CMXtraneous: Flash

Right on the edge of useful

Attention Deficit What? -- Where?

Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2005 10:40:02 AM by Stephanie


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,'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 deep.

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.

Category tags: Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, On the Personal Side, Using the Web