These musings stem from a conversation that started in Austin with my sweet roommate MissMusicNerd. She opined that these days everyone has some form of ADD. That the world has become so fast paced it is the only way we can keep up. So I started paying attention (hah, get it?) to how my days unfold to see what is preventing me from focusing on one task as completely as I would like. Because I really do struggle with that now, which is so opposite of how I have been historically. I was a good student in school. I could read assignemnts and take notes and write papers in one sitting. Sure, I would muddle around getting started sometimes. Look for something else to *keep* me from doing the school work – you know, such as scrubbing the oven because that seemed easier! But once I got my butt in place, the work got done. My focus was right on. Shoot, I went into accounting because I do did have the patience to tick and tie lines and lines of data. Now? Hah!
Of course the obvious answer is the internet right? Seems like it, but we’ve had it here at work for over 12 years and it is really only in the past 3 years or so that I feel I am utterly unable to focus. No, for me it is Firefox that began my downfall. Firefox and tabbed browsing. Oh, those magical little tabs. Calling me constantly. DailyKos! CNN! MotherTalkers! Facebook! Twitter! My blog! All of YOUR blogs on the Google Reader! Click me click me click me! ARGH! Oh yeah, then there is that one over there that says “Peoplesoft”. BORING. All it takes is a few *seconds* of down time – a page taking long to load, a process running, a report running and I am GONE. 15 mins later I remember that I was running that budget report and oh yeah, it’s probably done now! Now, it’s not like I read a full article in that 15 mins. Oh no. I probably clicked 5-10. Because I could not possibly read through more than one or two paragraphs! Not online anyway. I can still sit and read papers or magazines or books without problems. Wait, not true. I do find myself going back and re-reading things a lot because I didn’t absorb it the first time through when I read non-fiction. Because when I am reading paper stuff, my brain still wants to drift over to what else I *should* be doing or planning for or making sure everything is on my schedule. Ack!
When things are really demanding at work, I can shut it off. I can ignore the tabs and the blinking red light on my blackberry and get to it. Tune out the emails, let the phone go to voice mail. I really can. But then, when I do? Like this afternoon from about 1:00-3:30 when I really bore down and got through a bunch of reconciliations and reports? Then I finally click over to one of the sites and find out that I am LATE in hearing some Really Big News of some kind. Today it was Keith Olbermann on DailyKos announcing that Rachel Maddow is getting her own tv show on MSNBC. By the time I clicked into that diary there were over 700 comments. Crap!!! Now, was work more important? Of course. I know that. But when you do have so much information at your fingertips all the time, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve missed out if you are not responding within the first hour.
OTOH, I think I needed to be more ADD 🙂 I needed to learn how to multitask without freaking out. Know that it is OK to stop and do a quick task to help someone out without getting irritated. And those little tabs can be productive too. Like this morning when no less than 5 people did some Really Stupid Things that I had to fix immediately or The World Would End (or some such drama) and I was able to bang out my irritation on Twitter and send it out to my sympathetic friends and then handle The Stupids with a smile on my face.
Oh, and on the subject of distractions – Mr Obama, could you please just announce your VP already so that I can stop obsessively checking every single time my phone buzzes with a text message? kthxbye.