Cultivating A.D.D.

“One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong…” **

So, apparently, I’ve resorted to quoting Sesame Street songs in my blog posts… which is probably acceptable, as the illness I’m about to discuss is one I usually attribute to children, particularly those who inhabit my classroom. I mean Attention Deficit Disorder, which I lovingly refer to as A.D.D. so I can randomly refer to it throughout my math classes without offending anyone. (That’s when my sarcasm isn’t enough to help me blow off some steam.) ***

This morning, after an hour of multitasking, I noticed what you see in the photo above.

Somewhere in the midst of putting away the clean dishes, I had remembered I needed something from the garage refrigerator and that the garage was locked and I needed a key. I had gotten the key from the rack, gone to the garage, gotten that something, relocked the garage, returned the key–and, apparently, the measuring spoons I had in my hand–to the rack. I didn’t notice the spoons hanging there until after I walked my husband to his car, kissed him good-bye, and returned to start the real work of the day.

And I left them there as a reminder to stay focused.

I’ve lost it these days–focus, that is. I used to be a list person. A DIY “Honey-Do” list. I wrote down what I wanted to get done in a given day and aggressively marked through items as I accomplished them. I rarely got everything done, but I had a record of what I had done and a reminder of what I still needed to get done.

But screen time has messed up that sense of order in my life. I find myself driven to check my email, catch up on Facebook, write a blog, check my blog stats. I get online to do one thing and find that twenty minutes later I’ve forgotten my original purpose, distracted by other things. I’ll start one task away from the computer, think of something I “must do right now” on the computer, and another half hour is lost. Or I start a task and get a text message, which leads to a fit of conversation via my thumbs. I am living Flannery O’Connor’s “stream of consciousness” style of writing. I think, then I do–part way. I walk through my house and find jobs half done or undone.

I think I’ve developed Attention Deficit Disorder. Multitasking–despite all the studies to show work done in the midst of it is inferior–has become a way of life. If the New Testament’s famous homemaker Martha were alive today, she would be a multitasker. Unlike her sister Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet, content,  I can’t seem to focus on one thing. On the important thing (Luke 10:38-41).

As a teen, I was convicted when I heard a sermon on Mark 4, the parable of The Sower and the Seed, because Jesus’ story mentioned the “seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Mark 4:18-19). Not wanting to be self-centered or anything, but that is so me. Which is not a good thing. I need to be convicted again–convicted enough to make some changes.

Would it be so hard to create boundaries for myself? For instance, time slots for tasks, time limits for the big and little screens? So that maybe I could focus on each task one at a time? And really focus on what is most important?

I’ve heard the story about the old woman wanting to be buried with a fork as a symbol that she knew the best was yet to come. (Great story; click here to read it.) Me? I’m not aiming to be buried anytime soon, but I’m going to hang my spoons on my key rack to remind me how to live. Focused.

I’m battling, not cultivating, my screen-enabled A.D.D.

**Words and music by Joe Raposo and Jon Stone

***Kidding! Really, how often do we add in Algebra? OK, all the time, but I do understand the seriousness of the disorder and do not harass students who have it; I do, however, harass myself for allowing my environment to contribute to my A.D.D. If you want to truly know my heart as a teacher, read my post titled, “Why I teach…”

6 thoughts on “Cultivating A.D.D.

  1. Sara ~ I have just been described by you. Well said and with great humor, something I lack. I was once told I have the sense of humor of Barbara Walters, in other words, I don’t have one. Thanks old guy I worked with in my early 20’s. Why can’t I forget you:( It seems that so much that is done these days is related to having to do something on the computer or the phone, whether it’s communicating, ordering, gathering resources, etc. Time spent on these devices continues to increase as time cleaning a bathroom, mopping, doing laundry and simply having basic conversation seems to decrease. I am ever aware and trying to battle this tendency myself. My husband too is painfully aware, often resorting to answering himself rather than waiting on me to answer him, too drawn in by the screen that creates a glow on my face in the night.

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    1. Nice boss, Lori! At least you appreciate other people’s humor! It could be worse.

      What you say about so much being related to the computer these days is true. I guess the screen-related A.D.D. is a natural side effect. It reminds me of the self-control I have to demonstrate with food. I can’t just avoid food; I have to eat, but I have to be choosy with what I do eat. I think in this world living without computer time would be nearly impossible; and so I must exercise self-control. Easier said than done! 🙂

      Sounds like your husband is a patient man! Thanks for your response!

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  2. I can sum up my response to your post in one word: ditto! Thank you for sharing! I have been trying very hard to be “present” in each moment as it comes, and spend a lot less time on-line. It is an up-hill battle. It always feels better to be battling “along side” rather than alone, and this is no exception!

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