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How to Build a New Routine While Job Hunting With ADHD

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Facing unemployment can feel catastrophic to many. But when you have ADHD, the challenge multiplies.

Suddenly, you’re not just dealing with the loss of your job but also the loss of routine, which is especially important to ADHD brains. How do you build a new routine that enables you to tackle the job search and keeps you moving forward in the face of inevitable rejection? This is a tall order, but with the right strategies, it’s definitely possible!

First, let’s tackle rejection-sensitive dysphoria head-on.

It’s that overwhelming feeling of hurt that comes from getting laid off, facing rejection after an interview, or worse, getting ghosted! For someone with ADHD, repeated rejection can feel like being knocked down over and over until it feels like you’ll never get back up. It can be hard to remember that every “no” is one step closer to a “yes.”

Reframing rejection as a stepping stone rather than a setback can mitigate these feelings. Here are a few to try:

1. I messed up in the interview…. They don’t like me.

An interview isn’t about being liked; it’s about finding the right fit. This wasn’t the one, but the job for me is out there.

2. I got rejected again. This is hopeless. → 

Each rejection is directing me away from what’s not meant for me. It’s not my fault I was rejected.

3. I’m not good enough. → 

Every job requires a unique set of skills and qualities. I have strengths that will be recognized by the right employer.

4. I’ll never find a job that suits me. I should give up.

Finding the right job takes time! My resilience and ability to keep moving forward will lead to success.

Treat every cover letter and interview as a step in the right direction, even if it doesn’t lead to a new role!

And while reframing rejection is vital for emotional resilience, the journey obviously doesn’t end there. The next challenge is channeling this resilience into a structured job hunt that fits an ADHD-friendly routine.

So how do you do that without completely burning out? 

This relies on building the job hunt into your new routine – not building your life around the hunt. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Find your natural working rhythms.

You might not know your natural productivity patterns because of your previous work schedule. Before you hop into making the job hunt your new 9-5, figure out when you naturally have highs and lows in your energy during the day.

Are you a night owl? Maybe the best time to focus is in the evening, so you take it easy at the start of the day. Maybe your energy takes you on a rollercoaster with ebbs and flows, and you need the flexibility to leave your desk.

Once you’re better in tune with your natural patterns, you can start forming a routine that works for you!

2. Add structure to your days — without making it all about the hunt.

Your day can easily zoom by without much to show for it — or, on the other side, it can feel like the days drag on forever. This is where time management strategies tailored to ADHD brains can be a game-changer!

Try time-blocking your day into job search activities, breaks, and personal projects. Utilizing visual aids like planners and apps designed for ADHD can also help keep you on track. Other tactics like gamifying the job hunt can help you feel a sense of achievement, which will let you disconnect once you’re finished.

Remember, your goal isn’t to fill every moment with LinkedIn, Indeed, and job boards. It’s to create a balanced routine with time for rest and the life activities that bring you joy — while job hunting.

3. Set aside time for dedicated self-care.

Experiencing some rejection during a job search is inevitable, and the stress of not having a job can strain finances, relationships, and your body. Incorporating self-care practices into your daily routine — like meditation, exercise, or time to enjoy a hobby. If you see a therapist, connect with them about the job hunt. Reach out to your support network. Set up hangouts with friends. Try to surround yourself with people who lift you up and remind you of your strengths (outside of work!).

What does this look like in practice?

It can start with a morning ritual to set the tone — exercise, meditation, a favorite hobby. Maybe you make an intentional cup of tea to sit down for the job hunt, or put on cozy slippers. Whatever works for you: spend the blocked time focused on updating your resume, writing cover letters, or finding roles to apply for. Take breaks to recharge, and don’t forget to schedule in fun!

Remember, flexibility is key. What works one day or week might need adjustment the next, and that’s OK! The goal is to find a sustainable and supportive routine that moves you forward without burning out.

The job hunt post-layoff can be a slog — especially with ADHD. But by understanding and leveraging the unique ways your brain works, creating a structured but flexible routine, and focusing on self-care, you’ll set yourself up for a productive job hunt!

Have you navigated the job hunt with ADHD? What strategies worked for you? Share your tips in the comments!

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Originally published: March 21, 2024
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