I’m a neurodivergent executive. I’m lucky to work in an industry that allows alignment between my role and my own interests, and specifically with a company that views my neurodivergence as an asset rather than a hindrance.
Working in marketing and communications, I get to leverage many of my neurodivergent strengths and characteristics—both to my advantage and to the advantage of the company. Creativity, innovation, problem-solving, and leading with emotional intelligence are where I shine, and I love that I get to use those skills every day. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy (in fact, it’s rarely easy).
The corporate world is built for neurotypical people. I have faced my share of challenges navigating this world, with its relentless pace and rigid demands on schedules and approach to work. I’ve met and battled hurdle after hurdle trying to measure up against a measuring stick that wasn’t made for me. I know I’m not alone.
From the early days of my career, and even as a student, technology has been a constant ally. I’ve spent my life using technology to lower barriers and help bring out my strengths. I wouldn’t be where I am without it.
Finding the right tools
I’m vocal about embracing neurodiversity at work, and that means being vocal about the ways technology can do for others what it has done for me. In recent years, technology has emerged as a game changer for neurodivergent people, providing tools and accommodations that cater to their unique needs.
As technology becomes ever more personalized and tailored to our needs, it becomes an even more powerful ally, helping neurodivergent people be more successful and productive at work.
Of course, technology is always evolving. The tools I use today are different from those I started with. Discovering the right tools for me is transformative. One tool that has made a major impact for me recently is Parallels Toolbox. To be clear, I work for the company that sells this product. But full disclosure: of the many products Alludo sells, this one is by far my favorite because of the way it complements the way I work.
How Parallels Toolbox empowers me: A neurodivergent use case
Software like Parallels Toolbox has made me exponentially more productive. It has so many features that streamline my daily tasks and make me more efficient and less distracted. It allows me to stay focused on the task at hand and get more done with less stress.
Neurodivergence isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. Far from it. While I know how well Parallels Toolbox works for me, I also feel comfortable recommending it to neurodivergent (and neurotypical!) colleagues because of the wide range of features that can be harnessed to help meet individual needs. Here are a few of my favorite features:
- Break Time: Break Time is a simple tool that reminds users to take regular breaks from their work. This can be particularly helpful for neurodivergent individuals, who may struggle with time management or have difficulty taking breaks due to hyperfocus.
- Presentation Mode: For those who experience anxiety or sensory overload during presentations, Presentation Mode can be a lifesaver. It disables notifications and distractions, allowing the user to fully concentrate on their presentation without interruptions.
- Clipboard History: As someone who regularly juggles multiple tasks, Clipboard History has been a lifesaver. It stores a record of my copied items, making it easy for me to access them later without losing track. (And when my ADHD brain forgets to paste something and then I copy over it, I can go back and retrieve anything I had copied in the past!)
- Focus on Window: This feature helps users concentrate on the task at hand by showing a single window and dimming other open windows. This is a major advantage for many neurodivergent individuals or anyone who is easily overwhelmed or distracted by visual clutter.
- Do Not Disturb: I am highly sensitive to interruptions (who isn’t?), and the Do Not Disturb feature allows users to temporarily silence notifications and alerts, providing a distraction-free environment that can be invaluable for those of us who are sensitive to interruptions.
- Date Countdown: I have been known to struggle with keeping track of deadlines and events. With Date Countdown, users can track important deadlines and events, which can help neurodivergent individuals who struggle with time management or forgetfulness to stay on top of their schedule.
- Recognize Text: This tool extracts text from images, which can be beneficial for dyslexic individuals or those who have difficulty reading small or unclear text. As the parent of a neurodivergent child, I can already see the ways in which this feature can support people who interact with information in different ways.
- Sleep Timer: I used to lose track of time while working late, affecting my sleep schedule. The Sleep Timer has helped me prioritize rest by automatically putting my computer to sleep at a set time. For those of us who are prone to hyper focus, this forced shutdown mechanism can make a big difference in our quality of life.!
- Window Manager: This feature helps organize and manage open windows, reducing visual clutter and making it easier for neurodivergent individuals, or anyone else, to focus on their work.
It has taken me a long time to realize that the barriers I’ve faced aren’t because there’s something wrong with me. It’s because, again, I’m being measured against a standardized measuring stick that doesn’t take into account the many strengths I offer. Neurodivergence isn’t a lack; it’s a difference. And accommodation doesn’t mean there’s a problem; it means we get to find a solution that lets us work better and live better.
Tools like Parallels Toolbox not only help neurodivergent people thrive in a neurotypical world, but also help them flex their unique skills. This benefits everyone. Let’s harness the power of technology to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all.