Has anyone been compared to someone that does not have ADHD and how they reacted to instructions and the way you did?

I posted an entry that had instruction from my boss and the instruction said that a wire was coming in and to post to X and then reclass to Y. I completely ignored that it was not a wire but a check and made sure that the description he want was correct in the entry. My supervisor email me asking about the entry and did I read the instructions. And my bosses, boss said you understood it whey did she (the person with ADHD). I was so focus on one getting the description right that I completely ignored that because it was a check instead of a wire that I should ignore his instructions and should have question it. I feel so stupid like I can’t get anything right. I can’t follow instructions.

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now you’ve identified a type of mistake you’re prone to making. reading – and acting on – just part of the directions.

now you need to find a way around that.

i like to split up the tasks of reading and understanding instructions from actually carrying out the instructions. if something is important, i read the directions and rewrite them in a format that makes more sense to me. so i might have a flowchart, checklist, pictures even.

this is where i make sure i understand how the whole process is going to unfold. after i have a good grasp of that (and i’ve double checked my work), i actually go through the task, checking off each step.

it’s effortful. that’s why i only do it for things that really matter. work tasks. anything safety related. in my home life, i just wing it and leave chaos in my wake.


Welcome to the HowToADHD forums @Toothpicks !

I’ve learned to do the same. Multi-part instructions can throw me easily. If everything is written in a block of text, I’ll break it up into one step per line.

Sometimes, I’ll even put check boxes in front of each step, so that I’m sure to finish one step before going on to the next.

But it sounds like your boss made an error in telling you it was a wire, when it was a check. You were given an incorrect prompt, so the instructions didn’t match up with the actual situation. Asking a question to get clarification might have helped, but it depends on other things, too, like:

  • What happened just before this? Were you busy?
  • Were you feeling tired, hungry, or anything else that might have affected your focus?
  • What is your relationship with your not
  • What is your boss like? Might they think you were questioning their capabilities by drawing attention to their error?

Everyone makes mistakes. The good part is that we all have the capability to learn, to improve.

(I had a boss who insisted that I follow his directions on a certain task verbatim, even though he didn’t understand that what he was asking me to do was not going to work. It involved a device and software that he didn’t understand. He was prone to badly parroting the department director, who only knew slightly more than him about the tech I was working with.)


Welcome @Toothpicks . . .

Welcome @Toothpicks,

don’t feel stupid. Many of us :brain: have difficulties following instructions. Especially when it is about “not interesting” not “demanding” things.
If it would e something which would be a new invention :rocket: it might have been easier.
I for example am a very good cook, but if you hand my a package of instant mac and cheese or mashed potatoes, I wouldn’t be able to prepare it. Hot water or cold water, I don’t now, I don#t buy that kind of stuff and whenever I was at a friends house for dinner and tried to help with the easy stuff while the host prepared the main course thing, I totally messed up.
Sometimes it even makes it worth if an instruction is broken up in numbered steps, because many of them seem so redundant and unnecessary.
But I really like @j_d_aengus idea

I have to try that one. What I sometimes do is print out an instruction or something that is demanded, if I received it as an email an just cross out unneeded information and than cross out whatever step I finished. It is paper waste though.

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Crossing out the unnecessary information is a good idea as well!

And I don’t think that’s a waste of paper. The alternative would be to have an expensive tablet, like an iPad, or Microsoft’s Surface tablet computer. Then, you can edit right on the screen (crossing out unneeded info using the also-expensive stylus pen for the device).

Paper is much more easily recyclable than a tablet, and comes from a renewable resource…trees. (Printing multiple copies might be wasteful, but printing a copy when you need one seems appropriate.)


My boss thinks I’m someone that is prone to errors and has told the entire department and any one that thinks about promoting me by including a letter of all my mistakes in my employee file. Doing this is stressful for everyone that does it until you get the hang of it. He likes to let a year pass since I done a particular duty and when I’m re-learning how to do it he points out my errors. In this case my friend just got promoted to his position and he is training her. My friend/new boss stood up to him for me and said that “it was confusing” and he replied “you understood it”.

I was not stressed, hungry, nor sleepy. I was just tryin to not make the same mistakes I did in the past by just following his instructions to the letter, but it caused me to overlook the obvious.

I’m afraid to make any mistakes. I just want to be so call normal cause being me is just not working for me.

Thank you all for the tips. I really appreciate them. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Thank you, I’m going to start doing this. I have never and I mean never been able to review my work. I can’t do this to save my life. At my previous job I had a co-worker do it for me. This tip will diffidently help me. Thank you again.

