Three-percent of the adult population suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
Ninety-percent of my corporate and entrepreneurial clients believe they have ADD.
The reality is that the pace of our modern society brings out the characteristics that mimic ADD. The question then becomes, are you suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder or from Modern Life Syndrome (MLS)? Reflect on a few of the ADD symptoms:
• Trouble focusing attention for more than a few seconds.
• Tuning out in the middle of a conversation.
• Likely to have many projects running simultaneously.
• Always in a rush and impatient.
• Feeling of being overwhelmed by daily life.
• Difficulty getting organized.
• Problems with time management.
Do you know anyone who does not exhibit some or all of these traits? The truth is that society has evolved to bring those tendencies to the forefront for all of us. We are now suffering from Modern Life Syndrome as every part of our lives is barraged by messages demanding attention. Just picture for a moment some basic daily routines:
• Opening a website page: pop-up dialogs springing into view, boxes of ads and comments lining the sides of the pages, multiple colors screaming out at you.
• Driving down the freeway: billboards, high and low, radio ads interrupting the traffic report, your cell phone ringing.
• Watching your favorite television show: floating announcements advertising other shows, information strips scrolling weather updates, blaring commercials at the peak drama moments.
All of that is before you get to the office. The frenetic pace continues as deadlines loom and you cope with constant interruptions. End results are often that you have to work late, bring work home with you, or come in early. You become tired and stressed, which makes it even more difficult to focus.
You may end up never finding opportunities to sit and actually think for a period of time during the work day. I read of one person who would leave the office and go sit in his car when he had papers he needed to absorb and on which he had to form a decision. It was simply impossible for him to concentrate in the office.
Whether you are suffering from MLS or ADD, you need to employ processes that will limit distractions and increase your productivity. The strategies are similar:
1. Determine what your goals are, business and personal, and make sure some of your efforts each day are moving you in that direction.
2. Prioritize your work before you leave the office each evening. You will be focused from the time you start working the next day.
3. Plan a solid block of time with limited interruptions. Use that time for your most important, focused work.
4. Track what causes the interruptions. Once you find the patterns, you can begin to eliminate some of these distractions.
5. Do not let email control your day. Set up specific blocks of time when you will focus on email alone.
If you do not stop now to make changes, the result can be a major overload because of constant stress. Stress is responsible for many of our illnesses, from colds and flu to heart conditions. Eighty-percent of our medical expenditures are now stress-related. When you are not willing to step back and make adjustments, you may wind up with a situation over which you no longer have any control.
Wouldn’t it be smarter to choose your priorities and be more productive in the process, before the ability to choose is taken away from you?
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Denise Landers is the author of “Destination: Organization, A Week by Week Journey.” She helps businesses and individuals accomplish more with productive office systems. Reach her at (602) 412-3876 or firstname.lastname@example.org.