Tips and Tricks

ADHD-Friendly Workspace Design for Better Focus

Learn how to create an environment that minimizes distractions and maximizes concentration, with tips on color schemes, clutter control, and ergonomic setups.

Written by

Jacqui Walker

Published On:

Jan 10, 2024

Woman working in her workspace
Woman working in her workspace
Woman working in her workspace

For those with ADHD, the quest for a productive workspace can feel like a never-ending battle. But what if your environment could be tailored to help you thrive?

In this article, you'll discover design tips that can transform your workspace into an ADHD-friendly zone.

From colour schemes to clutter control, you're about to learn how to create a space that minimises distractions and maximises focus. 

Understanding ADHD and Its Impact on Focus

Understanding ADHD and Its Impact on Focus

Imagine your brain is a web browser with too many tabs open. Some are playing music, others are showing flashy ads, and amidst all this, you're trying to read an article. That's a bit what it's like to have ADHD when it comes to concentrating. 

ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, affects your ability to stay focused on a single task without being easily distracted by external stimuli or unrelated thoughts.

The core issue isn't a lack of attention, but rather a difficulty in regulating it. Here are the key points to unpack:

  • Distraction: People with ADHD are often more sensitive to their environment, noticing background noises or movements that others might easily ignore.

  • Hyperfocus: Contrary to popular belief, sometimes an individual with ADHD may become engrossed in a task to the extreme, but only if it's something that deeply interests them.

  • Impulsivity: There can be a tendency to act on a whim, making it hard to stay on task without veering off course.

So, how can you tailor your workspace to help with these challenges?

Zone Creation is a wonderful technique. Divide your workspace into sections designated for specific tasks. 

Think of it as having dedicated apps for different needs – one for writing, another for brainstorming. This helps your brain switch between 'modes' more efficiently.

You might roll your eyes at the idea of a Clutter-Free Zone, but it's not just about tidiness. Clutter competes for your attention, and by minimising what's in your line of sight, you're effectively reducing potential 'tabs' vying for a click.

It's common to overlook the power of Routine. Structuring your day with set times for certain tasks can train your brain to expect and settle into periods of focus. 

Consider it like programming a TV guide – you know what's on and when, so you're less likely to channel hop.

Remember not every tip will work for everyone, and that's okay! You might find a combo of noise-cancelling headphones and strategic breaks does the trick, or maybe it's all about the right playlist. 

Test out different methods and see what sticks. After all, your brain's wiring is as unique as your fingerprint, and your workspace should reflect that.

Creating a Distraction-Free Workspace

Creating a Distraction-Free Workspace

1. Eliminating Visual Clutter

Imagine your desk as a blank canvas - every item on it has the potential to pull your focus away, like unwanted splashes of paint. For someone with ADHD, visual clutter can be incredibly distracting. 

But you can combat this by keeping your workspace as minimalistic as possible.

  • Start by removing any non-essential items from your desk.

  • Use drawers or organisers to keep necessary items out of sight but within reach.

  • Stick to a neutral colour palette for your workspace, as vibrant colours can be overstimulating.

Think of this process like decluttering your smartphone's home screen. You wouldn't want apps you rarely use taking up prime real estate, so why let seldom-used stationery clutter your desk?

2. Using Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Ambient noise can scatter your thoughts like leaves in the wind. Noise-cancelling headphones can be your digital hedge, keeping the auditory distractions at bay. 

When you have ADHD, these headphones aren't just for music; they're a tool for creating a personal sound sanctuary.

  • Invest in a quality pair that effectively blocks out background noise.

  • Consider white noise or nature sounds if complete silence is too intense.

  • Remember to take breaks to avoid sensory overload.

Misconception alert: It's easy to think that noise-cancellation is about creating silence, but it's more about controlling your auditory environment.

3. Setting Boundaries with Colleagues

Boundaries are like invisible walls that help you protect your focus. In a shared office, distractions don't just come from your environment but also from well-meaning colleagues. 

Setting clear boundaries is key to maintaining concentration and respecting your needs.

  • Communicate your needs politely but firmly to those around you.

  • Use visual cues, like a sign or headphones, to signify when you're in deep focus mode.

  • Agree on “interruption hours” when you're available for chats and collaboration.

Just as you wouldn’t want someone barging into your house unannounced, you need to manage how and when people enter your work zone.

