driven to distraction at work
To look at the Orono Public Library adult new nonfiction
section, you'd think we'd won the library lottery. Every time I visit
there are fresh new books on fascinating and timely topics packing the
shelves. Driven To Distraction At Work: How To Focus And Be More
Productive by Edward M. Hallowell, MD is one of the more useful volumes.
Hallowell is a big time expert on ADD and ADHD. People consult
him to see if they have one of those disorders. "They come to see me
because they've lost their ability to focus on anything; they're
always in a rush, bouncing from task to task like boats against the
current, worried that they're falling behind even as they strive to
get ahead. Multitasking, hopping from project to project, e-mailing
while talking on the phone..." (Sound like you or anyone you know?) He
coined a term to describe people who were functioning poorly and
experiencing discomfort but did not qualify for either diagnosis: ADT
(attention defecit trait also known as modern life). Where the former
are intrinsic, the latter is caused by the situation.
Anyone who has been around long enough has a sense of what he's
talking about. The same electronics that provide many benefits have
also become rather intrusive and domineering. The constant pings and
buzzes that alert us to incoming texts and other messages can fragment
the ability to concentrate. Our 24/7/365 electronic communication
ability can enable work related matters to intrude on family time
while those tempting games, websites, and silly kitty pictures can
make at work time less productive. Overexposure to toxic news (If it
bleeds, it leads) can lead to anxiety. Multitasking, that desperate
doing two things at once because otherwise we can't get to everything,
can leave us unablity to do any of the tasks well....
Hallowell contends that advice that concerns itself only with
the visible output, such as the adages concerning list making and more
efficient time management, are doomed to failure. To make meaningful
change you have to understand exactly what you are up against. The
first part of his book is devoted to in depth exploration of the six
most common ADT causes. An example we're all probably familiar with
screen sucking (when electronics control life at least a little too
There are, however, general methods of improving balance and
focus just as there are ways for achieving physical health and
vitality. The second part of the book deals with ways of working them
into daily life. I am thrilled with the importance he gives to three
considered unaffordable luxuries by so many people today: adequate
sleep, play, and face time with actual human beings.
We can't turn back the hands of time and return to a simpler era
many long for. Electronics, for better and worse, are here to stay.
But we can learn to take back our lives and be their masters rather
than their Pavlovian dogs. So I highly recommend Driven To
Distraction At Work.
On a personal note, I am taking advantage of the social and civic
slowing down summer affords. In the time over and beyond more routine
tasks (such as cooking and keeping my blog up) I am focussing on two
major projects I plan to finish by September: the master cleaning and
organizing of house and shed including painting public rooms and the
poetry manuscript I plan to sell to a small publisher. I'm sure some
of the tips I've learned from Dr. Hallowell will help me achieve these
A great big shout out goes out to my wonderful readers along with warm
wishes for a fabulous Fourth of July weekend.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod