Does your mind wander? Perhaps you hop from idea to idea, from task to task, with your performance suffering along the way. We'll bet that sometimes worry rears its head, too.
Entrepreneurs tend to exhibit symptoms of ADHD. Maybe being online much of the day… contributes to that
If so, help is on the way. Recently, we spoke with one of the world's leading authorities on attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Dr. Edward M. Hallowell.
He runs the Hallowell Centers, which specialize in training attention in people of all ages.
Hallowell has just published the book Driven to Distraction at Work: How to Focus and be More Productive, which can help anyone who's ever felt overly distracted and less productive as a result.
While Hallowell's book can help you be more productive on the job, you can also learn to be more focused, less distracted and less prone to being a super-worrier at home, too. Sometimes the simplest step can make a difference.
Brad, for example, keeps his smartphone on his nightstand. At night, whenever he awakens, he checks his email, the latest headlines and even Facebook. A simple fix (keeping the phone in another room) has made a big difference there.
Entrepreneurs usually have symptoms
As Hallowell explains, entrepreneurs tend to exhibit symptoms of ADHD. Maybe being online much of the day—not just to run businesses but also to share and gather information on Facebook, Twitter, and so on—contributes to that.
They often work alone for much of the day, which can also take its toll. Living inside your own head too much can make you a bit squirrely, unfocused and not living up to your potential. You need more "vitamin connect," as Hallowell calls it, such as more face time with friends and family.
We've only touched the surface of the issues and potential solutions Hallowell discusses. So we encourage you to check this book out for yourself. It just could change your life. For now, our interview follows.
Schepp: What are the symptoms of ADHD?
Symptoms include fluctuating focus, from hyper-focus to lack of focus and back, problems with planning and organizing, chronic procrastination…
Hallowell: The main sign that an adult may have ADHD is unexplained underachievement. He knows he could be doing much better, even if he is doing quite well, but he can't figure out what his problem is.
Often he chalks it up to lack of discipline, not realizing it is a problem with focus.
Other symptoms include fluctuating focus, from hyper-focus to lack of focus and back, problems with planning and organizing, chronic procrastination, impulsive decision making, mood swings, tendency to worry excessively, sometimes problems with substance abuse, and issues with self-esteem. All this can be reversed with diagnosis and treatment.
Love of independence and ADHD
Schepp: What's the connection between entrepreneurs and ADHD?
Hallowell: People with ADHD tend to be creative, independent, even stubborn. They are visionaries, dreamers, creators, inventors.
Thomas Edison was classic ADHD. Most entrepreneurs have ADHD because most entrepreneurs love their independence, are creative, go their own way and love to create. They also tend to be big hearted and generous.
Schepp: You have written about how problems with planning, prioritizing and following through characterize ADHD. This would seem to be especially problematic for people running their own online businesses. What are your thoughts regarding this?
Hallowell: That's one of the main reasons to get ADHD diagnosed and treated: So the entrepreneur can get better at "executive function," for example, planning, organizing, and prioritizing.
Schepp: How do you maintain focus when so many different things demand your attention?
Hallowell: Get your ADHD treated! Work with a coach. Create systems that work for you. Create boundaries, so you are not always available and can have time to think and work. Plus, sometimes, medication can be a huge, life-changing help.
Face time is important
Schepp: How can you keep worry under control when you're responsible for everything?
Never worry alone, get the facts [and] make a plan
Hallowell: Three steps: Never worry alone, get the facts [and] make a plan.
Schepp: Many online merchants work alone. How does social media stack up as a substitute for connectedness with people? How good a "vitamin connect," as you call it, is social media?
Hallowell: Social media is great, but it can't take the place of the "human moment," face-to-face interaction. Even if it's with a storekeeper, be sure to have a few human moments every day.
Schepp: What are your thoughts about smartphones and how they affect people's ability to focus on things outside of themselves?
Hallowell: Smartphones are great as long as we are in charge of them, not them in charge of us.
Schepp: If readers feel they may have ADHD what should they do?
Hallowell: First they should read my book, Delivered from Distraction. If they can't read the whole book, read the first chapter, which is called "The Skinny: Read This If You Can't Read The Whole Book."
Schepp: Thank you, Dr. Hallowell.