By tailoring your workspace to minimise distractions, you’re creating the ideal conditions for your ADHD mind to thrive. Remember, it's okay to experiment with different techniques until you find what works best for you. 

So start with these tips, tweak as you go, and watch your productivity grow.

Incorporating Elements of Nature into Your Workspace

Ever noticed how calming a walk in the park can be? That's because nature has a way of recharging our batteries and boosting concentration. It's no different when you're dressing up your workspace, especially 

if you've got ADHD. Let's bring the outdoors into your office to help keep you focused and serene.

1. Adding Plants and Natural Elements

Imagine your desk with a touch of greenery – it's not just nice to look at; it has a purpose. Plants can enhance cognitive function and even purify the air. But not all green is created equal. 

Opt for low-maintenance options like succulents or spider plants. They're tough, don't need a ton of sunlight, and can survive a skipped watering or two.

Consider these additions to really nail the natural vibe:

  • A bamboo desk organizer

  • Stone paperweights

  • Wood-carved stationery

There's a common mistake to avoid though: overdoing it. You don't want a jungle that competes for your attention. Stick to one or two items that resonate with you.

2. Maximizing Natural Light

You've probably heard how full spectrum sunlight can work wonders for your mood and focus. The thing is, not everyone has a window office, but grab that natural light where you can. If you've got a window, clear any obstructions. 

Use sheer curtains or blinds that allow light in while maintaining privacy.

Here's a trick: position mirrors to reflect light into dimmer areas. It sort of bounces around the room, mimicking a brighter, sunlit space.

Remember, too much light can cause glare, which leads to eyestrain and headaches. Position your monitor so it's parallel to the window to cut down on that pesky shine.

Adjustable desk lamps with daylight bulbs are a great alternative if you're working later on or your space lacks windows. They're designed to simulate natural light and can help maintain that sense of daytime, which is crucial for regulating your natural body clock.

Different techniques for assigning your light sources can cater to your tasks. Gentle ambient lighting works for reading while direct, focused light is better for tasks requiring fine attention.

Bringing elements of nature into your workspace isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about crafting an environment that caters to your unique needs. 

Test out different plant positions, light sources, and natural materials to see what resonates best with you. Embrace the trial and error process – it’s part of discovering your optimal workspace.

Utilizing Colour Psychology in Your Workspace Design

Colour can play a pivotal role in creating an ADHD-friendly workspace. It's not just about aesthetics; colour psychology suggests that different hues can impact our mood and cognitive functions. 

By choosing the right colours, you could enhance focus and productivity.

Choosing Calming Colours

Imagine you're crafting a haven of tranquility. Soft blues, gentle greens, and muted greys are like the calming breaths in a yoga session for your workspace. 

These hues are often associated with serenity and can help soothe an overactive mind. When you introduce calming colours into your workspace, you're setting the stage for a less distracting and more focused environment.

Tips for Picking Calming Colours:

  • Opt for pastel or earthy tones that aren't overwhelming.

  • Consider paint with a matte finish to reduce glare.

  • Test colour samples on a small area before committing. Light changes throughout the day can alter how a colour feels.

Incorporating Pops of Colour for Stimulation

While it’s essential to stay calm, a jolt of energy is sometimes needed. This is where vibrant pops of colour come into play. Bright oranges, yellows, and even fuchsia can act as visual caffeine, perfect for those moments when you need an extra push. 

It's like the spice in your favourite dish — just the right amount enlivens it, but too much can be overwhelming.

How to Add Colour Without Distraction:

  • Use colourful desk accessories or wall art as accents.

  • Choose one focal point for your pop of colour to avoid clutter.

  • Balance vibrant hues with neutrals to maintain harmony in your space.

Interplay of Colour and Task

Colours don't just beautify; they can serve a functional purpose too. Certain tasks might benefit from the energy of warm colours, whereas others require the calmness of cooler tones. 

For intricate tasks or when you need to wind down, you might gravitate towards your serene blue corner. But if you're brainstorming or tackling a workout during a break, the energising effect of a yellow notepad or orange dumbbells could be just what you need.

Experimentation Is Key

Remember, the ideal workspace is as unique as your thumbprint. What works for others may not work for you. 

Don’t hesitate to try different colour arrangements until you find your perfect balance. Maybe it’s a green plant here, a blue organizer there, and a dash of red on your calendar. 

Mix and match, test and learn, and don’t be afraid to change things up as your needs evolve.

