Distraction ≠ Anxiety

This blog post arrived from Hero’s Journal (the product of whom, I love) about distraction. It seemed to infer that distraction was the result of anxiety. It’s not that I’ve not heard that before (it’s quite a common trope in the “How to destress” pop-culture circle), but perhaps it struck me as odd here because the it was making distraction the subject rather than anxiety. The other reason it raised my attention’s right eyebrow was because I was talking (aka info-dumping) with a work pal this morning about the difference between working in the office and working at home.

Anxiety is not the primary reason for me to be distracted. IN FACT anxiety is a great driver of focus. In the office I tend to hyper-focus a lot because the excessive noise and human electricity-pollution creates such a atmosphere of stimulus stress that I usually have little choice but to burrow into work. Similarly task urgency makes me push into hyper-focus easily.

Additionally I’m more inclined to daydream when I’m in my home office working with much lower distractions and sensory pain.

Look, I’m no stranger to Yerkes-Dodson curve. I know that pressure leads to performance to a point. BUT I’m much more likely to hyper-focus with higher stress even when that stress is damaging.

Nancy Doyle – Assume Competence: Neurodivergent Staff Don’t Need Kid Gloves

It’s an ADHD thing (I’m pretty sure). I get distracted at low stress points and highly attentive at high stress points (until I meltdown). Heck, I went into business mode for a week when I arrived in Cairo the morning of Arab-spring when liaising with Australian and Canadian Governments (and the beautiful people of Egypt) saved our lives.

There’s also the judgment call on what we call performance. Free associating is great innovation work. It’s essential to me making innovative ground on projects.

So “No.” Destressing is not a solution to my distractedness. In many cases it’s the exact opposite.


On the other hand do check out the Hero’s Journal. I love mine and I’m using it to my personal mental health project. More on that soon

Combating Overcommitment & Monotasking: Good tips on hacking my job

How to ADHD has really been on the money lately with incredible work tips that have really sung to me.

Taking on too much work

Ah YES! Over committing is a huge challenge for my life for a number of reasons.  Living a life in line with your values seemed a bit like the title of a pop psych book from the 90s (and personal baggage for another time). However stepping back for a minute and looking at what life values I need to prioritise was really great. Instead of fitting in one more request for other people, I really need to hit pause and take time out for myself, and the things on the top of my value list that I’m ignoring.  Things like personal health and relationships.

One way that I’m looking at that at the moment is by monitoring my emotional health using the Daylio app.  It also tracks potentially related stuff like healthy eating, exercise and personal timeouts.  Because the best way to get an over committed data junkie to take time out is with the lure of more data.

The other thing is Trello.  I talk about this a lot.  I have a personal Kanban for projects that I need to achieve and hard and soft deadlines for that.  For other work requests I’m building in two times a day of 30 minutes where I clear &/or prioritise those requests. Of course I can’t ignore everyone (as much as that sounds like heaven) but it does mean that I can block out times to focus and on what task knowing that the alerts will get dealt with in their own space.

Monotasking

That’s a great segue into the other great vlog –  Monotasking.  It’s a great reminder about the illusion that multitasking is somehow good.  I’ve known for a long time that my brand autistic neurotype deals with interruptions by crashing my brains hard drive.  It’s no secret that changing my focus requires a good 5-10 seconds to shelve what I was doing and making the turn.  Even then it takes a bunch of effort to do.  But split focus is also a pain for other neurotypes.  

Monotasking is a great way to do lots well.  Blocking out slabs of time to get things done.  It’s also good to block in slabs of time to do social or answer people’s questions.  It’s an idea I want to try out more and see how it goes.

Here are the two quick YouTube eps that I’m talking about.  Love to hear the ways you are hacking your work for your brain.