If I could just make myself do everything I know I should do, I would be unstoppable.

And yet…

  • I watch videos by Alex Hormozi, Gary Vaynerchuk, Alen Sultanic, and other heavy hitters in marketing. 
  • I get super motivated and excited to take action. 
  • I have clarity about the strategy that will work for me and the steps needed to get there.

Then I get to the office and…………


It’s not even a matter of procrastination.

No matter how great I know the end result will be, I can’t bring myself to do the work.

I beat myself up for being lazy and I write a LinkedIn post.

I pull up the camera to record a video for the YouTube channel I know will help and my mind goes blank.

I watch more content about how I’m a lazy, incompetent loser for not doing enough (Thanks Hormozi) and try to get motivated, but I’m sucked into recommended videos about my special interest.

Oh crap, it’s Thursday and I haven’t started my newsletter for tomorrow. I don’t have time to do what I should do, but I need to do something.

I crank out the outline before getting pulled away to text messages, social notifications, emails, and client fires.

That evening, I finish dinner and realize I never actually wrote the newsletter. Anxiety spikes and I get short and snippy with my wife and kids before closing myself off in the house to finish the newsletter. I stay up writing until midnight and schedule it for the morning.

I don’t know what I got done today other than the newsletter, but I’m exhausted.

Maybe I’ll do better tomorrow.

ADHD Perception Vs Reality

Most people hear “ADHD” and think of hyper kids who can’t focus.

Even I thought “It’s an excuse for undisciplined people who lack the willpower to focus. It’s probably so common because of social media and technology that has broken our ability to wait for gratification.”

Then I heard a psychologist talking about the symptoms.

It was ME.

Everything I hate about myself. Everything that caused problems in past jobs, but caused more problems when I started my own business.

Top experts in the field agree that ADHD is a misnomer.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder would indicate that the problem is a deficit of attention and an excess of energy (hyperactivity).

That’s why most don’t take it seriously, but it’s a seriously debilitating disorder.

It is actually a deficit of executive function.

Dr. Russell Barkley, P.h.D, is one of the world’s foremost experts on ADHD. He has said that there are 5 major executive functions affected by

(1) inhibition / self-restraint 
(2) hindsight and foresight 
(3) self-direction / introspection 
(4) emotional control 
(5) problem-solving

Dr. Barkley has also stated that “people with ADHD have difficulties using the mental forms of self-directed actions we all use to manage ourselves effectively so as to attain our goals and see to our long-term welfare.

So before looking into it, the assumption is that ADHD is a condition in which people find it difficult to pay attention to things and they behave wildly because they’re hyper.

As you come to understand it, you learn that the hyperactivity comes from a lack of inhibition or self-restraint, which moves from external manifestations of wild behavior in our youth to internal manifestations of anxiety and scattered thoughts as we age and learn to control our physical behavior.

We make the same mistakes over and over again as children and get in trouble because our hindsight does not come to aid us when determining what we should do (as if we’d give it the time). When we’re older, we continue to make silly mistakes for the same reason, but it’s usually less physical in nature.

We have unreasonable emotional responses to seemingly insignificant things and struggle to restrain our outward reaction to the emotions within. It’s all connected, and it makes it difficult to work with others who may disagree with us. 

The reality of ADHD is that it’s not about willpower and just trying harder.

It’s about our brains constantly fighting us as we try to do things that don’t engage us and provide constant stimulus.

It’s about bouncing from motivated and excited one minute to depressed and apathetic the next. 

It’s about beating ourselves up over knowing the solutions and never implementing them.

It’s about not being taken seriously by people who think we’re just making excuses for being lazy.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though!

There are plenty of benefits to ADHD, particularly how treatable it is with or without medication.

We’ll get into the benefits of it shortly, but first let’s go over how to spot it in an employee (or yourself). 

How To Spot ADHD In An Employee

Not everyone who has ADHD recognizes it.

Many are unaware of their neurodivergence and excel in their roles, only to find themselves struggling to even meet expectations as their work becomes more complex.

Regardless of whether they know about it or not, there are several things you can look for in an employee that may indicate they have ADHD. If you spot several of the symptoms below, read on to learn what you should do to avoid a bad situation for all involved.

