Silly Putty and Working From Home

I never thought I would find myself aggressively snapping silly putty in the middle of a staff meeting at work.

But there I was. Thank God everyone can stay muted on Zoom.

Before quarantine started, I definitely had a hard time staying focused in my actual office sometimes because if I had a ton of pent-up energy, there was nowhere for me to release it. In fact, I’ll admit an embarrassing secret; I even ran up and down the ramps in the parking garage a few times on particularly tedious days.

So I kind of figured that working from home would be great. I could go for a quick walk if I needed to, I could do jumping jacks or stretch at my desk, I could play my music loudly and I could stay on the phone with my sister for hours while we worked.

But my college-dorm Target desk chair and my sad excuse for an antique desk got pretty old pretty fast. And it turns out, having everything you own and love – books, Netflix, comfy un-made bed, yoga mat, microwave chicken nuggets, etc – right behind you can be a little distracting.

I tried working in every room in my house. I got a pillow to sit on. I nearly ordered an armchair several times (as if that would somehow solve the problem?) But it hasn’t gotten a whole lot easier.

I certainly have periods of concentration and intense bursts of productivity. I work hard and I always have, so I make sure I get everything done well. But some days, it’s just really hard to do that from home or during hour-long Zoom calls where you’re expected to sit still and stare at the screen in silence. At least in real meetings, I could chime in or stay present because of the present environment. But from my bedroom? I find myself aggressively shaking my legs, furiously clicking pens, snapping silly putty, doodling, and more.

So I want to clear something up – this isn’t a way for me to get more distracted. For people like myself with ADD, this fiddling is an absolute necessity to stay attentive. Otherwise, in my distracting environment, I’ll just start to tune out no matter how much I want to focus. Needing these little fiddle tricks is annoying sometimes for sure so – I never thought I’d say it – I kind of miss in-person meetings. But to effectively work from home, I’ve found it vitally important to stay present in my work and that means finding things to do with my hands that keep me in my body instead of off in my crazy brain or staring at my travel photos above my desk.

If you’re working from home with ADD, I’ll be the first to admit how hard it is. But don’t be afraid to find little ways of getting your energy out that you wouldn’t be able to do in a real meeting. After all, at the end of the day, secretly bringing silly putty to important meetings is pretty awesome.

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