Driven to Distraction: ADHD and Your Environment – Part 1
Social Media Obsession
You or your child could be living with ADHD or perhaps having some trouble focusing from time to time. In any case, today’s world is full of concentration zappers that are difficult to escape.
Modern psychology can offer you a few tips to manage these distractions. When it comes to social media, for instance, it’s easy to connect with friends — and disconnect from work — many times during the day.
Every status update zaps your train of thought, forcing you to backtrack when you resume your work. This is a definite concentration killer.
In order to eliminate this problem, avoid logging in to social media sites while you’re working. Make a point to only log in during breaks, when a steady stream of posts won’t interrupt your concentration. Your brain will have an easier time focusing on the important task at hand.
You’ve Got Mail!
Email messages shoot into your inbox and demand instant attention . It would seem that they had to be answered immediately. It could be a real problem for someone with ADHD to feel compelled to answer every email (work-related or not).
Remember, that you won’t make much progress if you constantly stop what you’re doing to reply to every message. Instead, set aside specific times for that purpose. To make it even easier, during the rest of the day you can shut down your email program. This allows you to carve out blocks of time when you can work uninterrupted.
Cell Phone Blues
A phone ringing is a sound few of us can easily ignore. Unfortunately, answering a call not only robs you of the time you spend talking, but it can also cut off your momentum on the task at hand.
This is the time when caller ID can become your best friend. If you know that the call is not urgent, let it go to voicemail. Furthermore, if you’re working on a particularly important task, consider turning off your phone so you’re not tempted to answer.
Choose specific times to check voicemail. Listening to all your messages at once can be less disruptive than taking every call as it comes in.
The Age of Multitasking
If you are a chronic multitasker you probably feel you’re getting more done in less time. However, experts point very much to the contrary. Research shows that you actually lose time whenever you shift your attention from one task to another. The end result is that doing three projects simultaneously usually takes longer than doing them in a sequence.
Whenever possible, you will be more efficient devoting your attention to one project at a time. This is particularly true if you’re working on an important task that deserves all your focus. Save your multitasking skills for more mundane, household chores.
Boredom is your Enemy
Obviously, some of the tasks we have to do daily are more interesting than others. The most boring ones, the ones you don’t look forward to at all, may exhaust your attention span in minutes.
Any of the distractions mentioned above (your phone, your email…) can become the focus of your attention. Falling into the boredom trap is common and pointless.
Rather, think of it this way: If you stay on task for a certain period of time, you can give yourself a10-minute break. Often times boring tasks are easier to accomplish when you have something to look forward to such as a coffee, a favorite treat or any other small indulgence.