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I put up a ceiling fan by just looking at the box. I had a few parts left over, but it works. I did not realize that this is not ok until someone told me. I don’t like instructions either.

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Thank you.

I’m learning so much about myself. Demands make me not want to do it. Talking crazy to me also.

I just got fired from JLL (property management company) and I asked if they had a SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) and the lady teaching me said “I just went over it with you didn’t you take notes” (That’s what I call talking crazy to me). She talked extra fast and I want to say no but was thrown back by her response. When mad I can’t get my point across and can’t remember what the subject is while in mid sentence. Does this happen to anyone? I was too emotional.

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I’m the opposite with instructions. I take my time, going over the instructions meticulously (using the picture as a guide). Still, the more complicated the instructions, the more likely I am to make mistakes.

There have been lots of times that I have to go back a step or two to fix something. If I have leftover parts at the end, I feel a bit panicked, until I’ve verified that there were extra parts to begin with.

I don’t like reading instructions. In fact I don’t like reading at all (except online . . . more scanning than reading)! But when I need to put something together I look at the instructions, sometimes don’t quite understand them (whoever said instructions were correctly written in the first place), and even if I do, I often put things upside down, backwards or in someway incorrectly. That’s why my wife does most assembly of things. That brings me to her dad, who was a talented mechanical engineer. In fact his two brothers were also mechanical engineers, having graduated from the same school!

So one would think that a mechanical engineer does not need to read instructions but just figure things out for him-self, and in most cases this was true for my wife’s father. And of course, like most engineers figuring something out (l.e. “problem solving”) is the name of the game! Making a long story short, early on in my marriage, my father generously purchased a dishwasher for us. “INSTRUCTIONS”?? I was willing to read them but my father-in-law just put them aside “knowing with great certainty” (my quote) that he knew how to do the job. Amazingly enough as I watched him, I noticed that he was looking to attach a decorative piece at the bottom incorrectly. I gently hinted at that a few times but he knew what was right . . . though eventually he discovered the right way.

He certainly knew what he was doing . . . but then again sometimes . . . things “just happen”.
after sweating some copper tubing together he asked me to go down to the basement and turn the water back on. I did. And he yelled . . . “Turn it off . . . Turn it off!”.

Well he did put it together . . . “NO SWEAT” :joy:!

The soldered copper tubing had a mind of its own and water was spraying all over the place!

Just goes to show ya . . . even if you follow instructions . . . or know what to do without looking at them :roll_eyes: . . . Sometimes :poop: . . . Just happens :flushed:!

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I’ve had plenty of coworkers in the Information Technology field who can’t wait to try to figure out new tech (hardware or software, doesn’t matter which) on their own. But when things go wrong, we have an acronym to turn to: RTFM!
…“Read the f***ing manual!” (It’s always an exclamation, even if barely a whisper.)

(I don’t mean to be crass, but that’s the saying. I don’t say this very much, and when I do, it’s usually just to myself.)

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It’s not just ADHD people, I’ll point out, that have issues with instructions. Anyone who is used to just getting things, people of higher intelligence have this issue, I have found. My eldest son was difficult to teach many concepts to because you’d get partway through and he’d be like, “Ok, I get it…” and get to doing the thing before you get all the way done and then is frustrated when things don’t work out.

I have lived with my brain for enough years to know how it works reasonably well. If it’s a physical thing, like assembling something, I’ll go ahead and give it a go without the instructions and refer to them as needed. If it’s something someone else is asking me to do I make myself read through all the instructions, then I rewrite them for myself. It helps a lot.


Amazing how so-called “experts” are paid big money to formulate instructions that will be user-friendly! And it takes some of us :brain::brain::brain: to help them out!



I took a class in “Technical Writing” when I was studying towards a Computer Engineering degree. I thought that it would cover how to write documentation like that. Nope! Instead, it was like a “Business Writing” course for engineering students (with a little less emphasis on correspondence, and a little more reference on citing technical sources).

  • There was a group project on creating an infographic, which was probably the closest to writing instructions or a process.

I can remember when my older brother was in 5th or 6th grade, and he was doing the classic “How to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich” writing assignment. (If you’ve never heard of that, I know I’ve seen it on YouTube before.) It’s a great lesson on how to write understandable step-by-step instructions.

P.S. I think that I should do this with my kids! I know that they know how to make their own PB&Js, but it would be a fun thing to put into the “cook book” of their own recipes that we’re going to start this summer.