Title Image

Not crazy but definitely crazed!

Not crazy but definitely crazed!

Do you dial a phone number and hang up before the second ring because nobody picked up the phone yet? Do you find yourself pushing the “close doors” button repeatedly in the elevator? Are thirty seconds in front of the microwave too long to wait for your lunch?  Well you are not alone, and you are not crazy, but you are definitely crazed.

In his book “Overloaded circuits: Why Smart People Under perform” Edward M. Hallowell covers a newly recognized neurological phenomenon called “attention deficit trait” (ADT).

You will recognize it right away, it is marked by distractibility, inner frenzy and impatience.  Most people showing up for work in the morning will think this is familiar ground.  It actually prevents people from making smart decisions and managing their time right.  It can take an otherwise talented individual into an underachiever in no time flat and according to the author, it is reaching epidemic proportion.

The good news is that it is not a disease, nor is it a character defect but make no mistake: this is a beast to be tamed.

It is our brain natural defense’s mechanism against exploding demands on our time and attention.  Hallowell explains how, as data increasingly floods to our brains, we lose our ability to solve problems and take care of the unknown and, as if that was not enough, our creativity shrivels and mistakes multiply.  If not handled well, it can lead to burnout .

Maybe this is where the saying “Less is more” came from.  Because it is an insidious condition, it is sometimes very late in the process before you even realize you have fallen under its grip.

There are strategies to fool ADT and they are not rocket science.  On the contrary, they are simple but efficient:

  • Promote positive emotions and to do so, interact directly (in person) with someone you like at least 4 times a day.
  • Take care of your brain (get enough sleep, decent food and exercise. Working 24/7 is not on the list of brain friendly activity)
  • Organize your work to outsmart ADT

What if you turned down the music?  minimized all the windows on your screen and kept only the one that you are working on?  Do you really need to be on Instant messaging all the time? What if you shut your door and turned everything off for 30 minutes, once a day and took some “ME time”?  What would happen?  Would anything truly horrible happen?  would you honestly lose your job? miss the opportunity of a life time? become irreversibly obsolete?

What if instead you could get some space in your head and air in your chest? Regain the ability to focus and think straight?  Get some energy back?  Would taking 30 minutes to get all of this sound like a good deal?   You owe it to yourself and to your team to at least try.

How you lead yourself, and others, matters.