Trapped—the perfect dashboard
Data murders are never forgotten
It is time to prepare your systems for neurodiversity.
It wasn't until January 2021 that I really understood neurodiversity—in particular, ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)–which is when I first started to pursue my journey of getting diagnosed. Three painful months later, in March 2021, I was finally diagnosed with ADHD.
Prior to my diagnosis, I was constantly tired, making sure I was on top of everything, trying not to lose things, remembering plans, and trying to stay focused. I later learned I had been "masking" my symptoms, and it was really taking a toll on my mind and my body.
ADHD masking is when someone with ADHD presents in a way that makes them seem like they are not living with the disorder.
Embracing my ADHD made me realize how hard I had been on myself pre-diagnosis. The narrative in my head would be a cycle of negativity—why can't you just focus? You are so lazy; you will never achieve anything! It felt a relief to know that I wasn't lazy. My brain was just wired differently.
I naively thought getting an ADHD diagnosis would magically cure me. However, once I received my diagnosis, it felt like my symptoms had just heightened. I was just at the beginning of understanding my brain, which initially caused more frustration as these are the things I cannot fix—this is how my brain is wired.
It can be frustrating to live with ADHD, and I'm not immune to it. Let me cite one of my frustrations.
There are two extents of focusing when it comes to my ADHD brain—hyperfocus and lack of focus.
Hyperfocus refers to an intense fixation on an interest or activity for an extended period of time.
This, at times, can be an asset. If I have deadlines, it works in my favor, as I can hyperfocus and complete the necessary work. However, on other occasions, what I hyper-focus on is out of my hands. My hyper-focuses have ranged from spending five hours weighing all my wool to ensure I know the correct amount I have and uploading it onto a website. (Guess how many times I have referred to that? Zero) to my most recent hyper-focus, where I spent hours upon hours looking at inspiration for my new bathroom.
Lack of focus can appear in all aspects of my life, and for me, it shows as being easily distracted, finding it hard to listen to conversations, poor attention to detail, and forgetfulness. This can cause anxiety, especially at work, as the lack of focus does not help with the internal pressure of being as productive as possible.
As well as the many frustrations I have with my ADHD, there are many positives that can outweigh the negatives. A few of them are:
Let's face it. There is no running away from those millions of specialized SaaS (Software as a Service) tools today. Whatever your jobs may be, chances are you probably switch between hundreds of SaaS tools throughout the day and aren't even aware of them. Data from the State of SaaSOps shows that organizations use an average of 110 apps, and this number will only increase with time. Sounds unbelievable? Not really. Modern enterprises have become digital, and it's the software tools that run the companies.
The early 2000s saw the birth of cloud-based software services. In just over two decades, we have witnessed an unprecedented and meteoric rise in the development, advancement, and adoption of SaaS tools. Data from Vertice further shows that larger enterprises use around a whooping 450 applications.
Though SaaS tools are created to help benefit businesses, there is a breaking point where having too many tools does more harm than good. This means more SaaS tools bring more challenges, and rightfully so. Many have attested that having to work with and manage too many digital tools can be disruptive to the work and workflow. As per research on ADHD, over 80% of people with ADHD have trouble achieving productivity at work. Using a variety of apps only increases confusion, lack of focus, and overall productivity loss.
As part of embracing my ADHD, I hyper-focused on learning as much as I could about my brain, especially looking for solutions/fixes for the frustrations I was coming up against. Ultimately, I wanted someone to offer me a service, product, or manual that would fix my lack of focus and make me super productive.
I had lots of discussions with colleagues, friends, and coaches on how they stay focused, organized, productive, etc. This was when I realized that everyone has a different way of working. All of our brains are different, especially the neurodivergent brain.
Through my trial and error of trying many different systems/products, I have gained a better understanding of what works for me and what doesn't—cutting the distractions!
Managing ADHD isn't easy when we are presented with so many distractions day in and day out. From Slack notifications, email notifications, text messages, WhatsApp notifications, and phone calls. Navigating all the different systems we use from Notion, Google Workspace, Figma, Jira, and the list goes on.
I can be working on writing up the onboarding plan for our new employees in Notion, at which point I need to navigate out of Notion to Humaans to ensure I have captured everything correctly. I then realize I need to confirm finer details with colleagues and navigate to Slack and see unread notifications. At which point, I am now distracted and reading through my unread messages—I have completely forgotten my reason for coming over to Slack.
Yes, there are elements of that workflow that I could cut even more distractions; however, I am trying to prove that even if we cut the distractions, a lot of our day-to-day is navigating between different systems, and avoiding the distractions in between takes a lot of effort.
In an ideal world, I could complete my work in one system/program, eliminating the movement from tab to tab and the temptation to get distracted. This means having my work confined to just one system—a system that is seamlessly integrated with the other systems required in my workflow. In my line of work, this would mean having a platform where I can access and update employee data, confirm required details, and communicate with the employees without ever needing to jump to another tool or platform. A workflow that eliminates distractions is what I'm after.
Fast forward a year when I started a new role at Paradime, and I was onboarded onto our product. Now call me biased as I work at Paradime, but I believe they have done an excellent job preparing their systems for a neurodiverse brain.
Paradime as a platform is working to solve the major pain points of data collaboration, and I'm here for it. Onboarding complexities, context switching, data chaos, lack of streamlined communication, and overall workflow challenges are Paradime's focus. With that said, having a seamless collaborative workflow connecting the different functions with a relevant context is a must-have for all organizations looking to achieve true productivity. I believe Paradime is the platform that will help achieve this.
Paradime reduces context switching by building a platform that is well integrated with all the essential tools needed for data analytics. This has drastically reduced the need to jump and switch between applications to complete a set of workflows. With the ability to do-it-all within Paradime, it eliminates the distraction of looking at things outside of your current task at hand. Remember the last time you went to a different app to check something and started looking at random notifications? With features that not only increase your focus time but also help you perform analytics faster, Paradime truly empowers its users on a day-to-day basis.
I am not saying this would cure this frustration, but one thing for sure is sometimes the tools are there, and the brain just doesn't want to cooperate. Anything that helps you along the way is a bonus.
One of the greatest things to come out of my diagnosis is that not one shape fits all, and it's this understanding that works for you. It's all about understanding what your distractions are when you work better, and, sometimes, when you are just thoroughly overwhelmed. It's all about managing your own brain, not curing it.
Not every brain is the same, and everyone has their own workarounds or ways of doing things. So, when building systems, being aware of the different ways people work, building streamlined and ergonomic workflows, having as few distractions as possible, and eliminating juggling between screens are crucial.
In a world where the topmost priority is given to creating tools to solve data pain points, Paradime is that standout platform that has been designed for solving user workflow problems. And by solving these problems, Paradime is creating a coherent and inclusive workspace environment for neurodivergent people and those who struggle with fragmented tool chains. However, it does not end there. The bigger picture is to continuously evolve as a platform that unlocks maximum productivity, focus, and collaboration for its users, be they neurodivergent or neurotypical.
I am not a trained professional or expert when it comes to neurodiversity—there are many more considerations, conditions, and disorders under the umbrella of neurodiversity. I cannot speak half of it. I am speaking from my own experience, and I hope this has given some insight into considerations that can be taken when designing systems for neurodiversity.