Where’s That Tab? ADHD and Working in Email with Tips on How to Leverage Your Strengths


While at an industry event, a group of us found ourselves bonding over a common thread: ADHD – or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. We spent a few minutes groaning about our struggles. But then we turned our conversation towards the benefits our shared experience brings us in our professional lives.

Email Marketing Ain’t on the List

Many of the suggested careers for individuals with ADHD highlight roles that offer variety and challenge– keeping our attention engaged. Firefighter, entrepreneur, artist, chef, and teacher often make these lists.

Kisha Anderson (EmailArtisan), the author, will lead a discussion on this post on Thursday, March 14, 2024 from 12:00 Noon to 1:00 PM ET during the weekly OI-members-only Live Zoom Discussion. OI members, watch the discussion list for your invite (reach out to Jeanne if you don't receive it). Not an OI member? Join today!

What you won’t see is anything involving email. In fact, I’ve never seen an email related career on any list of careers. And as someone who finally chose their career at 30, I’ve sifted through many (many) career lists.

My theory is – while there are over 4 billion email users in the world, many are unaware that behind every marketing email that finds its way into their inboxes, there are teams. Even if sometimes it's just a team of one. (Looking at you superheroes who are carrying entire companies on your marketing shoulders.)

Hopefully one of those list makers sees this article and includes at least a general email marketing career on their list. Then all their list maker colleagues see their list and... voila. Email becomes a top career for folks with ADHD.

Everything Has Pros and Cons

When you hear ADHD what do you think of? A hyper kid, running around a classroom, disturbing the other students, probably a little boy? Or maybe you’re a bit more informed and you know that there are other faces of ADHD. Do you picture an easily distracted adult who interrupts everyone in meetings? Sure that can be a part of ADHD too.

What you probably didn’t think of is a colleague at their desk coding an email for 3 hours straight, no breaks. Or that colleague who often seems to have deeper insight into the customer than the rest of the team. Or what about that designer who wows you with incredible and original graphics.

There are positive and productive traits to accompany the less desired symptoms of ADHD – commonly referred to as ADHD superpowers.

Although every individual is different, these ADHD superpowers may include:

  • hyperfocus
  • resilience
  • creativity
  • conversational skills
  • spontaneity
  • abundant energy

(source: article written by Zia Sherrell, MPH and medically reviewed by Jacquelyn Johnson, PsyD.)

This list and the article it was excerpted from provides insight into why email is a reasonable career choice for people with ADHD. Not explicitly, of course. Because email as a career doesn’t exist outside of email. But you can see the connection between those traits and having a successful career in email.

Hyperfocus could be the key to coding an entire new email sequence from scratch in a day. And without increased creativity, how would Outlook problems be solved before the next Gmail release that breaks that very same code? Someone spontaneously added the first emoji into a subject line. And the endless energy it requires to make the effort to convince executives that email is worth investing in still after 4 decades? Of course one does not need to have ADHD to embody these traits. However, having ADHD increases the likelihood of these traits and thus – email careers should be on all of these listicles.

Using Your Superpowers

Whether your brain is neurodivergent or neurotypical, you’ve got superpowers of your own. Uncovering them and honing them can sometimes be a challenge. Especially for those of us who have spent more time magnifying our weaknesses.

Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way:

1. Know that we all have weaknesses AND strengths. Our weaknesses don’t make us bad people. They make us people.

2. We will be strong in areas we enjoy and some we don’t. But where’s the fun in doing things you hate just because you’re good at them? Tip the scale in the direction of enjoyment whenever you can.

3. There are things you love and are great at. Those are your superpowers. Put them in play whenever you get the chance.

4. Pick a weakness or two to focus on strengthening. But don’t forget to hone those superpowers even more.

5. Be present and check in with yourself. Take note of how you feel when you’re working. Jot down feelings and outcomes when you fail and when you succeed.

6. Refer back to your successes when the failure hurts deeper than usual. You know those times when you start attacking the person (yourself) instead of the activity.

7. Say yes to more of what you love to do.

8. Say no to more of what you hate doing.

Learn From the Experiences of Others

A few of my fellow ADHD brains in email kindly shared a bit of their experience:

matson genna 2“I've always said that working on the agency side feeds my ADHD. I find it easier to focus when I have 4 to 5 clients with work to cycle through. I use the pomodoro method with batching to be highly productive. ADHD is one of my superpowers.

I'm an independent contractor now, working on 5 client teams at once but I totally recommend agency life for folks like us. It's not only stimulating, but you get exposure to so many different techniques and tools, it's a never-ending educational experience.” - Genna Matson


Turner amanda“In some ways I almost feel like having ADHD is nearly a prerequisite for a career in email. What other career could you fall down a rabbit hole coding for a rendering issue, the very next day getting a crash course in DKIM, the next day dealing with a platform or data challenge, just to turn around to work on your next campaign strategy while reviewing metrics? And that’s just brand side! There’s a whole world on the agency side where you can go deep on any of these areas. Day-to-day life can vary so much in email, keeping ADHD-ers happily stimulated with deadlines. I think it’s no wonder some of us are looking around finding others like us.” - Amanda Turner


Fernandez Davida“As someone with ADHD, I tend to get fascinated by all aspects of whatever I'm working on. Email is great for that because not only can I learn about coding and graphic design, but I can learn about UI design, human psychology, deliverability, compliance, and more.... Which keeps me engaged.” - Davida Fernandez


superhero 600Photo by TK on Unsplash