Do you have symptoms of Attention Deficit Traits (ADT)?

How to improve your work life? 

How to lead towards a stress free work life?

Are you a professional working for a corporation? And do you have loads of tasks awaiting to be performed everyday?

Do you feel that you do not make smart decisions anymore?

Do you struggle to manage your time?

Do you miss crucial deadlines on a regular basis?

Do you struggle to prioritize the on-hand queue of tasks awaiting to be performed?

Do you feel a certain kind of rush or moments of panic during your office work hours?


Do you work more than the official working hours at your organization?

If your answer to most of these questions is ‘yes’, then you must read this blog for your own benefit and self-realization.

The work life of executives and professionals like us is getting more demanding every day. Thanks to the new technological advancements especially in the field of data, communication or information technology in general; the expected lead time to execute and deliver tasks is shrinking enormously. We are obliged to every stakeholder in this connected world for quicker responses and address every actionable item as soon as they gain our attention.  

Welcome to the professional life of this era.

This is the demanding nature of our work. We must juggle our attention between emails, phone calls, text messages, instant messages, social media notifications and many other distractions. These all sum up and lead us into lower attention span. We can not fully focus at one task at a time.

Because we are obliged to respond to every notification’s beep and their visual dots which come from various sources.

All these combined can lead us into Attention Deficit Traits (ADT). ADT is not a clinical syndrome. This psychological syndrome is the birth child of external factors which are imposed upon us.

ADT could lead us into lack of creativity and problem-solving aptitude. Person affected by ADT struggles to focused on tasks. He/she gets a lower attention span. Lacks creativity, becomes poor in managing time, struggles to prioritize tasks and in general is not organized.

ADT is a neurological phenomenon where the effected person is always distracted, always impatient and behaves chaotic most of the time.
In short,

“ADT can transform a high performer into an under achiever”

The survival mode

As a working professional we all have witnessed days having a tidal wave of tasks which makes us hurried and unfocused. We switch from one task to another. We do not value add. We just do the tasks. There is no creativity. There is no problem solving. We just struggle to save the moment. This is the survival mode which most of us find ourselves one day or another.

Our behavior in these moments of survival mode is like as if we have our stress hormones activated as if we are fighting for a real danger which has a certain count of lives at risk. This is not true. We are not firefighters at our workplace. And there is no actual fire which can potentially kill lives. Somehow, the panic created inside our brains mimic such situation.

This is lethal for us in general. Being in survival mode with elevated levels of stress hormones in dangerous situations can bring best out of you and make you hero of the moment. But, presence of such elevated stress hormones in protected air-conditioned environment of the workplace will have a damaging effect on our mind, body and soul.

Unfortunately, we find ourselves quite often in such situations.

The terminal case of this phenomenon is ADT. This becomes prominent due to our repeated response to the hyper kinetic work environment we all part of.

The Hyper Kinetic Work Environment

We want everything to happen fast. We try to response fast. As quick as we can in this hyper kinetic environment which is powered by advancements in digital technology. Also, we expect same in return from others. This builds up more anxiety. We tend to get impatient.

Have you observed the close door button of an elevator at the building of your workplace or your residential apartment? You will find its paint, or luster worn off. It is prominent when compared with other buttons in the elevator. Why?

Because, that is the most used button. Everyone is in a hurry. We have more people around us who want to save these few seconds in the elevator. In fact, before reading this concept in the HBR article, I too abused this button in the lifts or elevators I used. 

If you do not happen to be an Air Traffic Controller, a fire fighter, a formula one racer, or any other personnel which has responsibilities measured in count of lives involved; take a pause and step back a little.

A short break will do no harm.

Do not let workplace stress become a routine of your life. Deal it with full patience and control. Do not let this ride you.

Deal with one task at a time. Purely based on its priority, importance and severity.

