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ADT & the catch-and-release distraction program
Merlin Mann | Apr 10 2006
Ever wonder what all those electronic poking sticks might be doing to your attention span?
Psychiatrist Edward Hallowell has identified a late-onset cousin of ADD that he calls "Attention Deficit Trait," a "condition induced by modern life" and the endless "chatter" generated by our beepy devices and interrupt-driven lifestyles.
I don't know enough to evaluate the rigor of this theory in the eyes of a researcher or physician, but this CNET interview with Hallowell is filled with enough right-on quotes to have me nodding along all day.
(read through, after the cut, for our first Mindfulness Exercise)
Mindfulness exercise: The catch-and-release distraction program
Spend one workday hour today or tomorrow self-consciously aware of each single task you're working on at a given time (try it: I'll bet it's a lot harder for you than it sounds).
Treat that task with a combination of relaxation, reverence, and the quiet awareness that, at least for the time that it's earned your attention, this is the single most important thing in the world. When you notice yourself half-assing, be aware of it, and allow your mind to gently turn back to focus.
As you stay focused on doing one valuable thing at a time, notice and mentally acknowledge all the times that you feel yourself being drawn to something else. Listen for the times that your mind pokes at you to tear ass over to email or your RSS reader, and just let the thought pass by, ungrasped. Hear the shrill ringy-dingy of your phone, but resist the urge to grab it before it goes to voice mail. Don't dwell on distractions; just note them, and let them go.
Just one hour. You can do it.
For bonus credit, when that hour is up, jot down 2-3 interruptions you think might deserve less attention than you've been allowing them. Assuming you wanted to turn down the volume and recapture more mindful attention, where could you cut fat and never miss it?
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