Organizing and Decluttering Your Workspace

Creating an ADHD-friendly environment includes shaping your workspace to promote focus and effectiveness. Decluttering and organizing can make a massive difference.

1. Implementing an Effective Storage System

Think of your desk as prime real estate; every item should earn its place. You don't want your brain doing extra work sifting through clutter to find what you need, do you? So let's talk storage solutions.

Vertical file holders keep important documents at arm's reach without sprawling across your desk. Drawer organizers can house pens, sticky notes, and other small items. But go for transparent ones, eh? This way, you'll see everything without rummaging.

Have you ever considered a rolling cart? It’s like having a portable office cabinet. Reserve each tier for different project materials or categories—perfect for when you're juggling multiple tasks.

Label everything. Knowing where to find your items without a second thought saves time and reduces frustration. Now, this isn't a 'set and forget' type of deal. Regularly declutter to prevent pile-ups.

2. Minimizing Distractions With Proper Organization

You can't afford to have distractions on your desk when you need to be the master of concentration. But how can you minimize distractions? 

Start by identifying non-essential items—those that aren't frequently used or important for daily tasks.

The "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" mantra can be your best bud here. Storage bins or shelves — ideally positioned out of your direct line of sight — can hold these items until you really need them.

Consider this: a minimalist desk setup. Think of it as decluttering to the basics. The less you have on your desk, the fewer the distractions. Reserve your worktop for items crucial to your current tasks.

A common mistake is thinking everything must be within reach. Truth is, keeping only what's necessary for the task at hand is freeing and promotes a laser-like focus.

Speaking of focus, distractions aren't always physical. Digital clutter is real too! Regularly clean up your desktop and bookmark essential websites for easy access. Keep your digital tools as tidy as your physical ones.

Different techniques work for different folks. Pomodoro timers, where you work in bursts, can pair well with an organized space. It keeps you on track and prevents clutter from building up during your focused sprints.

Always reassess and adapt your organization's strategy. What works now may not be as effective six months down the line. Keep tweaking until you strike that perfect balance for your workflow.

In the end, tailoring your workspace to suit your ADHD means paying attention to the details that will bolster your focus and productivity. So arm yourself with these organization strategies and watch your workday transform.

Designing an Ergonomic Workspace

Transforming your workspace into an area that caters to your ADHD can significantly enhance your productivity. 

Ergonomics plays a crucial role in this transformation. It's all about creating a workspace that suits your body's needs, reducing discomfort, and helping you maintain focus. 

1. Choosing the Right Desk and Chair

Imagine sitting in a chair that's too high, with your feet dangling like you're on a swing—sounds uncomfortable, right? Or a desk that's too low, causing you to hunch over and inviting back pain. Not ideal for staying focused. 

Here's what to look for:

  • Desk Height: Ensure your desk is the correct height so your forearms can rest comfortably at a right angle.

  • Chair Adjustability: Your chair should be adjustable in height, allowing your feet to rest flat on the floor or on a footrest.

  • Lumbar Support: Your lower back needs proper support to avoid strain. Look for chairs with built-in lumbar support.

  • Breathability: A chair with breathable fabric can keep you cool during long work sessions.

Avoid common mistakes like overlooking armrests which should allow your shoulders to stay relaxed or choosing a chair solely based on aesthetics rather than comfort and support.

2. Incorporating Standing or Adjustable Desks

You've probably heard the saying "sitting is the new smoking." While that might be a stretch, there's truth in the fact that prolonged sitting isn't great for you. That's where standing or adjustable desks come in. They allow you to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day, promoting better circulation and engagement. Here are a few perks:

  • Reduces Restlessness: Switching positions can help alleviate that jittery, restless feeling common in individuals with ADHD.

  • Improves Focus: Many users report better focus when switching between sitting and standing.

Explore the options that suit your space and budget—everything from electronic sit-to-stand desks to simple desk converters that rest on your existing desk.

3. Setting Up an Ergonomic Mouse and Keyboard

Think of your mouse and keyboard like the shoes of your workstation—they need to fit well and be comfortable since you'll be using them so much. 

To avoid wrist pain and long-term strain:

  • Keyboard Tilt: Set up your keyboard with a slight tilt away from you, known as a negative tilt, to maintain a natural wrist position.

  • Mouse Size: Ensure your mouse fits your hand nicely—not too large or too small—as this can prevent unnecessary strain.

