I ran across a 2013 article on ADD developers by Scott Robinson, and went oh wait, that’s me, but I’m an academic.

So I translated part of it into my current context. Robinson’s original article was written for managers of ADD developers. I’ve reworked the portion on how to view them (ADD developers) as an asset into a section that’s applicable to me as an academic.

  1. I am very high energy (when it’s not all sucked up by dealing with spoken language). Give me a job that’s stimulating, creative, and near-impossible to solve, and I’ll give you the energy output of a Marvel superhero in an extended melee action sequence.

  2. Trouble-shooting. While the task has to be stimulating, rather than mundane, the I’m the kind of person you want scanning for problems - I live for that sort of thing. Things going awry? That’s my jam. If I were a doctor, I would be an emergency room surgeon. Paradoxically, the more something feels like a crisis, the cooler my head is and the clearer I’ll see.

  3. Hyper-focus. I might seem distracted most of the time - but the rest of the time, all of my attention is squarely on the problem. I have the same approximate amount of total attention as other people, but it comes in concentrated bursts. When a problem needs solving, my hyper-focus will run circles around most other peoples’ normal focus.

  4. Creativity. I draw cartoons and write song lyrics about engineering, often spontanously. I’ve created multiple theatrical productions, including a puppet show, on engineering. Give me creative tasks and see what you get.

  5. Taking risks. Need to reinvent or reconceptualize something? Need to take leaps into the unknown frequently? As an ADHD academic, I’m… extremely good at doing that. Let me at it!

I’m still trying to figure out how to manage myself, quite honestly. But this list seems like a pretty good start. That, and acknowledging that paperwork is really hard for me to do - if it’s bureaucratic form-filling, I will struggle mightily to get it done in any reasonable amount of time without a body double (I literally need to do these kinds of tasks in someone else’s presence to keep myself from being distracted away from it). If you use my brain for what it’s good for (responding quickly to complex chaos!) and less for what it’s bad for (listening to audio! paperwork! long stretches of isolation!), you’ll get better results.