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Driven to Distraction at Work - An Interview with Dr. Ned Hallowell

How to Focus and Be More Productive

Dr. Ned Hallowell, child and adult psychiatrist and founder of The Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health -TotalPicture Radio interviewDr. Ned Hallowell

"The biggest price we pay for surrendering our attention is productivity at work. Estimates of the loss of productivity in the workplace due to screen sucking, time wasted online or in front of a screen, as well as other distractions vary widely, but all are in big numbers. A study published in Inc. magazine in 2006 estimated that $282 billion was lost annually in teh United Stated to screen sucking." Dr. Ned Hallowell

Welcome to a special Big Picture Channel podcast on TotalPicture Radio. Joining Peter Clayton to conduct our conversation with Dr. Ned Hallowell is frequent contributor to TotalPicture Radio, David Dalka.

Peter Clayton writes: "Today's interview has special meaning to me. In 1995, I was diagnosed with ADD. Shortly after this discovery, I read Driven to Distraction - Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder, written by Dr Hallowell and Dr. John Ratley. This book was a godsend for me, and helped explain many of the difficulties and challenges I had -- especially in dealing with personal relationships. Most importantly, it helped me to understand that I was not a bad, selfish, uncaring person."

Hey podcast listeners, let me ask you a few questions. Have you ever felt...

  • A heightened distractibility and persistent feeling of being rushed or in a hurry, even when there no need to be, combined with a mounting feeling of how superficial your life has become: lots to do, but not depth of thought or feeling.
  • An inability to sustain lengthy and full attention to a thought, a conversation , an image a paragraph, a diagram, a sunset -- or anything else, even when you try to.
  • A growing tendency toward impatience, boredom, dissatisfaction, restlessness, irritability, frustration, or frenzy, sometimes approaching panic.
  • A tendency to hop from task to task, idea to idea, even place to place.

If you've answered yes to any or all of the above, you've come to the right podcast!

A graduate of Harvard College and Tulane School of Medicine, our guest today, Dr. Edward M. Hallowell is a child and adult psychiatrist and the founder of The Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Sudbury, MA and New York City. He was a member of the faculty of the Harvard Medical School from 1983 to 2004 until he retired to devote his full professional attention to his clinical practice, lectures, and the writing of books, the latest is titled Driven to Distraction at Work, published by Harvard Business Review Press -- available today, January 6th and the focus of this interview. In 1994, Ned coined the phrase "Attention deficit trait, or ADT, based on his observations at that time to be and increasingly comment problem in the modern workforce.

A few of the questions we ask Dr. Ned Hallowell in this podcast:

First please explain the difference between ADT, ADD, and ADHD.

I think many of us would at least feel the effects of ADT in the modern workplace. Is there a simple way of determining if you actually have ADD versus ADT?

As you well know, many children today have been diagnosed as having ADHD and are taking ritalin or adderall, which is very controversial. What is your advice to parents regarding these, and other drugs associated with ADD and ADHD?

In your latest book Driven to Distraction at Work, you suggest that modern life induces ADT, and much of your book concerns what you've identified as the six most common distractions at work -- and I'd like to discuss a few of them with you:

#1. Screen Sucking. The greatest invention in the history of the world for people with ADD is the Internet with a broadband connection! And now we can add iPhones and iPads to the mix.

#2 Multitasking. Please explain to my 19 year-old daughter that it is impossible to focus on two or three things at the same time.

The following 10 tips, each 3 words long, are part of the book.

Achieve Focus 3 Words at a Time (each 3 words long)

1. Do The Impossible.
2. Trust Your Way.
3. Take A Break.
4. T.I.O. Turn It Off.
5. Ask For Help.
6. Take Your Time.
7. Close Your Eyes.
8. Draw A Picture.
9. Talk To Yourself.
10. Do What Works.
Peter Clayton

About Peter Clayton

Peter Clayton, Producer/Host, is an award-winning producer/director of radio, television, documentary, video, interactive and Web-based media who has created breakthrough media for a wide array of Fortune 100 clients.


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