ADHD symptoms to look for in an employee’s work:

  • Makes careless mistakes/lacks attention to detail
  • Difficulty sustaining attention
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Fails to follow through on tasks and instructions
  • Exhibits poor organization
  • Avoids/dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort
  • Loses things necessary for tasks/activities
  • Easily distracted (including unrelated thoughts)
  • Is forgetful in daily activities

ADHD symptoms to look for in an employee’s

  • Fidgets with or taps hands or feet, squirms in seat
  • Leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected
  • Experiences feelings of restlessness
  • Has difficulty engaging in quiet, leisurely activities
  • Is “on-the-go” or acts as if “driven by a motor”
  • Talks excessively
  • Blurts out answers
  • Has difficulty waiting their turn
  • Interrupts or intrudes on others

Not all of these symptoms will always present in an employee with ADHD. Many learn to suppress the externally presenting symptoms, which often leads to more internal manifestations of impulsivity, which can be harder to spot, but that usually shows up in work or follow-up conversations.

If you do spot these symptoms, it will likely be a little at a time. You’ll probably notice that you have to follow-up with an employee more than normal and that they may miss details. 

You may feel like they’re not listening, only waiting to talk again.

They may take it personally if you disagree with them, or get too heated in a discussion with relatively low stakes.

They may wait until the last minute to start big projects, sometimes spending more time finding a workaround to do it faster than if they had just done the work the normal way (think ChatGPT prompt engineering for 4 hours to write a set of ads that would have taken 30 minutes of focused work).

If you spot several of these symptoms, set up a time to talk to the employee in a one-on-one setting. 

Let them know they’re not in trouble, because they will be afraid that you’re going to fire them every time you reach out. We recognize our potential and know we’re falling short of it, so we always feel like we’re going to get in trouble for that inadequacy. In reality, our “less than optimal” is still more than adequate for the role.

So when you share with them that you’ve noticed some patterns, be gentle with them, reassuring them that their job is not at risk. You want to better understand how to help them reach their potential (something that will resonate).

They may not know what they need, particularly if they have undiagnosed ADHD.

If they list several things they need, do your best to accommodate. Many of the things that help employees manage their ADHD are actually very beneficial to every employee in the agency. You don’t have to break the bank for unique solutions that only impact the work of one or two employees.

If they don’t know what they need and seem dejected, you may suggest that some of these symptoms seem consistent with what you know about ADHD and that pursuing that line of thinking may lead to insightful discoveries.

I don’t believe you can ask employees about medical history in any way, but I can’t see any problems with offering a helpful suggestion that could lead them to do their own research.

If you have an HR department, double-check with them about how to approach this and if you have a lawsuit-happy employee that would sue you for trying to help them, you’ve already made a mistake and should just fire them for their poor performance (hashtag impulsive writing).

But seriously, be considerate of their privacy and HIPAA laws.

The best approach may be to ask if they’d find it helpful if you set up some additional structure to support their work. We’ll cover what to suggest further down.

In the meantime, let’s look at how employing someone with ADHD can affect your agency if unaddressed, then if you recognize it and adapt appropriately.

How ADHD Negatively Affects Your Agency

If you employee someone with ADHD, but you don’t know they have it, you’ll likely be frustrated with them.

You’ll most likely notice a difficulty to prioritize and manage time. You may see them stop whatever they’re doing to handle new requests as they come in, which makes it difficult to finish what they were initially working on. Sometimes they forget to come back and finish at all.

This particular habit can lead to missed deadlines, which is a big complaint among agency clients. It can also hurt other employees who may be dependant on them to complete their part of a larger project.

Another big problem with ADHD in the workplace is the struggle to motivate oneself to work on something that does not lead to quick or immediate feedback, consequences, or stimulus.

Many things in business require sustained effort over time to lead to any positive feedback, but the employee with ADHD finds it exceedingly difficult to justify doing something they know will help eventually if there is something else to do that will reward them for their effort now.

An employee with ADHD in an office environment may interrupt focused coworkers with irrelevant or unimportant conversations, making it difficult for everyone around them to maintain productivity.

They may also disrupt others by drumming on their desk, tapping their feet, humming or singing to music, and engaging in audible commentary on their work or external processing.

Many with untreated ADHD also struggle with emotional regulation which, when paired with their impulsivity, can lead to outbursts of anger over seemingly insignificant things. 

Maybe they enter a heated argument with their clients, maybe they’re emotionally defending their frequent visits to the bathroom… It can be embarrassing to watch and worse for the one who can’t seem to stop themselves from lashing out.

