F. (2004). Neuropsychology of adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A meta-analytic review. Neuropsychology, 18(3), 485-503. 

National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Retrieved from

Schoechlin, C., & Engel, R. R. (2005). Neuropsychological performance in adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: meta-analysis of empirical data. Archives of clinical neuropsychology, 20(6), 727-744.  

Seidman, L. J., Biederman, J., Monuteaux, M. C., Doyle, A. E., Faraone, S. V., & Goldstein, J. M. (2006). Learning and emotional processing in ADHD. In Progress in brain research (Vol. 157, pp. 437-448). Elsevier. 


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