Concept of the day: Attention Deficit Trait (ADT)

Need a hand Grandad?I’ve just finished reading a Harvard Business Review OnPoint called Overloaded Circuits: Why Smart People Underperform. This talks about attention deficit trait (ADT). The Harvard article comes at a cost but the article in Time has a good overview, as does the CNET article.

Frenzied executives who fidget through meetings, miss appointments, and jab at the elevator’s “door close” button aren’t crazy – just crazed. They’re suffering from a newly recognized neurological phenomenon call attention deficit trait (ADT). Marked by distractibility, inner frenzy, and impatience, ADT prevents managers from clarifying priorities, making smart decisions, and managing their time. This insidious condition turns otherwise talented performers into harried underachievers. And it’s reaching epidemic proportions”

Sound like anyone you know?

It seems that ADT is completely caused by our environment, by the office, by the technology, by relationships.

So how do we control it:

  • Promote positive emotions
  • Take physical care of our brains
  • Organise for ADT

ADT is closely related to the way that our brain reacts to fear so it’s important to promote positive feelings through stressful times. Positive feelings are also associated with good relationships. The author recommends interacting with someone you like at least every 4 to 6 hours. That’s an interesting thing for someone who mainly works at home to hear.

I’ve talked before about the physical side of looking after our brain, sleep, diet, etc. It’s a good reminder that I’ve let it slip a bit recently.

Organising for ADT is about creating the space and time to think away from all of the distractions. This isn’t just time management, but it’s also managing things out.

I was talking to someone who runs a huge fund in New York, and he was saying he demands that his employees take several days a month just to think–to leave the office and just go off and think. He wants them to not bring their e-mail, not bring their cell phone–make themselves unavailable. And I think it’s a really smart management strategy.

Organisations used to give people sabbaticals, some still do. In a world that is increasingly asking for for “fast” rather than “right” I think that people are increasingly going to need times to reconnect with “right”.

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