For fully-remote offices, employees with ADHD may move from place to place throughout the week, or even the day, seeking variety and novelty. This doesn’t seem like an issue, but it can result in unproductive drive time during working hours, unstable internet connections, and poor environments for team or client calls.

There are many ways in which ADHD can negatively affect your agency, but these are generally only a factor in those with untreated ADHD without the proper resources and supportive structure.

Let’s look at how an employee with ADHD may positively affect your agency and then move on to how you can set your employees, yourself, and your agency up for success when ADHD is a factor.

How ADHD Positively Affects Your Agency

I often talk about how chaotic the agency environment is. You may never experience the same day twice and you don’t always know what your day will bring, even if you have a clear to-do list in the morning.

Enter ADHD.

People with ADHD crave novelty and variety. The stimulus of change is the fuel that keeps us going and the agency life has no shortage of change.

While stressful, the unending change and novelty of working in a marketing agency can actually make it easier to focus and be productive because we tend to work best when reacting to requests and taking quick action.

We often make great account managers because we tend to thrive in social situations and can adapt to nearly any client’s communication style to make them feel comfortable. Our social energy can be infectious and, if we’re getting the stimulus we crave, we can radiate positivity and fun.

When it comes to more complex tasks, they’re not always a bad thing. 

Those with ADHD don’t struggle to focus, they struggle to regulate their focus. 

That means that if they find a particular challenge engaging, they can hyperfocus until they finish. Sometimes this means spending 6 hours of a day developing an intricate custom spreadsheet report for a client where, if taken away from the task midway through, they would be unable to muster the willpower to finish.

Because of the propensity to develop and pursue special interests, you may find an employee with ADHD doing deep dives into certain aspects of their work if they find it particularly interesting. 

This can result in them having a broad knowledge base and they may notice details that others overlook, develop creative solutions to problems, and offer unique insight into the projects of others.

Because of this craving for novel challenges and unique experiences, you may also find an employee with ADHD jumping in to solve a problem for which you would otherwise have to hire an external vendor. It never hurts to ask.

So how do you get the good without having to deal with the bad?

You can’t always guarantee that it will work out, but there are some things you can do to give yourself and your employee(s) the best odds.

How To Harness The Positive Aspects Of ADHD

If you want the good from ADHD, you need to understand the people that have it, what they’re experiencing, and what they need to thrive.

ADHD often correlates with depression. We’re told “do this and you’ll succeed”, but our brain says “I don’t want to do that, I want to research Tesla’s theories on scalar waves” or something equally ridiculous.

We know what it takes to succeed and we know what we should do, we just struggle to do it and no amount of trying harder helps. 

If we don’t know we’re different, or don’t know why, we beat ourselves up over our weakness and can even be hostile toward others that exhibit the same weaknesses because we see in them what we hate in ourselves.

The part of our brain that decides if the reward is worth the effort is too short-sighted and anything that pays off later (most good things) lose out to things that pay off now.

Knowing what we need to do to succeed, but not doing it leads to frustration and depression as we seek the solutions to our problems only to hear the same answers we already knew.

As mentioned earlier, we’re constantly afraid that we’re going to get fired because we always feel like we’re not doing enough. We get overwhelmed when it feels like too many things are asking for our attention at once because we struggle to prioritize appropriately and everything feels like it needs to be done immediately. If we don’t do it now, we’ll forget completely.

To help someone who struggles in these ways, there are several things you can do.

Arguably the biggest and most impactful way to help is something you should already be doing if you have multiple employees:

Use project management software.

Employees with ADHD thrive when working from a list, but project management platforms like Teamwork.com (affiliate link because they’re my favorite) allow you to organize the lists in ways that make it easier for the ADHD brain to process how to tackle it.

They allow you to break the complex tasks down into smaller pieces, as most experts recommend, but they also let you assign due dates so the employee can filter their view by “Due Today”, “Due This Week”, “Past Due”, or other options. This makes prioritization easier and helps prevent overhelm from seeing a giant wall of tasks that all need to be done. 

Many platforms also include the ability to tag certain tasks as low, medium, or high priority. 

Concerned about your employee’s ability to listen when you say “this doesn’t have to be done right now” (you should be concerned about this)? 

