Create a sensory-smart workspace

ADHD Business Tips - Create a sensory smart workspace

Living with ADHD is a bit of a mixed bag: sometimes it’s a real challenge and other times a genuine superpower. For business owners with ADHD, harnessing the energy and creativity that denotes the superpower part of the equation happens more easily in a workspace designed to cater to our unique sensory needs. Sensory-smart workspaces can have a significant impact on focus, productivity, and overall wellbeing, serving to make the entrepreneurial path smoother and more enjoyable. Let’s look more closely at how you can create an environment that works with your brain, not against it.

The impact of sensory input on focus and productivity

If you’ve got an ADHD brain you’ve likely noticed that sensory input can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Certain elements can either enhance your focus and productivity or lead to distraction and overwhelm. This is why creating a workspace that caters to your sensory preferences is essential. Sensory processing difficulties, such as hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to certain stimuli, are quite frequent accompaniments to ADHD. These differences can impact concentration, emotional regulation, and overall functioning in the workplace.

Here are some strategies that address the most common sensory challenges found in most workspaces: visual, auditory and tactile.

Visual strategies for a sensory-smart workspace

Visual input plays a crucial role in setting the tone of your workspace. Here are some tips to optimise your visual environment:

Colour schemes

Choose colours that promote focus for you. Some of us focus best in calm environments where blues and greens – known for their soothing effects – will be ideal. Others might need more stimulation to concentrate and be creative so warmer colours like yellows and oranges can be helpful.


Adjust the lighting levels to reduce glare and prevent eye strain. Natural light is usually best, but if that’s not an option, consider using full-spectrum bulbs that mimic daylight for work that requires bright lighting. If you’re a “big light” hater (like me) don’t be tricked into believing you need it in the office, there are always alternatives. For softer light bring in a lamp or two or even some fairy lights if you prefer more ambient options.

Calming visual elements

Incorporate elements like plants, artwork, or a vision board to create a visually appealing and comforting workspace. Consider what you want your eyes to rest on when you look around your space – soothing artwork to ease stress or more energising pieces that inspire your creativity?


A tidy workspace minimises visual distractions, but it’s not the answer for everyone. If you prefer a more orderly desk or workspace, firstly determine what’s essential to keep on display, then use organisers and storage solutions to keep your desk as clutter-free as possible.

If you’re a maximalist then decluttering may not be helpful, but it could also be helpful to gauge how you feel when you enter your workspace before deciding if it’s really working for you. I know I used to defend my cluttered, messy desk but after spending time getting things properly sorted, I discovered I actually do my best work in a tidier space!

Changing your visual inputs to suit your style can make a significant different. One of my clients, Jane, was surprised to find how different she felt coming to work after simply repainting her office in calming blue hues and investing in a few potted plants. She found that the serene environment helped her maintain focus for longer periods, improving her productivity and reducing the need for frequent breaks.

Auditory Strategies for Managing Sound

Auditory stimuli can either be a boon or a bane for ADHDers. Here are some techniques to manage sound effectively:

Noise-cancelling headphones

These can block out distracting noises, allowing you to concentrate better at the same time as playing your preferred tunes for focus. In face, I think they can be so helpful that they have their very own ADHD Business Tip: Improve your focus with noise-cancelling headphones

White noise or nature sounds

Background sounds like white noise or nature sounds can mask disruptive noises and create a soothing auditory environment that allows you to do your best work. You can find free white noise apps or lengthy soundtracks designed for concentration on Youtube.

Brown noise

This is another kind of noise, distinct from white noise, that many with ADHD find helpful. One of my clients even described it as like a “massage for the brain”. You can read more about brown noise here: Turn on some brown noise.

Designated quiet zone

If possible, create a quiet area where you can retreat when you need to focus intensely, or you need a sensory break.

Listening to instrumental music or specific types of audio stimulation can also enhance focus and productivity. For instance, many folks with ADHD find that binaural beats or classical music help them concentrate better, the key is to know what works best for you.

Tactile and proprioceptive strategies

Incorporating tactile and proprioceptive input can significantly enhance focus and reduce restlessness:

Fidget toys

Tools like stress balls, fidget spinners, or textured objects can provide the necessary tactile stimulation to help maintain focus especially on more boring tasks. If you don’t want a fidget that looks like a kids toy, check out places like Etsy for specialty jewellery that serves the same purpose.

Desk & chair alternatives

Alternating between sitting and standing or using an exercise ball instead of a chair can be helpful for regulating attention and improving body awareness. A low desk that allows you to work from the floor can also be a great option, and I’ve even seen a great set up with a mini couch instead of a desk chair in an ADHD Facebook group.

Weighted blankets or vests

These can be incredibly helpful for neurodivergent folks by providing deep pressure stimulation, which has a calming effect on the nervous system. This type of sensory input can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of security, making it easier to focus on tasks.

As well as rewarding yourself, be sure to acknowledge and celebrate each completed micro-task, no matter how small. This reinforces a sense of achievement and keeps your motivation high.

Creating a flexible & adaptable environment

Flexibility and personalisation are key when designing a sensory-smart workspace. Here’s how you can create a space that adapts to your changing needs:

Modular furniture: Use furniture that can be easily rearranged or repurposed to suit different tasks or moods.

Adjustable lighting and temperature: Ensure that you can modify lighting and temperature settings to suit your comfort throughout the day.

Personal touches: Add personal items that make you feel comfortable and motivated, such as photos, mementos, or motivational quotes.

On of my colleagues Julia, a freelance designer with ADHD, shared her experience of creating a flexible workspace with me recently. Using some affordable IKEA pieces she designed a modular setup with adjustable lighting and a mix of seating options. This adaptability allows her to change her environment based on her workload and sensory needs and has lead to a noticeable boost in her productivity as well has her enjoyment of work.


If you want to create a sensory-smart workspace that works for you, building your awareness around your ideal space is a great place to start. Take 5-10 minutes and make some notes about the kind of environment where you do your best work. Does it feel calming or energising? Is it minimalist or comfortably cluttered? What textures and surfaces are in the space? What can you hear? What scents and smells support your focus?

When you have a good sense of what works for you, determine what you could change that would make the most impact & create a plan!

Creating a sensory-smart workspace is a personal journey. What works for one person might not work for another. The key is to experiment with different sensory strategies and find what best suits your needs. Don’t be afraid to make changes and tweak your environment until you find the perfect balance that enhances your productivity and well-being.

By taking the time to understand and cater to your sensory preferences, you can create a workspace that not only supports your entrepreneurial endeavours but also enhances your overall quality of life. So, go ahead and start transforming your workspace today—it could be the key to unlocking your full potential as a business owner!

Remember, a sensory-smart workspace is more than just a place to work; it’s a sanctuary where your creativity and productivity can thrive.

See you next week,

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