Back in the day, I used to be really focused, you know, eyes on the prize and all that. I could sit and do homework for hours. I could play Sega Genesis (it does what Nintendon't) games nonstop for a whole weekend and beat them before having to return them to Blockbuster. I could ride my bike for hours up and down the same street – Ma Bell wouldn't let me ride past the 4th lightpost – from right after school ended until nightfall. I could play hide and seek for hours hiding in precarious spots like the chimney and under the hood of the neighbor's car, careful not to move an inch make a sound – except if someone decided they wanted to start the engine.
But these days, I have roughly a 10 minute timeout, like your standard screensaver. If my attention hasn't been captured in that timespan, the channel is going to be flipped, the cd is going to be changed or or you're going to be pretty pissed off as I walk away from you while you're in mid sentence on your diatribe about how much you love ice cream/ hate vampires/ need the Heimlich/ etc. I am distracted by the most innocuous of things. If a person walks by my desk – I'm looking to see who it is. If I get a text message – I'm definitely going to respond. If someone's phone rings in the cube next to mine – I'm listening in. If a butterfly flys by – I'm following it. It doesn't matter what I'm actually supposed to be doing. On the other hand, when I'm in the zone, I can write 5 emails almost simultaneously, I can generally complete 2 or more action items at a time, and they have me working on upwards of 3 different projects at once. Occasionally I spend a 10 minute block of time thinking about how I've come to this. I imagine that this is nowhere near the amount of time I'd need to really consider this, but hey if 10 minutes is what I've got, then it's just what I have to work with, right? I've come to this conclusion – perfecting the art of Multi-Tasking has the unfortunate side-effect of creating Adult ADD.
The "I'm Feeling Lucky" search on Google for Adult ADD brings you to an Adult ADHD test with about 24 questions. Of those 24 I answered higher than "somewhat" to over half of the questions, including:
- At home, work, or school, I find my mind wandering from tasks that are uninteresting or difficult.
- I find it difficult to read written material unless it is very interesting or very easy.
- I am irritable, and get upset by minor annoyances.
- My moods have highs and lows.
- I have trouble planning in what order to do a series of tasks or activities.
- I almost always am on the go.
- I am more comfortable when moving than when sitting still.
- I usually work on more than one project at a time, and fail to finish many of them.
- There is a lot of "static" or "chatter" in my head.
- Even when sitting quietly, I am usually moving my hands or feet or hooves
- My thoughts bounce around as if my mind is a pinball machine.
- My brain feels as if it is a television set with all the channels going at once.
Luckily for you, lots of these things have lead me to blogging for the Garage Sale. Unluckily for my manager, lots of these things have lead me to blogging for the Garage Sale.
Thinking back, I don't remember ever being as unfocused until I started having a superfluous amount of stuff to do in a short amount of time. My conclusion: the corporate machine is killing me. I guess I need to stack paper so that I can help finance the revolution… but first I just need to find out how this grasshopper got into the office… and I need to find out where it's going.