How to Focus with Bipolar Disorder in the Workplace

August 10, 2023 Ashley Miller

Do you ever struggle to focus on work-related tasks because of bipolar disorder? A lack of focus and distractibility can occur in people who experience bipolar disorder and its episodes of mania and depression in bipolar disorder. These issues have affected my ability to learn and integrate new information and be efficient in executing important tasks. I have had to adapt new techniques to be successful at work and focus with bipolar disorder.

How to Focus at Work with Bipolar Disorder

I have to find a balance between speeding up and slowing down to focus with bipolar disorder in the workplace. My brain can be chaotic, between lots of different thoughts at once, grandiose thinking, and distractibility. When I experience racing thoughts and impulsivity, I have a tendency to send emails without proofreading them. In those moments, it is helpful to slow down, re-read emails, proofread any documents, and sometimes have someone else look them over before finalizing them. At times, my ideas may be grandiose and larger than life. When this is the case, it is important to talk through these ideas with a close colleague to make sure they are realistic.

I find it very helpful to make a to-do list. My brain has a tendency to have several tabs, emails, and documents open at the same time. I need to make sure I stay focused on one project at a time, and when I have reached full completion, I can cross it off of my list. For each task, I set a timer for 15 minutes so that I know I can only focus on this specific task for those set 15 minutes. When the project is a bigger task, I break it down into smaller components by creating a to-do list for that one project. I then set aside time in my calendar for that project so I don't schedule a meeting over that time. 

How Physical Activity Can Help with Focus During Bipolar Episodes

Yin yoga has been crucial in helping me navigate my bipolar disorder. It allows me to turn inward and enter into a meditative state. I focus on an intention throughout my practice, and this in itself increases my ability to focus on one topic despite my bipolar disorder. Every time my mind wanders, I come back to the same topic. This practice also helps me to reduce my racing thoughts and gain more clarity on where I want to focus my attention. If meditation seems too intimidating to you, yin yoga is a good place to start. I find it quite relaxing at nighttime as well. 

I mostly enjoy hiking and brisk walks. Starting my morning off with a hike or taking a mid-day walk can help release endorphins and get me in a better mental space to resume work. It's overwhelming to create huge goals for physical activity, but small ones can reap huge benefits.

A lack of focus because of bipolar at work is my biggest downfall. However, I don't let this get in my way of being successful. I use techniques that reduce distractibility. If you feel similar to how I feel on a daily basis, try some of the techniques I mentioned and see if they also help you succeed.

APA Reference
Miller, A. (2023, August 10). How to Focus with Bipolar Disorder in the Workplace, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 16 from

Author: Ashley Miller

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