I like to say I multi-task.
The truth is a lot closer to saying I have trouble paying attention, staying on task, focusing on the moment. If you want to label it, you could say I’m ADHD. Those close to me would probably say “Duh? What else is new? Get a clue, the sun rises in the east too, you know!”
I’d say it’s not that I have an attention deficit as much as I have a broadband reception ability, and when whatever is directly in front of me isn’t broadcasting enough information to fill my receptors, I’m off in search of more stimuli. As the comic once said “I’m not over-sexed, I’m under-supplied.” My greatest fear is not death, it is boredom! A lack of sufficient sensory input.
And I do not “suffer” from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder so much as I REVEL in it. It’s a tremendous source of energy, drive, enthusiasm, and vitality. The challenge is to channel it, use it effectively, ride the full crest of the wave all the way to the beach in grand style, with flair and panache. Yes, uncontrolled it can be a problem but if you learn to ride the tic, it can be a tremendous strength. Learn positive coping techniques and effective strategies, and it can be your friend for life. Fail to master it and it can trip you up forever.
All that said, I acknowledge that I still have growth opportunities in learning to still my mind, to become more effective in the moment. Below is a fascinating article on the dangers and illusionary benefits of excessive multi-tasking. I’ve excerpted the phrases that spoke most to me, the full article follows.
“Multitasking is shifting focus from one task to another in rapid succession. It gives the illusion that we’re simultaneously tasking, but we’re really not…. You cannot divide your attention like that…. It’s a big illusion. You shift back and forth.”
“We can do a couple of things at the same time if they are routine, but once they demand more cognitive process, the brain has ‘a severe bottleneck.’ …for all types of tasks, the participants lost time when they had to move back and forth from one undertaking to another, and…it took significantly longer to switch between the more complicated tasks…. Although the time it takes for our brains to switch tasks may be only a few seconds or less, it adds up.”
“…this effort to multitask [is termed] ‘attention deficit trait.’ Unlike attention deficit disorder, which has a neurological basis, attention deficit trait ‘springs entirely from the environment,’ per a 2005 Harvard Business Review article, ‘Overloaded Circuits: Why Smart People Underperform.’”
“As our minds fill with noise — feckless synaptic events signifying nothing — the brain gradually loses its capacity to attend fully and gradually to anything. …desperately trying to keep up with a multitude of jobs, we ‘feel a constant low level of panic and guilt.’”
“’We need to recreate boundaries’…that means training yourself not to look at your BlackBerry every 20 seconds, or turning off your cellphone. It will feel weird at first, but you can learn to single-task.’”