Brainpower for the Overwhelmed 
by Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE

Walk into the room and can’t find your keys? Or forget why you entered the room in the first place?  Wondering what has happened to your short term memory? Feel overwhelmed by information, people, to-do lists and demands on your time?

You very well could be suffering from SADD - situational attention deficit disorder, a term coined by Anderson Consulting Institute for Strategic Change.  Specifically, most of us are now in situations in which we are bombarded by so many demands for our attention that our brains close down.

It’s a phenomenon of our time. Our brains, evolved over eons to respond to our environment and each other are exponentially being taxed by the growth in information and technology.   Everyone and everything is vying for attention. We are hardwired to respond but when it’s deluged like that, the brain just “goes blind”.  Engineers discovered this phenomenon when they installed hundreds of communication devices in cockpits, thinking it would improve the pilot’s performance. Instead, the pilot’s performance decreased.

Information and technology will not go away. But there are ways to turn from “SADD” to glad.

1.  Determine your priorities and focus on them.
Don’t let yourself be pulled into anything from meetings, to readings, to conversations that thwart your priorities.  Literally block out space on your daily to-do list for things that are important to you: from projects, to exercise, to family time.  Hold these times as sacred.

2. Say “no” to answering every message. 
The average American receives 201 phone, paper, and e-mail messages a day.  Take care of those that are priority and let the rest drop off. Ignore the messages that are uninvited and unnecessary. 

3. Let technology work for you in prioritizing.
Caller ID and voice mail can allow you to screen calls.  For those who depend upon business coming in via phone and need to take every call, develop a way to shorten incoming sales calls. Telemarketing calls that come in via a computer dial-up have a few seconds of silence before a voice is heard. If that’s the case, just hang up. If you are solicited, ask them to please add your name to the DO NOT call list. And then hang up.

4. Create a centering place.
Whether it is in the silence of your car, or in a shower, or closing your door, take 15 minutes per day to practice paying attention to ONE thing: your breathing, a flower, a fish tank.  Like the muscle in our bodies, the brain gets strong in the places where we train it.  Focus turns SADD into glad! 

For over 20 years, Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE has consulted and addressed 
organizations who seek to make a difference in the lives and the well-being of their customers, stakeholders, and communities. Her ability to connect with mind, heart, and spirit makes her one of the most sought-after international keynoters. A dynamic speaker, she draws upon practical business know-how, life's experiences, and years of consulting to national and international organizations to help audiences discover and learn. She also serves as a high level retreat facilitator and coach for helping managers wade through the morass of systems and relationships. 

Author of Work for a Living & Still be Free to Live, she's a frequent contributor to numerous business journals and news magazines and has appeared several times on CNN Headline News. 

Visit her web site or contact her at 949-496-8640.

More like this in Personal Development in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 2000 by Eileen McDargh. All rights reserved.

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