Nerd Attention Deficiency Disorder

Image Credits:
Book Girl photo in the header and post feature graphics used courtesy of and copyright DeviantArt user faestock

Trying to add some order to the massive pile of junk that is my bookmarks bar, I ended back on randsinrepose.com this afternoon.  I have written before (also here and here) how much I love that site.  Thanks to the Rands (in case you wondered, the author’s name isn’t Rand) blog, my wife understands me as a nerd and is somewhat slightly more forgiving; I have been able to get advice from friends without the fear of being screwed over; I have been able to better interact with the rest of the management team, better manage the people who work for me (and others), help my supervisor better manage me; and I now have a framework for thinking about my own motivations and actions.  Back on randsinrepose, lost in new posts that I hadn’t yet seen, I realized that I have have never written about Nerd Attention Deficiency Disorder (N.A.D.D.). The author explains the term:

“My mother first diagnosed me with NADD. It was the late 80s and she was bringing me dinner in my bedroom (nerd). I was merrily typing away to friends in some primitive chat room on my IBM XT (super nerd), listening to some music (probably Flock of Seagulls — nerd++), and watching Back to the Future with the sound off (neeeeerrrrrrrd). She commented, “How can you focus on anything with all this stuff going on?” I responded, “Mom, I can’t focus without all this noise.””

One of the things that the author does in the post is ask the reader to stop and count the number of tabs they have open, and inventory the other things that they have going on all at that moment.  The author lists 3 or 4 browser tabs, a download, some other side computer work, and a few external tasks going on.  When I first read the post several years ago, I stopped, inventoried what I had going on, and acknowledge that it was about the same intensity described by the author, and admitted that I was a NADD sufferer.  Rereading the post today, I again stopped to take inventory.  The results were dramatically different:

  • I have 36 browser tabs open, representing various components of 4 different projects (including this post) that I am working on all at the same time;
  • I have two Excel spreadsheets open on my second screen, with an annual budget I am updating and a population growth model I am refining;
  • Outlook is open, with a flashing reminder that I am nearly late for a meeting;
  • I have both Evernote and Onenote open and am actively using both to record different parts of the various projects I am working on;
  • Two instances of ArcMap are open – one in response to a phone call I got this afternoon asking about a particular data set, and another related to the population model;
  • I have three instances of notepad open in the taskbar – one with a snippet of python code for the model I am working on, and the other two as scratch pads filled with phone notes and reminders to myself;
  • I have four Windows Explorer folders open, all pointed to storage for the projects I am switching between;
  • I have five Word documents open – two that I am reviewing for staff, and three that I am “actively” working on;
  • Just got an e-mail request to post a document on the Web that arrived in the form of a Dropbox share of the document – 38 tabs now;

The above just represents what I have going on in the digital world.  Until the phone call I got earlier, I had my headphones in and was listening to Rdio on my phone, and am surrounded by stacks of notes, journal articles, and my field notebook.  And of course all throughout the day I am fielding questions from staff and responding to my Director.  Obviously I have a very advanced case of NADD.

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