Neurodiversity Celebration Week


22 March 2024


Tom Gamble


People, Studio, Updates

To mark Neurodiversity Celebration Week, I wanted to share more about my experience having ADHD and how it impacts my work. For the longest time, I struggled with what having ADHD meant for me. But over the past year, since I’ve had my diagnosis, I’ve learned a lot about myself and how it benefits me creatively.

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The advantages

I find I have to approach tasks quite differently to most people. This brings a fresh outlook and it drives me to solve problems in my way own. This helps the team as I tend to deviate away from the norm and come up with unique solutions for problems. My methods might not be the most conventional but somehow they work!

There’s also hyper-focusing on tasks. Once I’m honed in on a project, especially ones that I really enjoy, I work away without breaking concentration. This means I can get things done a little quicker than intended, which I’m sure can be helpful for scheduling and deadlines!

Bursts of ideas are another great advantage at work. I’ve started having to make notes on my phone of certain ideas that just come to me randomly in the day. This sort of ties in with the problem-solving I mentioned before, but I’ll always have a concept for something, even if it was meant for a previous project, it can be applied to a project in the present and is really helpful in some cases!

I’ve got so much enthusiasm to try so many different new things. I’m always intrigued by things I’ve seen on social media – cool techniques, courses, and tutorials. Recreating styles or attempting to create a motion piece in a way I haven’t before. This can be highly rewarding and the payoff can be great, especially when those ideas or methods get picked up and used for client projects.

The challenges and overcoming them

The big negative for me is that I know more about the negatives than I do the positives. It can be easier to pinpoint the negatives of having ADHD. As I said before I’m still learning a lot about my diagnosis. But, the brilliant thing is I can now understand my behaviours a lot better, which is very validating and reassuring.

As much as hyper-focus is a great asset at times, it’s also a bit of a hindrance. It’s great being able to finish projects fast, but at times it is to the detriment of my health and time. I can forget to take lunch, and often work a bit later than intended! I’m trying a lot more to get better at this, it’ll take time but I’m glad I’m more aware of it these days. I’m fortunate enough to have the support of the whole team, who communicate with me effectively and respectfully to ensure my health comes first on every occasion. It’s been a huge help having them support me since my diagnosis. Their approach has been massively beneficial on days that I’ve struggled.

I’m sure this one isn’t just exclusive to those who are neurodivergent, but getting feedback is tricky. Sensitivity rejection is a big thing for me and always has been, and I had no idea until my diagnosis that it was one of the symptoms of ADHD. I can find it quite difficult receiving feedback at times, it can often feel quite personal and really affect my mood for the rest of the day and sometimes my self-esteem. There are methods I’m working on to help with this, which are starting to come in handy.

Communication at times can be quite draining for me. I often speak/type faster than my brain can process or keep up with. I find it difficult at times to articulate what I want to say and I feel a rush to need to say a very specific thing and miss the point entirely at times. I get very conscious that this could offend my team members sometimes and come off as rude! Following on from this, concentration. The most typical of things I’d heard about ADHD before my diagnosis was trouble concentrating, and for me, it’s quite true. There are times when I can become very distracted by something my brain needs to engage with, almost like I need to scratch an itch.

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Tips for people who have ADHD in creative roles

  • At the start of the day, do something fun that stimulates your brain. I personally like to either draw, or find inspiration on Behance or Vimeo. It sets you up rather than just jumping straight into the day and gives you a boost.
  • Do your hardest task second. If I have amends to a project, for example, I tend to leave the most complex and mind-boggling task until the end. I like to make a bit of room in my brain and declutter before tackling the more challenging tasks.
  • Take a break. I’m still getting used to this myself but try and take ten minutes here and there just to have a conversation with somebody, get up, and stretch. This feeds back to the idea of hyper-focus getting in the way and burning yourself out.
  • Don’t do too much at once. I find that having a massive to-do list can be super overwhelming and contribute to burnout. Be honest with your team about what’s realistic and try not to overpromise. Get better at saying “no”. Recently I’ve tried saying “no” more. You get very used to saying yes and trying to overpromise, and as much as that may be useful to getting work out on time, it’s not good for your mental health. Saying no is hard at first, but remember you’re the expert at what you do, you know what’s realistic and achievable.

I’m still learning a lot about ADHD and what it means, with the positives come advantages that benefit my process and the final outcome, and with the negatives come valuable lessons that help me figure out what it means to have ADHD and my limitations. Throughout all this, it’s been great to have the team as part of this journey. Constantly listening and learning with me as I go. As much as it may be a struggle at times, I really do feel as if being neurodivergent helps me see things in a distinct way, which I think is pretty awesome and worth celebrating! 

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