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  • Writer's pictureHelen Allwood

Is work-life balance possible with ADHD?

When I think about work-life balance I picture kayaking. Me kayaking in the sun on a lovely day in July. I’m on the river, travelling downstream so not much effort required to paddle and I’m loving it! I think the reason that this is what comes to mind is that I associate kayaking with time affluence and in my mind having a good work-life balance gives me loads of time. Since I’ve had kids I have been kayaking once. Maybe that tells you something about how much spare time I have or maybe it means my work-life balance is all wrong.


I think actually what it means is that I just don’t understand the concept of work-life balance. I don’t know whether it’s an ADHD thing, maybe other people understand it better, but I don’t know how to strive for a good work-life balance because I’ve no idea what it is. The problem is that I HAVE been trying to achieve this balance for a long time. I’ve tried all sorts. Part-time working, more hobbies, less hobbies, working from home a bit…the list goes on.


What all this means is that I’m ready to dump the concept. Instead, I have been thinking about mental space. So, for me there are three areas that need mental space. These are work, family and myself. I am extremely good at not giving any space at all to the latter which is probably why I sometimes feel like the balance is off.


Having ADHD, for me means that my head is very full of a lot of things all the time, and letting go of things is difficult. So, there’s ALWAYS a song playing in there, usually an analysis of a previous conversation going on (maybe from today, maybe from years ago) and lots of planning of what I’m going to do in the next minute or for the rest of the day. All this brain busyness means that being ‘in the moment’ is hard and also prioritising work, family or myself feels extremely difficult. It also means that mental space is very limited so making any kind of change is hard. However, I’ve had a bit more time to think recently and that has given me the chance to re prioritise.


The problem arises when there are challenges in all three areas. When that happens there just isn’t enough space to process everything. The three parts add up to more than 100% and my brain just shuts down. That’s when I need to head book in a coaching session to untangle it all! However, when one or more of the parts seem manageable then I’m able to problem solve in the other areas. If the kids are having a lot of meltdowns and work is crazy then there’s nowhere to take refuge, but if home life is settled and the kids are up for some baking then I can ponder my stressful work day over a slice of banana bread.


The amount of time and energy that each sector needs is really fluid and I don’t think there’s often much that I can do about that. There’s a lot that I can do about how I react to it though, and there are great techniques that I have learnt to declutter my head and make more space all round. This is one of the reasons that I really enjoy a long commute. Just a little bit if time for myself in between work and family.

So there we go. Work-life balance is just not a useful concept as far as I’m concerned, but the concept of mental space works better for me. I now know that it’s important to prioritise myself sometimes, so that I have the mental space for work and most importantly to show up for my family when they need me.

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20 may

Love the idea of getting rid of the confusing, golden nugget phase “work life balance”. Mental space makes sense.

My brain is constantly on the go too even when I’m asleep so I understand what you’re saying about the thoughts. A long commute is one of your techniques to declutter your mind, any other tips or point me in the right direction of other ways. I guess one of mine would be an early morning dog walk in nature with no one about.

Nice blog 👍🏻

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Helen Allwood
Helen Allwood
21 may
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I'm glad you liked it!

Yes, so my top mind decluttering tips are to either verbalise your thoughts by talking to a friend (or coach) about what's in your head, or writing it all down in a big old brain dump. That's when you set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and just write whatever it is that comes into your mind. It could be coherent or complete rubbish!

Either of those things will help untangle your thoughts and stop them floating around your head so much.

I hope that's helpful!

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