The Internet and the cCrisis of Attention

Have you ever heard of TDA-H or ADD? It is a neurological disorder characterized by alteration of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which affects 3-5% of children of school age. A characteristic of childhood disease. The novelty is that psychiatric clinics have received adults with this disorder.

The complaints follow a pattern: during the lifetime never had problems that began to manifest gradually until you reach a point that began to interfere in his personal and professional life. It’s the guy who always took care of everything but, over time, could not produce even increasing working hours.

I have a family that is experiencing this problem, making up with a therapist and relying on medical aid. I have researched a lot on the topic on the web. To my surprise, it is becoming increasingly common among adults.

What’s going on that, from one moment to the other, no one else able to concentrate? It overwork? The traffic? Where does the lack of time for social and family life?

I believe it gives to place a further ingredient: the internet. But not in the way the media likes to place, highlighting the “Internet addicts”, as if all that work with web were unbalanced.

It’s our fault. We are our biggest enemy. We self-sabotage. We do not know to make appropriate use of technology. And the problem is more severe with those who spend the day working on the PC. And with an aggravating factor for Brazilians: the habit of leaving everything to the last minute.

Have you ever had the feeling that, after a whole day in front of the computer, do not realize all the tasks and also saw its list of growing backlogs? Or come home so exhausted that only manages to drop on the couch and watch TV? Healthy pillows like playing with the dog or the children walk in the park, reading or doing physical activities seem unattainable dreams?

Focus turned hard work

Every day we are bombarded by information. TV, radio, internet, e-mails, instant messengers, Twitter, Facebook… We live in a state that therapists call “CPA” – continuous partial attention . That is, regardless of what we are doing or trying to do, we are constantly alert waiting notifications email, Twitter and RSS. A continuous state of anxiety, which prevents us to devote 100% attention to a truly important task.

In practice: it is when we stop briefly to take a peek in the news. A peek turns into hours watching PowerPoints jokers, or by clicking twittados links, or reading a new news in RSS aggregator. That linka to another, and another, and another … The non-linear character of the web ensnares people so that later the person can not remember more what led him originally to open the browser, while the report concluded for the boss.

Studies say that every break we suffer, took 15 minutes to resume the degree of concentration prior!

We need to better manage the download of information we receive every day. The outputs are leaving the multitasking mode and apply selective ignorance. That is, providing filters for what does not add anything to even come to our eyes and ears.

But we’re lousy at it, thanks to self-sabotage. Logical to take a peek messages of Orkut, read what goes on Twitter and view photos on Facebook is much more fun to do that chatérrima month closing spreadsheet!

How to keep attention on what is really important?

Do not count on your self-control, because you will fail. Apply some more radical measures to return to be productive and reach the end of the day with a sense of accomplishment:

  1. Determine times throughout the day to check your emails: earlier in the day, before and after lunch and in the evening before leaving. Outside this period, keep your closed email client, or at least with the off notifier.
  2. Only use instant messengers if it is really necessary in their work, as corporate messengers. Even so, place in busy mode when working, asking to leave messages. Turn off the pop-ups to not be distracted. Just check the messages after completing its task.
  3. Social networks: let them to for the late morning or late afternoon. It will be a rest which will act as “reward” for the accomplished tasks.
  4. If you work in a noisy environment or surrounded by people, use a headset with sound insulation. Needless to listen to music, just to let the quieter location.
  5. If you are constantly interrupted by colleagues, the headset can discourage interruptions that are not important. Remove extra chairs near you, or get busy with folders, clothing or backpacks. No stimulus to sit, the conversation will be brief.
  6. For those who are self – employed: instead of stipulating x hours of work per day, stipulates a list of tasks, with approximate calculation of duration each. Do not accumulate more than 6 hours, to have a break in case of emergency or cucumbers.
  7. Again, for those who work on behalf of: intersperse 50 minutes task at maximum concentration with 5 minutes of rest. If you are addicted to social networks, enjoy. Espaireça or taking a walk, drinking coffee, listening to a song. Every 3 blocks of 50 minutes, take a break of 15 ‘. Connect a timer to not let the rest time burst.
  8. If you are absurdly crazy about internet, is harder on yourself. Take the computer network cable or turn off the wireless. If you still are susceptible to self-sabotage, use features that automatically block the internet at the times you specify. Because the Rescue Time or Stay Focused.
  9. Make brainstorms without using digital tools, especially if your work involves creativity. I usually use unlined notebooks to make mental maps. Use them for everything: drafts of posts, articles I write, day or week planning, travel planning and more. The book is always with me; then I do them anywhere, just to come up an idea. When I have more time, for example, by planning, use of colors; but when the idea comes suddenly, I end up using the same pencil, not to lose it. The catch should be immediate. Indeed, it was so was born this post. It took exactly 43 minutes to be written on my laptop within the Evernote using the mind map below as a guide:

PS: Maybe your case is not a simple self-sabotage. If you notice that the above measures are not successful and go beyond digital life, seek medical help.