In my practice, I often hear, “I do the work of three people and no one understands what I do.” So when asked to provide an explanation, the only answer we can come up with is, “It’s complicated.” This happened to me in my own company.
For me, it got to be that I did so much, so quickly, and in no particular order, that no one really knew what I was doing and what my value was to the company, particularly after several years. Worst of all, I had a very difficult time explaining what I did because I just did what I thought should be done at the time. I had done it that way from the beginning and why should I change? Diagnosed with ADD in 2008, but still in denial, my mind would tend to lead the way I worked – on a “need to know” basis with little organization. One of our gifts with ADD is we are generally light years ahead of everyone else when it comes to determining what needs to be done in almost any given situation. We see the bigger picture clearly. But when it comes to filling in the details, we often fall short. However, if we are not able to articulate what we do within our organization can have negative and costly consequences.
Even though I founded the company, I eventually realized I had to be accountable for my day to day activities. Due to my somewhat “rebellious” nature (another ADD characteristic), I felt I did not owe anyone this information because I had created the company. Not true. No matter what level you are in a company, be it your own (even if it’s just you), or in a small, medium or large organization, it is important to be able to articulate your primary duties, how you handle them and what you accomplish in a day, week or month, etc. In other words, be accountable.
The truth is, it is important for others to know what you do so your work is valued, and ultimately you are given the respect you deserve. In some cases, you may be missing out on a promotion or a raise. Or, again, you could be on the chopping block. Armed with information about what you do in general and in detail, and in writing, can help us to articulate our value to others.
Here are some career ADD tips for those who feel you work tirelessly, and are still questioned about what you do each day to bring value to the company:
- Keep a log of your activities daily for a month. Write down EVERYTHING in as much detail as you can muster (detail is not a forte with us ADDers). You will likely be shocked at how much you do in a day. On the other hand, you will know where you might be procrastinating. Be honest.
- After a month, sit down with some tea and music, or whatever you need to stay focused and comfortable, and read what you’ve written.
- Take it in. Take a breath. Add whatever you might have left out.
- Once you’ve gotten into a calm state of mind, taken a break, etc. begin to put your tasks into categories or larger headings. For example, Business Communications (this can include meetings with clients, office meetings, phone communications, e-mail, etc. or Reports or Sales, Marketing, etc.
- Once you have your larger headings, decide what tasks go under each heading.
- Allocate a percentage of time spent on each category.
- Now tweak the information as needed so that it is the truest picture of what you do in your job or career.
- Keep it in your desk or within reach at all times. Add or subtract tasks as necessary and review at least once a month.
If anyone asks you what you do every day, you not only can commit the bigger categories to memory and answer directly, but you now have evidence of your true value. If you are falling short of your job description, this is a good time to decide if you are in need of help getting those tasks completed. If you absolutely abhor them and see if you can work out a way to either eliminate them or find a way that works for you to get them done and/or make them more enjoyable. If this doesn’t work, and you find that the majority of your time spent is doing tasks that you simply don’t like, it’s time to consider a Plan B – defining a new career path.
Shell Mendelson, founder of NB Careers, specializes in guiding individuals with Career ADD and Career Paralysis to define an authentic career direction. Click here » to download a FREE “Six Minute Quick Goal Setting” exercise and take the first step on your job search journey.