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Comparison of ADT with ADD (or ADHD)

ADT can be compared with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). ADHD or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is a clinical phenomenon whereas ADT is a psychological phenomenon. ADHD is diagnosed in early age among children. ADT is observed in adults, suffering mostly due to the information overload.

Based on similarities, ADHD can be called a cousin of ADT.


ADHD is a natural or a genetic clinical phenomenon. Kids with ADHD possess different and unique qualities. Under a good guidance and supervision kids with ADHD can be nurture these qualities and scale new heights later in their professional lives. They generally under perform in the conventional education system because our education system does not have friendly environment for such kids. 

ADT is not a clinical syndrome. ADT is a psychological phenomenon, coming out of our modern lifestyle. The modern lifestyle has a big influence of digital technology and social media. These two combined has filled our mind with too much noise. This noise is contributed through various sources which surround us. After a certain limit our mind loses its capability to address this noise. This results in lack of concentration or awareness.

JetBlue’s CEO and co-founder David Neeleman was an ADHD kid. He had a horrible childhood as a student when he felt trapped most of the time in school. But he nurtured his ADHD qualities very well to become a successful businessman and entrepreneur. 

Cures or Preventive measures for ADT

It is important for us to realize if we have symptoms of ADT. Or you feel that you are on a path leading to ADT. Employ these measures at your place and life in general

-promote positive emotions

-take physical care of your health

-take a good sleep

-exercise regularly

-have a good diet. Avoid sugar and white floor food like pasta, pastries, cakes, etc

-consume more of complex carbohydrates and protein. Complex carbohydrates can be obtained from fruits.

-keep yourself hydrated.

-make sure you walk during office hours. Preferably climb up and down few flights of stairs. Make sure you do not have prolong hours sitting at desk

-keep your life and workplace organized. There should be some empty space on your desk. It should be free from clutters.

-make sure you complete the task you take in the first go itself.

Do not let a portion of it remain for some other time or later in the day.

Follow the OHIO rule i.e. Only Handle It Once.

-take regular pause and short breaks throughout the day

-Deal with one task at a time. Purely based on its priority, importance and severity.

-Don’t hesitate to raise flag and ask for help or support when you feel you are overloaded with work. You should not feel shy while asking help. Its good to involve others.

Are you overloaded? Are you a bottleneck?

If you feel you are overloaded and have become potential bottleneck; ask for help. Don’t hesitate. Delegate some of your tasks to others. Do not work in isolation.

Its good to involve your team members and colleagues if you are stuck in loads of tasks.

The human connection at workplace

Get up and walk.

Climb few flights of stairs. Talk to your colleagues. You must have the human connection interface time during your work hours. This will release stress from your body and will keep you elevated. Walk up to your colleague’s desk and strike out conversations. This will help you and your work buddies prominently.

Be fearless!

The routine work life scene has multiple obligations. These involve multiple decision making moments. We face multiple interruptions throughout the day. We need to look out, gather and compile multiple pieces of information. We deal with difficult (sometimes close to impossible) requests and expectations. We got to sail through them with an open mind.

We got to be fearless!

Trivial tasks can wait. Some of them could be delegated or outsourced. There must be focus on those tasks which really matters. If there is a juggling of all things at once, some of them are bound to fail. This juggling sow seeds of panic. They eventually install fear in our brain. In end you will end up harvesting symptoms of ADT. 

Being fearless about work will not let the panic consume one. Remember, fear is the most dangerous disability. This fear can kill creativity, sense of humor and flexibility. You will forget the big picture. You will be stuck up with the moment of panic and employ all your mental bandwidth to save the moment.

This will also bring traits of dark emotions in one’s behavior. The person will start to crib a lot about anything and everything. There will be tantrums thrown just to avoid work, blame others. The person will not be receptive towards any feedback to improve himself and will be in denial mode.

This blog is based on learning referenced from HBR guide to Managing stress at work chapter 2 – Overloaded circuits by Edward M Hallowell.

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