Instead of reaching out with a new request on Slack, via email, in the office, or by text, just make a new task for them with the appropriate due date and priority marking and choose not to notify them by email, other than by reminder an appropriate amount of time before the due date.

That way, they’ll see it when they need to start working on it and not when they should be working on other things.

Teamwork.com, in particular, includes the ability to set recurring tasks, making it easier to remember things that have to be done more than once (reporting, PPC optimizations, audits, search term reports, you name it). 

They also help with time management, which can be a problem for the ADHD brain. We can jump in for 15 minutes of adding negatives in the search terms report and get distracted by a curious thought that leads us into day parting and matched location reports for the next hour and a half.

My favorite platform, which I will stop gushing about and linking to, has the ability to show estimated time on a task and track time at the task level. It’s magical for keeping yourself in line. You can even set reminders to trigger as the due date approaches so your employee knows to start with enough time to finish before it’s due.

For those choosing other platforms, you can integrate most time tracking softwares with most project management platforms.

Another super helpful part of project management platforms is the ability to keep all client information in one place. Having to stop and look through Google Drive or Slack for a document or updated client budget can be a recipe for rabbit trails and getting sucked into social media.

If everyone keeps all relevant client information in a dedicated project folder for that client, employees don’t have to hunt across multiple locations and risk being distracted for a long time. 

This one practice of using a project management platform solves so many of the ADHD problems, it should be covered by insurance. 

There are other ways to help, like mixing up the type of work you give your employee and allowing them to work flexible hours and in different environments, as well as allowing for small breaks through the pomodoro technique or similar time-blocking approaches.

These things provide additional stimulus and variety throughout the day to keep the brain engaged and prevent overwhelm and burnout. 

Keeping Your ADHD Employee On Track

The things mentioned above can help an employee with ADHD if they want to be more productive and provide for you the value most employees want to provide. 

However, if you want long-term success when working with neurodivergent employees, the key will not be one of the helpful tips from above.

You’ll need to create a workplace culture that allows for honest, transparent, and safe communication.

Because it’s not legal to ask employees about medical history, an employee has to trust you enough to tell you on their own. They need to view you as safe, approachable, caring, and understanding. They need to be secure enough in their role to tell you that they have this debilitating disorder and trust you enough to ask for your help.

Granted, if you have the structure in place as described above, there will be less that needs to change for them to thrive.

This doesn’t mean, however, that they won’t have problems. They may come to you feeling burned out and overwhelmed. You may need to suggest that they take a vacation (which they may have been avoiding because they feel guilty for not doing enough) or that they meet with a licensed counselor.

You don’t have to be able to help them solve their problems, but it will be a tremendous help to them if they’re able to share them with you openly without fear of losing their job.

Let your employees know that you’re open to conversations about difficulties in the workplace. That you’re not opposed to listening to their personal struggles if they feel like it’s affecting their work. 

Use your leadership experience to guide them toward the best decision for them and for your agency and help them however you can. You don’t have to pay for medication or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for them, but you can certainly validate their experiences and encourage them to look into what options they feel would help the most.

If you are this approachable, you’re likely to get helpful feedback from your employees on how you can best structure your processes to better support your team. You may learn about skills your employees have that can benefit your agency that would have otherwise remained hidden because they “didn’t seem relevant” to the role for which they were hired.

The benefits of open and honest communication in the workplace are innumerable, but the employee loyalty and camaraderie are worth noting. 


ADHD is a very impactful condition that is often written off as an excuse. It can feel at different times like a crippling problem or a superpower, but it is one of the most treatable mental disorders that exist and the superpowers can be leveraged with more consistency.

It may be hard to spot, but recognizing ADHD can prevent you from firing an employee that could be one of your greatest assets, but just needs some support and structure.

If you or an employee has ADHD, please take it seriously and consider the organization and structure recommendations listed above in conjunction with help from a licensed medical professional. 

If you’re curious about how I work with agencies or if you’re frustrated with your agency’s profitability or retention of clients or employees, feel free to reach out to me and I’ll see how I can help. I never charge for the first consultation and if I can solve it in 30-minutes, there’s no reason to pay for my services and you walk away happy.

If you know of someone who may benefit from this newsletter, please don’t hesitate to send them to https://kinglyconsulting.com/newsletter so they can start receiving them.

Also, you can now catch up on past issues you may have missed by visiting https://kinglyconsulting.com/archive/