An ADHD Philosophy

Britney Brown’s work revolution started like many do – with a Tiktok. Diagnosed with ADHD at 34 and unable to find a planner that worked for her, she designed her own and shared it on TikTok. 

Brown’s planner is not one that is meant to be used every single day. The planner is undated, so people can skip days or weeks if they need to without feeling guilty for wasting pages. Pages can also be ripped out easily, so there is no pressure to write everything out perfectly the first time. It turned out that others with ADHD loved those features just like Brown did. 

“I just said, ‘Hey, if you guys want this digital file, you’re welcome to it,’” Brown said. “Within about three days, I had a massive demand for orders of a physical version of the planner and digital orders.”

From that first massive success, Brown created her stationery business, Imperfect Inspiration, which was great. But it also came with a lot of obstacles. Brown had to learn everything about running a business. She had to master how to print and ship the planners. More importantly, she had to learn how to hire employees to help her. Like her, they all had challenges and baggage of their own. Unlike many bosses, though, Brown chose to embrace it.

Britney Brown sits at her desk doing work on her computer.
Credit: Megan Fitzgerald | Britney Brown’s office holds many fidget toys and is a colorful, visually stimulating space.

Making Space

A study published in the National Library of Medicine that surveyed ten countries revealed that roughly 3.5% of workers in those countries fit the DSM-IV criteria for adult ADHD. Even more adults go undiagnosed. This same study showed that workers with ADHD had more sick days, lower productivity, and higher rates of mental health concerns. 

The Attention Deficit Disorder Association suggests that employers take a “strength-based approach” to their workplaces and focus on what each employee is good at. They can also provide accommodations such as listening to music, being allowed to work in private spaces and collaborating with their employees more directly. These techniques are similar to the ones used at Imperfect Inspiration.

Most of the employees at Imperfect Inspiration were once deeply unhappy. They left previous jobs because of burnout or feeling overworked and unappreciated and the huge disconnect between corporate leaders and their jobs. With that in mind, Brown knew she had a responsibility to make positive choices for everyone at the company, not just herself. 

Since creating Imperfect Inspiration, Brown truly understands what it means to have employees, and it ties into her own business philosophy.

“I want to be connected to whoever is working for me because they’re helping fuel my dream,” she said. 

Brown feels she isn’t only responsible for the fiscal well-being of her employees, but also their emotional well-being. With this in mind, she makes sure her company is a place where employees, especially the several she employs with ADHD, can prioritize their mental health. 

“We work really hard to keep things communicative and fluid so that folks always feel able to bring up if they have an accommodation need,” Brown said. 

Imperfect Inspiration’s sign in their front entrance is metallic gold.
Credit: Megan Fitzgerald | The office’s flower wall and “do epic shit” sign showcases the brand’s personality.

The physical work environment at Imperfect Inspiration is made to be sensory-friendly, with fidgets on nearly every surface. Even the surfaces are catered to each employee’s individual needs. The standing/sitting desks can move and allow the team to be mobile as often as they need. Brown’s sister, the operations manager, even has a treadmill desk. There are areas of the office where the team can laugh and talk loudly and areas where they can go to work in silence if desired. 

“Honestly, we just kind of mess around a lot,” Brown said. “We play a lot. And I think that people don’t come in here every day and feel like they’re stuck at their desk.” 

These accommodations help Brown herself as well. Her own ADHD affects every aspect of how she works, from how she communicates to how easily she can think of ideas for new planners. One accommodation she takes advantage of is the company’s flexible working hours.

“I’m not always particularly useful from 9 a.m. to noon but I’m incredibly productive from 8 p.m. to midnight,” she said. “Showing my employees that there is another way to define success and productivity has been an absolute growth moment for us.”

An Imperfect Inspiration employee uses a paper cutter to trim stationery.
Credit: Britney Brown | Employees focus on many different tasks throughout their day and are encouraged to complete those tasks in whatever way is most efficient for them.

Employees Are People Too

Brown’s ultimate goal for her company is to create a culture of trust and mutual respect. She makes it clear that employees are trusted to get their work done in their own way, without feeling like they’re constantly being monitored or judged. There’s no pressure to do their work exactly how someone else thinks they should do it or where they should do it. Employees are free to listen to music, wear noise-canceling headphones or work outside if that’s what helps them stay focused. They can take days off if they’re feeling depressed or anxious and just need a little time to recuperate. 

“By allowing people the flexibility to work how they want to work, typically I find that our results are a lot better,” Brown said. She believes that when big companies lose sight of their employees’ humanity and treat them like a number, employees will ultimately choose themselves over the company and leave. 

The Attention Deficit Disorder Association agrees, stating that workers with ADHD will be more successful if employers take the time to get to know them and their strengths. Willingness to listen and understand the employee will result in them being more productive and create higher morale.

Imperfect Inspiration’s Project Manager and Customer Service Representative, Ali Hubbard, said the company is different from anywhere else she has worked. 

“It really is a group of friends who are able to have conversations with each other,” Hubbard said. “Sometimes they’re hard, which is fine. And sometimes they’re easier, but it seems like here I’m not a number. I’m not just a person to fill a spot.”

However, Hubbard notes that while each employee plays an important role, they are also meant to be replaceable, but not in the firing kind of way. If someone else knows how to do the same job, other employees can easily take needed time off.

“We have the flexibility here to just have a mental health day,” Hubbard said. “Nobody takes it personally.”

Her only complaint about the company is that they don’t have an office cat. Not yet, anyway.

It’s Not the Britney Show

Brown knows that Imperfect Inspiration is not just about her and she is just as susceptible to stress and burnout as her employees. To help herself relieve stress and help employees feel more in charge of their own work, Brown is currently working on delegating more tasks to others.

“I work really hard to explain why I choose what I choose and how I make the decisions that I make so that there are fewer mistakes,” Brown said. 

Explaining her thought processes to others also helps Brown see flaws in her thinking and allows employees to share their opinions. The team is in constant communication, whether it takes place in person or in their numerous Slack channels. Digital communication helps the team to ask questions when they think of them and quickly reach out without disrupting their day.

“Nobody ever feels like they’re bugging me to ask a question or anything. It’s just very accessible,” Brown said.

Brown’s delegation allows the business to include and focus on the entire staff. Each member plays an important role and they all have a say in how things run. It’s good for the staff and good for Brown. It’s not just “the Britney show” – Imperfect Inspiration’s business model uplifts everyone.


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