  • Shortcut Keys: Use keyboards with programmable keys to create shortcuts and minimize repetitive movements.

A common error is to use a keyboard or mouse that is too high, forcing your wrist to bend upwards. An under-desk keyboard tray can often solve this problem by allowing you to lower your input devices to a more comfortable position.

By tailoring your workspace with ergonomic furniture and accessories, you're taking an active step in creating an ADHD-friendly environment. 

Remember every adjustment you make, however small, can result in noticeable improvements in comfort and concentration.

Using Technology to Enhance Focus

When tackling ADHD, technology can be your ally in crafting a focus-friendly environment. With a slew of digital tools at your disposal, let's dive into making tech work for you.

1. Utilizing Productivity Apps and Tools

Imagine your smartphone or computer is like a Swiss army knife for your productivity. 

Here's the thing: without the right attachments, the knife is just a shiny object. Productivity apps and tools are those critical attachments, designed to streamline your tasks and save time.

For starters, consider a digital calendar. It’s akin to having a personal assistant reminding you of your activities, minus the salary expense. 

Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook can be your go-to's for setting appointments, deadlines, and reminders. 

These tools can often:

  • Sync across devices

  • Send alerts for upcoming tasks

  • Allow sharing with peers or family for collaborative projects

Then there are task managers like Trello or Asana. They lay out your tasks like a virtual pinboard, giving you the satisfaction of moving a 'card' or task to the 'completed' column. 

This visual progress is not just satisfying; it helps your brain register the small wins, keeping you motivated.

2. Blocking Distracting Websites and Apps

Picture an invisible bouncer for your Internet browsing; this is what website blockers can do for you. Applications like Cold Turkey or Freedom act as a gatekeepers, preventing you from visiting time-wasting sites during work hours.

The common misconception? "I've got self-control; I don't need those." Don't fall for it. ADHD can make it tough to resist the lure of instant gratification, and that's where these apps come in handy. 

They're like training wheels; they help you stay focused until it becomes second nature.

Here’s how to leverage them effectively:

  • Identify your biggest time-wasting websites and apps

  • Set specific times or intervals for blocking

  • Allow for scheduled breaks, so you're not working non-stop

Different people have varied triggers for distraction. Maybe you can’t resist checking the latest sports scores or scrolling through social media. That’s fine—just schedule your blocker to shield you from these during your peak work periods.

Incorporating these practices is about finding a rhythm that suits you. It might take some tweaking, but once you've tailored your digital environment, it’ll become an extension of your focus-driven workspace, effortlessly supporting your workflow.

Remember, everyone's ADHD experience is unique, so what works for someone else might not be your silver bullet. 

Develop your understanding of your patterns, and adjust your use of technology to harness a powerhouse of productivity that's customized just for you.


Tailoring your workspace to accommodate your ADHD isn't just about physical adjustments; it's also about optimising your digital environment. Embracing productivity apps, digital calendars, and task managers can significantly streamline your workflow. 

Remember, it's crucial to customise these tools to fit your unique work patterns. By doing so, you'll create a workspace that not only minimises distractions but also enhances your focus and productivity. 

Let technology be your ally in forging a space where you can thrive professionally.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some tips for creating a distraction-free workspace for individuals with ADHD?

To create a distraction-free workspace, individuals with ADHD should organize their environment, declutter regularly, and establish a dedicated work area with minimal distractions. Utilizing noise-cancelling headphones or white noise can also help maintain focus.

How can technology enhance focus and productivity for those with ADHD?

Technology can enhance focus and productivity through the use of productivity apps, digital calendars, and task managers to streamline tasks. Website blockers can also aid by preventing access to distracting sites during work hours.

Can productivity tools really save time for people with ADHD?

Yes, productivity tools can save time for people with ADHD by providing structure and reminders, helping to manage tasks effectively, and reducing the likelihood of getting sidetracked.

Are website blockers effective in creating a focus-driven workspace?

Website blockers can be very effective in creating a focus-driven workspace, as they limit access to time-wasting websites that might otherwise disrupt work and concentration.

How should individuals with ADHD tailor their digital environment?

Individuals with ADHD should tailor their digital environment to suit their personal needs and patterns. This may involve customizing notifications, using apps that encourage focus, and setting up their digital workspace in a way that reduces the temptation to multitask or get distracted.