Attention Deficit What? — Where?

by Stephanie Rewis on March 29, 2005

I realize there is a new “undiagnosed malady” appearing practically every day. And yeah, some are silly. But even those that seem a bit invented have at least some basis in reality. Take, for example, Attention Deficit Trait.

Dr. Edward Hallowell noticed this disorder in adults who came to him
looking for a diagnosis of ADD. But he found that many were not ADD as
evidenced by the fact that when on vacation (or away from tech devices)
their symptoms disappeared. With real ADD, that doesn't happen. You can
read the full interview with him at

Though this may be the flavor of the month malady, I did find that
much of it rang true for me — working in a tech world. Take this quote
for example,

…you've become so busy attending to so many inputs and
outputs that you become increasingly distracted, irritable, impulsive,
restless and, over the long term, underachieving. In other words, it
costs you efficiency because you're doing so much or trying to do so
much, it's as if you're juggling one more ball than you possibly can.

Does that ring true for you? What about this one relating to the symptoms?

When people find that they're not working to their full
potential; when they know that they could be producing more but in fact
they're producing less; when they know they're smarter than their
output shows; when they start answering questions in ways that are more
superficial, more hurried than they usually would; when their reservoir
of new ideas starts to run dry; when they find themselves working
ever-longer hours and sleeping less, exercising less, spending free
time with friends less and in general putting in more hours but getting
less production overall.

That also sounds similar to burn out to me … or something that will lead to burn out anyway.

Hallowell claims that those in the tech world have a bit of an
advantage, due to our sense of humor, and that's some consolation. But
if we don't take control of tech, it will control us. According to
Hallowell, not taking control and taking the time to stop and think can
result in:

… not getting the best of your brain. What your brain is
best equipped to do is to think, to analyze, to dissect and create. And
if you're simply responding to bits of stimulation, you won't ever go

That's downright scary since many of us depend on our creativity and
ability to think through complex situations for our very livelyhood.
When that ability is lessened, so is our ability to make a living.
Adrenaline and coffee do not a bright, creative person make — it only
feels that way. :) In fact, the stress and fear that create the
adrenaline put us into survival mode. Survival mode is monitored by the
lower levels of your brain rather than the higher. Flexibility, seeing
shades of gray, entertaining new ideas — all go out the window.

So limit the number of times your email comes in per day. Only
answer the phone during specific times of the day — otherwise, make
all your callbacks at once. And take time to get away — without your
cell phone, your PDA, your laptop, or any other tech device. Find some
exercise you can enjoy. Hang out with your friends even when you think
you don't have time. You may find yourself more productive, creative and intelligent than ever before.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

B.S.R. April 1, 2005 at 3:00 am

It would be nice if there was a condition to take people, who live in that state of mind 24/7, into the realm where those capable of being productive exist.

Zoe April 1, 2005 at 8:43 am

Thanks for this, Stef. Really applies to me, I think. I’ve actually been trying to find out lately if I have ADD — my mom was diagnosed with it a couple years ago. But the thing I was running into was that I always did great in school, no focus problems, but I do have really bad focus problems with work. So maybe it’s this! I definitely need to get a more balanced schedule and take better care of myself…

Sheri April 1, 2005 at 2:21 pm

Great post, Stephanie! I need to get a plan together so I can stop the 24/7 circus. It does wear you out after a while.

Kim April 1, 2005 at 4:29 pm

Quote: Adrenaline and coffee do not a bright, creative person make — it only feels that way.

Why was I not told this?

Adam Butler February 6, 2006 at 5:46 am

Yes that is correct. I liked your comment. I too belong to the same profile and this was of great help.

Adam Butler

Stef. February 6, 2006 at 9:17 am

You’re welcome Adam… and the biggest issue to me is — why can’t I practice what I preach! I’m worse than ever lately. < sigh >

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