Day 18 - Workplace ADD

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Peter Kirchmer, UCSD

Peter Kirchmer is on the faculty at UCSD Center for Mindfulness and is a Life Coach, Mindful Movement Instructor, and Meditation Teacher. He is an MBSR teacher, a Certified Professional Life Coach and member of the Harvard Institute of Coaching. .

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Yes, workplace ADD is a thing. It’s been identified as a clinical disorder that is not only present, but exacerbated by conditions in the workplace - and it’s characterized by behaviors that are rapidly becoming mainstream: cursory reading - hurried, distracted and shallow thinking - superficial learning - impulsive decision-making - and multi-tasking. 

Workplace ADD is not just a product of more people bringing ADD into the workplace (though, it’s an increasing symptom of our lives, in and out of work) - it’s a function of the way we work. ADD is fine, as we work furiously across any number of projects, manage a bunch of emails, go to meeting after meeting, and juggle all kinds of details. The issue isn’t how much work we do, but whether it’s the right work. Can we can stay focused on what’s most important long enough to do “deep work”?   


As with chronic stress, information overload and digital distraction, ADD is a result of attention control, or the lack thereof. And so, the process of mindfulness - to first notice that our brain is compulsively jumping from one thing to the next - to then bring our attention to the present - and to focus there until we’re grounded, centered and able to intentionally direct our attention to what matters most - can be a pretty important skillset.

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